Vote Bay Smart: The Bay Area’s housing crisis is a crisis for San Francisco Bay

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The Bay Area’s extreme lack of affordable housing is a significant contributor to longer traffic commutes and multiple growing homeless encampments that increase the flow of pollution into the Bay.

Sky-high housing costs have for a long time now been the single biggest concern for Bay Area residents. Average rental costs in the region have risen to more than $2,500 per month, and the median single-family home price recently hit an all-time high of $841,500, more than double its Great Recession low.

While there are multiple causes for the Bay Area’s affordable housing crisis, and many disagreements about which of them are most important and how best to address them, there are three things on which virtually all of the region’s policy analysts, public interest advocates, and elected officials can agree:

  1. The region’s huge job and population growth have not been met with equivalent growth in the supply of housing, especially affordable housing subsidized for offer at below-market rates.
  1. In recent years, there have been massive cuts in federal and state funding for the creation and preservation of affordable housing, including elimination of the state’s redevelopment program. Statewide, these cuts have reduced annual funding for affordable housing by $1.7 billion.
  1. The affordable housing crisis is the major factor driving increases in the volume and length of daily car commutes that add greatly to the region’s stormwater pollution, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. This extreme lack of affordable housing is also a significant contributor to the multiple growing homeless encampments that increase the flow of trash, bacteria, and other pollution into the Bay.

For the immediate and long-term health of San Francisco Bay, it is critical that we reduce the toxic stormwater runoff and airborne particulates that are a major source of Bay pollution, and house the homeless people whose urban encampments foul the Bay with tons of trash and untreated waste.

To address these problems, it is vitally important that we build more affordable housing at greater density along transit lines in Bay Area cities, and this will require that we make meaningful new public investments.

There is a critical mass of ballot measures across the Bay Area to fund more affordable housing for low- and middle-income individuals and families. Three of the most important of these measures, which are the focus of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and its allies, are:

  • Alameda County Measure A1, a $580 million bond to preserve and expand affordable housing for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, low-income families, and homeless people.
  • San Mateo County Measure K, which would extend a half-cent sales tax for 20 years to help fund affordable housing for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and working families.
  • Santa Clara County Measure A, a $950 million bond to expand affordable housing for South Bay veterans, seniors, homeless people, and low-income and working families.

Together, these measures add up to the kind of coordinated regional action that can begin to address our affordable housing crisis on a scale that really matters to the Bay Area and to San Francisco Bay.

Building more affordable housing at greater density along urban transit lines will not only reduce Bay pollution, but also reduce development pressures on open space, including baylands. Additionally, more affordable housing will preserve and increase Bay access for low-income families and communities of color that are being pushed to the outskirts of the region, and sustain broad-based support for protecting San Francisco Bay as the commons of the Bay Area.

Please make sure to vote for a clean and healthy San Francisco Bay by supporting the Bay Smart Ballot Measures in your area when you mail in your ballot or go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8!

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]

Bay Day Basics: The 5Ws

The Bay is alive and wild and that's why we are celebrating
The Bay is more than a stunning view — it’s alive, wild, and worth celebrating.

The first-ever Bay Day celebration is fast approaching! To help you get ready for the big day I’ve created the 5 Ws of Bay Day! These 5Ws consist of what, why, when, who, and where. Basically, everything under the sun you’ll need to know in order to have an awesome Bay Day on Saturday, Oct. 1!

What is Bay Day?

Bay Day is an annual celebration of San Francisco Bay. It’s like Earth Day but for the Bay!  Cities all around the Bay have officially declared Bay Day, and many community partners and local businesses are hosting celebrations, leading special Bay-themed programs, and offering discounts for the public.

Why are we celebrating it?

The Bay is home to not only a growing population but also to hundreds of different species of birds, fish and mammals. It is the largest and most ecologically important estuary on the West Coast, providing habitat for migrating shorebirds and larger mammals like porpoises and sea lions. When we take one day each year to celebrate this amazing natural resource, the movement to preserve and protect it for future generations grows stronger.

When is Bay Day?

Saturday, October 1, 2016. All day!

Who’s invited to celebrate Bay Day?

Everyone in and around the Bay Area is welcome to participate in Bay Day events and share their love for the Bay.

Where will Bay Day celebrations be held?

From Oktoberfest at the Napa Valley Museum to Port Fest in Redwood City the activities stretch across the entire Bay Area. Click on the links below to learn more about some of the Bay Day activities happening around the Bay Area on Oct. 1.

Find an event happening in your neighborhood at

First Official Bay Day

The first-ever Bay Day is indeed turning out to be much more than an ordinary Saturday in October.

The extraordinary support we’ve seen for Bay Day has come from every corner of the Bay Area. This amazing expression of Bay pride would not have happened without the many Bay Area cities, community organizations, and small businesses that have all come together for San Francisco Bay.

It now serves as a culmination of community effort and support for the place we call home.

We’re so thankful to cities and local leaders who have answered our call to officially declare Bay Day in their communities, and to the Association of Bay Area Governments that helped us rally support across the Bay Area. Here’s the list of cities that are on board so far — and we expect many more to join the Bay Day bandwagon in 2017!

Accepting Union City's Bay Day Proclimation
Accepting Union City’s Bay Day Proclamation
Contra Costa
Foster City
Menlo Park
Redwood City
San Francisco
San Jose
San Leandro
San Mateo
San Pablo
Santa Clara*
Santa Clara*
Union City

*Formal action pending

Interactive Bay Day declaration map provided by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG):

Yelp’s Top Bay Area spots to celebrate Bay Day

Bay Day is almost here! Museums, aquariums, parks, community organizations, and small businesses across the Bay Area will host special Bay-themed programs for residents to explore, enjoy, and learn more about our Bay on Saturday, Oct. 1. Whether you’re in San Francisco, the East Bay, South Bay, or North Bay, there’s something for everyone on Bay Day. Find the event that’s right for you at!

And for more ways to celebrate and enjoy the Bay, check out these top spots as curated by our friends at Yelp: