Bay Area Island Owner Fined $2.8 Million

Island resort draws the ire of state water officials for the unpermitted building of a kitesurfing compound.

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your own island, realize that it’s not always paradise. One owner of a 39-acre island in the San Francisco Bay region was just slapped with a $2.8 million fine for draining tidal wetlands and discharging fill materials into the bay.

This island in question is Point Buckler, north of Pittsburg and Bay Point in the Suisun Bay. The island has been converted into a kite-surfing and duck hunting resort catering to Silicon Valley executives, but the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board contends that the resort damaged nearly 30 acres of tidal marsh  and has hurt habitats for endangered species.

The Point Buckler Club website describes the island resort as “ideally suited for the Bay Area / Silicon Valley executives who want to get away and enjoy kiting in a safe and secluded environment without boarding a plane”. The site describes Point Buckler Club’s location as “15 Minutes from Silicon Valley by heli”.

The Water Quality Control Board contends these helicopter pads and lounge areas, which can be seen on the club’s Facebook page, were also installed illegally and without permits. The island had been a duck hunting club back in the 1920s, but had been abandoned and fallen into disrepair before current owner John Sweeney bought the island in 2011.

Sweeney contends that he was merely repairing again levees, and permits from the previous duck hunting club should still be in effect.

It could be worse, though. The Water Quality Control Board had considered fining the island club as much as $4.6 million.

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