Bay Day 2016: a day of celebration

Earlier this month, thousands of Bay Area residents and dozens of  community organizations celebrated the first-ever Bay Day. Here’s a quick look at how we marked this new regional holiday:

[View the story “Bay Day 2016” on Storify]

Vote Bay Smart: transportation investments we need

004 (800x533)
Since 2000, the population of the Bay Area has grown by 870,000. Just 500,000 of that growth has occurred in the last six years.

We Need Investment in Our Transportation Infrastructure: Our Bay Depends On It. 

We all know that the Bay Area is an incomparable place to live. There are world-class cities, rich history and culture, a thriving economy, and ample recreational opportunities, featuring majestic expanses of nearby open space. At the heart of it all is our region’s greatest natural treasure: San Francisco Bay.

Unfortunately, we all also know that Bay Area traffic is incomparable. If you’ve spent any time traveling at rush hour, whether on the roads or public transit, you know the frustration this causes firsthand.

Since 2000, the population of the Bay Area has grown by 870,000. Just 500,000 of that growth has occurred in the last six years.

A boom in population growth has outpaced the expansion and upgrading of our transportation infrastructure.

Between 2010 and 2040, our population is expected to grow 30 percent. This growth has outpaced the expansion and upgrading of our transportation infrastructure, putting enormous strain on the entire system. It is also a major driver of our region’s skyrocketing housing costs that are forcing many residents to move farther away from their jobs and take on longer commutes.

This time lapse video shows a map of central Bay Area traffic throughout the course of a typical weekday, illustrating the gridlock that drivers face on virtually every major freeway. And the congestion isn’t limited to the morning or evening commutes. In fact, the “evening” commute begins at 2:30 p.m. By 5 p.m., there is a sea of red surrounding the Bay that doesn’t clear up fully until well past 9 p.m.

This map of course doesn’t show ridership on buses or BART, which get extremely crowded and inaccessible at pressure points during the day, leading to delays and increasingly frequent breakdowns.

All of this causes serious negative impacts on the quality of our air and the health of our Bay. When people spend more time in traffic, they emit more greenhouse gases that pollute our air and contribute to global warming, and more toxic airborne particulates that wind up in Baywater. They also leave behind more trash and PCBs on our roadways to contaminate stormwater runoff that flows into the Bay.

As our over-stressed public transit systems become less reliable and accessible, and the region continues to grow, more and more commuters take to their cars, exacerbating these problems.

Our transportation infrastructure throughout the region needs significant expansion and upgrades to accommodate growth and relieve congestion. Fortunately, we have a chance to make real progress this November.

415 (800x533)
More time in traffic causes serious negative impacts on the quality of our air and the health of our Bay.

There are three key ballot measures that will make particularly critical improvements to our transportation system, helping to reduce road congestion and encouraging expanded use of public transit: BART District Measure RR, AC Transit District Measure C1, and Santa Clara County Measure B.

You can get detailed information on each of these measures at our Bay Smart Ballot Measure page.

Real benefits for the Bay from these ballot measures will include: fewer cars on the road, less particulate matter to pollute our air and water, and less trash and toxins on our roadways to wash into the Bay with every storm.

As our region continues to grow in the coming years, we have a responsibility to protect the health of the Bay – and the health of all Bay Area residents – as much as possible. Improving our transportation infrastructure is one of the most effective ways we can do that, so let’s vote Bay Smart on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Paid for by Save The Bay.

California Enacts Important Climate Change Legislation


After a long legislative session, Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a handful of important climate change mitigation and adaptation bills, proving once again that California leads the nation in addressing the challenges of global warming. These bills are critical to continuing the state’s landmark climate policy to cap harmful greenhouse gas emissions that threaten the health of our communities and our natural resources, from San Francisco Bay to the scorched deserts in the east and south.

Senate Bill (SB) 32 directs the State Air Resources Board (ARB) to set emissions limits that reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Current law requires the ARB to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. As our state is ravaged by raging wildfires, continued drought, and rising sea levels, with more extreme storms expected in the coming months, SB 32 is the aggressive approach we need to further reduce the fossil fuel emissions that contribute to these conditions.

Questions still remain, however, over the fate of the state’s cap-and-trade program, which is the means of achieving greenhouse gas reductions under the emissions cap. Each company that emits greenhouse gases is required to obtain emissions permits, which can be bought or traded with other companies. If a company reduces its emissions below the cap, it can sell its permits, thereby incentivizing the development of cleaner energy technology. The cap is then reduced gradually each year in order to meet the overall target. Despite the passage of SB 32, the program is currently being challenged in court, and recent rounds of carbon credit sales have failed to raise the anticipated sums of revenue, with both developments making its future uncertain.

Assembly Bill (AB) 197 creates legislative oversight of the ARB, adding two Members of the Legislature to the board as nonvoting members, staggering voting members’ terms, and requiring the agency to prioritize emissions reductions rules and regulations that result in direct emissions reductions at the source – large stationary sources such as refineries and power plants, and mobile sources such as cars and trucks. Critics of the ARB have said the agency does not do enough to reduce these direct-source emissions where they have a disproportionate impact on the communities around them, many of which are low-income communities and communities of color.

Assembly Bill 1550 aims to address this disproportionate impact by ensuring that disadvantaged communities, as defined by the state, are guaranteed 25 percent of the funds in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which encompasses the revenues from the state’s cap-and-trade permits auction. In addition, at least five percent of the funds must go to projects that benefit low-income communities adjacent to disadvantaged communities, and an additional minimum five percent must go to projects that benefit low-income households anywhere in the state, regardless of their proximity to disadvantaged communities. These provisions guarantee that those communities most negatively impacted by greenhouse gas emissions will get priority funding to help mitigate those impacts. Save The Bay was proud to support this important legislation, that places environmental justice at the very center of climate change policy.

Our climate is changing, and we must adapt to a “new normal.” That is one reason why we worked hard to pass Measure AA in June: to create a steady stream of funding for important wetland restoration projects along the Bay shoreline that will not only make the Bay cleaner and healthier, but in many places create a natural, cost-effective flood barrier to help protect low-lying communities and critical infrastructure.

We must also couple those adaptation efforts with mitigation policies that reduce harmful emissions at the source, throughout the state. Passage of SB 32, AB 197, and AB 1550 is a significant step in the right direction, and we were proud to support these bills. As we look ahead to the next legislative session, we will work to support policies that build on them and ensure the success of our state’s climate programs.

Voter Guide: Saving the Bay by sustaining the Bay Area

As the Bay Area struggles to accommodate rapid growth, it is critical to invest in affordable housing, improved transportation, and community infrastructure.
As the Bay Area struggles to accommodate rapid growth, it is critical to invest in affordable housing, improved transportation, and community infrastructure.

Already, 2016 has been a pivotal year in the remarkable history of Save The Bay.

After 55 years of hugely successful work to protect San Francisco Bay from damaging shoreline development, dumping, and storm water-borne toxic trash, the passage of Measure AA on the June 2016 ballot marked the evolution of our mission from rescuing the Bay to restoring it.

But 2016 isn’t over yet, and now we’re taking another giant step to advance Bay Smart solutions to threats posed by our region’s rapid growth.

For the first time in Save The Bay’s history, we’re endorsing 10 local ballot measures focused on upgrading the Bay Area’s outmoded transportation, housing, and infrastructure.

Download our Bay Smart Voter guide

These measures align with Save The Bay’s 2020 Strategic Plan, which extends our work upland and upstream from the shoreline to address sustainability issues facing our region in ways that will benefit San Francisco Bay.

Our challenge is to reduce the flow of pollutants into the Bay, increase the efficiency of water use, decrease emissions of airborne particulates and greenhouse gases, reduce heat island effects, and improve access to the shoreline, all while the Bay Area’s population is projected to grow 30 percent larger.

This slate of measures takes important steps toward these goals by:

  • Funding public transportation upgrades and roadway improvements that will decrease automobile use and storm water runoff, and the pollution they contribute to the Bay
  • Creating affordable housing that will alleviate homeless encampments – which are a major source of Bay pollution – and maximize the environmental benefits of denser development by reducing displacement of working families from our urban centers
  • Expanding the use of green infrastructure and increasing urban greening, which will keep the Bay cleaner and healthier and help more people to enjoy its beauty.

Taken together, these measures advance the key environmental justice goal of ensuring that disadvantaged communities, which have suffered the most from environmental damage, do not suffer further as our region adapts to become more resilient to climate change.

These measures will also reduce the pressure that lack of transportation and housing infrastructure creates for more sprawl into open space, including baylands, and will help preserve the political consensus for protecting the Bay that comes from our region’s shared sense that it belongs to us all.

We hope you and all of our region’s residents who love the Bay take a moment to review the “Bay Smart” slate on Nov. 8, and follow its recommendations when you vote.

Passing these ballot measures is just the beginning. We’ll be working with partner organizations, businesses and municipalities to advance a Bay Smart communities agenda through other policy mechanisms like local and state legislation, regulatory changes, and by helping cities improve best practices.

Ultimately, saving the Bay will require saving the Bay Area’s quality of life. In the words of our strategic plan, “We must help save the Bay Area as a sustainable community with a healthy Bay at its heart.”

Bay Day: One day to celebrate our Bay pride

After months, and weeks, and days of preparation, meetings, and conference calls, Bay Day was finally here.

Our inaugural Bay Day held on Sat., Oct 1 served as  an annual celebration of the San Francisco Bay. More than 50 activities were hosted by over 40 partners in all nine Bay Area counties. From swimming, biking, hiking and kayaking to farmers markets, film screenings and art exhibits, Bay Day 2016 had something for everyone.

The gravity of something like Bay Day can sort of get lost on you when you’ve been working to make it successful day in and day out.

PortFest in Redwood City was just one of many ways to celebrate in the sun on Bay Day.

On Bay Day, I got a chance to step back from the desk, stretch, get out of the office, and experience all that Bay Day had to offer, much like the thousands of Bay Area residents who participated in this special day.

That morning, I witnessed our Save The Bay restoration staff and volunteers in action at Bair Island. This group spent the morning removing invasive species in preparation for our upcoming planting season, and took this one day to leave a lasting positive footprint on the Bay for generations to come.

By mid-day, I was on a docent-led walking tour of Inner Bair Island hosted by the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge, where we learned about the transformation of Bair Island back into a healthy tidal marsh from being diked and drained decades ago for agriculture and development.

I finished my Bay Day at Redwood City’s PortFest listening to live music and enjoying lunch on the Bay

I wasn’t the only one who got to step out of the office and into the sun on Bay Day.

Save The Bay staffer Vivian Reed spread the word about Bay Day at Facebook’s Farmer’s Market.

Other Save The Bay staffers enjoyed Bay Day celebrations at the Facebook Farmers Market and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, an Adventure Cat Sail of the Bay, and free and discounted admission at CuriOdyssey and the Lindsay Wildlife Experience.

Looking back, we’ve seen 39 cities and seven counties officially proclaim Bay Day this year and we’ve reached over a million people on social media, and even thousands more through media coverage, events and more.  We can’t wait to start planning for a bigger and better Bay Day 2017, so keep an eye out for announcements about the exciting events taking place next year!