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.

Saving The Bay with Local Companies: Why a Former Staffer Got us Outdoors with Autodesk

Seth goes fishing off the coast of Marin County

“I’ve always had a love of nature, but my work at Save The Bay introduced me to the wonder of wetlands, which were off my radar before.”

A native of Marin County, Seth Chanin grew up just a block away from San Francisco Bay. As a kid, this former Save The Bay staffer spent weekends roaming the beach, kayaking the Bay, and biking rugged hillsides.  As an adult? Nothing’s changed for Seth. “Water really is a place of reflection, of solace for me.”

It’s why Seth spent his college years studying Environmental Science and Economics, the ideal combo for a self-described “business hippie.” Yet, Seth says it was his former role as Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Program Manager that inspired him to “always look at the landscape through ecologist’s glasses – understanding that we have increasing human populations, increasing demands on the land, and new challenges posed by climate change.”

Now, as Autodesk’s Employee Impact Engagement Manager, he seeks volunteer opportunities for his colleagues that are bound to spark a “high-impact experience.” Seth hopes these volunteer events “will open their eyes to important work being done in their communities, so they come back and do skill-based and pro bono volunteering with organizations like Save The Bay.”

Autodesk employees get outdoors to transplant seedlings

He’s convinced non-profits and leading Bay Area companies have much to gain from connecting – when they actually do connect. “There’s a huge need on non-profit side, resources and good intentions on the corporate side, but they’re often like ships passing in the night.”

Yet, Save The Bay and Autodesk recently broke through the barriers, proving these partnerships don’t just spark change – they get people smiling.

Of course, there was plenty of prep involved to share our work fighting threats from climate change. Save The Bay’s Restoration team essentially brought an entire nursery to the Autodesk campus. It meant sterilizing all the soil and pots it would take to transplant 10,000 seedlings.

Somehow, they got it done in time for 200 Autodesk employees to head outdoors last Thursday and help us transplant all 10,000. Their hard work translates to roughly 25% of the plants we’ll install for the year. Save The Bay’s Restoration staff was thrilled to share the science and importance of wetland restoration with so many new faces.

Seth pitches in with a former colleague at Save The Bay, Kristina Watson (photo credit: Ray Mabry)

The event fit right in to Autodesk’s Global Month of Impact and their offices happen to be just 15 minutes from our Bel Marin Keys restoration site where we’re using cutting-edge technology to build up more than 40 acres of wetland habitat.

Better still, Seth says he can already envision some long-term opportunities for both parties. “It’s exciting to expose our employees to something new and get them thinking about the design aspect of ecological restoration – because they make the tools used to design and make just about anything, including the barriers that will help protect Bay Area communities from rising waters.”

Save The Bay, meanwhile, looks forward to even more volunteer partnerships with Bay Area companies. We couldn’t agree more with Seth when he stresses: “it’s an important time to think about what’s happening in our backyard – and to apply our skills right here to solve those problems.”

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.

Celebrating David Lewis’ 20 Years of Battles for our Bay: Stopping Cargill from Paving Bay Salt Ponds

“Their proposal was out of touch and out of time with what the Bay Area wants and needs.”

David Lewis doesn’t mince words when it comes to Cargill’s “Saltworks” project. Back in 2006, America’s largest private company had grand plans: fill in 1,400 acres of Redwood City salt ponds to build 12,000 homes. Cargill’s agenda represented precisely the kind of reckless development Save The Bay was formed to fight.

So, David took them on – and won. In celebrating his 20th anniversary as Save The Bay’s Executive Director, we’re proud to look back on one of his biggest victories for San Francisco Bay.

For David, stopping Cargill’s plan hinged on a simple message: “We don’t do this anymore. We stopped filling the Bay decades ago. This was a Minnesota-based company completely out of touch about what is legal or supported by the public here.”

Early on, he also emphasized this project’s threat to the Bay as regional, not just local: “The Bay belongs to all of us. Today, residents understand that an attack on one part of the shoreline can affect the whole Bay, its fish and wildlife. That means we won’t leave this up to just Redwood City to decide.” Save The Bay launched a public campaign – Don’t Pave My Bay –  showing how building a new city in these salt ponds would harm both people and wildlife. David raised awareness in the media about how it would destroy wetland habitat, worsen traffic, threaten port jobs, and endanger residents as sea levels continue to rise.  Save The Bay secured signatures from 150 Bay Area elected officials urging the Redwood City Council not to permit the project, including leaders from neighboring Menlo Park, Atherton and San Carlos.

Federal and state laws, and Redwood City’s own zoning and general plan, prohibit development in the ponds, and Save The Bay showed the legal case against Saltworks was strong. David encouraged state and federal regulatory agencies to voice their concerns at the very beginning of the Environmental Impact Review, instead of waiting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified the Redwood City ponds as one if its already-authorized acquisitions to expand the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, should Cargill become a willing seller.

With David’s encouragement, local activists proposed Measure W, amending Redwood City’s charter in 2008 to require a vote of the people for rezoning any open space. Though that Charter Amendment lost at the ballot box, it forced a public debate about the negative impacts of Saltworks, not the benefits Cargill and its development partner DMB Associates were promising the city. Meanwhile, marsh restoration was accelerating at Bair Island just north of the Saltworks site, demonstrating to city leaders and residents the benefits of restoring nature to salt ponds instead of paving them for development.

The Measure W campaign also led Redwood City residents to organize their own power as a new group. Redwood City Neighbors United quickly became the largest community organization in town, with hundreds of supporters. Over the next four years, with encouragement and support from Save The Bay, these residents relentlessly lobbied their own councilmembers to focus on redevelopment in downtown Redwood City, near Caltrain transit – not on restorable salt ponds in the Bay.

“We knew that even though Cargill and DMB had tons of money, lots of consultants and influence in Washington, DC, they couldn’t move forward without local approval in Redwood City.” By 2012, the Council was growing weary of the controversy and opposition. Rather than extend the environmental review of a project too big and destructive to approve, the Council signaled the developer to withdraw its application. Cargill promised it would soon submit a revised proposal, but never has. The company tried to convince federal officials to declare the ponds are not regulated “Waters of the United States,” but at David’s encouragement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency blocked that effort, and the Clean Water Act protections for that Bay shoreline remain strong.

“Those salt ponds remain at risk of development until Cargill sells or donates them for habitat restoration and wildlife protection,” says David, “so we’ve repeated our call on Cargill to do that. It’s the last sizeable parcel on the shoreline that needs to be secured, so we don’t ever have to wage that kind of battle there again.”

Will you celebrate David’s 20th year at Save The Bay by supporting all we do to protect this beautiful place we call home?

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A vision of Bay Smart Communities for a Sustainable Future

As the Bay Area continues to grow and change, and the Bay faces new threats, we know we need to take an expanded view of how to protect and restore the Bay for people and wildlife. Creating “Bay Smart Communities” is essential for creating a healthy Bay, because pollution and climate change aren’t limited to the shoreline.

Threats to the Bay originate inland and upstream. So how our cities choose to accommodate more people and businesses will have a huge impact on the Bay. We must shape those choices to make the Bay better.

That’s the discussion we’re having this month with forums in Oakland and Mountain View about our vision for how Bay Area cities can become Bay Smart.

Save The Bay was founded in 1961, with what looked like an impossible mission: stop the Bay from being filled in. It was considered impossible then to stop cities building into the Bay — that was the inevitable march of progress, considered essential to create room for commerce and a growing economy. But when we stopped filling the Bay, the opposite happened. The Bay Area has boomed because protecting nature in our midst made this a more desirable urban area to live, work and play.

In all of this work, Save The Bay will ensure the Bay’s voice is heard. We will leverage the power of our membership, resources, and reputation. We will collaborate with partners who share our concerns and goals. We are eager to learn from those who’ve already devoted years of effort to this work, and we will also bring new perspective and energy to the process.

This month we’ve added more details to our vision of Bay Smart Communities, and made recommendations for protecting the Bay by tackling the big challenges facing our region:

  • How do we live, work and move around the Bay Area in ways that are sustainable and resilient in a time of rapid climate change?
  • How do we accommodate growth in the Bay Area in ways that reduce water and air pollution, including greenhouse gases?
  • How do we reduce water and energy consumption, and improve equity and environmental justice?

We can’t save the Bay without addressing these pressing Bay Area challenges. We can promote Bay Area planning and development policies and decisions that help create Bay Smart Communities — where sustainable growth in our cities actually enhances the Bay, reduces pollution, is more resilient to climate change, advances environmental justice, and promotes equity.

Read Bay Smart Communities for a Sustainable Future here

View of the Bay Area, Photo By Jill Zwicky

 

Hacienda Avenue Green Street Improvement Project, Campbell CA