Save The Bay’s calendar cover photo contest winner

After careful deliberation, the cover photo and images for next year’s calendar have been chosen! Congratulations to our 2018 Calendar Cover Photo Winner, Mike Oria! Mike’s photo, Day Break from Clipper Cove, highlights the Golden Gate Bridge’s lesser-known sibling, the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Day Break from Clipper Cove - Mike Oria

In addition to connecting San Francisco to the East Bay, here are some of our favorite facts about this bridge:

  1. You can bike the Bay Bridge! The 2.2 mile Alexander Zuckermann Bike Path spans between Oakland and Yerba Buena Island.
  2. The Bay Bridge has built in “corm condos” for double-crested cormorants. The eastern span of the Bay Bridge is equipped with special platforms, mirror boxes, constructed nests, and bird decoys, all meant to attract cormorants to the new habitat.
  3. The old Bay Bridge is being repurposed in creative ways. The Bay Bridge Steel Program is making materials from the old portion of the bridge available for creative reuse in civic and public art projects, like this statue at Joshua Tree National Park.

Oakland Agrees to Fund More Trash Removal

OZT-City-Hall

Save The Bay’s campaign to accelerate trash reduction has scored a major victory!

After a contentious month of budget hearings, the Oakland City Council approved a two-year budget at the end of June that includes significant new investments recommended by Save The Bay to keep trash off Oakland city streets and out of San Francisco Bay. Oakland funded two new cleanup crews to remove trash from illegal dumping sites and homeless encampments by adding $1.6 million to the budget, with another $150,000 for additional operations to clear stormwater-related trash from streets. The city also authorized installing full trash capture devices in storm drains through transportation and streetscape improvement projects funded by Measure KK. Voters approved that Oakland infrastructure bond endorsed by Save The Bay in 2016.

The City Council was poised to add another $350,000 for one-time costs to onboard the new cleanup crews, but deferred consideration until later this year because of a procedural hurdle. Now the challenge will be to implement these measures quickly and remove street trash that will otherwise end up in creeks and the Bay, especially as rains return this autumn.

For Oakland to demonstrate its trash reduction schedule alignment with the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s requirement, the city will have to hire and deploy the new clean-up crews, and document how much more trash they are removing. The city also needs to specify how many trash capture devices will be installed in high-trash generating areas and how soon. In September, Oakland will have to report to the Water Board whether it is close to achieving the goal of 70 percent reduction in trash below 2009 levels, or face enforcement action that could include penalties. We’ll be assessing that report along with other Bay Area cities.

How did we make trash cleanup a bigger priority in Oakland? Our community allies provided crucial support for inclusion of these trash reduction measures in the budget, especially Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), SEIU Local 1021, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). These groups have been working for years to reduce blight, improve public health, and increase quality of life for residents and working in Oakland neighborhoods.

With broad backing, our recommendations ultimately were incorporated into both the Oakland City Council President’s Budget supported by Mayor Schaaf – backed by Councilmembers Reid, Guillen, Gibson McElhaney, Campbell Washington, and Kalb – and the People’s Budget backed by Councilmembers Brooks, Kaplan, and Gallo.

This outpouring of support and the council’s positive response show again that Bay Area residents love San Francisco Bay, and want cities to make the Bay clean and healthy for everyone who lives here.

While each city’s process and politics are different, we learned a lot from Oakland that will guide our efforts with other cities that are not meeting the regional stormwater permit limits on trash flowing to the Bay:

  • Local alliances are crucial for effective grassroots pressure and direct lobbying, especially when we team with partners from beyond the traditional environmental realm.
  • Save The Bay is trusted by the news media and can generate good coverage of this issue – here is an excellent example.
  • Our technical expertise and good working relationship with the Regional Water Board staff positions us well as a credible voice on permit requirements and trash treatment options.
  • Even a small number of Save The Bay activists who show up to advocate with their local officials can have a big impact.

We’ll be working this summer and fall to help more cities keep trash out of the Bay.

Flooding Study Results Require Action

When heavy rains returned to California last winter after an extensive drought, some Bay Area cities experienced flooding for the first time in many years.  Now, a new study shows that kind of flooding will become chronic in many Bay Area locations in the decades to come.

The Union of Concerned Scientists report provides even more detail on how much climate change will affect specific Bay shoreline cities, and how soon.

As early as 2035, neighborhoods all around the Bay Area–on Bay Farm Island, Alameda, Redwood Shores, Sunnyvale, Alviso, Corte Madera, and Larkspur– would experience flooding 26 times per year or more, and that’s with moderate sea level rise.  By 2060, the number of affected neighborhoods grows to include Oakland, Milpitas, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and others along the corridor between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. If the sea level rises faster, that frequency of flooding will occur sooner. Read the full report at http://bit.ly/2vacc5j.

The report raises another problem. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s maps of flood-prone areas are outdated and don’t reflect sea level rise projections. Those maps determine where property owners can and cannot qualify for federally-subsidized flood insurance, and where communities must construct additional flood protection to retain that insurance.

Outdated maps give communities a false sense of security and lead to uninformed development decisions.  Just ask those homeowners near Coyote Creek in San Jose who were flooded out a few months ago.

The State of California and its agencies, including the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, should be aggressively reducing risks to people and property from climate impacts – that has been explicit in the State’s climate adaptation strategy since 2009.  Pressing FEMA for updated maps should be high on the priority list.

Here’s a report on the UCS study in the San Jose Mercury News, which quotes Save The Bay:

A Feb. 21 photo from a San Jose city worker shows flooding at 1742 Rock Springs Drive. (City of San Jose)
A Feb. 21 photo from a San Jose city worker shows flooding at 1742 Rock Springs Drive. (City of San Jose)

Chronic flooding from rising seas could plague many Bay Area waterfront communities such as East Palo Alto, Alameda and San Mateo within four decades, a nonprofit science group said in a report released Wednesday.

While other studies have predicted inundation of coastal cities, this new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists is the first to put dates on when towns that ring the San Francisco Bay would regularly experience chronic flooding.

Rather than slam shoreline communities with epic floods every few years, rising sea levels threatens to flood streets, yards, parks, homes and businesses in low-lying areas several times a year, the scientists said.

“Cities around the San Francisco Bay will begin to experience more frequent and disruptive flooding in the coming decades and will have to make tough decisions around whether to defend existing homes and businesses or to retreat,” said Erika Spanger-Siegfried, senior analyst in the Climate and Energy Program at UCS and a report author.

Airports and low-income housing in low areas are particularly vulnerable, the study said.

While airports can draw on business income to pay for defenses against rising seas, many poorer neighborhoods are hard pressed to afford bigger seawalls or levees or to move people out of flood-prone areas, said Kristy Dahl, a UCS climate scientist and co-author of the report.

She said the report underscores the need for federal policies to help local communities.

“We shouldn’t have some communities left behind simply because they don’t have the resources of their neighbors,” Dahl said in an Oakland press conference to discuss the study. “A large number of these communities don’t have the resources they truly need to adapt.”

Last year, the federal government announced its first grant to buy and relocate a small town — Isle de Jean Charles, La. — for $48 million after concluding it was not worth trying to save the community in place.

The Union for Concerned Scientists study assessed three scenarios — low, intermediate and high sea-level rise — by the years 2060 and 2100, depending on the pace of emissions and melting rates of polar ice. An interactive series of maps show when inundated communities may reach tipping point, with at least 10 percent of usable land flooded at least 26 times per year.

The study found that:

  • By 2060, in the high sea level rise scenario, parts of many Bay Area communities would face flooding 26 times or more per year, or every other week. Communities with affected neighborhoods include Alameda, Oakland, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, San Mateo, Burlingame, San Francisco, Corte Madera and Larkspur.
  • By 2100, in the intermediate sea level rise scenario, chronic flooding would affect public infrastructure such as San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport, San Quentin State Prison, Moffett Federal Airfield and the Bay Bridge.
  • By 2100, in the intermediate sea level rise scenario, two Bay Area communities would see more than 10 percent of their land chronically flooded: Alameda and San Mateo.
  • By 2100, in the high sea level rise scenario, more than half of Alameda, about 11 percent of South San Francisco and about 14 percent of Oakland’s land area would be chronically flooded.

“Imagine what it would be like to have your driveway and backyard flooded every every other week on average,” Dahl said, “And you can’t let your kids play in the back yard because it’s flooded.”

The “low scenario” assumes a San Francisco Bay water level rise of around 2 feet by 2100, a carbon emissions decline, and global warming limited to less than two degrees Celsius — in line with the primary goal of the Paris Agreement.

The “intermediate scenario” projects a four-foot water level rise and carbon emissions peaking around mid-century and about four feet of sea level rise globally. In the high scenario, emissions rise through the end of the century and ice melts faster, causing 6.5 feet of sea  level rise.

The group applauded efforts by cities such as San Francisco and Foster City, which already have begun planning where and how to build seawalls and levees. Other regions — such as the cities of Alameda, Hayward and Oakland and Contra Costa, San Mateo, Alameda and Santa Clara  counties — are close behind, identifying potential strategies.

Welcoming the report, David Lewis of the Oakland-based nonprofit Save The Bay said it underscored the need for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to update Bay Area flood maps to reflect new projections. Those flood maps determine where property owners can and cannot qualify for federally-subsidized flood insurance, and where communities must construct additional flood protection to retain that insurance.

He urged the state to press FEMA to update the maps. Congress also must be prodded to provide funding for the updates, he added.

“If maps don’t incorporate projections for sea level rise — and for increased frequency of flooding from extreme storms independent of sea level rise — then communities have a false sense of security, and property values, as well as public and private planning and development decisions, don’t accurately reflect risks,” said Lewis.

“Ask those homeowners near Coyote Creek,” which flooded last winter, he said.


This article was originally published in The Mercury News by Lisa Kreiger and Denis Cuff on 7/12/2017. 

Bal Tashchit: Protect Our Bay

7thTzedakah JacobWSaveTheBayCheckJacob W. is a 7th grader at a local school on the Peninsula who selected Save The Bay for his Tzedakah project, which honors the Jewish value of obligatory giving. Each student chooses a Jewish value and a social issue that aligns with the value, as well as an organization working on the issue. Students then commit to volunteering, advocating, and fundraising for the organization.

Jacob chose the value of Bal Tashchit and identified Save The Bay as an organization working to prevent environmental degradation. He fundraised $1271.42 dollars for Save The Bay as part of his Tzedakah project, which he presented to Executive Director David Lewis.

In his own words, this is why Jacob chose Save The Bay for his Tzedakah project:

“The value I chose for the 7th Grade Tzedakah Project was Bal Tashchit (בל תשח׳ת), which means to protect our world. Save The Bay is an organization in the Bay Area that works to prevent water pollution, restore the shoreline and overall protect the Bay from harm. Their work enacts Bal Tashchit because they are caring, protecting and healing the Bay Area. I chose them because they are the largest regional organization working on what they do and because of their success.”

Thank you, Jacob, for your commitment to protecting our world by supporting Save The Bay!

Facebook Intern Service Day at Bair Island – 100 days of work in one day!

Sunny skies greeted hundreds of Facebook interns as they poured onto the pathway leading to the three-acre restoration site at Bair Island. More than 350 enthusiastic volunteers were met by equally delighted restoration scientists and fellows from Save The Bay, ready to start the day.

FB at Bair

In our second year hosting Facebook’s interns on the shoreline, we made history completing our biggest program ever. In just one day at Bair Island, volunteers accomplished what it would take one of our restoration team members more than 100 days to do! 

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Once a thriving tidal marsh, the 3,000-acre Bair Island was drained in the 1800s and later transformed into salt evaporation ponds. It was rescued from development in the 1980s by a group of concerned citizens, Friends of Redwood City. Bair Island is now home to over 150 species of birds and wildlife and is protected as part of the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge.

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A long-running rehabilitation process has been underway to restore Bair Island. Save The Bay’s project is a part of a regional effort to restore Bair Island, including restoration partners the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, among others.

Yesterday, volunteers worked on Inner Bair Island to help us prepare the site for planting by removing 3360 lbs of invasive Stinkwort and Wild Mustard. With generous support from the Bently Foundation, this three-acre site will be the future location of a leading-edge pilot project to accelerate native plant establishment in the transition zone. Our work will increase habitat for fish and wildlife, improve water quality, and contribute to crucial flood protection for local communities facing increasing risk from sea level rise.

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Building community and bringing people closer together is at the core of Facebook’s mission, and a strong synergy with Save The Bay’s mission to connect people to San Francisco Bay and the Bay Area’s sustainable future. Yesterday, 350+ interns were able to connect to each other and their environment, giving them a brand new view of the Bay only minutes away from Facebook’s campus.

Yesterday at Bair Island was a highlight of a growing partnership. We are also thrilled to announce Facebook’s lead partnership in Bay Day 2017, our Earth Day for the Bay.

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Volunteers are a huge part of achieving our restoration goals and working towards a climate-resilient Bay. With wind in their hair, 700 hands in the dirt, and 100 days of work achieved in one day, Facebook interns made critical progress towards a healthier Bay. Thank you Facebook for bringing your energy and muscle to help restore Bair Island!

Want to get involved? Explore Bair Island’s publicly accessible trails or come out on the shoreline and restore habitat with Save The Bay!

Click here to view more pictures from this event.