Bay Area voters showed again this week that we understand climate change is upon us, and we will invest to keep our communities and San Francisco Bay safe and healthy. In fact, we are ahead of voters in other parts of California – and that meant some mixed results on priority ballot measures endorsed by Save The Bay Action Fund.

Your votes made a big impact in this election, producing victories on most ballot measures in our Bay Smart Voter Guide, which benefit San Francisco Bay’s people and wildlife in a time of rapid climate change. Together, we passed measures to protect against sea level rise, reduce pollution, improve transit, and enhance open space. This is huge progress, as you can see in the detailed results below.

Unfortunately, Proposition 3, the state water bond, did not secure enough votes for passage statewide despite winning majorities in most of the Bay Area. In a noisy campaign year with a crowded ballot, we and our Prop. 3 partners needed to communicate the facts to more voters around the state.

Too many state voters did not know that Prop. 3 would help the 1 million Californians who lack safe drinking water, restore thousands of acres of wetlands for wildlife, and advance water recycling. Too many forgot about recent severe droughts and floods Prop. 3 would prepare us to survive.

Nevertheless, we know these threats will keep increasing and sea levels will keep rising. Save The Bay is more committed than ever to educating voters and elected officials that we need to invest in San Francisco Bay, the Bay Area, and beyond. With your support, we will

  • Advocate even harder for Bay Smart Communities, adapting cities and the Bay to survive climate change, pollute less, and prepare more. We will unite partners to win clean water, better transit, affordable housing, and healthier communities for all.
  • Accelerate marsh restoration on the Bay shoreline, to boost wildlife and protect against flooding.
  • Keep educating the next generation and all residents to support the Bay as volunteers, voters, and donors.

Thank you for voting for the Bay! Don’t wait until the next election to stay involved:

  • Volunteer with us to plant wetlands this fall
  • Advocate against trash flowing into the Bay
  • And, please donate generously to support all that Save The Bay does.

Photo credit: Yes on Measure V

As San Jose grows and becomes more expensive, too many hardworking families are being forced out of the city they love. San Jose needs housing to reduce the hours and hours of time workers spend commuting. Affordable housing can reduce commute times and help decrease emissions that lead to pollution and contribute to climate change.

Measure V authorizes $450 million of general obligation bonds to acquire, construct and complete affordable housing in San Jose. Alleviating the critical shortage of affordable housing is essential to creating Bay Smart Communities that improve Bay Area sustainability. Measure V will produce and preserve housing with access to transit so more low-income and middle-income residents aren’t displaced, and can live close to work without long drives that emit pollution and greenhouse gasses that worsen climate change.


Streets in downtown San Jose

Decades of neglect and lack of investment in San Jose’s urban infrastructure have left neighborhoods highly vulnerable to natural disasters and drought, leaving disadvantaged communities shouldering too much of that vulnerability. The February 2017 Coyote Creek flood forced 14,000 people to evacuate and caused $100 million in property damage. San Jose also struggles to comply with regulations to reduce trash and other pollutants from the city’s stormwater that flows into San Francisco Bay.

Measure T authorizes $650 million of general obligation bonds to protect vital infrastructure and people from earthquakes, floods and other disasters, and preserves natural open space. Bond funds will repair deteriorating streets, bridges and stormwater systems, and upgrade emergency preparedness.


Photo credit: Bill Clark

The East Bay Regional Park District provides Bay Area residents with access to public parks and trails along the San Francisco Bay Shoreline, an oasis destination that goes beyond the bustling urban development.

Measure FF funds protection and enhancement of urban parks by extending the current annual parcel tax on property owners in parts of western Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. It extends the tax of $12/year per single-family parcel and $8.28/year for multi-family units, raising approximately $3.3 million annually for the parks.


Photo courtesy of Strengthen Our Seawall for Earthquakes and Disasters, Yes on Prop. A

Proposition A authorizes $425 million in general obligation bonds to repair the 100-year old seawall along San Francisco’s waterfront, whose failure in a major earthquake could flood $100 billion in property and crucial infrastructure.

The Embarcadero already experiences flooding several times each year during King Tides. Floods will occur more often from severe storms, and up to five feet of additional sea level rise is expected this century. Even without a major earthquake, this flooding threatens vital roads along the waterfront, in the financial district, and nearby residential neighborhoods.

Flooding also could inundate BART and Muni tunnels, utility and water systems and historic buildings, such as the Ferry Building and along Fisherman’s Wharf. The Bay is too deep along the San Francisco waterfront to construct marshes for shoreline protection – this is one area where strengthening and raising the seawall is essential.


Eric Hoover found a tire and places it into the pile collected at India Basin Shoreline Park in San Francisco. Photo by Paul Kuroda

The San Francisco Chronicle originally published this article on February 15, 2018

Litter on California’s freeways and state roads is a disgrace, and it’s also one of the biggest reasons San Francisco Bay is choked with trash.

Every time it rains, trash from freeways and busy state roads, like El Camino Real and San Pablo Avenue, pours through storm drains into creeks and, ultimately, San Francisco Bay. Bottles, wrappers, Styrofoam, straws and cigarettes poison fish and wildlife, smother wetland habitat and deface the shoreline.

It’s time for our state transportation agency, Caltrans, to obey the law and stop polluting our waters. For years, Caltrans has violated the federal Clean Water Act and state storm water permits that prohibit uncontrolled trash flows from its roads.

Who bears the burden of that violation? It’s Bay Area cities, which are already striving to meet their own legal obligation to allow zero trash flow to the bay by 2022.

That’s because trash that drains off state roads becomes the local city’s responsibility.

So Caltrans ignoring road trash means cities from Oakland to Santa Clara face higher cleanup bills, or even fines for polluting the bay. That’s not fair. And when a state agency ignores the law, it becomes tougher to hold private individuals and companies accountable for polluting the bay.

Fortunately, the solutions are clear. Caltrans must remove roadside litter more often, and put trash-capture devices in storm drains on highways and right-of-ways. A few of these devices have been installed in problem locations, but only where cities pressed Caltrans hard for action.

In Richmond, Caltrans paid to install two trash separators in storm drains near I-580 that will screen water draining off 831 acres of urban streets. In San Jose, Caltrans agreed to fund a partnership with the city’s Conservation Corps to increase freeway cleanups.

Trash lines the shores of Damon Slough near the McAfee Coliseum and Highway 880, one of the worst trash hotspots in the Bay Area. Photo by Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

Those efforts stop only a fraction of the trash headed from state roads to the bay. In most of the identified trash hot spots, Caltrans is doing nothing — even where trash separators could be incorporated into needed road maintenance. The agency is years behind in dedicating money and setting a specific timeline to cut trash pollution, claiming funding constraints even though its budget this year is $11.3 billion.

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board called Caltrans’ behavior “deficient” more than three years ago, and issued a formal notice of violation over a year ago. But the board has not used its power to mandate actions and penalties for these violations. The victims are seals, pelicans and other wildlife choked and poisoned by trash in the bay.

It’s unacceptable for our state agencies to keep violating the Clean Water Act, especially as Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature proclaim our state will uphold federal environmental laws that the Trump administration is trying to erode.

The regional water board should immediately take enforcement action against Caltrans and require the agency to obey the law by cleaning up road litter and installing full trash-capture devices in the worst areas.

Continued violations deserve penalties and fines, just like a private polluter would face.

Until that reckoning, the state is shirking its duty to protect San Francisco Bay, our fish and wildlife, and public health.

So clean up your roads, Caltrans. Stop making San Francisco Bay wildlife and Bay Area cities pay for your pollution.

David Lewis is the executive director of Save The Bay.


Facebook Interns Restoring Wetlands
Facebook Interns Service Day at Bair Island

San Francisco Bay is home to more than 7 million people and is the largest, most valuable estuary on the West Coast. Facebook’s headquarters is located right on the Bay’s beautiful shoreline, and the company has shown its commitment to protecting local habitat and ecosystems —from the innovative 9-acre green roof at its Menlo Park campus to its broader efforts in the Bay Area.

By sponsoring Bay Day 2017, Facebook is helping people all around the Bay celebrate its iconic role in our community, and inspiring us all to better protect this shared natural wonder. Bay Day is San Francisco Bay’s new regional Earth Day. This Bay Day – Saturday, October 7th – is an opportunity to inspire positive environmental actions by connecting communities with immersive, Bay-themed educational and recreational activities.

This is not the first time Facebook and Save The Bay have partnered to protect the Bay. This June, 350 enthusiastic Facebook volunteers came out for a massive Intern Service Day at Bair Island, bringing their incredible work ethic to our three-acre Inner Bair Island restoration site. Facebook’s volunteers completed 100 days of restoration work in just one day.

At Save The Bay, Facebook’s platforms are vital to everything we do, from spreading the word about the Bay-spanning events this Bay Day to engaging citizens with our vision of a clean and healthy Bay.

This Saturday, October 7th, Facebook’s sponsorship is supporting volunteer restoration events in Redwood City and Palo Alto, and a total of 70 community events around the Bay. And for people and families who can’t make it to one of these public celebrations – Facebook helped us launch My Bay Day Adventure Guide, an interactive, online guide to experience Bay Day from your mobile device. I love how the My Bay Day experience helps people to discover the Bay in a new way, through each of our senses, and hope you and your family enjoy it too.

Save The Bay is proud of our partnership with Facebook, and we are grateful for all the company does to protect San Francisco Bay and the communities that call the area home.  Together, we can ensure a healthy and resilient Bay for generations to come.


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


Last summer, we had a young and passionate employee at our Save The Bay office: Shreyes, a 13-year-old intern who volunteered with our Marketing and Communications department.

Shreyes was homeschooled and began his academic adventures at the age of five. He excelled, and when he was 9-years-old, he enrolled in an Environmental Studies class at Foothill College. This class changed his life forever. He discovered a passion for conservation that eventually led him to Save The Bay.

After taking the course, Shreyes realized how important it is that we care for the environment. He writes in his blog:

“If we don’t clean up our act, and fast, Homo sapiens will soon cease to exist.

That’s why we have to save the environment.”

And, continues…

“Every single one of us has to pitch in to ensure our species’ survival.

Yes, even me. So I did.

The summer after taking that environmental science course, I replaced 90 percent of all incandescent light bulbs in our house with LEDs or CFLs. I turned off our sprinkler system. I reduced our A/C consumption. Our house’s energy usage was halved, and our water bill reduced by about 20 percent. I even convinced my family to install rooftop solar. But there was only so much I could do at home. One house cannot solve climate change. So I got involved in causes and decided to take action.”

Lucky for us, Shreyes decided to contact Save The Bay and we welcomed him as one of our Communications Fellows.

Your back to school gift to Save The Bay can inspire students like Shreyes. Your donation will support programs like SEED (Students Engaging in Ecological Design), which engages middle and high school students in the complete cycle of tidal marsh restoration from seeds to ecosystems. Your contribution will also support all the education, restoration, and advocacy efforts that teach and inspire students in the Bay Area and beyond.

Shreyes is a truly gifted young man, and his amazing story shows how environmental education can inspire students to protect and preserve the planet. Shreyes had to make an impact…

“Like many, I want to make a difference in my community and the world. Here at Save The Bay, I get the chance to do so.”

Providing immersive, hands-on education to students is vital to protecting the fragile ecosystems of the Bay Area. Our award-winning restoration education programs reach more than 2,000 kids each year – just $10 makes a difference providing essential tools for service learning on the shoreline. DONATE today!  

Our programs provide students with an opportunity to positively interact with and protect our beautiful Bay. After all, these young minds will be responsible for the Bay in the future — and our actions today will influence how they treat our environment tomorrow and for years to come.

Thank you, Shreyes, for your drive and desire to do good in the world! And, to all of our youth and student supporters, we wish you a successful school year ahead.

Sincerely,

David Lewis
Executive Director, Save The Bay

P.S. If you’ve got five minutes today, read Shreyes’ wonderful blog here and remember, when you donate $10 or more you will also receive our new 2018 Save The Bay Calendar. 


Through the Gates

Bay Area residents have united in recent decades to protect the natural places we love and embrace the human diversity that makes our region vibrant. Save The Bay’s achievements prove the power of many different voices joining in common cause. Now acts of hatred and rallies for intolerance show that unity is needed more than ever.

Not long ago, we drove wildlife to extinction by damming rivers, cutting down forests, tearing down hillsides for minerals, and almost filling in San Francisco Bay.

Yet we united to save majestic redwoods, scenic shorelines, eagles, elephant seals, and sea otters. Just last year more than 70 percent of Bay Area voters chose to tax ourselves to restore more of San Francisco Bay. Natural open space has made us healthier and richer, and our healthier Bay is central to our quality of life and economy.

Not long ago, we exterminated native tribes, locked neighbors in internment camps, redlined neighborhoods, and outlawed interracial marriages. Yet we grew to embrace people from many cultures and beliefs to build a region of innovation, creativity, and collaboration that others seek to emulate. Less than a decade after San Francisco declared couples of any gender may marry, it’s now legal throughout the U.S. Our tolerance makes us stronger, and there is beauty in our variety.

We still face big hurdles to create an equitable and just society in the Bay Area. We can tackle climate change, pollution, growing inequality and continuing discrimination if we continue to stand united, embracing our diversity. Hate and violence won’t take us to that better place.

Let the Bay Area and all of California be a model to the rest of the nation. Let’s show that together we can overcome the tough challenges before us by putting care, kindness, and love first. When we do that, we can build a healthier Bay and Bay Area for all the people and wildlife that call this place home.