Proposition 3 would invest big in Bay wetlands and clean water

California voters this November have a tremendous opportunity to accelerate San Francisco Bay tidal marsh restoration and improve water quality statewide through Proposition 3.  This $8.8 billion bond measure funds projects that provide environmental benefits to people and wildlife, including habitat for endangered fish, safe drinking water for disadvantaged populations, improved resilience against drought, and adaptation to climate change.

Proposition 3 provides $200 million directly to the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority for grants to restore Bay marshes, one of Save The Bay’s top priorities for the last decade. This would expand habitat restoration beyond what Bay Area voters are funding  through the Measure AA parcel tax approved in 2016.

While Measure AA will provide $500 million over 20 years for grants to fund wetlands restoration, that only covers about one-third of the estimated $1.4 billion cost to double the total tidal marsh in the Bay and keep it healthy [Greening the Bay]. Demand for Measure AA funds is higher than annual AA tax receipts can support – twice as much money was requested for restoration projects this spring as was available.

Proposition 3 will add crucial state funds to improve the Bay’s health and resilience to climate change, especially important at a time when the President and Congress are trying to reduce federal investments in the environment. It is vital to commit more funds to the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority while California’s economy is still booming and voters are open to approving bonds.

Save The Bay has endorsed Proposition 3 because it contains important water investments that benefit the Bay and Delta watersheds, including ten times more funding for San Francisco Bay than Proposition 68, the state parks bond that voters approved in June. These bond funds could be spent in the next five years and start revegetating more marshes sooner to stay ahead of sea level rise.

We’ve written more about the statewide benefits of Proposition 3, which you can read here.

Stay tuned for updates about Proposition 3 and other opportunities to Vote for the Bay at www.SFBayActionFund.org.

 

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.

You Made Blue a Success for SF Bay!

Building something from scratch isn’t easy. But having the opportunity to learn from that first experience, make improvements, and have the second time around be even better – now that is satisfying. The second annual Blue cruise was Save The Bay’s chance to inspire long-time and new Bay supporters to contribute to our policy, restoration, and education programming.

We couldn’t have asked for bluer skies or warmer weather as we chatted with guests from around the Bay Area, people who also care deeply about this beautiful place we call home.

All of the cruise tickets and auction bids made clear: our guests and sponsors also want a clean, healthy San Francisco Bay for people and wildlife across the region. Thanks to their generosity, we raised $100,000–incredible! This funding will greatly help to restore wetlands, reduce pollution, and inspire students to care for and conserve our beloved Bay.

We were thrilled that Neda Iranpour, KPIX 5’s Morning Weather Anchor, was able to host Blue. Her welcome speech about the beauty of our Bay – and the growing risks from climate change – was a truly moving message. 

One exciting feature at Blue was a tasting of three premium wines. Thank you to Dyer Wine, Nicholson Ranch and Tres Sabores for contributing so generously and for joining us on the cruise. 

Hands down, Blue could not have happened without the incredible support of our sponsors. A big thank you to our title sponsors: Mira and Suresh Raman, Deirdre and Chris Hockett, and Salesforce. We also were supported by several companies that we are proud to partner with, including: BB&T, Coupa Software, Latham & Watkins and PG&E. We’re always excited to bring employees from these organizations out to the shoreline where they help us pull weeds and install native plants. For a full list of sponsors, please click here.

There are many more highlights from the event, so please enjoy these photos taken by our fabulous photographers, Mike Oria and Steve Nosanchuk!

  • Photo by Mike Oria - mikeoria.com

If you didn’t get a chance to attend Blue and would like to support Save The Bay, please visit www.savesfbay.org/donate. You can also follow our work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thank you to all who supported Blue and for doing our Bay proud. We look forward to seeing you by the shoreline again soon.

 

Gratitude from the Ground Up: Meet the LightHawk Pilot Saving the Bay

Mike delivering flood relief supplies in Bangladesh

“I don’t like to climb mountains or go up walls. I just like to fly. It’s a neat feeling – controlling a plane in three dimensions. You get a neat view of the world.”

Mike Venturino has enjoyed this “neat feeling” for more than fifty years, and he recently won the highest honor in his industry: the Wright Brothers FAA Master Pilot Award.

Save The Bay couldn’t be prouder to have Mike at the helm of our LightHawk flights, ecological tours that highlight San Francisco Bay’s pressing threats from an aerial perspective.

Modest to the core, this Berkeley native would never boast that he pulled off his first solo flight at age 16 – before he got his driver’s license. Mike wouldn’t show off about holding two degrees from M.I.T. He’d be the last to mention his volunteer work with Angel Flight: regularly flying people hundreds of miles, free of charge, so they can receive much-needed medical treatment.

Mike with his stepdad, John Sparks

Mike caught the flight bug back in the 1960’s. It started when a man named John Sparks was pulling out every stop to woo Mike’s mom, a stewardess. John was so intent on marrying her, that he actually bought a small plane and took flight lessons. But once the couple said: “I do,” John no longer had an eye for his Cessna-175.

A teenager at the time, Mike felt differently from his stepdad. He couldn’t wait to take the small plane for a spin. “It just seemed like a cool thing you do – thought I’d give it a try. You ride bicycles, you drive things – obviously people fly planes.”

Mike started taking lessons, and he rapidly made his way from eager rookie to Air Force pilot to flight engineer, instructor, and consultant. Looking back on his 50 years of flying, Mike is glad the industry values collaboration more and more.

He says pilots are now “expected to put a lot more thought into acquiring data to solve problems. Your job isn’t to turn info off, but to solicit information [from the crew.]”

Mike has flown his wife across the U.S. four times!

Mike really enjoys learning from his LightHawk passengers. “Over King Tides, you can tell when you talk to people you’re flying with – this is important. I’m certainly now more aware [of environmental threats to the Bay] than I was ten years ago.”

Mike and his wife Michelle, a retired journalist, often walk Redwood City trails and express gratitude for their rewarding careers. “We both had jobs that made us happy to get up in the morning.”

But when Mike’s not “flying a massive machine through the sky for fun,” he still finds plenty of contentment at ground level. Indeed, it’s the simple moments that make Mike feel most grateful: “singing in church choir, playing ‘amateur’ music, going to Disneyland with my grandson, and, right now, I have a cat on my lap, and she’s been with us for 16 years, so… that’s pretty satisfying.”

 

First Measure AA Funds to Start Flowing

This week, Measure AA goes to work 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 will vote on how 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 would 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.

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.

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 watching the progress of this important work in the coming years.