Big Wins for the Bay on Election Day

Dave Gordon

Voters across the state and region made their voices heard on Tuesday on a slate of measures that impact San Francisco Bay. From parks and water to transportation and land use, voters approved measures that will protect and enhance the Bay and rejected measures that posed a serious threat to the health of the Bay and Bay Area communities.

Save The Bay Action Fund endorsed these measures for the benefits they will provide for San Francisco Bay and Bay Area residents. Here is a brief summary of the results:

YES on Proposition 68 – WIN:

In a big win for the Bay, voters overwhelmingly approved Prop. 68, the statewide parks and water bond, which includes $20 million for Bay wetlands restoration, adding to Measure AA funds. This will accelerate important work to increase wildlife habitat, improve water quality, protect communities against flooding, and enhance public access to the Bay shoreline. In all, the bond includes more than $4 billion to ensure clean drinking water, provide more equitable access to our state’s parks, and protect California’s open spaces against wildfires, drought, and floods.

NO on Proposition 70 – WIN:

Voters soundly rejected this effort to hamstring the state’s ability to spend its cap-and-trade revenue. The Legislature currently spends these funds each year on programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help communities most affected by pollution adapt to climate change. Prop. 70 would have locked up this revenue after 2024 unless the Legislature voted by two-thirds to release it – an unnecessary and burdensome hurdle to funding critical climate programs.

YES on Proposition 72 – WIN:

Voters easily passed this measure to incentivize rainwater capture and reuse. Encouraging rainwater storage and reuse is smart policy that benefits the Bay and all of California.

YES on Regional Measure 3 – WIN:

In this important region-wide race, voters approved RM3 to relieve Bay Area traffic, helping to reduce roadway and air pollution that threatens the health of the Bay and the air we breathe. Through a $3 regional bridge toll increase that will be phased in over six years, RM3 will fund critical public transit and highway improvements like replacing aging BART cars, improving Caltrain and Muni service, and easing freeway bottlenecks in the East Bay. These projects will help keep vehicles off the road, ensuring cleaner air and water for us all.

NO on San José Measure B, YES on San José Measure C – WIN:

In a tremendous victory, San José voters rejected Measure B, which would have threatened the city’s open space, wildlife habitat, and creeks that feed the Bay. This was a deceptive attempt by developers to circumvent environmental and public review, skirt affordable housing requirements, and avoid paying millions in traffic and community impact fees. Voters also approved Measure C, which would have prevented the worst aspects of Measure B and now gives the San José City Council more power to reject future development proposals that promote sprawl and do not meet certain requirements on affordable housing, environmental review, and traffic impact fees. Save The Bay joined a grassroots effort that defeated Measure B, despite being massively outspent by developers.

Vote for the Bay by June 5!

This is the third and final blog in our series on the June ballot measures that will affect San Francisco Bay.

If you’ve read our previous posts in this series, you’ll know about a couple of the important measures on the June ballot that will affect San Francisco Bay. Proposition 68, the parks and water bond, includes $20 million for Bay wetlands restoration, adding to Measure AA funds. Regional Measure 3 would help relieve Bay Area traffic, reducing roadway and air pollution that threatens the health of the Bay and the air we breathe.

Save The Bay Action Fund has endorsed these measures for the benefits they will provide for San Francisco Bay and Bay Area residents. Here are Save The Bay Action Fund’s voting recommendations on other measures on this Tuesday’s ballot:

NO on Proposition 70 – Obstructs Climate Change Spending: Proposition 70 would hinder the Legislature’s ability to allocate money from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), which holds revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program. The Legislature currently allocates GGRF funds each year to programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help communities most affected by pollution adapt to climate change. This measure would lock up GGRF revenue after 2024 unless the State Senate and Assembly both vote by two-thirds to release it.

YES on Proposition 72 – Incentivizes Rainwater Capture and Reuse: Proposition 72 would prevent property tax increases on homeowners who install rainwater capture and reuse systems, benefiting San Francisco Bay and California by storing and reusing water.

NO on Measure B in San José – Endangering Open Space and Weakening Affordable Housing Requirements: Measure B creates a precedent for developers to build projects that threaten open space, including Coyote Valley’s farmland, wildlife habitat, and creeks that feed the Bay. It would create a large, gated subdivision of million-dollar homes and huge profits for developers while weakening affordable housing requirements and costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

YES on Measure C in San José – Preventing Sprawl and Ensuring Affordable Housing: Measure C would prevent the worst aspects of Measure B by giving the San José City Council more power to reject future development proposals that promote sprawl. The measure would require developers to include more affordable housing in their proposals, conduct environmental and fiscal review, and pay traffic impact fees.

Read about all these measures in our full June voter guide.

Regional Measure 3 Reduces Traffic, Helping Keep Our Bay Cleaner

Photo by Vincent James

This is the second in three posts about June ballot measures that affect San Francisco Bay.

Bay Area residents know all too well the gridlock on our roads and highways. Our region’s rapid growth has put a significant strain on our transportation infrastructure, with more cars on the road, more passengers packing trains and buses, and longer commute times.

All of this growth has a direct impact on the health of our Bay, as more vehicles crowd roads and highways that parallel the shoreline and cross the water. When cars sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic along I-880 or inch along the Bay Bridge, more oil runs off onto roads and washes into the Bay, and more particulate matter and greenhouse gas emissions pollute the air and threaten Bay water quality.

Regional Measure 3 (RM-3) will help reduce gridlock and improve public transit throughout the region. Through a $3 regional bridge toll increase that will be phased in over six years, RM-3 will fund critical public transit and highway improvements. These include:

  • Replacing aging BART railcars and extending BART to San José and Santa Clara;
  • Improving Caltrain, SMART, Muni, and ferry service; and
  • Easing freeway bottlenecks in the East Bay and Peninsula.

But this isn’t just about protecting the Bay. Less traffic means less pollution in our communities, particularly those of us in lower-income neighborhoods that are located in the shadow of freeways or next to major thoroughfares – many of which are also near the Bay shoreline. These communities have borne a disproportionate burden from pollution for decades, and they are also more at risk from the effects of climate change. Our region needs immediate traffic relief and transit upgrades not only to keep our Bay cleaner, but also to ensure cleaner air for us all.

RM-3 is endorsed by: Save The Bay Action Fund, League of Women Voters of the Bay Area, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo, the Bay Area Council, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, SPUR, and TransForm.

For details on all measures affecting the Bay, read the full June voter guide from Save The Bay Action Fund.

Proposition 68 Park Bond Boosts Bay Wetlands

Tidal Wetlands by Paul Crockett

In this series of 5 posts, we examine the different June ballot measures that affect San Francisco Bay

Voters in June will have a chance to vote for San Francisco Bay when they consider Proposition 68, the first statewide parks and water bond since 2006.

Prop. 68 would authorize $4.1 billion in general obligation bonds for state and local parks, environmental protection and restoration, water infrastructure, and flood protection.

This includes $20 million for San Francisco Bay to match funds from 2016’s regional Measure AA and accelerate restoration projects around the Bay, creating vital wildlife habitat and increasing our ability to adapt to rising seas.

In addition to matching Measure AA funds, Prop. 68 will do the following:

  • Deliver $725 million to provide more equitable access to parks. Creates and improves parks in park-poor neighborhoods, and dedicates up to 20 percent of its funds for communities with median household incomes less than 60 percent of the statewide average.
  • Invest $1.3 billion in local and state parks to ensure all Californians have safe, accessible places to play, and preserves California’s natural treasures. Focuses on new recreational opportunities for people living in underserved communities.
  • Allocate $1.6 billion to ensure the availability of clean drinking water. Secures water supplies, including support for groundwater cleanup and recharge, water recycling, pollution prevention, and flood control.
  • Provide $1.2 billion to protect and restore California’s open spaces, and make them more resilient to wildfires, floods, and drought.

Prop. 68 is endorsed by: Save The Bay Action Fund, Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sierra Club, Audubon CA, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, CA State Parks Foundation, State Building and Construction Trades Council, CA Chamber of Commerce, and all of the Bay Area’s major parks advocacy and open space preservation groups.

For details on all measures affecting the Bay, read the full June voter guide from Save The Bay Action Fund.

First Measure AA Funds Start Flowing

Funds from measure AA will help accelerate Bay marsh restoration

Measure AA is accelerating Bay marsh restoration – realizing a vision Save The Bay first had more than a decade ago.

On April 11, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority voted to spend the first tax receipts from the nine-county ballot measure Bay Area voters overwhelmingly approved in June 2016. The first nine recommended project grants invest $23.5 million to restore tidal marsh habitat for wildlife around the Bay. Many of these projects also will provide trails and other public recreation, and help protect shoreline communities against flooding.

The Authority received a lot of proposals to fund restoration projects. “There was twice as much money requested as was available. There’s a lot of demand,” Save The Bay Executive Director Lewis told The Mercury News.

Scientists have told us for decades that the Bay needs at least 100,000 acres of restored tidal marsh to be healthy, after development reduced tidal marsh to only 40,000 acres. Many diked salt ponds and hay fields were acquired and protected for restoration over the last 20 years, bringing that goal within reach, and we identified the missing ingredient is sufficient public funding.

Recognizing how much local residents love the Bay, Save The Bay and other key stakeholders worked for years to create a way all of us who live here can help invest in a healthier Bay. We convinced the state legislature to create the Restoration Authority, a regional special district that could propose new funding mechanisms for the Bay. Eight years later, the Restoration Authority finally put Measure AA on the ballot, and voters agreed to pay a modest $12 annually for 20 years.

To maximize the impact of these funds, this first round of AA grants supports large and smaller restoration projects all around the Bay, including several in economically disadvantaged communities. (see the full list at www.SFBayRestore.org )

One of the most visible recommended projects is Phase 2 of the Ravenswood Pond restoration from East Palo Alto to Menlo Park. Part of the huge South Bay Salt Ponds complex, this project will convert more of the former commercial salt production ponds back into tidal wetlands. Drivers on the Dumbarton Bridge and California highway 84 have seen these huge brown areas for years, and soon that brown will begin turning green. Save The Bay worked to restore other Ravenswood sites in the past, and we will be creating transition zone habitat there with volunteers at the edge of Bedwell Bayfront Park. Read more about this project in The San Francisco Chronicle.

These grants are a major milestone in the effort to accelerate Bay restoration, but it is only the beginning. The Bay needs more funding to address the serious strain that growth and climate change are having on the Bay and Bay Area communities. There was more demand for the first AA funds than supply; matching funds will be needed from the state and federal governments to create all the wetlands needed. Proposition 68 on the June statewide ballot is the next opportunity to boost resources for the Bay, as it includes another $20 million in matching Measure AA funds.

Through Measure AA, Bay Area residents are funding the largest urban climate adaptation effort in the country, using green infrastructure to make our region more sustainable and resilient to the expected impacts from more extreme storms and rising seas. We look forward to seeing this important work progress in the coming years.