Monday, February 28, 2011

We've moved!

Come check us out at our new home here:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remembering Save The Bay Co-Founder Kay Kerr

Save The Bay is deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of one of our heroes. Last week our co-founder, Catherine "Kay" Kerr, died peacefully at her home in El Cerrito surrounded by her loving family. She was 99.

In 1960 Kay Kerr joined two other Berkeley housewives -- Sylvia McLaughlin and Esther Gulick -- over tea to discuss their worry about an Army Corps of Engineers’ map that had been printed in the Oakland Tribune showing that San Francisco Bay could end up being a narrow shipping channel by the year 2020 because of planned Bay fill. They were also concerned about the 40 burning garbage dumps ringing the shoreline. Together, they hatched a plan to save the Bay. These three women mobilized their community to help and as a result, formed the "Save San Francisco Bay Association” In 1961, helping to start the first modern grassroots environmental movement in the Bay Area.

Soon the group was thousands of members strong and eventually won a legislative moratorium against Bay fill; established the first coastal zone management agency in the country, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC); helped create the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge; halted shoreline dumping; and stopped the Peripheral Canal from draining more of the Bay’s fresh water from upstream.

Today, Save The Bay works tirelessly to carry on our founders’ legacy by protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay for the benefit of people, wildlife and future generations. Our work to reduce Bay pollution, stop inappropriate development and restore wetlands is inspired by Kay, Esther and Sylvia – who simply didn’t give up even when told their efforts would be impossible.

We are particularly moved by these words from Kay Kerr:

“When we started out in 1961, we thought all we had to do was to get a good law and the Bay would be saved. What we have learned is that the law itself must be saved, that this requires constant vigilance against those that would change or weaken it. What we have learned is that the Bay is never saved. It is, instead, always in the process of being saved. That is why we have been so heavily involved for all of these years, and why our successors will be involved far into the future.”

Kay Kerr – University of California Albright Lecture Series, 1988

Sylvia McLaughlin remembers her dear friend fondly:

Kay Kerr was a good friend and colleague.

For several years, Kay, Esther Gulick and I would meet at Kay’s home every Monday morning to discuss our strategy for saving the bay from being filled for shoreline development.

Kay did most of the writing as she had been a journalism major at Stanford. She would write statements on behalf of Save The Bay, which I would read at Council and legislative hearings. She was totally dedicated to our cause of keeping fill out of the Bay and beautifying the shoreline.

To honor Kay we are asking you to please share memories or comments about how she has inspired you to support Save The Bay in the comments section below.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

San Jose Banning Bags = Huge Victory for the Bay

By Amy Ricard, Media Relations Manager

WE DID IT! On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council passed the toughest city ban on single-use plastic and paper bags anywhere in California, or anywhere in the country for that matter! This historic decision sets the stage for future bans throughout the Bay Area and the state. It also lets the plastics industry know their intimidation tactics will not prevent Bay Area jurisdictions from prioritizing the health of our communities, our waterways and San Francisco Bay.

Save The Bay held a press conference on Tuesday prior to the vote along with several members of the San Jose City Council, Californians Against Waste and tons of bag ban supporters across the region. After nearly 35 public comments in support of the ban, the City Council passed the ordinance 10-1 to resounding applause and celebration throughout the Chambers. All in all, it was a great day and a huge victory for the Bay.

Check out the media round-up below.

1. SJ to outlaw plastic supermarket bags in 2012 (ABC 7)

2. San Jose City Council approves plastic bag ban (CBS 5)

3. San Jose City Council Passes Plastic Bag (KTVU 2)

4. San Jose to outlaw plastic bags at checkouts (NBC 11)

5. San Jose bans plastic bags (SJ Mercury News)

6. San Jose OKs state's toughest ban on plastic bags (SF Chronicle)

7. Editorial: State should follow San Jose’s lead on plastic bag ban (SJ Mercury News)

8. City passes plastic bag ban (SJ Inside)

9. San Jose, Calif. Bans Plastic Shopping Bags - And Free Paper Ones (Treehugger)

10. San Jose Passes Landmark Plastic Bag Ban, Help Your City Go Next (

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Opposition to Cargill erupts in Redwood City

By Stephen Knight, Political Director

Cargill & DMB developed a very big headache at the Planning Commission meeting in Redwood City last Tuesday night. Redwood City asked for their residents' input on the proposed salt pond development, and that is exactly what they got - over three hours of it. The overflow crowd lined the walls, sat on the floors and spilled into the hallway, where a TV and portable speakers had to be set up to accommodate everyone. Not swayed by the developers' slick and expensive presentation, the podium was packed with opponents to the project throughout the night - vastly outnumbering development supporters.

From the neighborhood associations to the mobile home parks and the garden clubs, Redwood City residents made it clear that they're deeply concerned about this destructive development and will be fighting it at every step of the way.

You can watch the meeting here; public comments start with Joel Jensen’s great statement at 01:10 here.

Sadly, despite a September presentation by consultants emphasizing that CEQA was democracy in action, Redwood City actually suggested that “advocacy” would not be tolerated, and that “there shall be no debating the merits of the project.” Residents protested, their city attorney corrected them, and they put out edited slides crossing out the offending provisions.

What the slide seems to suggest is that unless you favor the project, Redwood City doesn’t want to hear from you.

That is unfortunately consistent with the 99-page "Notice of Preparation of Environmental Impact Report for proposed Saltworks Project" released by Redwood City which is reminiscent of the project that it purports to describe: fundamentally evasive about core environmental issues, numbingly large, and preferring to distract attention by emphasizing irrelevant details.

The NOP makes no mention of:

--> the SF Bay Water Board’s recent letter to Redwood City stating the salt ponds to be "an important biological resource” providing “foraging and nesting habitat for a variety of birds." (June 2010)

--> the US EPA’s recent statement that Cargill's Redwood City salt ponds are "critically important aquatic resources that warrant special attention and protection." (Jan. 2010)

The NOP is clearly trying to advance the developers' interest, not the public interest. City Councilmembers insisted in 2009 that the salt ponds be removed from Redwood City's General Plan process at the explicit request of DMB, and their promise that this EIR would evaluate a broad range of visions for the property is now clearly broken.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

GO Giants! GO AWAY Cargill!

The Phillies weren’t the only out-of-towners that were dealt a blow yesterday. As Giants fans were filing into AT&T Park, just before the Giants/Phillies NLCS game on the beautiful Bay shoreline, a banner was flying over the stadium telling Cargill and their luxury developer, DMB Associates, not to pave our precious San Francisco Bay. Fans were reminded that while our very own SF Giants are fighting for the National League title, corporate "giants" from Minnesota and Arizona are scheming to pave over and develop the very Bay that defines our region.

Check out some pics from the flyover!

If the fact that Minnesota-based agribiz giant Cargill has the gall to try to build a city on the Bay enrages you as much as it does us, sign the petition and learn more at

Friday, October 15, 2010

Plastic pollution plagues SF Bay

By Amy Ricard, Media Relations Manager

Have you ever wondered what happens to those pesky plastic bags or polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) containers that blow out of trash cans and float aimlessly along city streets and through neighborhoods?

Eventually, this plastic pollution finds its way to storm drains, creeks, bays and oceans. Once in the water plastic bags and Styrofoam becomes toxic food for unsuspecting wildlife or flows to join the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating island of trash in the North Pacific Ocean, twice the size of Texas, where studies have found that plastic particles are more abundant than plankton. Plastic litter also smothers our precious wetlands, poisons water quality and degrades our quality of life.

Each year Save The Bay (San Francisco) releases a list of Bay Trash Hot Spots, highlighting the massive and growing problem of trash pollution in San Francisco Bay. The 2010 Hot Spots showcase 225 shoreline areas and creeks all around the Bay polluted with plastic bags, fast food containers and more. The staggering number of hot spots underscores the severity of this problem and the imperative for Bay Area cities to take the lead in eliminating trash from our waterways.

Plastic bags and Styrofoam are some of the most pervasive and costly types of marine pollution. In fact, both items are consistently among the most frequent items of litter picked up by volunteers during Coastal Cleanup Day each year; and Save The Bay estimates that more than one million plastic bags wind up in the Bay each year. Plastic bags and polystyrene do not biodegrade; instead, they break into smaller pieces and are ingested by wildlife.

Amazingly, Californians use approximately 19 billion plastic bags every year. But here is the kicker: the average use time of a plastic bag is only 12 minutes!

It's time to really do something about plastic litter and pollution. The reality is less than one half of one percent of polystyrene food packaging is recycled in California. And for the past 15 years, California has made a concerted effort to promote plastic bag recycling, but despite this, less than five percent are actually recycled and there is little market for “down-cycled” plastic film. What's more, recycling firms report extensive costs from trying to recycle plastic bags because they jam processing machines and cause work stoppages.

Public education campaigns and cleanups are great ways to raise awareness about the problem, but to really reduce plastic pollution, cities and counties must prioritize legislation that ends the distribution of these commonly littered items, prompting consumers to switch en masse to reusable bags and other Bay-friendly food packaging alternatives.

Not surprisingly, the multi-billion dollar plastics industry has dispatched lobbyists to California and other states to block efforts to reduce plastic bag or polystyrene use. Like the tobacco industry, which launched campaigns to stop smoking bans, the plastic bag industry has sued or is threatening to sue cities across the country.

Even so, Washington, D.C. successfully passed a single-use bag fee that has reduced bag use throughout the city despite the bag industry strongly lobbying against it and several cities in the Bay Area have effectively banned Styrofoam. And even though the plastics industry pulled out all the stops to defeat California's statewide bag bill – AB1998 – San Jose, the largest city in the Bay Area, is on the brink of passing landmark legislation to ban plastic and paper bags (with some exceptions), which will make a hugely positive impact on the health of the Bay.

The nation is at a tipping point as more and more cities move toward eliminating plastic pollution and California is on the forefront of the movement. The Golden State has come closer than any other to passing statewide legislation to ban plastic bags and nearly 50 municipalities across the state – 19 in the Bay Area alone – have banned some form of polystyrene food packaging. It is time for the rest of the nation to follow California's lead and crack down on the plastic pollution plaguing our waterways.

P.S. In the meantime, let's do what we can to prevent plastic trash! We can:

--> Reduce our impact by making the switch to reusable bags and Bay-friendly food packaging options.

--> Advocate for policies and regulations that significantly reduce plastic trash flowing to our waterways.

--> Volunteer to clean up and restore shorelines and creeks.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Save The Bay's Trash Contest: Fun with Garbage

By Stephen Knight, Political Director

If you are reading this, you already know that trash is a serious pollution threat to people and wildlife in San Francisco Bay. This year, Save The Bay's annual Bay Trash Hot Spots lists 225 creeks and shoreline areas identified by the cities themselves as having high levels of plastic bags, cigarette butts, fast food containers, old tires and more. Trash is a dangerous pollutant that harms wildlife, spoils water quality, threatens public health, and smothers sensitive wetland habitat.

In short, trash is a drag.

But we wanted to have some fun with trash this year. So we’re having a trash cleanup contest! Save The Bay is asking you to vote for one of seven selected Bay Trash Hot Spots for us to "adopt" and clean up in 2011. The contest sites were chosen based on several criteria, including proximity to heavily-used areas and major transportation corridors, habitat for endangered species, and Clean Water Act violations – and geographic distribution around the Bay Area.

So please vote for your favorite trash hot spot at And tell your friends – you don’t want your favorite spot to lose, right?

The contest sites are:

1. Damon Slough – if you drive 880, you know this spot. It is a mess, in part because it flows next to the Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena parking lots. I’m not blaming the Raider Nation – unless the can control the wind.

2. The Hayward Regional Shoreline, near where we are working to at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve to restore critical habitat for wildlife – not for garbage.

3. Fremont’s Mission Creek flows through the city’s Central Park, a major recreational area.

4. If you are tired of seeing San Jose’s Coyote Creek on our Bay Trash Hot Spot list, then vote for this spot and we’ll help clean it up.

5. The Guadalupe Slough Baylands are located within sensitive marsh habitat directly adjacent to the Bay. Bay critters do NOT like trash!

6. Redwood Creek flows through downtown Redwood City and accumulates trash from commercial and residential corridors. The creek is next to Bair Island, part of the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge which is being restored to tidal wetlands. Plastic and tidal wetlands do not mix!

7. Colma Creek flows through a variety of urban areas in South San Francisco and San Mateo County, including major commercial zones, high-traffic areas, and pedestrian corridors. Picking up trash all along the way.

While we try to have some fun with trash this year, Save The Bay is committed to working with cities to help stop trash at its source – by passing bans or fees on commonly littered items such as plastic bags, Styrofoam and cigarette butts, and installing storm drains devices to stop trash from flowing to the Bay and ocean. The most common litter items picked up in California last year included cigarette butts, food wrappers and containers and plastic bags. In fact, Save The Bay estimates that more than one million plastic bags pollute the Bay each year. Yuck.

The 225 hot spots come from new Water Board regulations require cities to eliminate hundreds of trash hot spots around the Bay. Cities in Santa Clara County identified 74 trash hot spots, with Alameda County cities picking 69 trash hot spots to call their own. There are 49 hot spots in Contra Costa County, and cities in San Mateo County submitted 31 hot spots to the Water Board. Fairfield, Suisun City and Vallejo are the three cities in Solano County that must comply with the Water Board's provisions – these three cities selected a total of 10 trash hot spots.

We are excited that our Bay Trash Hot Spots event has grown over the years and is now the cities themselves (who never liked our calling out sites in their community, and who can blame them) that are identifying these trash-filled spots. So please, vote today and stand with Save The Bay against trash.