CDP takes a ‘no action’ on Drakes Bay Oyster Farm

Valley Forum


By Yannick Phillips

Delegates of the California Democratic Party (CDP) met in the Bay Area this past weekend and entertained several resolutions, one of them addressing an “Oyster Cultivation Rights” resolution and one a “Wilderness/Support Salazar’s Decision” resolution.

The CDP took a “no action” vote on both.

Speaking at the Environmental Caucus, in support of California’s shellfish aquaculture leases in Drakes Estero, were 86-year-old Phyllis Faber, California’s first coastal commissioner, who has been defending our coasts for more than 45 years, and Jeff Creque, co-founder of the Marin Carbon Project. They are residents of Marin and Sonoma county, respectively, and are both vocal supporters of the oyster farm.

The Wilderness resolution was supported in a majority vote. Amy Trainer, representing the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, and Lynn Hamilton, from Sonoma County, spoke in support of the Wilderness resolution.

The CDP Chicano Latino Caucus, on the other hand, voted unanimously to support the oyster farm resolution after hearing from the oyster farmworkers.

Marin County resident Placido Salazar, former CDP Chicano Latino Caucus Chair, and his wife, Bobbie Salazar, former Northern vice chair of CDP Latino Chicano Caucus, live in the vicinity to the oyster farm. They released a statement saying, “Doing away with the oyster farm will have a detrimental impact on the Latino community, some of whom have been there for almost three decades. The unanimous sentiment of the CDP Chicano/Latino Caucus membership was that we will monitor the situation and strongly support the employees and families. In addition, we will also continue to encourage our elected officials to take a strong stance in keeping the oyster farm open for the sake of the farm workers and the entire Pt. Reyes community.”

The Marin County Democratic Party took a “no action” position weeks prior to the CDP “no action” vote. The neighboring Sonoma County Democratic Party brought forth the “Wilderness” resolution.

Pt. Reyes residents Michael Greenberg and Donna Yamagata, board members of the Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture (ALSA), have been working to save the oyster farm since 2006.

They were prepared to argue in support of the oyster resolution, but Greenberg said he was especially prepared to argue against the Wilderness resolution. “It is riddled with inaccuracies and misstatements.”

He said he is happy that the CDP took a “no action” position. The CDP decision shows that the oyster farm issue is not a done deal and that, although some elected officials of the district (all Democrats) who represent the farm might continue to state that “it’s in the courts,” the CDP decision of “no action” clearly demonstrates the party’s recognition that there is much more to this issue than meets the eye.

  • Phineas Worthington

    It seems that policy decisions made administratively in these federal agencies lack certain legal recourse measures that we normally associate with the legal appeals process. There need to be more measures put in place for individuals, business owners, and property owners to effectively appeal federal agency administrative policy decisions that result in the diminishing or loss of individual property rights.

    Its unfortunate that to get the attention of the political class on this issue, an emotional appeal to some collective victimization of latinos is made rather than a simple appeal to a common value to all of us regardless, the appeal to have policy and law subordinated to principles of individual rights.

    • Yannick Phillips

      Phineas, “victimization of latinos”?? Yes, there will be many Latinos affected.That’s simply the fact, not victimization. What I did not mention in this article, but will do so here now…is that Amy Trainer brought forth at the CDP E-board….high-end glossy, (very expensive) color tri-fold pamphlet trying to disparage the farm. What they didn’t realize is that they were not disparaging the Lunnys or the farm, but in fact the farm workers. I’m sure it was unintentional, but they did so without much thought and it was the farm workers who saw the pamphlet that felt very, very hurt. IS THIS HOW EAC SPENDS ITS MEMBERSHIP MONEY…on high end campaign flyers? Wow. Yeah…our black and white copies -just telling the truth-didn’t have a chance.

      • Phineas Worthington

        Good luck reaching the tin ears of agency bureaucrats.

  • Teri Shore

    The Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm is on public land, not private land. And it is now operating rent-free on public land when it should have vacated the marine wilderness area once the operating permit was terminated by the property owners — that is the National Park Service, which is us, the public. Seems that private property rights advocates don’t seem to mind. As a member of the public, I sure do.

    • Phineas Worthington

      Teddy Roosevelt had a very different take on matters of land use than you do. He thought the land was there to be used, not prevented from being used. And the fact is, there is a business, that is property, and our government is there to protect property, not let property disappear by default by refusing to renew a public lease based on internal agency policy. And if they do, they must compensate for the loss of that property to its owner by the terms of our national contract.

  • Stephen Gale

    The legal battle will continue — the Oyster Farm has made no secret of their desire to take the battle to the U.S. Supreme County and they can afford to do that because their team of powerful attorneys are working “pro bono.” On that, both sides likely agree.

    With strong support from Chairman John Burton, at the November Executive Board meeting, the CDP wisely chose to stay out of an issue that is in the courts and one that is highly devisive in both Marin and Sonoma County. Indeed, to some observers with long-standing in our community, it appears that the fight to create the National Wilderness along the California Coast is being re-fought.

    At the July E-Board Meeting, I moved that the CDP postpone consideration of a resolution that Ms. Phillips was attempting to rush through the state-wide body without allowing time for the two counties most aware of the issues from considering the merits.

    I made the motion to postpone, as the Chair of the Sonoma County Democratic Party, and the Chair of the Marin County Democratic Party, Paul Cohen, seconded the motion so that both County Parties could consider the issue. After deliberations, the Marin Democratic Party voted to take “no position” and the Sonoma Democratic Party reaffirmed our long-standing support for protecting the environment.

    I strongly support local, sustainable agriculture. I also strongly support Federal and State efforts to protect wilderness areas. The Oyster Farm is embroiled in a lengthy legal battle that is well supported by attorneys who have a record that speaks for itself. Democrats wisely chose to sit this one out — no matter how Ms. Phillips seeks to “spin” that outcome.

    • Teri Shore

      Thank you for this explanation.