A Butt Free Bay starts with Berkeley

Did you know that smoking is not allowed in many outdoor areas in Berkeley and is banned on the UC Berkeley campus? Still, thousands of cigarette butts are casually tossed on Berkeley streets, where they enter storm drains and flow out into the Bay.

We are placing ads on bus shelters around Berkeley. Can you help us?

Most smokers aren’t aware that smoking is illegal in these areas and that cigarette butts are toxic, plastic trash. That’s why as part of our #ButtFreeBay campaign, Save The Bay is taking the lead on educating Berkeley residents and visitors that the cigarette butts they litter are wreaking havoc on the health of our Bay. By doing so, we can motivate the Berkeley City Council to take enforcement seriously and stem the tide of tobacco litter flowing into the Bay.

For the month of September, we’ll place ads on bus shelters in some of the city’s cigarette litter hot spots near the UC Berkeley campus, such as the one at the corner of University and Addison. The ads will educate passersby that cigarettes are toxic, plastic trash that when littered, wind up in our Bay. Click here to contribute $10, $25, or $50 to help us purchase the ad space.

Year after year on Coastal Cleanup Day, cigarette butts are the most prevalent item found in our creeks and the Bay. Discarded cigarette butts spoil water quality with toxic chemicals, threaten wildlife, and cost taxpayers millions to clean up. We launched our Butt Free Bay campaign to call on Bay Area cities to stop this pollution at the source by adopting and enforcing outdoor smoking bans. But it’s not enough to just pass a ban—we need a concerted effort to educate students, residents, and visitors about these policies and why they matter. That is why we need visible ads in the places where cigarette butts are littered the most.

So far, more than 4,000 Bay Area residents from 125 cities in all 9 counties have signed on asking their cities to pass and enforce outdoor smoking bans. Our past successes in stopping other forms of plastic trash remind us that by acting together, we can have a positive impact on our neighborhoods, cities, and ultimately on our Bay. It will be thanks to concerned citizens like you that we set a new trend across the region that keeps our Bay healthy, safe, and free of toxic tobacco litter. Click here to sign the petition calling on your city to curb its share of cigarette litter.

Thank you for Saving The Bay

As our founder Kay Kerr once said, “The Bay is always in the process of being saved.” It’s an adage we invoke every time we go up to bat against another dangerous and foolhardy plan to fill in our Bay. This time of year especially, as we reflect on our accomplishments from the year and corral our resources for next year’s fights, we remember an important truth that underlies every single victory this organization has ever managed. The Bay isn’t just being saved—we, together, are saving it. To build on Kay’s timeless statement: the community is always in the process of saving the Bay. 

Saving The Bay: Then and Now
We’re continually in the process of saving the Bay.

There’s our founding story. In 1961, Santa Fe Railroad Company proposed a massive 2,000 acre bay fill development off the shoreline of Berkeley (map). Their grandiose development plans included a new airport, industrial and commercial buildings, houses, hotels, and more. Save The Bay came into existence in order to defeat this proposal and save the Berkeley shoreline –with the help of our founding members, we won that fight in 1963.

Then in 1968, David Rockefeller proposed to create a “new Manhattan” by filling 27 miles of San Mateo County shoreline. Their plan was to chop off the top of San Bruno Mountain (map), fill in the Bay with the dirt, while using the leveled mountain for additional real estate development. For the next decade, we worked doggedly with local allies to kill this plan—and we won.

Today, we’re standing with local residents against Cargill’s plans to build on restorable Redwood City salt ponds (map). For the last 5 years, we’ve thwarted Cargill’s every attempt to jam this plan through. Most recently and desperately, they’ve petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to exempt this destructive developmentplan from the Clean Water Act. If we continue to thwart their efforts, we can exhaust and defeat them. But in order to stay in the game, we need your help.

This week, Save The Bay gives thanks to our many volunteers, neighborhood activists, supporters, and founding members. Thank you for standing with us and thank you for saving the Bay. We hope you’ll continue saving the Bay with us.

Reflecting on Sandy… Can it Happen Here? Healthy Tidal Marsh Can Protect Bay Area Communities from Extreme Weather

Sandy flooding
Healthy tidal marsh can protect Bay Area communities from flooding during extreme storms like Sandy. Photo of taxis in Hoboken, New Jersey via flickr.com/ThatHartfordGuy

One year after Sandy, New York continues to rebuild while planning for the future. City planners are weighing strategies to protect their shores from future storms and sea level rise; natural solutions such as wetland restoration may figure prominently into their plans. While wetland restoration holds promise, the New York shoreline is so developed that there are currently few large expanses of wetlands to buffer storms.

The Bay Area too is at risk of flooding from sea level rise, yet we are lucky to live in a place with tens of thousands of acres of restorable wetlands around the Bay shoreline. We’re working hard to restore 100,000 acres of wetlands to protect our communities from sea level rise. As we reflect on the anniversary of Sandy, let’s also recognize how lucky we are as a region to have solutions within our grasp. Please share this post with a friend or leave a comment with your reflections on Sandy.

Here in the Bay Area, we have experienced the devastation of earthquakes.  And severe flooding during the rainy season impacts some communities around the Bay.  But as the climate change warming trends continue, many scientists are saying that extreme weather events are here to stay. Unfortunately, it is probably not a matter of if, but when the Bay Area will be faced with widespread and severe flooding from an event like Sandy or Hurricane Katrina.

The good news is that by investing today in restoring more natural wetlands and repairing damaged levees, the Bay Area can reduce the risk of severe flooding, save money, and help keep our communities safe.

Over generations, unchecked bay fill destroyed 90 percent of San Francisco Bay’s original wetlands, or tidal marsh.   Studies have shown that healthy tidal marshes can keep pace with modest sea level rise – they build up sediment and establish vegetation, creating buffers against rising seas. They act as natural barriers to storm surge and extreme high tides, protecting wildlife and shoreline communities.  Bay wetlands also filter toxic runoff pollution to improve water quality, prevent shoreline erosion, and provide food and shelter to 500 species of wildlife including seals, sea lions and pelicans.

Today, our Bay shoreline is low-lying and heavily developed.  More than $100 billion in California homes, businesses, and crucial infrastructure is at risk from flooding: ports, airports, bridges, freeways, even entire communities are at or below sea level. And two-thirds of that risk is here in the Bay Area.

Sea level rise will worsen the impact from storms. Scientists and the State of California estimate that the sea level could rise 16 inches in the next 40 years and 55 inches by 2100.

Significant sea rise would overwhelm levees that surround San Francisco Bay. Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other major Silicon Valley corporations could be flooded, along with thousands of homes around the Bay Area. Portions of major freeways could be underwater.

Scientists recommend that at least 100,000 acres tidal marsh be re-established to support a healthy, sustainable Bay into the future.  However, only about half of that habitat exists. The Bay’s restorable wetlands will not return to tidal marsh in our lifetime without money, manpower, and political support.  Climate change makes this goal even more relevant and urgent.

Infographic: Cigarette Butts are Toxic Litter

Cigarette butts are so ubiquitous, I’ve become accustomed to seeing them in the cracks of San Francisco sidewalks, poking out of the sand along Ocean Beach, flicked casually outside of bars and from the windows of cars. But what is actually happening with that cigarette butt, once it gets tossed into the street? To answer that question, we made an infographic:

Share this infographic to spread the word that cigarette butts are toxic litter.

Over the last thirty or so years, it’s become common knowledge that cigarettes cause cancer. But we can no longer afford to ignore the rest of the story. Cigarette litter is a form of toxic waste and an environmental hazard. When a cigarette butt washes down the storm drain and into the Bay, all of the nasty chemicals that come in tobacco filters end up there too, polluting our water and hurting wildlife.

It took me looking at the real impacts of tobacco litter to realize this, and now that I have, it pains me every time I see someone dropping a cigarette butt into the street. I’m still figuring out what to say to the smokers I see littering their butts. In the meantime, this infographic marks the beginning of our campaign to make it common knowledge that cigarette butts are toxic litter.

Your Stories: When did you Fall For The Bay?

We all have our story of when we fell for the Bay. For many of us, our love of the Bay is linked closely with a specific place or view. Loving the Bay is part of our daily lives, driving us to keep the Bay beautiful and healthy for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

It’s those special moments that make us fall for the Bay over and over again—when we stop in our tracks to take in a beautiful view or go out of our way to catch a glimpse of the water. That’s what our Fall For The Bay gala is all about—celebrating our love for the Bay, and in doing so, furthering our efforts to protect and restore it.

To mark the occasion, we asked you to share your stories of how you fell for the Bay. Below are a few of our favorites. Congratulations to Jasmine Worrell, the winner of our Fall for the Bay story contest, who will receive two complimentary tickets to our gala.

A breathtaking view of the Bay and the majestic Palace of Fine Arts
A breathtaking view of the Bay and the majestic Palace of Fine Arts

“I grew up only an hour away from our Bay, however in the valley where summer temperatures are often in the hundreds, I longed for cooler weekends closer to our coast. Some of my fondest childhood memories of the Bay are escaping the valley’s hot summer temps for the cool sea breeze & majestic view at Crissy Field, picnicking at the Palace of Fine Arts, and afternoons at (the former) Exploratorium. It was more than 30 years ago that I first fell in love with our beautiful Bay!” –Jasmine Worrell, Oakland

Here are a few other stories we loved:

“Moved from Calgary, Alberta, Canada because of The Bay. When we were first dating, we flew to San Francisco for a weekend holiday. The plan was to drive up valley and tour wineries all weekend but as serendipity would have it, there was an accident on Highway 29 and traffic was still for hours because someone hit a power box so we turned around and drove around the Bay all weekend. We had lunch in Sausalito and while sitting at a Horizons restaurant, we made a pact to move here. We took pictures of places we would come back to and 15 years later, here we are. We miss our Canadian friends but they visit lots. We have company all the time!” –Sandy S.

“I fell in love with the Bay when I had the opportunity to test piloting a two-person craft from Oakland Airport out towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We followed the shore north then turned around and came back over the Bay. The waters were calm, the air was clear. The month was August.  Immediately following, I drove out to the coast to watch the sunset.” –Teresa D.

“We moved here in 1969 and bought a home up in the El Cerrito hills with a bay view. I remember taking my young children on a tour of the bayside where there were huge wooden sculptures and still have a photo of them in front of it. We had wonderful times exploring the area.” –Natalie Z.

Come celebrate your love for San Francisco Bay at our Fall For The Bay gala, this September 26th at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio. This special event will help fund critical work to make the Bay more vibrant than ever. Ticket sales close September 24th, so RSVP today. We hope to see you there.

PS- How did you fall for the Bay? Tell us in the comments below.