Full disclosure: The author (Nathan Chan) has already canvassed for Shelly Masur.
On Wednesday, January 15, the leading candidates to replace Senator Jerry Hill of California’s 13th Senate District came together to debate climate change. The event was remarkable, both in terms of its attendance and organization. Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteer Alan Mattlage had originally thought of the panel just two months ago. Hundreds of people turned out to hear what the candidates for SD13 had to offer regarding climate and environment for California. The event was sponsored by 350 Silicon Valley, Acterra, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Midpen Media Center, and Sustainable San Mateo County, and also included 20 other participating organizations, including Urban Environmentalists.
This month, there is an opportunity to hear from the SFCTA on congestion pricing, and an effort to reintroduce bus lanes on the Bay Bridge that transit riders are organizing for.
Learn about Congestion Pricing from the SFCTA
For Urban Environmentalist's next meeting on February 3, we will be hosting the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, who will be presenting their Downtown Congestion Pricing Study and Congestion Management Program efforts. The program will begin at about 6:30 with a 20 minute presentation followed by Q&A.
The SFCTA describe the benefits of Congestion Pricing on their project website:
Congestion in San Francisco has reached record levels. A rising population and job growth—combined with a growing presence of ride-hail vehicles—has resulted in clogged streets, particularly downtown and in SoMa. This impacts not only people who are traveling, but also the surrounding residents’ quality of life, safety, and health, and disproportionately affects low income communities of color.
Please RSVP here. If you want to participate remotely, please let us know and we will send you the info to join.
Bay Bridge Bus Lanes
Urban Environmentalists are also joining with other groups in organizing to bring bus lanes back to the Bay Bridge. Arielle Fleisher, transportation policy director for SPUR, sets out the case in the SF Chronicle:
Now is the time for action on transit efficiency across the Bay Bridge and beyond. Climate change is nearing the point of no return. Passenger vehicles are the single greatest source of carbon emissions produced in the Bay Area and California. Too many neighborhoods, particularly those traditionally housing vulnerable communities, have been hurt by the volume of cars pouring onto and off of highways. We have a governor who is serious about delivering on climate goals. BART and AC Transit are in agreement that our regional express buses can and need to do more. This is the moment to forge the state, regional and transit partnerships necessary to demonstrate great freeway- and bridge-based bus solutions.
If you would like to get involved, please reach out to us!
Our January meeting is Mon, Jan 6 at the YIMBY Action Clubhouse in SF, at 6pm. We will discuss heat pumps, solar panels, and building codes! RSVP if you want to participate remotely as well and we'll send a Zoom link. For the new year, we hope to make the first Mon of the month a regular meeting time and include many substantive discussion topics for meetings, while continuing to do organizational work largely online.
The group leads have been busy working on our platform.
Happy Holidays, and we'll leave you with two news items:
Our December meeting is Monday, Dec 2 at the East Bay for Everyone space in Oakland, at 6:30pm. We will also have a social and networking happy hour on Tues, Dec 17 at Cafe Flore, at 6pm. We especially invite folks working and volunteering in other environmental, housing, or transportation-focused organizations to come say hello and share ideas!
It has been a busy month for news on the climate and housing front.
We had an incredible turnout and audience engagement at our panel last Thursday! Our panel received over 100 in-person attendees and 160 online registrants, and our livestream got interest from as far away as Australia! If you want to check out the event, you can watch the livestream, see slides to be posted on the Connecting Communities webpage, and review the livetweet thread. Check out the info below about ways to get more involved with our panel hosts and participants.
We will have an organizational meeting next Tuesday in SF to discuss our draft platform and group structure, and we will have additional events next month that will be relaxed and fun for newbies as well.
American Planning Association Northern California Chapter
Commute with Enterprise
San Mateo Office of Sustainability
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Spare the Air Resource Teams
We are thrilled to announce our panel on Oct 17 in Oakland! Register here.
Thanks to our co-hosts TransForm, SFHAC, and SPUR, and to our panelists, David Garcia, Chris Jones, Bruce Nilles, and Nina Rizzo.
Our panel is part of TransForm's series Connecting Communities 2019! Check out the other panels coming in the next couple months.
Want to help us plan or staff the event? Sign up to volunteer here.
Recently, Urban Environmentalists submitted a petition, signed by more than 79 San Francisco residents, to the San Francisco Department of the Environment urging them to consider dense infill development as a mitigation strategy in responding to the Board of Supervisor’s declaration of a Climate Emergency. Now, we are pleased to announce that the Department has released their 2030 emissions reductions strategic plan. The document outlines seven Strategic Priorities and their associated emissions reductions, which includes priorities that Urban Environmentalists strongly support, such as building electrification and mode shifting. Specifically, we applaud the following goal scenario assumed in the report:
By 2030, 80% of all trips are taken by walking, biking, or transit.
Urban Environmentalists was also pleased to see that the Department is considering the connection between density and a robust, multimodal public transportation system.
Enhancing biking, walking, and transit systems is part of a larger strategy to make transportation more accessible and affordable for all. These modes also encourage denser and more affordable development, while improving community cohesion.
However, Urban Environmentalists believes that San Francisco should also consider the reductions in global emissions that the Strategic Priorities would cause, in place of focusing on reducing the emissions of existing residents. A city with carbon-free electricity, a mild climate, and low per capita vehicle use is a city that should welcome new residents and work diligently to prevent its existing residents from being displaced to suburbs with a higher carbon footprint. For example, a recent UC Berkeley study found that urban infill in San Francisco would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions more than any other single measure. 
We look forward to voicing our support for components of the strategic plan and continuing to advocate for new, dense, energy-efficient housing in San Francisco.
- Robert Spragg
 California Local Government Climate Policy Tool (Adapted from Jones et al. 2018)
Our next general meeting is June 3 in Berkeley.
Also please sign our petition to urge the SF Department of the Environment to consider urban infill housing as a climate solution for San Francisco.
We hosted our second event at Yimby Action headquarters in SF last week with Alex Baca. Alex talked about how the Green New Deal (GND) represents a pretty nascent and fluid document and coalition, and that the omission of land use and sprawl was more due to oversight than intention. We still have a lot of work to do to make the connections between climate policy, social justice, and land use in people's minds. This means we, as Urban Environmentalists, have a role in joining the coalition and talking to the leading organizations (Sunrise, New Consensus, etc.) and elevating the issue. She also made clear that she is very supportive of the GND regardless and highlighted that in this space we want additive policies and politics, i.e. we need to keep building momentum and add and refine as we go along rather than holding out for the perfect policy.
Turnout was incredible: more than 50 people participated. We’re excited that so many people are interested in housing and transportation as environmental issues, and want to hear more about whether and how you’d like to get more involved.
The next meeting is Monday, April 29 in the evening - we’ll send a confirmation email with the location and exact time (and will pick the location based on who’s interested!)
Please fill out this 60-second survey so we can get feedback and plan future activities: https://forms.gle/xLSFT9axMV7cTDXg6!
Some more reading and listening materials mentioned in the talk:
And here’s information mentioned at the event about actions you can take at the State level to advance housing and transportation solutions to the climate crisis.
See you next time!