Save The Bay’s 2023 Legislative Priorities 

Each year, hundreds of bills are introduced to the California Legislature. These bills must be passed by both the Senate and Assembly, and signed by the Governor before becoming law. Save The Bay has a long legacy of pushing forward legislation that promotes a cleaner, healthier, more resilient Bay Area. This year is no different.

When Save The Bay was founded in the 1960s we led the effort to pass the McAteer-Petris Act. This legislation established the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) which protects and restores the Bay for current and future generations. In 2016, we led a campaign to pass Measure AA a $500 million parcel tax to fund wetland restoration projects that is helping restore shoreline habitat and prepare the Bay Area for rising sea levels. 

Today, one of the greatest challenges facing the Bay Area is the need to make our communities resilient to climate change. This includes our transportation systems, housing, public infrastructure, and the shoreline. During this year’s legislative session, we are leveraging our relationships with state and local elected officials and partner organizations to advocate for bills that make the Bay Area more resilient. 

Our Priority Issues 

This year, we are supporting bills that will further our goals in the following priority areas: 

  • Sea Level Rise and Flood Resilience: Promote transparent, consistent, and equitable planning for sea level rise and flood resilience.  
  • Pollution Prevention: Keep pollutants like trash, microplastics, and harmful chemicals out of our waterways and the Bay. Some bills do this by banning the source of pollution while others require treatments that remove pollutants before they reach waterways. 
  • Urban Greening: Support multi-benefit urban greening projects to address urban heat, flooding, and lack of greenspace.  
  • Dense, Affordable, Transit-Oriented Housing: Build affordable housing in transit-oriented neighborhoods near jobs and amenities and away from wildfire and flood-prone areas. Environmental and housing issues are intertwined – where we build housing has implications for quality of life, safety from environmental hazards, and our ability to preserve open space.
Green Stormwater Infrastucture on a street in San Jose

Bills That We Support 

Learn about some of the bills we’re supporting this year. 

SB 272 is Save The Bay’s top priority bill this year. Currently, cities in California choose how (or if) to create sea level rise resiliency plans. Those plans are not held to a consistent standard, which leads to inconsistency and gaps in regional planning. SB 272 would require cities in California to create a sea level rise resiliency plan by January 1, 2034 and would give BCDC new authority to review and approve plans for cities in the SF Bay Area.  

This bill is still moving through the legislature. To make sure it passes and is signed by the Governor, we have worked closely with Sen. Laird and have submitted support letters and given public comments at legislative committee hearings. We have also organized local Bay Area elected officials to sign a letter of support

SB 423 would streamline approval for multifamily housing projects in areas that have not met their regional housing needs allocation goals. California and the Bay Area remain in a housing affordability crisis. This bill provides a reasonable approach to accelerating housing construction in urban areas that are lagging, without encouraging urban sprawl, long polluting car commutes, and destruction of undeveloped land. We worked with Senator Wiener to ensure that the bill continues to protect wetlands and sensitive wildlife habitats, and we are encouraged by the bill’s inclusion of sea level rise provisions in the coastal zone. We will continue to work with Sen. Wiener to extend similar sea level rise provisions to areas within the San Francisco Bay so that we can balance our housing production needs with the climate risks that the Bay Area faces.   

This bill is still moving through the legislature.

AB 57 would create a pilot program to award cities, counties, districts, non-profits, and public schools with grants to plant pocket forests on public land. Incorporating trees and other natural elements in our cities improves quality of life and provides shade from increasing temperatures, and recreational opportunities in neighborhoods. Grants would be prioritized for disadvantaged communities and communities that lack easily accessible green spaces. 

This bill is still moving through the legislature.

When clothes made of synthetic fibers are washed in washing machines, they release hundreds of plastic microfibers which are too small to be captured by standard wastewater treatment. Every year, trillions of these fibers end up in the Bay and our oceans, where they contribute to the growing microplastic pollution problem. AB 1628 would require all new washing machines sold in California to contain a microfiber filtration system by 2029, addressing a major source of microplastics entering our waterways. 

This bill is still moving through the legislature.

AB 68 would streamline the creation of affordable housing in dense, transit-oriented communities near amenities and jobs. This would not only help address California’s housing shortage but also help preserve natural lands and build homes in areas that require less driving and that are less prone to hazards like wildfires and floods.  

Unfortunately, this bill did not pass this year, but will have another chance to pass next year.

The ordinary wear and tear of car tires on roads releases microparticles containing 6PPD and 6PPD-quinone, chemicals that are toxic to ecologically important fish species like salmon and trout. These tire particles are washed out to the Bay through the storm drain system and are the largest source of microplastic pollution in the Bay. This bill would mandate a Caltrans pilot project to install biofiltration systems along certain roads to prevent 6PPD and 6PPD-quinone from entering salmon and trout habitats, including SF Bay. 

Unfortunately, this bill did not pass this year, but will have another chance to pass next year.

How You Can Help 

If you’d like to help support our legislative priorities, you can sign our petition calling on Governor Newsom to support SB 272 to ensure consistent and transparent sea level rise adaptation planning in California. 

And make sure you’re signed up to receive our emails so that you can stay up-to-date on the issues facing the Bay Area.

With your support, we can continue advocating for important legislation to create a healthier, more climate resilient Bay Area.