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Monitor Notes: Travel Patterns, Affordable Housing Month, Park Policies, Sewage Surveillance

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


Driving Budgets to the Brink

Roads are less traveled during shelter-in-place, with vehicle miles traveled down about 75 percent in California, according to UC Davis research. While the reduction means less car-produced greenhouse gas emissions, it spells trouble for transportation funding generated via fuel-tax revenue under Senate Bill 1. Fuel-tax revenue dropped to $15 million by the second week of April, down from $61 million in early March. For an 8-week stay-at-home order, that’s equal to a $370 million loss in funds to support highway construction and maintenance and transit improvements that help cut emissions, UC Davis found. If you’re looking for more perspective, fill up on a separate discussion with Mineta Transportation Institute. Researchers there will discuss state transportation funding outcomes and changing travel patterns in a May 14 webinar. Register here.


Putting Affordable Housing in Order

The housing crisis facing the Bay Area is taking on heightened importance in the face of COVID-19. Since May marks affordable housing month, it offers a fresh opportunity to learn about new aspects of what’s happening in the region and policies to create affordable homes. There are several ways to get involved and hear from Bay Area leaders and organizations in the thick of creating change. Groups like Silicon Valley at Home, the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, and others around the region have many virtual events planned. You also can read about the current state of housing in this Curbed SF article highlighting pressure on cash-strapped renters and the push for solutions that take into account property owners, too.


Set to Park

While there’s reduced access to state parks due to COVID-19, there’s still a lot of work going into policies and legislation to support them. If you’re interested in learning more, California State Parks Foundation is hosting its Park Advocacy Day on May 12. The virtual event kicks off at 10 a.m. for a general assembly about the challenges and opportunities facing parks, the current political environment, and how the community can support these places. Register here. Meanwhile, anyone who’s been enjoying the great outdoors lately may be wondering why some parks are shuttered and others stay open. This Bay Nature article explains decisions and practices underfoot.


Surveillance System

When it comes to coronavirus data gathering, it appears sewage should not go to waste. Research teams around the world, including in the Bay Area, are watching for COVID-19 indicators in sewersheds to help detect the presence of the virus in communities. The Water Research Foundation talked about surveillance efforts and early findings in a virtual research meeting last week. As we wait for COVID-19 testing to become more widely available, wastewater monitoring could prove key to signaling early outbreak warnings and when to end or impose lockdowns, according to the New York Times.


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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