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Monitor Notes: Regional Coalition, Flood Control, Transit Funding, Renter Woes

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


Safe Space

A new regional coalition working toward climate-resilient lands and social equity is hosting a virtual gathering this Thursday, March 26 from 10 to 11 a.m., with more to follow in the weeks ahead. The soon-to-be-named coalition — made up of nonprofits, public agencies, and Indigenous Tribes — kicked off this series of gatherings with its first one yesterday. Coalition members from Marin County Parks and Solano Land Trust, among others, shared perspectives about what they are experiencing at home and with staff in their organizations, as well as where they are finding hope outside. They also discussed the importance of communicating clearly about using public trails, with reminders to residents to stay close to home and practice social distancing. RSVP for Thursday’s gathering and click here for more March and April gathering dates.


Opening Floodgates

Contra Costa and Marin counties have both parted ways with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in favor of local control to address long-standing flood issues and other challenges. In two separate articles for Estuary News, the Monitor’s water reporter Robin Meadows explains each county’s history with the Corps and why officials and residents felt the relationships weren’t working. The first, “Opening the Mouth of Walnut Creek,” includes time in the field with a flood control district engineer who shows how a fix is in sight to protect people from floods, restore habitat, and reconnect the creek with its historical floodplains. The second article, “Taking a Break from the Corps,” looks at how a short-term local control shift will help widen Corte Madera Creek and increase its capacity to accommodate flood flow as part of a $13.5 million project.


Revenue Loss Relief

Bay Area public transit agencies including BART, Caltrain, SamTrans, and VTA are banding together to draw attention to the urgent need for state and federal help because they’re experiencing significant ridership declines due to the coronavirus shelter-in-place order. They’re asking that state and federal COVID-19 relief packages include funding for public transportation, according to a March 23 joint press release representing eight agencies. “With our agencies operating at a revenue loss in the range of 70-90 percent, our operating costs remain high to provide essential service and to keep our workforce whole,” agencies said. BART ridership, for example, was 91 percent lower on Monday, March 23 than the average Monday this past February.


Driving Home California Renter Woes

California needs 1.3 million more affordable rental homes to meet current demand, according to a new California Housing Partnership (CHP) report. Among California’s extremely low-income households, about 79 percent are severely cost burdened, meaning they spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs. Despite the 2017 Housing Package, state funding still falls below 2012 levels, undermining progress in addressing homelessness, CHP found. One issue is that incomes have not kept pace with rental costs. Consider that median rent in California has increased 40 percent since 2000 while median renter household income has risen 8 percent, when adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, recent U.S. economic fallout is prompting California cities and counties, including several in the Bay Area, to issue or consider eviction bans.  


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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