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Bay Stories That Inspire

From restoration and education to policy and pollution, read inspiring and heartfelt stories about the passionate people and the work they do to save the Bay, every day.

Read this OpEd from our Executive Director, David Lewis originally published on March 27, 2019 in The San Francisco Examiner.

If the A’s take shortcuts that endanger public interests and the environment, they will lose support.

Fielding a winning baseball team is hard, but all teams have to play by the same rules. Building on the Bay shoreline is also hard, because we’ve wisely created rules to protect what we treasure for the public’s benefit.

Those rules preserve natural areas for wildlife, beaches and trails for recreation, ports and airports for commerce. When someone tries to avoid or bend those rules to build on the shoreline, it puts at risk all we’ve improved and protected around the Bay.

The Oakland A’s want to build a new stadium and 4,000 condos at Howard Terminal, plus one million square feet of retail and office space and a 400-room hotel. It’s a particularly challenging and complex location the Port of Oakland currently controls that is reserved for heavy industry and shipping uses, surrounded by a working waterfront employing thousands of people.

Prior uses contaminated the site with toxics, and it lies within the jurisdiction of many different agencies that legally can only permit specific uses there. It’s not served by public transit or easily accessible freeway off-ramps, and is separated from downtown Oakland by Interstate 880 and busy railroad tracks.

We’ve shared directly with Oakland city officials and A’s management our best advice: If they pursue this project following the rules and regulations that protect all of our interests, they could persuade the public and key agencies their ballpark can work at Howard Terminal. But if they try to change the rules and take shortcuts that endanger public interests and the environment, they will lose support.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires major projects to develop and share detailed information on impacts and a analyze alternatives in an environmental impact report for the public to review before any project is approved. The A’s and the City of Oakland started their report process this year with deep flaws and a rushed schedule. By leaving out major project elements and ignoring legal requirements, they will get a defective document that is challenged in court.

Instead of completing a strong report first, the city and team are already in Sacramento pushing a bill to end State Lands Commission and Port of Oakland oversight of Howard Terminal, easing the way for housing in an industrial zone. With that Pandora’s Box open, bills could also weaken the State Department of Toxic Substances Control’s rules prohibiting housing or parks on top of Howard Terminal’s contamination, and gut the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s ability to protect Howard Terminal as a seaport.

It may look like an alphabet soup of agencies and acronyms, but each one exists to protect our public health, economy, and environment – the air we breathe, the water we drink and the Bay that is the heart of our home. The cleaner Bay, improved shoreline and bustling ports we have today prove the wisdom of laws we created to govern development and protect people and wildlife.

These laws and procedures apply to everyone, and our elected representatives should not waive them for special interests, even for beloved institutions like sports teams we’ve cheered for years. Regulatory agencies also can mandate environmental protections and public amenities in a development project, so community benefits the A’s offer now aren’t dropped later — but not if legislators hamper those agencies. That’s why businesses, organized labor, Audubon Society and the Sierra Club are telling Bay Area legislators to keep these laws intact for the Oakland A’s stadium.

Wherever you hope the A’s play baseball in the future, it’s in everyone’s interest for their development proposals to follow the rules, not gut them. The San Francisco Giants tried and failed for decades to build a new stadium. Only after they took the time to build broad community support and follow city and state rules was their shoreline ballpark approved.

Conducting a complete and legally strong environmental impact report would give the public full information to make wise decisions about Howard Terminal. So would supporting public agencies whose rules have protected our interests and San Francisco Bay for a generation, instead of undercutting those rules.

Obey the laws – don’t seek exemptions from them. That’s the winning formula for the A’s, Oakland and the entire Bay Area.

Additional Coverage

A home run? Not quite. Lots of hurdles before the A’s new ballpark rises at Howard Terminal | Mercury News


Save The Bay’s Education Team has begun to implement a new activity that’s only possible with a fusion of Bay-Saving values. Instead of throwing them out, Save The Bay staff collected their egg cartons for a great application of reuse! This activity, adapted from Life Lab, is called 6 of 1, ½ Dozen of the Other. This provides a new way for students to explore marsh ecosystems by interacting with each other and their environment. 

Using their egg cartons (or “secret science containers”), students collect items using opposite descriptive words written on the bottom. Soft and hard, wet and dry, and living or nonliving are some pairs that they use. Once students collect their items, they switch with another pair and guess each other’s words! Mostly done with students grades 1-6, older students can participate and choose their own words.

This hands-on and engaging activity satisfies California State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Thanks to our Education team, kids are getting out to experience our beautiful Bay, learning necessary science skills, and having fun while doing it!


Cargill and DMB announce new effort to build in the Bay.

As we warned in December, Cargill and developer partner DMB have colluded with the Trump Administration to advance its anti-environment agenda. EPA Administrator Wheeler has issued a jurisdictional determination that the federal Clean Water Act no longer protects Cargill’s salt ponds in Redwood City.

The EPA’s decision is contrary to the law and the facts – EPA’s detailed 2016 review of the salt ponds concluded 1,270 acres of the ponds are in fact “waters of the United States” and deserve the Clean Water Act’s legal protection against filling. U.S. Representative Jackie Speier has publicly released the 2016 review into the Congressional Record – its detailed and thorough analysis is a stark contrast with Wheeler’s decision.

Watch Rep. Speier’s Congressional floor speech.

Cargill and DMB have already announced a new development proposal that will “re-imagine Saltworks.” A decade ago, they proposed building 12,000 luxury homes in the Bay for 25,000 people, but after enormous local and regional opposition to the project’s environmental damage, traffic and other impacts, the city council forced DMB to withdraw the plan in 2012.

Mayor Ian Bain says now the community will oppose new development on the ponds:

“The community wants to see the site restored to wetlands and there’s close to zero appetite for another housing proposal, “Bain said. “The site is not zoned for housing, I don’t want to see it rezoned and that’s still my position. What I would like to happen is I’d like to see Cargill donate or sell the land to a group that would restore it to wetlands.”

Here’s what you need to know, right now. We will continue to keep you informed on how you can take action to prevent new building in the Bay.

  1. Cargill and DMB still face huge barriers to new development on the salt ponds

Redwood City zoning and land use designations prohibit development on those ponds, and there’s no appetite in the city for making these types of changes.

California laws protect water, wetlands, and the wildlife that currently use those ponds as critical habitat.

Hundreds of local regional, state and federal leaders are on record over the last decade opposing development on Bay salt ponds, and California’s Governor and Legislature are on record opposing Trump Administration efforts to weaken the Clean Water Act.

  1. EPA’s new ruling of “no jurisdiction” is contrary to the law and the facts.

This determination directly contradicts the conclusion of an extensive review and recommendation from EPA Region 9 in 2016, which found that the entire Saltworks site is actually within the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

The Trump Administration’s erroneous conclusion rewards a private developer’s political intervention to override environmental protection and public interest. It’s a terrible precedent that threatens San Francisco Bay water quality and wetlands and weakens the Clean Water Act.

  1. DMB and Cargill colluded with the Trump Administration

These companies are embracing and abetting the Trump Administration’s attacks on the Clean Water Act, federal pollution regulations and enforcement.

The Trump agenda is strongly opposed in the Bay Area and California. Cargill and DMB have hurt their Bay Area business – not helped it – by attacking the nation’s fundamental water pollution law and undermining protections for San Francisco Bay,

These companies also have alienated Redwood City and Bay Area residents and elected officials, whose approval would be needed for any development on Bay salt ponds.

Recent press coverage on this issue includes:

San Mateo Daily Journal

Mercury News

To take action on this issue, sign our petition to the City Council of Redwood City


Allison Chan from Save The Bay finds a massive pile of illegally dumped trash near the Coliseum Way on-ramp to Interstate 880 in Oakland. Photo: Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

On February 13, after a seven-hour hearing, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board voted unanimously for an unprecedented Cease and Desist Order against Caltrans. Now the state’s transportation agency must speed up trash removal from freeways and state roads and stop it from polluting creeks and the Bay, or face $25,000-a-day fines.

This extraordinary victory capped off a two year plus advocacy campaign Save The Bay waged, backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 75 Bay Area elected officials, partner organizations, and thousands of supporters and action-takers.

Follow along the timeline to victory below.

Save The Bay Campaign Timeline

December 2016: At our urging, and backed by thousands of public petition-signers, the Regional Board issued a Notice of Violation to Caltrans for failing to do its job.

March 2018: Repeated failures to respond to the Notice of Violation led the Regional Board to direct their staff to develop a draft Cease and Desist Order on Caltrans.

April 2018: A hearing was held with Caltrans and the State Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation to address the Notice of Violation. Caltrans failed to present a credible plan to address the issue and clean up the trash.

December 2018: The Regional Board issued a draft Cease and Desist Order to compel Caltrans to comply with trash requirements on a specific multi-year schedule and received public comment through mid-January. Save The Bay drove thousands of public comments to the Board.

February 2019: VICTORY!  

In a seven hour hearing,  Elected officials, Save The Bay staff, and partner organizations spoke in favor of a strong enforcement order to push Caltrans to clean up their trash faster.

Caltrans argued that it cannot afford to increase trash control and screening efforts. Caltrans annual budget is more than $13 billion this year. Thanks to strong leadership from Board Chair Terry Young and Vice-Chair Jim McGrath, Board members rejected this argument.

Caltrans then made last minute appeals to reduce the acreage covered in the Order and give them more time.  Again, Board members stood firm, specifically highlighting Caltrans’ utter failure to make progress in the last five years.

The Board voted 6-0 to adopt a very strong Cease and Desist Order that requires Caltrans to accelerate trash pollution control efforts on freeways, state highways and roads like El Camino Real and San Pablo Avenue. The Board doubled the required area and pace of cleanup Caltrans must complete, beyond what its own staff had recommended in the draft Order.

While this Bay victory is exciting, the work is far from over. We intend to advance this effort with the Legislature and Governor Newsom: integral players in keeping Caltrans funded and accountable to the Order.  

Key Media Links

Caltrans ordered to clean up the roadways or face up to $25,000-a-day fines | San Francisco Chronicle

Caltrans Must Clean Up Trash Along Roads Or Face Steep Fines | KCBS

All that trash on Bay Area highways? Caltrans under threat of fines if it’s not cleaned up | San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: State must stop Caltrans pollution of San Francisco Bay | Mercury News

Winter Storms Pollute San Francisco Bay Waters With Trash | CBS Local

Caltrans, stop trashing San Francisco Bay | San Francisco Chronicle


San Francisco Bay is a bountiful haven for wildlife. Walking along the bayshore can reveal coverts of coots paddling along lagoons and shallow bays, perhaps joined by a raft or paddling of different duck species. Walk along any of San Francisco Bay’s many marshes, and you could find herds of curlews and flings of dunlin probing through mudflats at low tide in search of a consortium of crabs. You may stumble upon a sedge of bitterns or herons slinking through the rushes, tules (and yes, sedges) of the Bay’s wetlands in search of a hood of snails to eat. You may even pass a charm of finches or a host of sparrows on your walk along the trail. Perhaps a scurry of squirrels will scurry across your path on your wildlife safari? If you’re really lucky, you may even see a congregation of plovers, like the threatened Snowy Plover, amongst the salt flats.

Further out into the Bay, pods of seals, dolphins and whales feast on the schools and shoals of fish lurking under the bays waters. Along the shoreline there may even be a romp of otters chowing down on beds of oysters or herds of sea urchins.

A glance upwards to the sky reveals ever more wildlife. A trip over the San Mateo or Dunbarton Bridge provides a perfect viewing spot for a pod of pelicans, and you can often find flights of cormorants perched on electrical towers.

As the temperature rises in the afternoon you may find a kettle or cast of hawks catching the warm updrafts in search of prey. Or perhaps you’ll stumble upon a wake or committee of vultures feeding on carrion? You’ve likely seen skeins of Canada Geese flying overhead on their migration north; if not a gaggle of them can often be found roaming our parks and soccer fields.

Even the urban bay reveals plentiful wildlife. Our cities are havens for squabbles of seagulls, mischiefs of rats, or kits of pigeons. It’s not uncommon to find an unkindness of ravens or a murder of crows either. Perhaps you’ve even seen a glittering of hummingbirds visiting your bird feeder?