News of the Bay: May 9, 2014

Check out this edition of News of the Bay for breaking news affecting San Francisco Bay

San Jose Mercury News
Failure of Warriors Waterfront Arena Latest in Long Line of Bay Development Defeats
The Golden State Warriors’ decision this week to abandon plans to build a new arena on piers along the San Francisco waterfront is not just a local development issue, but rather the latest example of a 40-year trend around San Francisco Bay.
No matter how rich or how politically connected, people who have proposed projects that environmentalists say are “filling the bay” or “walling off the bay” have nearly always seen those plans end in defeat.
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News of the Bay

San Francisco Chronicle
Warriors Find they Can’t Beat the Bay
The San Francisco Bay wins.
That’s what Joe Lacob and the Warriors learned. Their plans for a waterfront arena foundered, despite endless bluster, almost from the start of planning and now apparently have been abandoned.
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San Francisco Chronicle
Global Warming Threat to West Spelled out in Report
Dwindling water for farms, longer fire seasons and coastal flooding of homes and businesses await California as climate change intensifies, according to a federal report released Tuesday that details how global warming is damaging every region of the country.
The third National Climate Assessment, compiled over four years by more than 300 scientists at the direction of Congress, said California’s farm industry, which provides more than half the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables, is particularly vulnerable. So are many cities along the coast, including San Francisco, that are already experiencing flooding at high tides as sea levels rise.
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KGO Radio
Santa Clara Bans Styrofoam Containers
On May 6, The Santa Clara City Council voted to ban Styrofoam food containers. As one of the last large cities in the South Bay to take this step, this is a big deal. As of this week, 62% of Bay Area residents live in a community that has banned Styrofoam food ware. The Bay Area has made great progress on bag bans too. Right now 76% of Bay Area residents live under a plastic bag ban.
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El Cerrito stepping up to the plate on trash

Styrofoam polluting Coyote Creek
Volunteers pull Styrofoam out of Coyote Creek in San Jose, May 2013.

While Alameda County has banned plastic bags and is home to many Styrofoam bans, neighboring Contra Costa County has been lagging behind this regional trend… until recently.  Recyclemore, west Contra Costa County’s recycling and waste management agency, just took the lead in developing a model ordinance to ban plastic bags.  It’s now up to the cities in the west county to adopt the policy, and El Cerrito is batting first.

The ordinance would ban plastic bags at all retail stores; restaurants and non-profits are exempt.  While plastic bags will no longer be available, customers can purchase a paper bag for five cents.  Or, they can avoid the charge by bringing their own bags – pretty simple.  This ordinance would actually go beyond the plastic bag policies in place in Alameda County, which only ban plastic bags at retailers that sell food.  To maintain regional consistency, we are encouraging Alameda County to consider improving their ordinance within the next year.

El Cerrito isn’t stopping at plastic bags – the council is simultaneously considering a ban on Styrofoam food ware.  Currently, only a couple cities in the county have Styrofoam bans.  It makes sense to consider these ordinances together, as both products are ubiquitous litter items in our creeks and along the Bay shoreline.  Both products do not biodegrade, and both are constantly picked up by volunteers during creek cleanups.

We can imagine – in the not so distant future – a time when plastic bags and Styrofoam do not make it into the top ten litter items collected on Coastal Cleanup Day.  El Cerrito and the rest of Contra Costa County play a major role in making that a reality.

Do you live in El Cerrito?  Voice your support for a plastic bag and Styrofoam ban at one of the upcoming public meetings: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 7 p.m.