February 5, 2016

Pope Francis and the population problem

2014 visit of Pope Francis to Korea. Photo courtesy Republic of Korea on Flickr Creative Commons.

2014 visit of Pope Francis to Korea. Photo courtesy Republic of Korea on Flickr Creative Commons.

The pope has come out against climate disruption and he is more articulate and compassionate than his recent predecessors. Certainly his encyclical on climate change is welcomed by Sierra Club members as well as others. Climate change or climate disruption is just one symptom of a planet overpopulated by its dominant animal, Homo sapiens.

The Pope is addressing poverty which is also a good thing. One of the best ways out of poverty is to provide contraception to poor women which enables them to have fewer children and thereby better their circumstances. The F. Scott Fitzgerald quote “the rich get richer and the poor get children” is still the state of the world. The Vatican has opposed provision of contraception to developing nations as far back as the 1950’s. Many Catholics in more developed nations have access to and use modern contraception. It is time for the Vatican to play catch up.

The Vatican remains out of step with all who understand the dire consequences of not addressing population growth and over consumption. Some consequences of the population explosion include, but are not limited to, refugees pouring into Europe, war, chaos, climate change, rising seas, myriad forms of pollution, depletion of resources: minerals, ores, oil, gas, soils, forests, and fisheries.  We need to get our priorities straight. The future for humans is calamitous without more efforts to humanely reduce our numbers using voluntary family planning.

Today, 225 million women have no access to contraception and over 50 percent of pregnancies here and abroad are unplanned. Population is growing by 80 million a year and is projected to explode from 7 billion to 9 or 10 billion by 2050, yet our efforts and funding are minuscule relative to other spending, e.g., military and weapons.

The lack of contraception leads to unsafe illegal abortions in much of the world with an estimated 68,000 women dying and 5.3 million suffering disabilities annually. Certainly these facts should trouble a concerned, compassionate Pope. He did say Catholics don’t have to ‘breed like rabbits’, on his way back from the overpopulated Philippines, but has yet to condone modern methods of birth prevention. The planet and the poor would both benefit greatly, if the Pope supported modern contraception and sex education for all.

The SF Bay Chapter’s Population, Health, and Environment Committee meets monthly and hosts occasional events.  If you are interested in getting involved, please contact committee co-chair Suzanne York at slyork27@gmail.com.

– Article by Lee Miller, Committee for a Sustainable World Population, Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter

Art as activism — art’s persuasive power as a tool for the environmental movement

Designing for a sustainable planet requires a lot of creativity in almost every aspect, including policies, city planning, technology, and a myriad of other problems and innovations one may encounter. But we don’t call these “creative” practices, and they’re definitely not considered artistic practices. What if artistic practices were also thought of as essential to the environmental movement?

Barbara Boxer on C-SPAN 2 with photograph by Subhankar Banerjee.

Barbara Boxer on C-SPAN 2 with photograph by Subhankar Banerjee.

Art is persuasive. It is an argument not bound by the rules of language and can manifest itself in a wide range of mediums and forms. A 2003 U.S. Senate debate over drilling in the Arctic changed course when Senator Barbara Boxer showed a photograph taken by Subhankar Banerjee of a polar bear crossing a frozen harbor in response to a claim that the Arctic was just “a flat white nothingness.” Even in its simplicity, it overthrew an assumption that held together the pro-drilling argument, making a huge and abstract issue more tangible and immediate. It was images like this one that convinced lawmakers, including Alaska’s senior senator Ted Stevens, to oppose the drilling.

Both individual artists and large organizations are already using art to help drive political change, from exhibits dedicated to environmental art to huge installations in public spaces. It is happening all around us, and alongside it the potential to create change in a way entirely unique to its craft.

Wallace Stegner once called Ansel Adams and John Muir the “two great poets” of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. Adams worked closely with the Sierra Club, serving on the board of directors and later becoming an honorary vice-president, but his other contribution was his photography. Eventually his photographs of the National Parks built a visual timeline of what the parks looked like before and after tourism, which helped expand the national park system. Art creates emotional attachment in a way that empirical evidence rarely does, and can be both a reminder and a motivator.

Media other than photography can be just as effective. Two of the first environmental artists, Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, created a landscape sculpture called California Wash in 1996. Built over a storm drain in Santa Monica, the sculpture formed a trail from the Pico Boulevard to the beach to show the former ecology of the area. It traced the pathway the water had once taken to reach the sea before being replaced by storm drains, with bronze plaques inset with images of the original fauna, and glass imitating the natural geology of the area–a reminder of what had been contaminated or removed after urbanization. It was a “memorial” that the viewer moved through as they walked along the coast, a narrative that could just as easily be applied to our own lost landscapes, such as the Bayshore wetlands or the Hetch Hetchy Valley.

“Solar Eagle” by Spectral Q, Los Angeles. Photo by Jeff Pantukhoff / Spectral Q.

“Solar Eagle” by Spectral Q, Los Angeles. Photo by Jeff Pantukhoff / Spectral Q.

Great art is also accessible. When options feel limited or people feel unequipped to make change happen on their own, it can bring them together to take a collective stance. This happened when thousands of volunteers collaborated on 350.org’s eARTh project to make human sculptures visible from space. These human sculptures took place all around the world, including one in Los Angeles called Solar Eagle. The participants’ individual bodies together formed the image of an eagle taking flight to show that people from all backgrounds would rise together, and held up solar panels to voice their support of solar energy.

Art alone won’t solve all of our biggest challenges, but there are a lot of ways it can be used and a lot we can learn from it. People act when they feel moved to do so, and art specializes in moving people. The art critic Peter Schjeldahl said in a speech that “[g]reat artworks are lawyers for our humanity in the court of existence.” Now more than ever, it’s time to make room in the court for art.

— Aya Kusch

San Francisco calls for state ban of clearcut logging and other factory tree-farming methods


Photo by Sam Beebe, flickr.com/sbeebe

On Tuesday June 24, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to call on the state legislature and governor to enhance protections for California’s forest watersheds by banning factory tree farming methods based on clearcut logging and toxic herbicide application.

“In keeping with San Francisco’s leadership in the environmental justice movement, I felt compelled to collaborate with the Sierra Club and environmental leaders to introduce this resolution urging the state to stop these destructive clear cutting practices,” said resolution sponsor Supervisor David Campos. “It is incumbent upon us public officials to take a stand and fight to protect our natural resources. San Francisco’s pristine Sierra water supply and greenhouse gas-free hydro power, the integrity of the planet’s climate, and the security of wildlife and human health are intimately dependent on the health of our forests. I am proud that we received unanimous support from the Board of Supervisors for this measure.”

California’s forest watersheds store, filter, and gradually release 75% of the state’s clean water supply. Mature forests absorb up to 40% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, California law allows all trees to be cut on large tracts of forest (clearcutting) followed by the planting of new trees as factory-farmed industrial plantations of only one or two tree species. Toxic herbicides are applied to prevent the growth of ‘undesirable’ tree and plant species. Over a million acres in key watersheds in the Sierra Nevada, Cascade, and Redwood forests are in the process of being converted to highly uniform, fire-prone tree plantations.

Clearcutting and tree farming create a sterile landscape much like factory-scale corn, soy, or alfalfa fields, allowing minimal natural plant and animal biodiversity and creating soil disturbance and runoff that pollutes waterways and releases large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Maintaining natural, mature forests is increasingly recognized as vital in reversing climate change.

The resolution also calls for a California prohibition of the outdoor cultivation of genetically engineered tree plantations, an even more aggressive and chemically-intensive form of factory tree farming for which biotech corporations are currently seeking approval at the USDA. Opponents warn that such genetically engineered tree plantations, if approved, could make destructive clearcutting even more profitable and desirable to the timber and tree pulp industry, and could present serious biological contamination dangers to the integrity and health of California wildlife.

Opponents of clearcutting call for trees to instead be logged using a less destructive method known as selective harvest, which involves the planned removal of carefully identified trees, while leaving overall forests intact.

Sierra Club spokesperson Juliette Beck hailed the passage of the measure, saying “This resolution against clearcutting marks the beginning of a turning point in California, away from destructive and toxic factory tree farms and toward more ecologically sustainable methods of selective logging which will preserve healthy forests, the Earth’s climate, and more stable jobs in forest products and tourism, far into the future.”

For more information, contact Juliette Beck, 530-902-8407, stopsierraclearcutting at gmail.com.

“Healthy People, Healthy Planet: A World Population Day Chat” — Friday, July 11

PopulationTrain_500pxFriday, July 11, 11 am, on your own computer–via Google Hangout!

Join the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program and our partners for a World Population Day chat to learn more about the connections among family planning, reproductive health, climate, and the environment. Find out how meeting women’s basic needs helps improve the lives of families, communities, local environments, and the planet, and hear how the Sierra Club and others are working to foster a balance between the earth and its inhabitants in a world of seven billion people and growing. Want to be a part of the solution? The conversation will conclude with ways to take action and get involved.

RSVP at action.sierraclub.org/WorldPopulationDay and the link will be sent to your inbox. For questions contact population@sierraclub.org.

To learn more about the Club’s Global Population and Environment Program, visit sierraclub.org/population.

Stopping East Bay billboard plague

Photo by Brant Ward/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris.

Photo by Brant Ward/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris.

A plague of giant digital billboards threatens to blight the East Bay, but Scenic East Bay, with the support of the Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda and West Contra Costa County Groups, is working to stop them.

The three existing billboards along the approach to the Bay Bridge are already a conspicuous blight, visible from the Oakland and Berkeley hills, Emeryville, Treasure Island, and even Sausalito. They distract drivers and endanger lives.

Foster Media has proposed five additional double-sided billboards (see February 2013, page 8) near the toll entry. Three (applications number 3, 4, and 5) have been approved by Cal­trans and may be construc­ted. Of the five, #1 and #2 near the toll entry would be particularly offensive, towering over the new bike/pedestrian path and on the edge of the planned Gateway Park. Because of public pressure from Scenic East Bay, and because Cal-trans long ago designated this a “landscaped freeway”, Foster has withdrawn its application for location #1 and has not yet submitted its application for #2. With continued public attention, Scenic East Bay is hoping to permanently protect this area from billboard construction.

The anti-billboard coalition, which includes Bike East Bay, Oakland Heritage Alliance, Citizens for Eastshore Parks, and Golden Gate Audubon, used time-tested tactics to win this partial victory: calling the press, educating the public and ourselves, making tee shirts and lawn signs, and showing up at Mayor Quan’s press conference to inaugurate the Bay Bridge. We set up numerous meetings with Oakland councilmembers and advisors, staff of state legislators, Oakland Mayor Quan, and the Caltrans department that handles outdoor advertising.

Caltrans should revoke the approvals for billboards #3 -­ 5. Under Caltrans regulations, such billboards are allowed only within 1,000 feet of a commercial business. The November 2013 applications cited Arthur Freyer Lighting, but this business had relocated to Berkeley the previous May, and the building is slated for demolition. Now it looks as though the East Bay Municipal Utility District sewage facility may be cited as the nearest business! Especially objectionable is billboard #3, which would rise out of a landscaped area, marring the bikeway/pedestrian path, spilling light unnecessarily, interrupting East Bay views, and distracting drivers in a complex series of intersections.

In addition, 11 more billboards may be in the pipeline for Oakland once the city enters into contracts following a Request for Proposals issued by the City Council three years ago. Despite Oakland’s long-standing regulations against new billboards, and its fighting and winning a 10-year-long lawsuit about them, elected officials are now intrigued by a potential source of revenue.

Other current fights regarding East Bay billboards include the illegally operating LED billboard at the Pacific East Mall in Richmond. Its permit limits it to publicizing on-site businesses, but it has been selling space to off-site advertisers. On May 13, the City Council voted to refer the problem to the Planning Commission.

On March 3 the Albany City Council amended its billboard ordinance to allow digital billboards in the Commercial Mixed Use Zoning District, apparently to pave the way for an enormous wall-mounted LED billboard on its proposed new public-works building.


Oaklanders should contact council­members at:

1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612

Tell them not to approve further digital billboards in Oakland. Raise this issue during the current campaigns for Council and mayor.

Richmond residents should contact the City Council at:

440 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, CA 94804

Urge the city to initiate enforcement action and shut down the Pacific East Mall LED billboard.

Albany residents, contact the Albany City Council at:

1000 San Pablo Ave.
Albany, CA 94706

Ask the City Council to reverse its decision to loosen billboard restrictions.

For updates and to sign a petition opposing the Bay Bridge billboards, go to www.sceniceastbay.org

Karen Hester and Naomi Schiff, Scenic East Bay

“Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek”

Tuesday, April 29–on-line screening and live chat–5 – 6:30 pm.

Thursday, May 31, 2014 San Francisco Green Film Festival at the historic Roxie Theatre.

Last month Sierra Club Environmental Justice program director Leslie Fields was on a panel at the DC Environmental Film Festival after it screened Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek. This amazing film about the Turkey Creek, MS community includes a great of footage of Rose Johnson, the former MS Chapter director and a cameo of former Club President Robin Mann! This community has battled the sprawl and pollution of Gulfport that is destroying the watershed, the corruption of the politicians, Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster. It’s a great story of resilience and hope and the Sierra Club, through Rose Johnson, has a prominent role in this movie.

How far would you go to save your community? The WORLD Channel invites us to the broadcast premiere and live chat of series America ReFramed’s ”Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek”. Engage in conversation, on the documentary and the continuing issues surrounding the Gulf Coast communities, with panelists.

  • filmmaker Leah Mahan;
  • Turkey Creek native Derrick Evans;
  • journalist Brentin Mock;
  • Sierra Club director of environmental justice and community partnerships Leslie Fields.

For more information on the film and the live chat, go to https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/1psfq.

“Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek” follows the journey of Derrick Evans, who moves home to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Derrick and his neighbors and allies stand up to corporate interests and local politicians as well as face Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster to protect their community and fight for environmental justice.

A committee for folks who care about all the Sierra Club’s issues

400x400_sc-logoThursday, June 5, 6:30 pm, Chapter Office, 2530 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley.

By Arthur Feinstein, chair, Sierra Club Bay Chapter Conservation Committee

Is climate change getting you down?

Do you occasionally think that the largest mass extinction of species since the dinosaurs might be a problem?

Are you frustrated with local policies that ignore nature and let our natural areas disappear under developers’ backhoes?

Or maybe you’re sad that salmon populations are disappearing in order to provide water for cotton and alfalfa?

Are you frustrated because you don’t know how to make your voice heard and how to influence these fateful decisions?

The Conservation Committee is being reorganized to help folks like you become effective advocates for the environment.

We will talk about how to be an effective advocate:

  • how to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social-media tools;
  • when and how to write e-mails, letters, etc. to influence decision-makers;
  • how to speak effectively at hearings and meetings–what makes an effective presentation in your allotted 2 – 3 minutes;
  • how to best use the few hours a month you may have available for preserving our world.

We’ll invite experts to brief us on major environmental issues and discuss the tools we have to influence decisions. For example, we’ll learn about:

  • the California Environmental Quality Act–what is it? How is it a tool to help preserve our environment? How do we use it?
  • the agencies that are supposed to protect our environment, such as the state and regional water and air boards and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission;
  • local agencies and zoning laws that that truly decide the fate of our communities;
  • federal and state laws on endangered species and other wildlife.

Of course, the Conservation Committee will also address specific conservation issues as they arise, and as members of the Committee you will help choose those issues. The Chapter has many issue-specific conservation committees such as the Energy, Water, Zero Waste, Transportation, and East Bay Public Lands Committees. But it is up to the Conservation Committee to address conservation issues that fall outside the purview of those issue-specific committees; for example, we may want to work to save threatened wetlands or work on sea-level rise issues.

The world is a scary place as its natural functions are being altered at a frightening pace. But everyday people have made a difference in the past and we can do it again. We just need to decide what we want to do and figure out how to do it. Join us to keep the Bay Area a healthy thriving environment and maybe even to set a model for others.

Come to our first meeting on Thu., June 5. At that meeting we will discuss future meeting dates and look for those that work best for everyone. If the first Thursday of the month doesn’t work for you, let me know at (415)282-5937 or arthurfeinstein@earthlink.net, so that we can find the best repeatable date.

Earth Day Climate Action March–Saturday April 19

Earty Day SF-Action-logo 300x218Saturday April 19, 11:30 am, Justin Hermann Plaza (at Embarcadero BART), San Francisco.

Each Earth Day, EarthDaySF.org holds a fair at Civic Center. This year the theme is A Call to Action, and a host of environmental groups will march down Market Street from Justin Hermann Plaza to UN Plaza (near the Civic Center). There we will rally at 1 pm for action against climate change and environmental injustice.

We need volunteers!

To help with planning:

  • coordinating or training volunteers;
  • coordinating logistics;
  • putting up posters in your area

contact John Anderson at p8ton.anderson@gmail.com.

To help at the march and rally:

  • as a monitor;
  • handing out flyers;
  • taking photos

sign up at www.350bayarea.org/earth_day_action_parade_2014_volunteers.

Keep tuned to Sacramento

Sierra Club California logo.

Do you wonder what’s happening in Sacramento and what the Sierra Club’s Sacramento staff and Club activists are doing to protect our state’s environment?

To be placed on an e-mail list to keep informed, sign up for the CAL-ACTIVIST listservOnce signed up, you will receive timely updates from our Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips on legislation and political news as well as announcements from Club activists on conservation issues and our quarterly state conservation meetings, where the Club’s state policy is decided. The list carries no discussion, just announcements, usually one or two a week. 

2013—a year of successes and of building for the future

The Sierra Club Bay Chapter joined with the California Nurses Association in the “Heal America, End Climate Change” march across the Golden Gate Bridge on June 20. During 2013 the Bay Chapter collaborated with a wide range of organizations on efforts to stop climate disruption.

The Sierra Club Bay Chapter joined with the California Nurses Association in the “Heal America, End Climate Change” march across the Golden Gate Bridge on June 20. During 2013 the Bay Chapter collaborated with a wide range of organizations on efforts to stop climate disruption.

In 2013 the Sierra Club Bay Chapter achieved a series of big successes, looking outward to the global concerns of energy and climate change, looking inward to our cities and open spaces, and looking forward to build for the future.

Energy and climate change

Climate disruption is the great threat of our time—to open space and to cities, to wildlife and to humans, to all aspects of our environment—and the Bay Chapter focuses on greening our energy use—to reduce the Bay Area’s contribution to climate change, and to set an example for the rest of the nation and world. Our Energy and Climate Change Committee has re-energized itself with a set of active campaigns.

  • Solar Homes campaign. The Sierra Club’s Solar Homes campaign provides an affordable way for homeowners to install solar panels on their roofs. In 2013, 40 homeowners in the Bay Chapter got solar panels through our program. The campaign continues; get your solar panels now (see http://theyodeler.org/?p=8974).
  • Stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The Chapter is working with the Club’s national campaign and with numerous other organizations to persuade Pres. Obama to block completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring dirty tar-sands oil to U.S. refineries and shipping points. We played a major role in organizing the Feb. 17 Forward on Climate rally in San Francisco, with 5,000 participants the largest such rally ever in the city (see April, front page).
  • Keep fossil fuels out of the Bay Area—Bay Area Campaign on Fossil Fuels (BAC-OFF). We’ve started up a major new campaign to prevent the import of fossil fuels to the Bay Area, for local use or for export. The first major target is a proposed oil-storage and transfer facility in Pittsburg, which would increase the capacity of the five Bay Area refineries, putting our community’s health and safety on the line and increasing our contribution to climate disruption. (see article, page 3).
  • Cut Bay Area greenhouse gases. We are working with other local and national organizations to cut Bay Area greenhouse-gas emissions. On Nov. 6 the Board of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District passed a resolution for strong local action, including a reduction of CO2 to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (see Dec., page 1). We will keep working to develop an effective implementation plan.
  • Project Permit. We are working with the Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign in a statewide effort to make it easier for homeowners and businesses to get permits for installing rooftop solar panels. Our first focus is Marin County (see Dec., page 5).
  • Don’t Frack California. The Chapter formed a working group just for fracking issues. We are working to get California to implement a moratorium on fracking in oil and gas wells until the dangers are clearly understood—the dangers of releasing toxics into our environment, especially into groundwater, and of turning this vast reservoir of fossil fuels into greenhouse gases (see page 4). We hope to see state legislation to this effect in 2014.
  • Community Choice energy. We are working to bring Community Choice energy to all of the Bay Area. By allowing local governments to sell electricity to residents, Community Choice enables communities to take control of their energy futures. In 2013 electricity started flowing in the city of Richmond from the Marin Energy Authority. A plan to roll out CleanPowerSF got through the staff at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) with rates competitive to PG&E, but has been stymied by City Hall politics, failing to get the votes needed to move out of the mayor­ally appointed SFPUC itself. We are looking at ways to resolve this political deadlock and get CleanPowerSF started. Models for how to effectively launch Community Choice are popping around the country (see page 4 about Sonoma County’s new Community Choice program). Parts of the East Bay are also considering how to launch Community Choice (see page 3).
  • Divestment from fossil-fuel investments. We are part of a national campaign for divesting from fossil-fuels. On Oct. 9 the Board of the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System passed a divestment policy, and we will keep involved to bring it to full implementation (see Dec., page H).

With all these new and revived campaigns, Chapter conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman works mostly on energy issues. Now is the perfect time for you to join in with her. To help in any of these efforts, contact Jess at (510)848-0800, ext. 304, or jess@sfbaysc.org

Our open spaces

The Sierra Club’s conservation efforts began with protecting parks and other wildlands, and the Bay Chapter has continued these efforts year-in and year-out. In 2013 we’ve had some major successes.

  • On Sep. 3 the federal Ninth Circuit judges ruled that then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had the authority to end a lease for a private company to raise oysters in Drakes Estero (see Oct., page 5). When the company’s legal maneuvering ends and it leaves the site, the estero will become the first marine wilderness on the West Coast.
  • In May the Alameda County Board of Supervisors denied a landowner’s request to weaken the open-space requirements of the county’s Urban Growth Boundary (see June, page 4).

    The Chapter picnic in August in Berkeley's Ohlone Park.

    The Chapter picnic in August in Berkeley’s Ohlone Park.

  • In 2013 the Alameda County Altamont Landfill and Resource Recovery Open Space Fund, created in a legal settlement we achieved in 1999, provided $1,670,000 to help the East Bay Regional Park District purchase lands adjacent to Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park and Brushy Peak Regional Preserve, and for Livermore to purchase a parcel in Doolan Canyon next to city-owned open space (see page 8).
  • We are engaged in a major campaign to protect 3,400-acre Tesla Park east of Livermore, in particular to make sure that this site of great environmental values does not get ecologically disrupted by proposed use for recreation by off-road motorized vehicles (see page 8). Rather, we want this area’s rich natural and historic cultural resources to provide significant environmental enjoyment and educational opportunity for the regional population. This will be a high priority in 2014, when the draft General Plan and Environmental Impact Report are made available for public comment.

As every year, our activities sections and groups have led hundreds of hikes and other outings all over the Bay Area and beyond. In 2013 we introduced a new on-line calendar system that uses 21st-century technology to help you find the outings and other Club activities of your choice; go to http://sfbay.sierraclub.org/activities.

Our cities

Cities are where most of our population spends most of their time. Development patterns in cities often determine development pressures on the open-space lands around them. We work therefore to shape urban development to improve the quality of urban life and to limit encroachments on the greenbelt.

In 2013 our San Francisco Group has had a series of notable successes.

A Gay and Lesbian Sierrans work party at the Presidio on National Trails Day. Photo by Russ Hartman.

A Gay and Lesbian Sierrans work party at the Presidio on National Trails Day. Photo by Russ Hartman.

  • We helped pass a condominium ordinance that helps to preserve affordable housing (see Aug., page 5).
  • We stopped a set of amendments that would have weakened the city’s protections under the state California Environmental Quality Act and got the Supervisors instead to pass several strengthening changes (see Oct., page 5).
  • We defeated Measures B and C, stopping development of a condominium tower at 8 Washington that would have far exceeded the height limits for the waterfront (see Dec., page 1). We are now helping to gather signatures for an initiative to make it harder to change waterfront height limits (see page 4).
  • We have been working to keep the Warriors from building an inappropriate shopping mall/entertainment arena on the waterfront. We succeeded in stopping a legislative effort to make the city the final arbiter for the project’s compliance with Public Trust requirements (see Aug., page H), and this project will continue as a leading concern in 2014.
  • Aided by a $10,000 grant from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, the Northern Alameda County Group tree team planted 218 street trees in Oakland planting strips, bringing its total for four years of operations to 873.

Through the Alameda Sustainable Recycling Campaign, we have helped win big raises for the recycling workers at the Fremont transfer station. The campaign continues to win sustainable wages for all recycling workers in the county.

Looking forward

The year 2014 will be the 90th anniversary of the Bay Chapter. We are planning a series of events to celebrate, and to bring our efforts forward.

The year also is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which establishes the protections for our country’s wildest lands. The Chapter Wilderness Committee will be organizing our chapterwide celebration.

In addition, the coming year is likely to see some major decisions about water policy, especially whether to implement the governor’s plan for twin tunnels through the Delta (see page C) and the plans of Bay Area water agencies to build a desalination facility. The Chapter Water Committee is gearing up to lead the opposition to these plans.

This is the year for you to join in. Whether you know exactly what you want to work on, or you want ideas for getting involved, give us a call. You can contact any of the leaders mentioned in the Yodeler or in the Chapter Leadership List or call the Chapter Office at (510)848-0800.

Donald Forman