Please help us with an urgent call to action to save Caltrain from shutdown.
Caltrain is a critical component of the Bay Area’s public transportation network. It must continue to operate for those who most need it - essential workers, and people needing to travel for basic needs who cannot afford to or are unable to drive - who are using it right now. We also need it to emerge strong after the pandemic for the Bay Area to have an inclusive future with more homes and less car pollution and car dependency.
On Wednesday, Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Shamann Walton on the SF Board of Supervisors blocked a proposed Caltrain funding measure from appearing on the ballot in November by failing to introduce it to the Board. Polls have indicated the ⅛ cent sales tax would stand a strong chance of passing, yet these two supervisors opposed it in an apparent dispute over Caltrain governance and funding mechanisms, with little warning for stakeholders in the rest of the Bay Area. Without this funding, the financial hardship imposed by COVID-19 could shut Caltrain permanently as it has no dedicated funding source, unlike other Bay Area agencies. Particularly given the $2 billion investment in electrifying the corridor, as well as Caltrain’s impressive equity proposals, it is critical that we insist our politicians preserve our regional transit infrastructure.
To advance the ballot measure, the SF Board of Supervisors now would need to pass an urgency ordinance, requiring a ⅔ majority. Please email the Board President Norman Yee at Norman.Yee@sfgov.org and cc Aaron.Peskin@sfgov.org, Shamann.Walton@sfgov.org, and your own district supervisor (if you live in San Francisco), or use this email tool we put together with SF YIMBY and SF HAC to contact the entire board demanding that they move the measure forward and let voters decide the future of Caltrain. Thanks to the people who have already called and emailed: members of the Board including Supervisor Matt Haney are listening and may take action, but we need to keep up our encouragement to make sure we get the votes for this.
Please continue to follow our friends at Green Caltrain for updates, and see their blog post and call to action with additional background.
For those of you who are new to Urban Environmentalists - welcome! Our mission is to address the climate and inequality crises by transforming cities and towns into inclusive communities designed around people rather than cars. We value healthy environments supportive of all life; vibrant, diverse, and nurturing urban communities with abundant housing and opportunities for all; and efficient, equitable use of our planet’s resources, especially land. We look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events!
Recently we had three great events - if you missed them, check out the recordings below!
Today’s Actions - SB 902 + SB 288
What we’re reading/watching:
Read below for info on asking ABAG not to repeat the housing failures of the past, and sign the petition.
Thanks to everyone who joined us for our recent events: a rundown of federal transportation policies with Transportation for America; a lunch & learn on sustainable housing and mobility for disadvantaged communities with GRID Alternatives; and a conversation on climate justice in Berkeley with City Council candidate Terry Taplin.
For those of you who are new to Urban Environmentalists - welcome! Our mission is to address the climate and inequality crises by transforming cities and towns into inclusive communities designed around people rather than cars. And for those of you who missed an event, no worries! You can catch up on many of them via our YouTube channel, including the GRID Alternatives event and the Terry Taplin event.
SF Bay x SoCal Happy Hour: Mon, July 6, 6pm
Unwind (and geek out on urban environmentalism) at our informal happy hour. We'll be trading stories and best practices from across the SF Bay Area and Southern California. Sign up here!
Sustainability, Resilience, and Social Justice on the Waterfront with the Port of San Francisco: Thu, July 23, 12pm
Our next lunch & learn is co-hosted by the Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment (AWWEE) and features Diane Oshima, Deputy Director of Planning & Environment for the Port of San Francisco. Diane will discuss some of the many ways the Port impacts the environment, urban life, and social justice in the city. Attendees will also receive a special discount code for AWWEE membership. RSVP today!
Today's Action: Tell ABAG to Plan for More Homes!
Where we build new housing - and how much of it we build - has enormous environmental implications. It can lead to ever-expanding sprawl and increased risk of wildfire, heat stroke, and flooding; or it can lead to less car use, lower energy consumption, and preservation of open spaces. In its draft Regional Housing Needs Allocation, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) increased proposed housing development substantially compared to last decade's meager plan. Yet by using an overly conservative population forecast that assumes today's levels of overcrowding and unaffordability continue, the plan still falls far short of what's needed for both Californians and our environment. It's not too late to make a difference - sign the petition to ask ABAG to plan for at least 1 million homes by 2030!
Ready to do more? Urban Environmentalists Robert Spragg, Charles Whitfield, and Zack Subin called into the ABAG Executive Board meeting this past Thursday to remind them how important infill housing is to addressing the climate crisis. Let us know if you want to join them next time. You can also email ABAG or their chair, Jesse Arreguin (Mayor of Berkeley), and tell them you want more housing in the Bay Area.
Recent Urban Environmentalist Successes
Two bills we endorsed passed the Assembly! AB 3135 (supported by ally Calbike) would support housing affordability by allowing bike parking to substitute for car parking, and AB 2345 (supported by ally Up for Growth) would expand the state's density bonus law to allow to enhance affordable infill housing opportunities.
We also submitted comments supporting more zero-emission trucks to the California Air Resources Board (CARB). NRDC covered CARB's decision: California Makes History with Clean Trucks Rule.
What We're Reading
Call for Lead Volunteers!
Urban Environmentalists is run by volunteers who organize events, craft petitions and other calls to action, write the newsletter, engage on social media, and more. One of our current leads (Nathan Chan) is stepping back due to being over-committed, and we'd love it if you wanted to step up into this role. We are especially interested in people who can help us diversify our leadership, and wanted to extend the call beyond the core group of already-mobilized volunteers. The time commitment is roughly a few hours per week. Reply to this email to chat with us if you have interest or questions.