SF Chronicle endorses Measure AA

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A Way to Help Save the Bay

The San Francisco Chronicle published the following endorsement of Measure AA on April 8, 2016

The bay is what we love about living in the San Francisco Bay Area. It defines the landscape, sets the mood with its ever-changing aspect, helps provide the foods we love and connects us with nature — whether you sail the bay, walk the bay shore, bird-watch or just cross the bay during your day. The bay is our protector from severe weather. But the bay needs your help.

A parcel tax, Measure AA on the June 7 ballot in nine Bay Area counties, would generate funds to restore the bay wetlands and shelter bay communities from flooding and storm surge. Its very genesis as our region’s first nine-county tax measure conveys its importance to the Bay Area’s future. “This is a true regional opportunity to make something happen that needs to get done,” said Jim Wunderman, the president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, a business organization.

What needs doing is restoring the bay wetlands. Those watery swathes of grasses and pickleweed that line the bay’s edge are more than nurseries for fish and birds and attractive places to walk and paddle. The broad plains of marsh plants and wandering waterways allow storm-driven waves to spread out, dissipating their destructive force and lowering floodwaters. The problem is: There aren’t enough to act as the sponge we need to protect the airports, hospitals and office buildings we’ve built alongside the bay.

Since the 1800s, we have paved over wetlands for building sites or diked them for hay fields. Today, rising seas threaten to drown the marshes we do have because dams have held back the needed, nourishing sediment carried to the bay each spring. Work started in the 1960s has about 44,000 acres of tidal wetlands restored. There are another 35,000 acres available for restoration now, with the goal of reaching a total of 100,000 acres by 2030. Modern engineered levees, rather than mounded earth berms, also are needed to protect homes and offices.

The $12-a-parcel tax is expected to raise $25 million a year or $500 million over its 20-year term to aid that work. Those dollars will be used to leverage funding from state, federal and philanthropic sources. Other wetlands restoration projects — notably Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound — have attracted four times the federal dollars that San Francisco Bay projects have, according to David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay. A source for a local match will help draw more federal funding here.

Persuading two-thirds of voters in nine counties to tax themselves remains a heavy but necessary lift. The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, created by the Legislature in 2008, put the measure on the ballot and will allocate the funds. It will rank projects by need and geography so that every county receives some funding.

The need encircles the bay. The chair, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, noted that his county is the most vulnerable to sea level rise, as measured by property value. Santa Clara County, with areas lying 13 feet below sea level, has highways and a water treatment plant at risk.

There’s another plus: “The measure is helping us build collaborative muscle,” Lewis said. “It is giving us a place to start to tackle other regional problems” — such as housing and transportation.

This modest tax has the potential to restore invaluable protective and pollution-cleansing powers of the tidal wetlands. We recommend a “yes” vote on Measure AA for those who live around and value the bay.

San Francisco Chronicle, April 8, 2016

Sylvia McLaughlin, A life of impact


Touched by the news of Sylvia’s passing, reporters from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and even Sylvia’s home state of Colorado paused to write lovely remembrances of her life and legacy. Here are some notable articles and remarks from the press.

Local Bay Area News Coverage:

Remembering Save the Bay’s Sylvia McLaughlin — KQED Forum  
Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis sat down with host KQED Forum host Mina Kim for a conversation about Sylvia McLaughlin’s contributions to the environmental movement and her legacy.  Listen >

Sylvia McLaughlin, co-founder of Save the Bay, dies at 99 — San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Peter Fimrite chronicles the life of Sylvia McLaughlin from her early years to the formation of Save The Bay and her legacy as an environmental leader. Read more >

Save the Bay Co-Founder Sylvia McLaughlin Dies — KQED
Lindsey Hoshaw reflects on Sylvia’s life and the challenges she overcame to save the Bay. The piece ends with a 2008 interview with Sylvia about why she started Save The Bay. Read more> 

Sylvia McLaughlin: Champion for San Francisco Bay (1916-2016) — Bay Nature
David Loeb, Executive Director and Publisher of Bay Nature, reflects on Sylvia McLaughlin’s leadership and thanks her for showing how to get things done. Read more > 

Sylvia McLaughlin, last living founder of Save the Bay, dies at age 99 — Contra Costa Times
Reporter Dennis Cuff recounts the history of the movement to save San Francisco Bay started by Sylvia McLaughlin, Kay Kerr, and Esther Gulick. Read more >

Sylvia McLaughlin, lifelong Berkeley environmentalist, dies at 99 — Daily Californian 
Alexander Barreira writes for the Daily Californian, an independent student-run paper at UC Berkeley, reporting on the life of environmental trailblazer, Sylvia McLaughlin. Read More >

Other news:

Sylvia McLaughlin dies at 99; longtime San Francisco Bay environmental activist — Los Angeles Times 
Jill Levy reminds us that Sylvia’s activism was rooted in her love for the beauty of San Francisco Bay. That beauty inspired decades of advocacy and environmental successes. Read more>

Environmentalist Sylvia McLaughlin dies at age 99 — Denver Post 
News of Sylvia McLaughlin’s passing reported in a Colorado newspaper. Read more >

High Fivin’ by the Bay

CBS 5 San Francisco recognized our progressive environmental efforts to restore and protect the Bay in their High 5 morning news segment. The report sheds light on the importance of curbing pollution and removing non-native plant species, while applauding the effort of community volunteers. Last month, more than 40 CBS 5 SF employee volunteers helped remove 1,110 pounds of invasive species at the MLK Nursery. To find out more information about our volunteer programs go to www.savesfbay.org/volunteer. Watch the video below: