The Bay unites us. We won’t let hate divide us.

Through the Gates

Bay Area residents have united in recent decades to protect the natural places we love and embrace the human diversity that makes our region vibrant. Save The Bay’s achievements prove the power of many different voices joining in common cause. Now acts of hatred and rallies for intolerance show that unity is needed more than ever.

Not long ago, we drove wildlife to extinction by damming rivers, cutting down forests, tearing down hillsides for minerals, and almost filling in San Francisco Bay.

Yet we united to save majestic redwoods, scenic shorelines, eagles, elephant seals, and sea otters. Just last year more than 70 percent of Bay Area voters chose to tax ourselves to restore more of San Francisco Bay. Natural open space has made us healthier and richer, and our healthier Bay is central to our quality of life and economy.

Not long ago, we exterminated native tribes, locked neighbors in internment camps, redlined neighborhoods, and outlawed interracial marriages. Yet we grew to embrace people from many cultures and beliefs to build a region of innovation, creativity, and collaboration that others seek to emulate. Less than a decade after San Francisco declared couples of any gender may marry, it’s now legal throughout the U.S. Our tolerance makes us stronger, and there is beauty in our variety.

We still face big hurdles to create an equitable and just society in the Bay Area. We can tackle climate change, pollution, growing inequality and continuing discrimination if we continue to stand united, embracing our diversity. Hate and violence won’t take us to that better place.

Let the Bay Area and all of California be a model to the rest of the nation. Let’s show that together we can overcome the tough challenges before us by putting care, kindness, and love first. When we do that, we can build a healthier Bay and Bay Area for all the people and wildlife that call this place home.

Bay Nature to honor Executive Director David Lewis as 2017 Local Hero

David Lewis, Executive Director, Save The BaySave The Bay Executive Director David Lewis has been announced as the recipient of the 2017 Bay Nature Local Hero Award for Conservation Action.

He will be honored by the conservation nonprofit Bay Nature Institute alongside a “dynamic duo” in the field of citizen science, and an inspiring organizer of tree-planting initiatives in East Palo Alto. These awards are presented annually to recognize dedicated extraordinary contributions to the protection, stewardship, and understanding of the environment of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The award recipients will be honored at Bay Nature’s Local Hero Awards Dinner on Sunday, March 26, 2017, at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco.

From Bay Nature:

David Lewis has been an effective advocate, tireless organizer, and articulate spokesperson for San Francisco Bay for more than 18 years. As executive director of Save The Bay, David has brought together diverse stakeholders, from public officials to grassroots activists, to forge regional solutions to the Bay’s most pressing challenges. He has helped build Save The Bay into a regional political force, culminating with his leadership of the successful campaign for Measure AA, the first ever voter-approved region-wide funding measure in the Bay Area. Passed in June 2016, Measure AA secures $500 million for the restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands and shoreline over the next 20 years. David’s keen political instincts and strategic vision were critical in achieving this milestone victory for the Bay. Under David’s leadership, Save the Bay has also engaged thousands of Bay Area residents in volunteer habitat restoration projects around the Bay shoreline. David says, “It’s such a privilege to work for a healthy Bay with a large and growing community of people who care for this remarkable natural treasure and produce results that we can see and touch.”

Bay Nature’s other awardees for 2017 are Environmental Education Award winners Rebecca Johnson & Alison Young, co-coordinators of the Citizen Science Project at California Academy of Sciences and Youth Engagement Award winner Uriel Hernandez, a community forestry coordinator from the nonprofit Canopy.

Historic Measure AA for a Clean and Healthy Bay Approved by Bay Area Voters

With nearly all of the votes counted, it appears that voters throughout the Bay Area last night approved Measure AA, a first of its kind regional ballot initiative that will generate $500 million for restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands. With 965,543 votes counted so far, the measure is passing with 69.08% of the vote and the campaign is confident in its projected victory.

“All indications show that the voters overwhelmingly agreed that restoring the Bay Area’s most precious natural resource is a top priority,” said Save the Bay’s Executive Director David Lewis. “Tonight’s vote is a resounding victory for wildlife and people who want a healthy, beautiful Bay for future generations.

At current counts, it appears that residents in all nine Bay Area counties have approved the measure to restore of San Francisco Bay wetlands through a small parcel tax of $12 per year. Over the next 20 years, the measure will raise $500 million for critically important Bay restoration projects.

“The Bay is our region’s most important natural resource, and also its most threatened. It makes great sense that we all share in its restoration and preservation,” said Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman. “Voters from all walks of life recognize the importance of bringing the Bay back to good health by voting Yes on Measure AA.”

The San Francisco Bay is challenged by trash, toxins and sea-level rise among other threats. For the Bay to be healthy and sustainable, it ultimately needs 100,000 acres of wetlands to filter pollution from its waters and increase habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife that make up its rich and diverse ecosystem. These wetlands will also allow for further expansion of public access to the shoreline, and protect low-lying communities and critical infrastructure from the increased risk of flooding due to extreme weather and rising seas brought about by climate change.

Each year, rising seas swamp more and more of the shoreline, leaving less wetlands to restore and making restoration of those that remain more expensive to complete. The recently completed Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, a report that represents the consensus of scientists who study the San Francisco Bay, concluded that only 20 to 30 years remain for restoration that had previously been planned to take place over a period of 50 years.

“We would like to thank the many business, environment, labor and community leaders across the region who strongly supported the measure, as well as our elected leaders at all levels of government,” said Silicon Valley Leadership Group president Carl Guardino. “It is because of your efforts and support for this initiative that we will now be able to address one of our most pressing regional issues – protecting San Francisco Bay from the threat of rising seas and a changing world climate.”

Right now, the Bay has only 44,000 acres of tidal wetlands, and while more than 30,000 shoreline acres have been preserved from development and are awaiting restoration, lack of funding has slowed progress. Measure AA will generate sorely needed funding for the restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands, benefiting the people, wildlife, and economy of Bay Area communities. This local funding will also help the region leverage the additional state and federal funding necessary to finish the job.

“Bay Area voters made a terrific investment to restore San Francisco Bay and leave a legacy that will be cherished for generations,” said Michael Mantell, President of Resources Legacy Fund. “It’s a great testament to collaboration, and this investment can leverage additional state and federal support the Bay needs to be healthy.”

More than 2,000 individuals and organizations endorsed Measure AA, and an unprecedented, broad coalition campaigned for the parcel tax from Vallejo to Alviso, and Livermore to San Mateo.

The measure was place on the ballot by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a regional government agency charged with raising and allocating resources for the restoration, enhancement, protection, and enjoyment of wetlands and wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay and along its shoreline.

“The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Board is thrilled by tonight’s result and the public’s support for our mission to restore the Bay,” said Dave Pine, San Mateo County Supervisor and Chair of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. “We look forward to utilizing these funds in a fiscally responsible way to do the important work of preserving a healthy San Francisco Bay.”

Three Questions for New Political Director Paul Kumar

San Francisco Bay Healthy Bay Political Director Paul Kumar
Our new Political Director Paul Kumar is working to engage local residents in establishing a healthy Bay. Photo by Rick Lewis

Last month, we welcomed Paul Kumar as Save The Bay’s new Political Director. We asked Paul a few questions about his vision for advocating for a thriving San Francisco Bay.

Why do you love San Francisco Bay?

I guess you could say I’ve had a lifelong love affair with bay regions and their ecology. I grew up in Harrisburg, PA on the Susquehanna River, which is the largest tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. In my teens I spent some very memorable summer weeks on the Eastern Shore of the bay itself, where I learned to appreciate the extraordinary richness and diversity of its marshes and wetlands,  and the complex web of aquatic and avian life they support. As an adult, before moving to the West Coast, I spent a decade living in New Haven, CT, on the shores of Long Island Sound, which I got to know and appreciate with greater scientific understanding that I gained from my friends working in water quality, wetlands restoration, and wilderness education programs. Fifteen years ago, when I had the opportunity to relocate to the San Francisco Bay area, it felt like the culmination of all my past history. The Bay is epically beautiful and fecund – people from all corners of globe come here to marvel at it, and its rich ecology is the wellspring of the world-changing social and economic development that have grown up around it, including the wisdom that led Save the Bay’s founders to launch the advocacy efforts and build the structure of governance capable of protecting and enhancing the Bay’s health for posterity.

What’s your vision for a healthy Bay?

San Francisco Bay is not a wilderness, but a critically important estuary located in the midst of a densely populated area that is projected to experience nearly 30% population growth by 2040. That makes it critical for us to have a vision for a healthy Bay that is not just driven by the science of preservation and restoration of wetlands and wildlife habitat, but that encompasses a vision of human interaction with the Bay, focused on ensuring that future economic development efforts and land-use plans are genuinely sustainable, avoiding encroachment on and discharge into waterways and transitional zones, and abating those problems where they already exist. In short, we need to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between the natural environment and the built environment, based on ecological consciousness.

Why is political advocacy important to protecting our Bay?

In an economy where growth and profit are the driving maxims, there will always be incentives to disregard the exploitation of the natural environment and externalize costs at its expense. While educating individuals and institutions on ecological values and practices is critically important to address these threats, that alone is insufficient. Protecting and enhancing our environment requires energized popular engagement and a deepening of democracy that expands people’s power over decisions that have significant impacts on our communities and the ecological systems that sustain them, which in our region means San Francisco Bay first and foremost. Political advocacy is our means to these ends, and after an election with record-low turnout that has placed Congress in the control of climate change deniers, it is impossible to overstate the importance of strong advocacy if we are to protect the environmental progress we have made and win additional advances rather than watch our achievements be rolled back.

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.
Read More>>

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.
Read More>>

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.
Read More>>

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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