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Monitor Notes: Health Inequities, Redwood Resilience, Senior Mobility, Food Waste, Congestion Pricing

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


Health and Equity Exchange

The arrival of fire season brings with it stark public health reminders, including poor air quality in at-risk communities. So consider joining Greenbelt Alliance on September 3 from 5 to 5:30 p.m. for the latest in its “Future Climate” webinar series. The expert on tap is Melissa Jones (pictured), executive director of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative. The Oakland-based group released a July report with strategies to address health inequities during COVID-19 and other emergencies like wildfires and power shut-offs. Jones also spoke about the effects of inequities in the region during this year’s Bay Area League Day forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area. Register for the Greenbelt Alliance talk here.


Redwood Revival Hopes

Many of us are thinking about firefighters and homeowners affected by the wildfires, as well as special outdoor spaces in the midst of danger. Wildfires have hit coast redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma County, and Big Sur. But there is optimism about how they may fare. Kristen Shive (pictured), director of science at Save the Redwoods League, discussed in an August 21 blog the ways in which coast redwoods have adapted to survive a wildfire. While it’s not safe to visit forests for a first-hand look, she emphasized redwoods’ resilience due to features like thick bark that insulates from heat. However, newer, second-growth forests may show a “variable response” because they have higher tree density. The warming climate is another unknown the Monitor’s Aleta George explored in a 2018 piece about how forests react to climate change.


Travel Plan Help

Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Senior Outreach Program has added to its “Travel Wise 101” workshop series short, prerecorded presentations about fixed-route public transit to familiarize older adults with the service. The online presentations cover topics like safety, fare options, and accessibility. Riders also can schedule presentations with VTA staff should they prefer more interaction. Click here for details. In other safety matters, VTA is among two dozen Bay Area transit agencies collaborating on recent plans to reduce COVID-19 risks for passengers and employees.


Waste Not at Water Treatment Plants

A new California Environmental Protection Agency report found at least half of the state’s landfill-bound food waste could be processed at nearly 225 state wastewater treatment plants and converted into a power source. Waste can be “co-digested” by adding organic wastes like municipal food scraps and industrial food processing wastes such as chicken blood to a plant’s anaerobic digester. All that activity would require additional infrastructure, with required statewide capital investments ranging between $900 million and $1.4 billion. But the report cited net benefits to the state, too, with upgraded plants generating $255 million a year. Read the report for more digestion details. Then, revisit Monitor landfill coverage discussing how organic materials like food scraps can pose problems when mixed in with trash.


Congestion Pricing Town Hall

Join the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) tonight at 6 for a virtual town hall about congestion pricing, or tolling to help manage the flow of downtown traffic. City officials are exploring how this type of policy would not only relieve congestion, but also meet goals around street safety, clean air, and equity when the economy recovers. To significantly reduce congestion, SFCTA estimates a pricing program would need to cut downtown car trips during rush hour by at least 15 percent. A 2019 Monitor article explained the pros and cons of congestion pricing, which is more common in big U.S. cities interested in reducing car reliance. RSVP here to register for the town hall and share feedback.


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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