There’s a lot on my plate, not just as a supervisor, but with many of the other hats I get to wear through public service.
Last month, I was honored when Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León appointed me to the the California Coastal Commission to represent the North Central Coast, which includes the counties of San Francisco, Sonoma, and Marin. This month I am slated to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors to be San Francisco’s representative on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), where I’ve been serving as an alternate to Supervisor Jane Kim. Earlier this year I was appointed to serve on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Board by the Association of Bay Area Governments. Last, but certainly not least, I was unanimously elected chair of the San Francisco Transportation Authority (SFCTA) by my colleagues earlier this year.
I’m proud to serve in many capacities at a time when we must respond quickly and act decisively to combat the draconian cuts of a madman — especially if we’re going to address the real impacts of climate change. It’s hard to know where to begin with the federal administration’s latest assault on the people of the United States of America and California. But as a lifelong environmental advocate and longtime public transit nerd, you can be sure that I will be prioritizing the fight to protect both of these public assets.
ICED OUT BY TRUMP
Reports from every continent tell of melting snowcaps, rising seas heating up, and a shifting Gulf Stream set to make our weather even more erratic, yet the 45th president and his head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt (yes, the same guy who is currently suing his own agency!), have proposed gutting the EPA’s $8.2 billion budget by a staggering 31 percent.
The Trump/Pruitt cuts will have serious ramifications for us here in the Golden State. For one thing, they effectively eliminate the EPA’s San Francisco Bay Program, which funds everything from wetland and watershed restoration to reducing polluted runoff and improving shoreline protection in San Francisco Bay. San Francisco just played a major role in helping pass the multicounty Measure AA on last June’s ballot, which will raise $25 million a year to restore precious wetlands, intertidal areas, and bay uplands. We were the only region in the United States that raised our own local dollars to match the federal funding in the program, and now the feds are basically proposing to axe the bay right out of Bay Area.
California receives approximately $2.5 million in federal funding annually from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to fund the critical work of the BCDC, the California Coastal Commission, and the State Coastal Conservancy. Really not a lot when you think about the vital work that they all do preparing coastal cities for the imminent threat of sea-level rise, severe storms, and other natural disasters. Trump is proposing to cut NOAA coastal funding and anything that remotely addresses the real threat of climate change. NOAA’s programmatic cuts read like a death sentence: a combined $75 million for NOAA’s Coastal Zone Management grants and Regional Coastal Resilience grants, $10 million in Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency grants, $23 million in annual funding to the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, and the entire $73 million Sea Grant program. The largest chunk of the California Coastal Commission’s budget comes from NOAA, and the impending 10 percent budget reduction would have catastrophic impacts on our ability to mitigate and prepare for sea-level rise.
Finally, the president’s clarion call to attack any jurisdiction that expresses support for science or reason has led to halting any new federal investments in some of the top deterrents to climate change: our public transit programs. These cuts will impact planned BART and Caltrain improvements, which should concern everyone hoping to reduce regional congestion and cut carbon emissions.
YOUR SUPPORT NEEDED
Ready to wear some advocacy hats? Because we need you. The Coastal States Organization is looking for individuals and organizations who benefit from the critical work of these defunded agencies to sign a letter of support to Congress, and I will be hosting an advocacy session in San Francisco in the coming days before the fiscal year 2017-18
budget is finalized. The town halls that have erupted across the state are giving life to a new level of engagement, and we have to keep the pressure on.
Locally, I am heading up the S.F. Transportation Task Force 2045 with the mayor, and we’ll be holding public meetings with a broad coalition of stakeholders over the next several months to identify a permanent source of progressive revenue to fund local maintenance and capital and service improvements to our transit systems. A critical step to doing our part to address climate change locally is setting the gold standard for transit-first policies. Assemblyman Phil Ting has introduced a bill to allow San Francisco the opportunity to levy a local income tax, and we will be examining how a 0.5 percent tax on the millionaire class could generate $62 million to $80 million annually for badly needed public services that are fast becoming privatized without sustained public investment. The city has made it official policy to advocate for the ability to generate this revenue, and we need your support to help pass it. I would also love your input and feedback on how we prioritize these dollars.
I’m ready for a revitalized spring resistance and am looking forward to standing with all of you on the environmental and transit issues that fuel the Bay Area we love.