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Monitor Notes: #OptOutside, Express Lanes, Coal Ordinance, Water Symposium

Welcome to Monitor Notes, a weekly roundup of news items, event announcements, and updates on past Bay Area Monitor articles.


All-Out Effort

Where will you #OptOutside after Thanksgiving? Retailer REI began encouraging people to connect with and enjoy nature on Black Friday back in 2015. There are many paths and parks to help embrace the movement in the Bay Area — from Santa Clara Valley trails to East Bay Regional Park District events and Napa County outdoor activities. REI lists a few local clean-up sites seeking volunteers, as well as tips for instigating a DIY clean-up with friends and family. Let the Monitor know if you have other ideas for turning Black Friday (or other days of the year) green in your community.


For Whom the Lane Tolls

Here’s an important commuter feedback opportunity to consider. MTC’s Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority (BAIFA) affiliate needs to adopt tolling rules on the new I-880 express lanes, which will aim to cut commuters’ travel time when they open this summer. Start learning about proposed rules with a five-minute online open-house video discussing how much tolls will cost, when they’ll be charged, and ways in which solo drivers, carpools, and clean air vehicles are affected. Then share thoughts in an online survey. Prefer to impart in-person pointers? Attend one of two December open houses or go to the public hearing on December 18 at 9:30 a.m. in San Francisco. All comments must be received by the hearing.


Coals on the Fire

The Richmond City Council is meeting on December 3 at 6:30 p.m. to vote on an ordinance that would phase out the storage and handling of coal and petroleum coke (petcoke) at the Levin-Richmond Terminal over a three-year period. The proposal has generated support from environmentalists and public health advocates upset by rising coal and petcoke exports from the terminal. That’s because Richmond already experiences some of the Bay Area’s highest asthma levels — and other health problems — due to poor air quality. Opponents of the ordinance, meanwhile, believe a phase-out would hurt the major shipping terminal and its 60 or so employees. Right now, Richmond isn’t the only city with coal clashes. A decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected in the next few months about coal transport through Oakland. Check back here for the Richmond City Council meeting agenda as the date nears.


Water Break

Attend the Contra Costa Creek and Watershed Symposium on Thursday, December 5 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s College in Moraga to soak up information from people and agencies restoring creek health. “A Culture of Conservation” is this year’s theme, storing details from the past 20 years about managing, conserving, and restoring watersheds in Contra Costa County. The day-long event will bring out speakers Obi Kaufman, author of California Field Atlas and the State of Water; Eben Schwartz, marine debris program manager at the California Coastal Conservancy; and Dr. Ana Alvarez, deputy general manager of the East Bay Regional Park District. Buy tickets here. Then read the Monitor for more creek and tidal baylands news.


Monitor Notes is produced by Cecily O’Connor. To receive it by email, scroll to the bottom of this page, enter your email address in the box under “RECEIVE EMAIL UPDATES,” and click the red “SIGN UP” button.


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