Oakland Agrees to Fund More Trash Removal


Save The Bay’s campaign to accelerate trash reduction has scored a major victory!

After a contentious month of budget hearings, the Oakland City Council approved a two-year budget at the end of June that includes significant new investments recommended by Save The Bay to keep trash off Oakland city streets and out of San Francisco Bay. Oakland funded two new cleanup crews to remove trash from illegal dumping sites and homeless encampments by adding $1.6 million to the budget, with another $150,000 for additional operations to clear stormwater-related trash from streets. The city also authorized installing full trash capture devices in storm drains through transportation and streetscape improvement projects funded by Measure KK. Voters approved that Oakland infrastructure bond endorsed by Save The Bay in 2016.

The City Council was poised to add another $350,000 for one-time costs to onboard the new cleanup crews, but deferred consideration until later this year because of a procedural hurdle. Now the challenge will be to implement these measures quickly and remove street trash that will otherwise end up in creeks and the Bay, especially as rains return this autumn.

For Oakland to demonstrate its trash reduction schedule alignment with the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s requirement, the city will have to hire and deploy the new clean-up crews, and document how much more trash they are removing. The city also needs to specify how many trash capture devices will be installed in high-trash generating areas and how soon. In September, Oakland will have to report to the Water Board whether it is close to achieving the goal of 70 percent reduction in trash below 2009 levels, or face enforcement action that could include penalties. We’ll be assessing that report along with other Bay Area cities.

How did we make trash cleanup a bigger priority in Oakland? Our community allies provided crucial support for inclusion of these trash reduction measures in the budget, especially Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), SEIU Local 1021, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). These groups have been working for years to reduce blight, improve public health, and increase quality of life for residents and working in Oakland neighborhoods.

With broad backing, our recommendations ultimately were incorporated into both the Oakland City Council President’s Budget supported by Mayor Schaaf – backed by Councilmembers Reid, Guillen, Gibson McElhaney, Campbell Washington, and Kalb – and the People’s Budget backed by Councilmembers Brooks, Kaplan, and Gallo.

This outpouring of support and the council’s positive response show again that Bay Area residents love San Francisco Bay, and want cities to make the Bay clean and healthy for everyone who lives here.

While each city’s process and politics are different, we learned a lot from Oakland that will guide our efforts with other cities that are not meeting the regional stormwater permit limits on trash flowing to the Bay:

  • Local alliances are crucial for effective grassroots pressure and direct lobbying, especially when we team with partners from beyond the traditional environmental realm.
  • Save The Bay is trusted by the news media and can generate good coverage of this issue – here is an excellent example.
  • Our technical expertise and good working relationship with the Regional Water Board staff positions us well as a credible voice on permit requirements and trash treatment options.
  • Even a small number of Save The Bay activists who show up to advocate with their local officials can have a big impact.

We’ll be working this summer and fall to help more cities keep trash out of the Bay.

Climate Progress is Up to Us, not Trump

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President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord is wrong for the planet, public health, and the U.S. economy. But three months into the most backward Administration in generations, his reckless move is not a surprise. Ignorance, provincialism and allegiance to fossil fuel barons are dominant in this White House, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt leading the anti-science, anti-environment, pro-polluting industry interests. The Administration had already taken many actions to reverse climate gains from the Obama Administration.

Trump had already announced he would repeal air pollution regulations on the dirtiest power plants, end restrictions on oil drilling in ocean waters, encourage new coal leases on federal land, allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and loosen environmental standards for fracking of oil and gas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

We’ve known for months this President’s true colors. His criminal rejection of climate solutions means all of us must continue the Bay Area’s and California’s leadership to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and accelerate adaptation for resilient cities and natural habitat. 

Trump’s actions are frightening, but Save The Bay’s record makes us hopeful. We’ve labored for over a decade to create new local funding for Bay wetland restoration, building a broad coalition that ultimately won 70% voter support for the Measure AA parcel tax throughout the region last June.

With thousands of members and supporters, and a public and leaders who understand the climate challenge, we can continue to make progress. So we’ll continue our leadership to protect and improve our environment, right here in the Bay Area.

Our effective local organizing and action to accelerate wetland restoration, protect shorelines against flooding, and make cities “Bay Smart,” is more important than ever. We’ll keep organizing with mayors and officials from all nine counties to promote green infrastructure that adapts our communities to climate change, reduces Bay pollution and improves natural resources. We’ll keep proving by the ongoing economic success of the Bay Area that leadership on climate change is a spur to innovation that supports sustainable growth, and that we can translate that growth into good green jobs that will help transition our region, our nation, and the world to clean energy and low-impact development.

And we’ll support elected officials here in California to pursue strong state protections for the Bay and environment, to counter the Trump Administration’s anti-environment policies. Save The Bay has endorsed bills moving through the state legislature to do exactly that.

With your help, we won’t let Trump drag down our country and the planet. Our fight for a healthy Bay and resilient Bay Area will keep our region strong and beautiful.

Further suggested reading:

Election 2016: The good news you may have missed

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Sometimes the small victories at home can lead the way in making a big difference for the state and the nation. Photo by Mike Oria.


While the nation reckons with the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in last week’s presidential election, and we begin to make sense of the effects it may have on public policies and budgets in California and the Bay Area, San Francisco Bay supporters have a lot to celebrate in state and local election results.

This year, Save The Bay endorsed a full slate of statewide and local ballot measures to improve the environment and advance environmental justice by reducing major sources of trash that foul our Bay and by upgrading outmoded transportation, housing, and infrastructure.

Our endorsements of Prop 67 (the statewide single-use plastic bag ban), Prop 56 (the increase in the state’s tobacco tax), and 10 local Bay Smart Ballot Measures helped almost all of these measures to victory.

With nearly all the votes counted, Prop 67 passed with 52 percent of the vote (the plastic industry’s deceptive counter-measure, Prop 65 failed with 45 percent). Prop 56 passed with 63 percent support, and nine out of ten local Bay Smart Ballot Measures passed as well.

Building on our success in passing Bay restoration Measure AA in June, Save The Bay’s contribution to these victories is another big advance for our 2020 Strategic Plan.

We have extended our work upstream and upland to address sustainability issues facing our region in ways that benefit San Francisco Bay. Perhaps as important, we have positioned ourselves powerfully to protect our Bay in the uncertain period ahead.

In the next few months, we will be working hard to develop our 2017 state legislative agenda, as well as a focused approach to preserve federal funding and environmental protections for the Bay.

Thanks to you and Save The Bay’s thousands of supporters, we are confident that we will continue making progress to protect and enhance San Francisco Bay in these new and challenging circumstances.

Here are the complete results for the local Bay Smart Ballot Measures that Save The Bay endorsed:

Affordable Housing Measures

  • Measure A1 (Alameda County Bond): $580 million bond for down payment assistance, rental and housing development, preserving homes for low-income and other vulnerable people, preserving affordable rental housing, and preventing tenant displacement.

PASSED: 72.3%-27.7% (2/3 required)

  • Measure K (San Mateo County Tax): 20-year extension of a half-cent sales tax with commitments from the Board of Supervisors to increase investments in affordable housing, focused on seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and working

PASSED: 70%-30%  

  • Measure A (Santa Clara County Bond): $950 million bond to create and maintain affordable homes for the most vulnerable members of Santa Clara County communities, including veterans, seniors, homeless children, and low-income and working

PASSED: 67.3%-32.7% (2/3 required)

Transportation Measures

  • Measure C1 (Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District): 20-year extension of a $96 annual parcel tax necessary to continue providing nearly $30 million per year necessary for safe, reliable, affordable AC Transit bus service for the East Bay.

PASSED: 81.4%-18.6% (2/3 required)

  • Measure B (Santa Clara County Tax): half-cent, 30-year sales tax measure expected to generate $6 billion for transportation projects, including expanding and improving BART and CalTrain; increasing bus frequency; and bike and pedestrian programs to close gaps and improve

PASSED: 71%-29% (2/3 required)

  • Measure RR (BART Bond): $3.5 billion general obligation bond to repair and replace rails, upgrade the train control system to reduce congestion, and improve access to BART with more parking, disabled access, and bike

PASSED:  70.2%-29.8% (2/3 required)

Housing/Transportation Measures

  • Measures J & K (San Francisco): Measure K calls for a 0.75 percent general sales tax increase for 25 years, expected to generate between $150 and $155 million for the General Fund. Measure J establishes new funds and allocation requirements that will provide roughly $100 million for transportation programs (MUNI equity and affordability; transit maintenance and expansion) and $50 million for homelessness

Measure J PASSED: 66.4%-33.6%  

Measure K FAILED: 35%-65%  

Infrastructure Measures

  • Measure KK (Oakland Bond): invests up to $600 million in repaving and repairing streets and sidewalks, improving libraries and parks, and upgrading public safety buildings and fire

PASSED: 82%-18% (2/3 required)

  • Measure T1 (Berkeley Bond): $100 million general obligation bond for infrastructure improvements including streets and sidewalks, storm drains, green infrastructure, parks and recreation centers, and public  buildings.

PASSED: 86.5%-13.5% (2/3 required)

Vote Bay Smart: transportation investments we need

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Since 2000, the population of the Bay Area has grown by 870,000. Just 500,000 of that growth has occurred in the last six years.

We Need Investment in Our Transportation Infrastructure: Our Bay Depends On It. 

We all know that the Bay Area is an incomparable place to live. There are world-class cities, rich history and culture, a thriving economy, and ample recreational opportunities, featuring majestic expanses of nearby open space. At the heart of it all is our region’s greatest natural treasure: San Francisco Bay.

Unfortunately, we all also know that Bay Area traffic is incomparable. If you’ve spent any time traveling at rush hour, whether on the roads or public transit, you know the frustration this causes firsthand.

Since 2000, the population of the Bay Area has grown by 870,000. Just 500,000 of that growth has occurred in the last six years.

A boom in population growth has outpaced the expansion and upgrading of our transportation infrastructure.

Between 2010 and 2040, our population is expected to grow 30 percent. This growth has outpaced the expansion and upgrading of our transportation infrastructure, putting enormous strain on the entire system. It is also a major driver of our region’s skyrocketing housing costs that are forcing many residents to move farther away from their jobs and take on longer commutes.

This time lapse video shows a map of central Bay Area traffic throughout the course of a typical weekday, illustrating the gridlock that drivers face on virtually every major freeway. And the congestion isn’t limited to the morning or evening commutes. In fact, the “evening” commute begins at 2:30 p.m. By 5 p.m., there is a sea of red surrounding the Bay that doesn’t clear up fully until well past 9 p.m.

This map of course doesn’t show ridership on buses or BART, which get extremely crowded and inaccessible at pressure points during the day, leading to delays and increasingly frequent breakdowns.

All of this causes serious negative impacts on the quality of our air and the health of our Bay. When people spend more time in traffic, they emit more greenhouse gases that pollute our air and contribute to global warming, and more toxic airborne particulates that wind up in Baywater. They also leave behind more trash and PCBs on our roadways to contaminate stormwater runoff that flows into the Bay.

As our over-stressed public transit systems become less reliable and accessible, and the region continues to grow, more and more commuters take to their cars, exacerbating these problems.

Our transportation infrastructure throughout the region needs significant expansion and upgrades to accommodate growth and relieve congestion. Fortunately, we have a chance to make real progress this November.

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More time in traffic causes serious negative impacts on the quality of our air and the health of our Bay.

There are three key ballot measures that will make particularly critical improvements to our transportation system, helping to reduce road congestion and encouraging expanded use of public transit: BART District Measure RR, AC Transit District Measure C1, and Santa Clara County Measure B.

You can get detailed information on each of these measures at our Bay Smart Ballot Measure page.

Real benefits for the Bay from these ballot measures will include: fewer cars on the road, less particulate matter to pollute our air and water, and less trash and toxins on our roadways to wash into the Bay with every storm.

As our region continues to grow in the coming years, we have a responsibility to protect the health of the Bay – and the health of all Bay Area residents – as much as possible. Improving our transportation infrastructure is one of the most effective ways we can do that, so let’s vote Bay Smart on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Paid for by Save The Bay.

Voter Guide: Saving the Bay by sustaining the Bay Area

As the Bay Area struggles to accommodate rapid growth, it is critical to invest in affordable housing, improved transportation, and community infrastructure.
As the Bay Area struggles to accommodate rapid growth, it is critical to invest in affordable housing, improved transportation, and community infrastructure.

Already, 2016 has been a pivotal year in the remarkable history of Save The Bay.

After 55 years of hugely successful work to protect San Francisco Bay from damaging shoreline development, dumping, and storm water-borne toxic trash, the passage of Measure AA on the June 2016 ballot marked the evolution of our mission from rescuing the Bay to restoring it.

But 2016 isn’t over yet, and now we’re taking another giant step to advance Bay Smart solutions to threats posed by our region’s rapid growth.

For the first time in Save The Bay’s history, we’re endorsing 10 local ballot measures focused on upgrading the Bay Area’s outmoded transportation, housing, and infrastructure.

Download our Bay Smart Voter guide

These measures align with Save The Bay’s 2020 Strategic Plan, which extends our work upland and upstream from the shoreline to address sustainability issues facing our region in ways that will benefit San Francisco Bay.

Our challenge is to reduce the flow of pollutants into the Bay, increase the efficiency of water use, decrease emissions of airborne particulates and greenhouse gases, reduce heat island effects, and improve access to the shoreline, all while the Bay Area’s population is projected to grow 30 percent larger.

This slate of measures takes important steps toward these goals by:

  • Funding public transportation upgrades and roadway improvements that will decrease automobile use and storm water runoff, and the pollution they contribute to the Bay
  • Creating affordable housing that will alleviate homeless encampments – which are a major source of Bay pollution – and maximize the environmental benefits of denser development by reducing displacement of working families from our urban centers
  • Expanding the use of green infrastructure and increasing urban greening, which will keep the Bay cleaner and healthier and help more people to enjoy its beauty.

Taken together, these measures advance the key environmental justice goal of ensuring that disadvantaged communities, which have suffered the most from environmental damage, do not suffer further as our region adapts to become more resilient to climate change.

These measures will also reduce the pressure that lack of transportation and housing infrastructure creates for more sprawl into open space, including baylands, and will help preserve the political consensus for protecting the Bay that comes from our region’s shared sense that it belongs to us all.

We hope you and all of our region’s residents who love the Bay take a moment to review the “Bay Smart” slate on Nov. 8, and follow its recommendations when you vote.

Passing these ballot measures is just the beginning. We’ll be working with partner organizations, businesses and municipalities to advance a Bay Smart communities agenda through other policy mechanisms like local and state legislation, regulatory changes, and by helping cities improve best practices.

Ultimately, saving the Bay will require saving the Bay Area’s quality of life. In the words of our strategic plan, “We must help save the Bay Area as a sustainable community with a healthy Bay at its heart.”