First Measure AA Funds Start Flowing

Funds from measure AA will help accelerate Bay marsh restoration

Measure AA is accelerating Bay marsh restoration – realizing a vision Save The Bay first had more than a decade ago.

On April 11, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority voted to spend the first tax receipts from the nine-county ballot measure Bay Area voters overwhelmingly approved in June 2016. The first nine recommended project grants invest $23.5 million to restore tidal marsh habitat for wildlife around the Bay. Many of these projects also will provide trails and other public recreation, and help protect shoreline communities against flooding.

The Authority received a lot of proposals to fund restoration projects. “There was twice as much money requested as was available. There’s a lot of demand,” Save The Bay Executive Director Lewis told The Mercury News.

Scientists have told us for decades that the Bay needs at least 100,000 acres of restored tidal marsh to be healthy, after development reduced tidal marsh to only 40,000 acres. Many diked salt ponds and hay fields were acquired and protected for restoration over the last 20 years, bringing that goal within reach, and we identified the missing ingredient is sufficient public funding.

Recognizing how much local residents love the Bay, Save The Bay and other key stakeholders worked for years to create a way all of us who live here can help invest in a healthier Bay. We convinced the state legislature to create the Restoration Authority, a regional special district that could propose new funding mechanisms for the Bay. Eight years later, the Restoration Authority finally put Measure AA on the ballot, and voters agreed to pay a modest $12 annually for 20 years.

To maximize the impact of these funds, this first round of AA grants supports large and smaller restoration projects all around the Bay, including several in economically disadvantaged communities. (see the full list at www.SFBayRestore.org )

One of the most visible recommended projects is Phase 2 of the Ravenswood Pond restoration from East Palo Alto to Menlo Park. Part of the huge South Bay Salt Ponds complex, this project will convert more of the former commercial salt production ponds back into tidal wetlands. Drivers on the Dumbarton Bridge and California highway 84 have seen these huge brown areas for years, and soon that brown will begin turning green. Save The Bay worked to restore other Ravenswood sites in the past, and we will be creating transition zone habitat there with volunteers at the edge of Bedwell Bayfront Park. Read more about this project in The San Francisco Chronicle.

These grants are a major milestone in the effort to accelerate Bay restoration, but it is only the beginning. The Bay needs more funding to address the serious strain that growth and climate change are having on the Bay and Bay Area communities. There was more demand for the first AA funds than supply; matching funds will be needed from the state and federal governments to create all the wetlands needed. Proposition 68 on the June statewide ballot is the next opportunity to boost resources for the Bay, as it includes another $20 million in matching Measure AA funds.

Through Measure AA, Bay Area residents are funding the largest urban climate adaptation effort in the country, using green infrastructure to make our region more sustainable and resilient to the expected impacts from more extreme storms and rising seas. We look forward to seeing this important work progress in the coming years.

$20 Million Closer to a Clean & Healthy Bay

Just after Labor Day, we asked you to join Save The Bay in the fight to secure additional funding for important Bay restoration projects in the Parks and Water Bond under consideration by the State Legislature. You responded with overwhelming support. Over 1,700 of you signed our petition that we delivered to key members of the Bay Area Legislative Caucus.

With that support, and the help of our allies from the Bay Area Council, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Operating Engineers Local 3, and the Governing Board of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, we worked hard to make our case for Bay restoration funding among competing environmental priorities throughout California.

While we are disappointed that the final Parks and Water Bond the Legislature approved does not include the level of funding we had hoped for, we are happy to report that it does include a one-time state investment of $20 million for San Francisco Bay restoration projects. Subject to the Governor’s signature and voter approval on the June 2018 statewide ballot, these funds would add to the $25 million annually for 20 years provided by 2016’s regional Measure AA.

We have already begun work to identify additional Bay funding options that we can pursue in the coming year, and as always, our success will rely on your efforts.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our beautiful Bay,

David Lewis
Executive Director, Save 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:

Our 2016 Accomplishments for the Bay

Saving the Bay by Sustaining the Bay: A Year of Firsts…

This year has been decorated with big wins for the Bay. Highlights of 2016 include the historic passage of Measure AA, Prop 67, and nine of 10 local ballot measures we endorsed for the first time in Save The Bay’s history. While November’s election is a setback to environmental progress at the federal level, our 2016 accomplishments give us momentum here at home, where local and regional victories will be more important than ever.

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In early 2016 we published a visionary 2020 Strategic Plan, which maps out our ambitious path to healthy wetlands, Bay Smart communities, and a region that is resilient in the face of climate change.

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We installed 107,239 plants at sites around the Bay, creating important habitat for native and migrating birds.

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Save The Bay was instrumental in passing Proposition 67, a statewide bag ban that will keep billions of plastic bags from polluting our ocean, communities, and waterways, and Proposition 56, which will reduce the flow of toxic, plastic cigarette butts into our waterways.

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For the first time in Save The Bay’s history, we endorsed 10 local ballot measures that will contribute to a cleaner, healthier Bay and more sustainable Bay Area. With our support, nine of these measures were passed by voters.

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Our 4,830 volunteers contributed nearly 15,000 hours to shoreline restoration projects, and we provided 2,500 local students with hands-on volunteer opportunities.

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Culminating a decade of planning and preparation, we passed regional Measure AA, which will generate $500 million for the restoration of Bay wetlands. Thanks to our tireless advocacy, more than 70% of Bay Area voters supported Measure AA.

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Working with nearly 40 cities and counties across the Bay, we created Bay Day, one official day for our entire region to celebrate San Francisco Bay. In its inaugural year, Bay Day reached over 2 million Bay Area residents.

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Save The Bay and our supporters successfully advocated for a ban on outdoor smoking at Sunnyvale bus stops, shopping areas, festivals, and farmers markets. Our success will help protect wildlife from toxic, plastic cigarette butts, and are a model for other communities.

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We removed 7,200 lbs. of trash from the Bay shoreline, making our marshes cleaner and healthier.

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We launched Save The Bay’s new Bay Investors Council, bringing together Bay Area leaders and influencers who support Save The Bay financially and introduces the organization to new friends. We hosted our inaugural Bay Investors Council event on Bay Day with a catamaran sail on the Bay.

Download the PDF version of our 2016 Accomplishments here.

California Enacts Important Climate Change Legislation

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After a long legislative session, Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a handful of important climate change mitigation and adaptation bills, proving once again that California leads the nation in addressing the challenges of global warming. These bills are critical to continuing the state’s landmark climate policy to cap harmful greenhouse gas emissions that threaten the health of our communities and our natural resources, from San Francisco Bay to the scorched deserts in the east and south.

Senate Bill (SB) 32 directs the State Air Resources Board (ARB) to set emissions limits that reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Current law requires the ARB to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. As our state is ravaged by raging wildfires, continued drought, and rising sea levels, with more extreme storms expected in the coming months, SB 32 is the aggressive approach we need to further reduce the fossil fuel emissions that contribute to these conditions.

Questions still remain, however, over the fate of the state’s cap-and-trade program, which is the means of achieving greenhouse gas reductions under the emissions cap. Each company that emits greenhouse gases is required to obtain emissions permits, which can be bought or traded with other companies. If a company reduces its emissions below the cap, it can sell its permits, thereby incentivizing the development of cleaner energy technology. The cap is then reduced gradually each year in order to meet the overall target. Despite the passage of SB 32, the program is currently being challenged in court, and recent rounds of carbon credit sales have failed to raise the anticipated sums of revenue, with both developments making its future uncertain.

Assembly Bill (AB) 197 creates legislative oversight of the ARB, adding two Members of the Legislature to the board as nonvoting members, staggering voting members’ terms, and requiring the agency to prioritize emissions reductions rules and regulations that result in direct emissions reductions at the source – large stationary sources such as refineries and power plants, and mobile sources such as cars and trucks. Critics of the ARB have said the agency does not do enough to reduce these direct-source emissions where they have a disproportionate impact on the communities around them, many of which are low-income communities and communities of color.

Assembly Bill 1550 aims to address this disproportionate impact by ensuring that disadvantaged communities, as defined by the state, are guaranteed 25 percent of the funds in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which encompasses the revenues from the state’s cap-and-trade permits auction. In addition, at least five percent of the funds must go to projects that benefit low-income communities adjacent to disadvantaged communities, and an additional minimum five percent must go to projects that benefit low-income households anywhere in the state, regardless of their proximity to disadvantaged communities. These provisions guarantee that those communities most negatively impacted by greenhouse gas emissions will get priority funding to help mitigate those impacts. Save The Bay was proud to support this important legislation, that places environmental justice at the very center of climate change policy.

Our climate is changing, and we must adapt to a “new normal.” That is one reason why we worked hard to pass Measure AA in June: to create a steady stream of funding for important wetland restoration projects along the Bay shoreline that will not only make the Bay cleaner and healthier, but in many places create a natural, cost-effective flood barrier to help protect low-lying communities and critical infrastructure.

We must also couple those adaptation efforts with mitigation policies that reduce harmful emissions at the source, throughout the state. Passage of SB 32, AB 197, and AB 1550 is a significant step in the right direction, and we were proud to support these bills. As we look ahead to the next legislative session, we will work to support policies that build on them and ensure the success of our state’s climate programs.