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Monitor Notes: Public Health, Climate Solutions, Bike Highways, Bay Restoration, and Land Conservation

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


Open the Conversation

The League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley is holding its next Community Conversations Series on February 18 at 4 p.m. It’ll be discussing a November resolution approved by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors declaring racism as a public health crisis. The virtual meeting, part of the Contra Costa County Library partnership, will explain the genesis behind the resolution and share ways in which people can help achieve equity in the county. Click here to register and see the list of elected officials and health professionals participating on the discussion panel.

In other League news, the LWV Oakland is hosting a program planning meeting Saturday, February 6 at 10 a.m., along with other Bay Area groups featured in the January 27 edition of Notes.


Electric Current

Bay Area cities like San Francisco, Palo Alto, and most recently Albany are phasing out natural gas in new buildings. How can more cities electrify to help solve the climate crisis? Palo Alto nonprofit Acterra has invited environmental advocate Bruce Hodge (pictured here) to discuss this question in a February 17 lecture at 4:30 p.m. called, “Mass Beneficial Electrification: The Challenge Ahead.” Hodge founded Carbon Free Palo Alto in 2011 and played a key role in encouraging the City of Palo Alto to provide carbon neutral electricity to all customers. Get tickets. (A $10 donation is suggested). If that activates your interest, read the latest article from the Monitor’s Leslie Stewart on regional initiatives to include low-income residents in the home energy efficiency movement.


On a Highway Note

Caltrans Bay Area (District 4) is asking residents to take its survey about bike highways — passages for uninterrupted, long-distance bicycle travel. The goal is to better understand where routes could be installed along the region’s nearly 1,400 miles of state highway corridors. The survey includes questions about bike travel habits, safety priorities, and connectivity needs. There’s even a chance to help select a new name for the project. Bike highways is a working handle. Caltrans said on its website that it plans to hold virtual events about bike highways going forward, too.


Bay Restoration

A group of Bay Area lawmakers introduced the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act last week, a bill that seeks $250 million over five years to restore wetlands and estuaries. It also would set up a San Francisco Bay Program Office within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The measure is a “smart and necessary long-term investment,” said Rep. Jackie Speier of San Mateo, author of the bill, in a press release. It has 10 California co-sponsors. Speier said funding authorized in the bill aims to help endangered species recover, as well as study water quality improvement and adaptation to climate change. The San Francisco Bay has been “short-changed,” compared to other U.S. estuaries, she said. Between 2008 and 2016, the EPA invested $45 million into the San Francisco Bay, compared to $260 million for Puget Sound and $490 million for Chesapeake Bay, according to Speier’s office.


Take the Initiative

Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors approved a long-term conservation plan in late January for the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space). The Vital Lands Initiative prioritizes planning, acquisition, and stewardship of Ag + Open Space through 2031. It will “outline strategies for protecting our vital open space lands to preserve agriculture, natural resources, recreation, scenic vistas, greenbelt areas, and urban open space,” said Teri Shore, advocacy director at nonprofit Greenbelt Alliance, which helped develop the initiative during two years of public workshops. The initiative also includes criteria and processes for identifying conservation priorities. Since its inception, Ag + Open Space has protected over 122,000 acres.


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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