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Monitor Notes: Vision Zero, Microplastics, Pollution Pause, Great Outdoors, Police Reform

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


New Policy in Sight

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is considering adoption of the Regional Safety/Vision Zero policy at its meeting beginning at 9:55 a.m. today. The policy represents an intent to work with partner agencies to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the Bay Area by 2030. Cities like San Francisco, San Jose, and Fremont have Vision Zero policies in place. But a regional safety approach could “promote improved safety and potentially eliminate some duplication of costs among local jurisdictions, allowing local governments to redirect their limited safety dollars towards enforcement and engineering,” according to meeting materials. Over 400 fatalities and 2,000 serious injuries occur on Bay Area roads each year. As vehicle traffic begins to rise, advocates are urging action — like WalkSF, which recently wrote about the need for daylighting, an improvement that removes visual barriers in crosswalks and intersections.

The Meaning of Microplastics

What are microplastics? This isn’t a Jeopardy answer — rather, an ongoing answer-seeking effort by the State Water Resources Control Board. It recently adopted an official definition of “microplastics” in drinking water to help further the study of this ubiquitous contaminant and environmental challenge. Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in length, a concerning size due to potential ingestion by fish and other acquatic animals. California’s definition, created in response to 2018’s Senate Bill 1422 (Portantino), is the first to focus specifically on microplastics in drinking water, according to the SWRCB. It’s also collaborating on an effort to standardize methods for monitoring microplastics in drinking water, surface water, sediment, and fish tissue.


Clean Air Continuance

The pandemic’s positive effects on air quality are breathing new words of hope about our environmental future. Even some of the world’s most polluted cities like Wuhan, China and Delhi, India reported dramatic particulate matter decreases after going into lockdown. Yet experts still caution that the air outlook is hazy, given that 150 million Americans live in areas where the air can be dangerous to breathe. So as the Bay Area economy reopens and traffic picks up, will recent air quality improvements diminish? Nonprofit planning organization SPUR is assembling professionals from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Aclima, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Tracking California for a 12:30 p.m. discussion on July 7 to take in this clean air question and others. Register here and then read the Monitor’s recent coverage about lessons learned from the pause in pollution.


Good Nature

The Great American Outdoors Act passed the U.S. Senate last week, providing billions in new funding to national parks and public lands grappling with backlogs of deferred maintenance. The measure provides $9.5 billion over the next five years to fix roads, restrooms, trails, and campgrounds at U.S. national parks. It also guarantees $900 million a year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which the Monitor covered five years ago and which is responsible for protecting parks, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas at the federal, state, and local level. The Mercury News reported on the passage of this important measure, how it cements conservation as a core value, and why public lands were shortchanged in previous years.


Police Reform Discussion

A national conversation about police department reform is underway following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May. So, what’s the role of local communities in these important exchanges? The League of Women Voters of Piedmont is hosting Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers and California Department of Justice Supervising Deputy Attorney General Nancy Beninati (pictured) for an online discussion about potential policy changes on June 30 at 4 p.m. The event will explore the host of matters being raised about use of force, racial profiling, police training, defunding or eliminating police in schools, the role of police in nonviolent situations, racial injustice, and social inequity. Click here for details about this first-come, first-served event.


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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