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.

Op-Ed: Prop 67 bag ban stakes are global

The global effort to stop plastic from choking our oceans is under attack Nov. 8.

Proposition 67 on California’s ballot would ban giveaways of single-use plastic shopping bags throughout our state, not just in individual coastal and Bay Area cities.

Passing Proposition 67 would reduce plastic pollution and boost the movement for bag bans throughout the United States. But failing to pass it could crush progress here and around the world.

Plastic bag manufacturers are going for the kill right now, desperate to protect their profits from making throwaway items. When Gov. Jerry Brown signed a 2014 law banning these bags statewide, bag makers paid signature gatherers hundreds of thousands of dollars for a referendum that blocks the law unless Proposition 67 passes. Now they’re preparing to spend millions more to confuse voters. (Take Action: Let’s hold them accountable.)

Novolex and three other out-of-state plastic bag makers know that populous California is not only a huge market, but a trendsetter. If they defeat Proposition 67, they deter other states and countries from banning bags, and global plastic pollution continues to grow. If we pass Proposition 67, we keep billions of plastic bags from trashing our neighborhoods, creeks, bays and beaches, and we encourage other states and countries to do the same.

Single-use plastic shopping bags create some of the most visible litter in our communities and they harm and kill wildlife every day. In our oceans, sea turtles, otters, seals, fish and birds are tangled in plastic bags. Many animals mistake bags for food, fill their stomachs with plastic bits and die of starvation. Bag pollution also costs our state and local communities $107 million dollars annually for litter cleanup. Less than 5 percent of plastic bags in California are recycled.

In the 150 California cities and counties that have banned single-use plastic bags, these laws have already proven successful. Shoppers quickly adjust to bringing reusable bags to stores, and communities see deep reductions in plastic bags clogging creeks and storm drains. San Jose banned plastic bags in 2012 and currently reports 69 percent fewer plastic bags in its trash screens and 71 percent fewer plastic bags in its creeks.

But in most of California, bags are still distributed free by stores, and those bags don’t respect boundaries. Millions of plastic bags from other cities still blow and flow into our shared waterways or are carried to beach destinations like San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Monterey to become marine debris.

More than 1.3 million plastic bags were picked up from California beaches on just one recent Coastal Cleanup Day. So it’s no surprise that 90 percent of floating ocean debris is plastic, which never biodegrades.

For all of us who treasure California’s creeks, bays and beaches, and the fish and wildlife who live in them, Proposition 67 is a crucial opportunity to prevent billions more plastic bags from becoming toxic, deadly litter throughout the state.

Voting Yes on 67 is also our chance to show the nation and the world how to stand up to the plastic bag industry, so other states and countries follow our example and rescue the world’s oceans from the plastic trash that is choking them.

This Op-Ed was originally published in the San Jose Mercury News on 8/9/2016. 

Gov. Brown Restores Power to Coastal Cleanup

Logos of 39 Environmental Organizations that wrote to Gov. Brown urging him to reverse suspension of the Coastal Act.
39 Environmental Organizations, including Save The Bay, formed a coalition to urge Governor Brown to reverse his decision to suspend the Coastal Act in response to the Santa Barbara Refugio Oil Spill. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of these organizations, the governor lifted the suspension, ensuring a more effective cleanup.

The Santa Barbara Refugio Oil Spill last month highlighted the importance of keeping a close eye on business and government to avert further environmental destruction. When Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency in response to the spill, a loophole suspended the California Coastal Act, making cleanup efforts less stringent and specific. A group of 39 environmental organizations, including Save The Bay, successfully pressured the governor to restore regulatory power and ensure a more effective cleanup.

In the midst of environmental crisis, immediate and effective disaster response is key. Over 100,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean, poisoning marine mammals, birds and fish. Both Refugio State Beach and El Capitan State Beach were closed due to the dangerous conditions posed by the spill. Additionally, over 138 square miles of ocean were closed to commercial fishing.

Brown recognized the need for emergency action, but the governor’s attempt to “cut red tape” suspended the California Coastal Act, the primary law that governs the standards for development within the Coastal Zone. Suspending the Coastal Act compromised the Coastal Commission’s ability to ensure that Plains All American Pipeline, the company that owns the pipeline that ruptured, is held responsible for the cleanup and restoration of environmentally sensitive habitat areas (“ESHA”), wetlands, and marine resources.

Susan Jordan, director of the California Coastal Protection Network explains, “It makes no sense to suspend the very law that was created by a citizen initiative, in response to the massive 1969 oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, to address situations like this. If anything, this is the time to make certain the Coastal Act’s protective policies are administered and enforced.”

Save The Bay joined 38 other environmental organizations in writing a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, asking him to rescind suspension of Chapter 7 of the Coastal Act, which deals with coastal development stating that “the scenic and visual qualities of coastal areas shall be considered and protected as a resource of public importance”. The letter expressed deep concern about the Santa Barbara Refugio Oil Spill and the long-term impacts on California coastal environments and communities. The coastal damage that has already occurred as a result of the spill is unacceptable, and the spill was caused, in part, due to weakened regulatory oversight that resulted in a delayed shut down of the pipeline.

In response, Governor Brown reversed his order, reinstating the Coastal Act and putting regulatory standards back under the control of the California Coastal Commission.  This is a huge victory for the environmental community, as the Coastal Commission is best equipped to manage the process of cleanup and restoration and will ensure that the task is undertaken with environmental sensitivity.

Brown’s decision to lift the suspension of the Coastal Act is a reminder that environmental organizations like Save The Bay must stay vigilant and act as watchdogs on important policy issues to protect our precious natural resources.

How You Can Show Save The Bay Some Love on #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday Volunteering Save The Bay Restoraion Volunteers Habitat
Volunteering with Save The Bay is one of the many amazing ways you can give back on #GivingTuesday! Photo by Adrienne Warmsley

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday. This formidable trio of dates are all about buying, buying, buying. But what about giving back? This year, Save The Bay is joining #GivingTuesday, a nationwide social media movement especially for nonprofits and other charitable organizations to mobilize their online communities into giving back.

Save The Bay offers three easy ways for our beloved community to get in on the #GivingTuesday action. So, in the generous and grateful spirit of the holiday season, read on and choose how you can show Save The Bay some love:

Volunteer!

Save The Bay thrives on its volunteers. From November 2013 to November 2014, 5,748 volunteers logged 18,821 hours, put 21,393 plants in the ground, removed 34,558 invasive plant species, and collected 6,815 pounds of trash! How amazing is that? And the Bay is getting healthier and stronger because of all your hard work. #GivingTuesday is the perfect time to gather your friends, family, or organization together and pledge to get outside, have a blast, and lend Save The Bay a hand. We have public restoration programs every Saturday! Sign up to volunteer today.

Donate!

This #GivingTuesday, become a Bay Sustainer. Bay Sustainers are a special group of Save The Bay members who offer regular monthly gifts to support our critical work to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. With your regular monthly gifts we can build a reliable foundation that helps us plan for the future – while saving the expense of renewal notices. Plus, Bay Sustainers receive an awesome, super-soft Save The Bay t-shirt, designed in collaboration with Oaklandish, in return for your commitment to us. Click here so you can start bragging to your friends about your Bay Sustainer status today.

Take Action!

Here at Save The Bay, we’re experts at telling lawmakers what we’re passionate about and why. We depend on people like you to send a strong message to decision makers about what matters to Bay Area residents. Right now, we’re calling on cities throughout the Bay Area to stop cigarette butt litter — one of the worst pollution problems facing the Bay — at its source by adopting and enforcing outdoor smoking bans that keep cigarette butts out of our Bay waters. Sign on to express your concern for cigarette butt litter and the effect it has on public health and the health of our Bay.

Join us on #GivingTuesday by showing how much you care for San Francisco Bay. Volunteer, donate, take action, tag Save The Bay on Facebook or Tweet at us and tell the world about why you’re thankful for our gorgeous Bay, using hashtags #GivingTuesday and #sfbaylove. With your help on social media and in the field on #GivingTuesday and beyond, San Francisco Bay’s flora, fauna, and rippling waters will become even more glorious than they already are.