Saving San Francisco Bay: Past, Present, and Future
Esther Gulick, Catherine Kerr, and Sylvia McLaughlin
Given at Berkeley, California, April 14, 1988
Saving San Francisco Bay - The Past
by Esther Gulick
Kay Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin and I are very grateful for the kind words expressed in our introduction. We have had other names bestowed upon us, such as enemies of progress, impractical idealists, do-gooders, posy pickers, eco-freaks, enviromaniacs, little old ladies in tennis shoes and almond cookie revolutionaries.
We were very much concerned about what was happening to our Bay, but it was a happenstance that we came together. Kay and Sylvia were talking at a tea and they discussed the Army Corps of Engineers' map that had been printed in the Oakland Tribune in December 1959. It showed that the Bay could end up being nothing but a deep water ship channel by the year 2020 because of the enormous amount of fill being planned. The Corps had made a study for the United States Department of Commerce and it had just been released. Shortly before Christmas in 1960 1 took some almond cookies over to Kay's house, particularly for her husband because they were his favorites. It was a beautiful day and the Bay was as blue as it could be. Of course, we talked about the Corps' map and Kay asked me if I thought I would have time to help do something about it. Little did I know what that was going to mean!
The three of us discussed how we could start. Berkeley's City Council and the business and industrial sector, supported by the Berkeley Gazette, were anxious to put over 2,000 acres of fill in the Bay so that Berkeley could almost double its size. There were grandiose plans of having an airport, industrial and commercial buildings, houses, apartments, a hotel or two, a parking lot and so on. Other cities had similar plans. We decided we would present the problems to some of the leaders of the larger conservation organizations. We asked a group of them to meet at my home in January 1961. They were very interested and thought it was an excellent idea but, unfortunately, they all said they were much too busy to take on anything more. They thought it was essential to form another group. However, they said they would help all they could. As they left they wished us much luck. It was clear that if anything was going to be done we were "it," so we went to work, green as grass as we were.
Acquiring members was probably the most important first step so we composed a letter and sent it to people we knew, as well as to the Berkeley names on the lists we had received. We had a wonderful response - more than 90 percent. People could not believe that the public did not own the Bay. Most citizens did not know, just as we did not until a short time before, that approximately 70 percent of the Bay was less than 20 feet deep and very susceptible to being filled. As Mel Scott, who was with the University's Institute of Governmental Studies, wrote: "To attorneys, developers, title insurance companies, manufacturers of salt and cement, innumerable government officials, members of the state legislature and many others, it is some of the most valuable real estate in California." The State much earlier had sold a great deal of the Bay for no more than a dollar an acre. These sales were stopped in 1879 when a new constitution was adopted.
In 1850, when California was admitted to the Union, the Bay was approximately 680 square miles. A little more than 100 years later this had been reduced by dikes and fills to about 430 square miles. There were at least 40 garbage dumps on the Bay shoreline. In Berkeley we have seen discarded furniture, old automobile tires and batteries, old mattresses and many other things, in addition to garden clippings and, kitchen garbage. It was a common sight to see these dumps, burning and smoking. Much of the refuse also spilled over into the water. There was a stench along the shoreline, particularly where raw sewage poured into the Bay. At the same, time when there was this massive fill proposed for Berkeley, there was also a serious proposal to fill Berkeley's Aquatic Park and use the site for industry. This area had been part of the Bay until the freeway was built. The Aquatic Park proposal was defeated by only one vote of the City Council.
In 1962 Berkeley secured an amendment to its tideland grant. This allowed fills in the Bay to be used "for all commercial and industrial uses and purposes, and the construction, reconstruction, repair and maintenance of commercial and industrial buildings, plants and facilities, as may be specified by the City Council after public hearing." Save San Francisco Bay Association tried to prevent the passage of the amendment, but unfortunately failed. However, we got much favorable publicity and more members. At the end of 1962 our total membership was 2,500.
It became very clear that numerous cities and counties around the Bay had plans in various stages of development to fill many more square miles. In 1963 and again in 1964 Assemblyman Nicholas Pettis introduced bills in the state legislature to protect the Bay with a moratorium on fill while the problem was studied. Although these bills lost, they alerted the legislature to the destructive threats to the Bay.
A bill was introduced into the legislature in early 1963 which would allow the Construction Aggregates Corporation of Chicago to dredge massive amounts of sand from the Potato Patch Shoal, the important ecological area just outside the Golden Gate. According to testimony of scientists, removal of the sand in the Potato Patch Shoal would have a detrimental effect also on the beaches to the south. Testimony was presented by crab and sports fishermen and concerned citizens. A multitude of letters in opposition were received by the legislators. Fortunately, the bill lost.
The Chicago corporation estimated the fill required for the projects that were being considered for the Bay as more than 1,330,000,000 cubic yards, which would mean many square miles of filling.
But back to the critical situation in Berkeley. We talked with many professional people about the proposed Berkeley fill. We spoke with engineers, economists, city planners, architects and others. Throughout the years, many of the University's faculty had donated their time and expertise to the Association. Mel Scott's book "The Future of San Francisco Bay," written for the Institute of Governmental Studies, was an invaluable resource and the definitive book about San Francisco Bay. We were extremely fortunate and are very grateful to all those who provided so much help. Many of our members also donated help in innumerable ways. We learned a great deal and took some of this knowledge to the City Council. They began to listen to us. Also, they were impressed at the great concern so many citizens had over the concept of substantial fill and so-called balanced development.
Experts speaking for Save-the-Bay were hard to refute. The master plan became a political issue and more and more people spoke against it. The City Council made a complete change in policy at the end of 1963. A waterfront advisory committee was set up and existing plans were replaced by an interim waterfront plan which would greatly limit fill and development. It also defined the lines of how far out the fill would extend. The composition of the City Council had changed after an election and the new members were much more conscious of what many of their constituents wanted with regard to the preservation of the Bay.
Early in 1964 Kay, who knew Senator Eugene McAteer, went to see him in San Francisco and talked about the need to protect the Bay. Senator McAteer was the most powerful legislator in the Senate and was known for his devotion to San Francisco. He realized that many of those who had fill plans also had a great deal of political clout. McAteer thought that the legislature should study the problem before any action was taken. In 1964 a bill was passed to create the San Francisco Bay Conservation Study Commission. The new commission had four months and a budget of $75,000 to study the Bay fill (from September 1964 until the end of the year). Then it was to report its findings and recommendations to the governor and the legislature. The commission had nine members and McAteer was chairman. Twelve public hearings were held and the commission heard the views of many diverse people. There were those who had plans for expansion by dredging and filling as well as those who worried about the Bay and the lack of access to its water.
The press and the public began to pay attention. Don Sherwood, the Bay Area's most popular disc jockey, knew McAteer and he also had a 6 to 9 a.m. program on KSFO. He had the largest audience around the Bay and he would tell his listeners to be sure to write to their legislators before they had that second cup of coffee or started the day's work. Sherwood was highly successful in getting people to write, as were the conservation groups, and many cartons of mail were delivered daily to the legislators.
The findings and recommendations were completed on schedule and sent to the legislature in January, 1965. These recommendations and the resulting bill that was sponsored by McAteer in the Senate and Pettis in the Assembly led to a major conservation battle. The study commission recommended and the bill proposed that a San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission be created. The new Bay Commission would have two major responsibilities: it would have four years to prepare a plan for the Bay and its shoreline and would have the authority to grant or deny permits for all Bay filling. With the astute leadership of Senator McAteer and Assemblyman Pettis, the bill passed in June of 1965 and became the McAteer-Petris Act.
That same year, in Alameda, a serious battle was lost. Utah Construction and Mining Company planned a massive development on Bay Farm Island. The State had to give its consent to the project before the Corps of Engineers could give its assent. At the final meeting, which was very long, almost all the testimony was in opposition to the project. The state, however, granted the permit, and the Corps therefore immediately did the same. The Corps also approved two permits for large fills for the Port of Oakland. This took place immediately prior to the effective date of the moratorium required in the McAteer-Petris Act.
A big success story for the Bay was the Westbay lawsuit. Westbay Community Associates was a group made up of David Rockefeller, Crocker Land Co., Ideal Cement Co., and. the investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co. In 1968 Westbay intended to fill and develop an area of the South Bay as large as Manhattan Island. This was to be done along 27 miles of the San Mateo County shoreline. There was to be a port, restaurants, convention, commercial and education centers, apartment buildings, hotels and light industry. Also, there were to be parks and recreation areas to be paid for by the public. There were 10, 169 acres in Westbay's proposed plan. They had allocated three billion dollars to spend on this investment.
Crocker Land Co. owned San Bruno Mountain and the intent was to remove a large part of it for fill. The remainder of the mountain would then be level and would be used for real estate purposes. Fortunately, the State Lands Commission saw Westbay Community Associates as a direct threat to the tidelands. Greg Taylor, the Senior Assistant Attorney General in the State of California, directed the case. Our lawyer, Barry Bunshoft, on behalf of Save San Francisco Bay Association and the Sierra Club, moved to intervene in the lawsuit. This was very strongly contested by the developer and by the real estate industry. However, we were allowed by the judge to intervene, which was a great victory as this was the first time an environmental organization was granted the right to do so. It proved that environmental groups had standing to appear in court and argue what they perceived to be in the public, interest. It was extremely important because now the lawsuit could not be settled without our agreement.
In April of 1968, the State Lands Commission authorized the filing of the lawsuit. The cost of this was a half million dollars a year for the State. Fortunately, our costs were much less. Westbay's law firm battled the appropriation in the legislative committee and it took all summer to get it out of mittee. Greg gives credit to the environmental groups and their many members who, for months, besieged the legislators with letters, telegrams and phone calls. One lady wrote a letter to Senator Randy Collier, who was holding the bill hostage in his committee in the Senate. She wrote, "Senator Collier, if you don't release that bill, I promise you that every bus, filled with conservationists, that has been going to Sacramento this year is going to go to your district and campaign for your defeat." Greg says apparently Senator Collier believed the lady because the next time the committee met he made himself a co-author of the bill. He pushed the bill through the Senate so fast you would not believe it.
The lawsuit went on for over nine years. What was ultimately worked out was a tripartite negotiation among the developers, the State Lands Commission, and the environmentalists. This negotiation was over the redrawing of the property lines in the Bay within San Mateo County. The result is that there has been virtually no further encroachment on these tidelands. That was a very major victory.
Senator McAteer died from a heart attack in 1967, which was a great blow for many. Senator George Miller, Sr., a powerful Democrat from Martinez, then took over. Senator Miller died of a heart attack in January 1969. Fortunately, Assemblyman John Knox carried on.
In January 1969, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission sent its plan to the Governor and the state legislature. A second major political battle was started. Many of the same people were involved who had fought for BCDC earlier. There was the same worry as in 1965. If the BCDC bill was not accepted within ninety days after the legislative session ended, it would automatically die. Again the letters and the telegrams poured into the legislature. Telephones were constantly busy. There were stickers on car bumpers, buttons on lapels, and Don Sherwood again went into action. Concerned citizens and their friends drove to Sacramento. Many chartered buses were used.
We were worried about Governor Reagan. Most of his support, financial and otherwise, came from Southern California, and he was not known for his interest in the environment. However, he was running for reelection the next year. Some of his people were in favor of BCDC, but others were against it. This time the people who wanted to preserve the Bay were fortunate. There were three Reagan appointees who were very supportive of this legislation. They were Norman Livermore, Jr., Secretary of the California Resources Agency; William Penn Mott, Jr., Director of State Parks; and Caspar Weinberger, State Finance Director. Bill Mott had been president of Save the Bay until he went to Sacramento. There was great surprise when Reagan, in his State of the State Message, came out for a continuation of BCDC. When he spoke about the Bay, he said, "We cannot permit a lapse, no matter how short, in protection of this priceless natural resource." After Reagan supported the Bay, the issue in the legislature became bipartisan, and there were Democrats and Republicans on both sides. Probably the most important sponsors were Senator Pettis and Assemblyman Knox.
We helped organize a temporary coalition, the Citizens Alliance to Save San Francisco Bay, which had its office in downtown San Francisco. One of the main reasons was to have as much unanimity as possible among the environmentalists. Some were adamant that we must not compromise on anything. Others feared we would lose BCDC altogether or else get a weakened BCDC. However, the Alliance worked well toward our common goal and was successful in giving information, coordinating activities, responding to undesirable amendments, and so forth.
In February 1969, Claire Dedrick and Janet Adams, who had a public relations business, formed the Save Our Bay Action Committee in San Mateo County. This county was chosen because the Westbay Project was to go there and Senator Richard Dolwig was very powerful. He had voted against the original BCDC bill and was a strong opponent of Bay protection legislation. We were fortunate that the BCDC bill was the only major environmental bill before the legislature that year. The following year, 1970, there were a great many such bills. Senator Howard Way, who was now President Pro Tem of the Senate, was interested, helpful and influential. That assisted greatly the prospects for a strong Bay bill.
Then Senator Dolwig introduced his bill to create a different Bay commission, which was to have five years to create a new general plan for the Bay. Criticism of Dolwig broke loose in the press. An editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle said: "It should not be necessary to warn legislators representing this region that the people in the Bay Area will be unforgiving to those who fail in their responsibility to save the Bay from unwise exploitation, disfigurement and diminishment." All this pressure brought an extraordinary about-face. Dolwig put many amendments in his bill, making it as strong and probably stronger than anything else pending. A number of legislators changed positions along with Dolwig. The mail, telegrams and telephone calls poured in by the thousands. The issue really struck a raw nerve and many persons who had never before written to a senator or assemblyman did so now without hesitation.
Not everything that the conservationists wanted was achieved, but it was far beyond what it could have been. It took much work, patience, and driving to and from Sacramento in the heat. It was what is sometimes called a "learning experience." A couple of times I spoke before the committee but generally I delegated that pleasure to Sylvia.
One committee meeting that will never be forgotten was the hearing on John Knox's Bill #AB 2057. It was the same as the McAteer-Petris Bill. KQED telecast this hearing to the Bay Area. The meeting room was packed and the large room next to it where one could hear, but not see what was going on, was also filled. People stood out in the hall. The lawyer for Westbay spoke passionately against the bill. Finally, John Knox asked him if he had read it. He said no.
The final vote was the climax of years of hard work. The developers' highly-paid lobbyists had also been very active. During the last session some legislators were still speaking against the bill. Sylvia and I were watching this dramatic event. Under Howard Way's very astute leadership the bill passed by one vote and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission became permanent. For us, and for our thousands of supporters, this was the ultimate victory.
Saving San Francisco Bay - The Present
by Catherine Kerr
You have heard the story of the past from Esther. Sylvia will dream about the future. For the next few minutes I will describe the present and discuss some of the reasons the present is the way it is.
Despite some current problems, I can paint an optimistic picture. The Bay itself is larger than it was in 1969 by nearly 1,000 acres, in spite of the fact that nearly 850 permits were granted for Bay use which required about 370 acres of new fill. The increase in the Bay has been achieved by attaching conditions to some of the permits required by the Bay Commission, involving breaking dikes or cleaning out debris and unsightly shoreline structures.
There are still miles of shoreline in private ownership, inaccessible for public use, but the 40 garbage dumps ringing the Bay and the procession of dump trucks in 1965 have gone. Today new shoreline paths required by the law as a condition to the development of the shoreline stretch about 120 miles, in contrast to the ten miles in the 1960's. In addition, there are new shoreline parks, including the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, Candlestick Park, China Camp, Pt. Pinole, and several shoreline areas of the East Bay Regional Park District. There are environmental education centers and shoreline museums. A large area of the South Bay and of San Pablo Bay are in the National Wildlife Refuge System and the important Suisun Marsh is now regulated by BCDC.
In the last twenty years marinas have proliferated. In 1987 there were 154,000 registered recreational boats. Fifty yacht clubs sponsored dozens of competitive activities. Even on cold days, wind surfers dot the Bay in many areas. Millions of tourists, coming at least partly because of the Bay, have occupied hotel rooms and spent millions of dollars.
The Port of Oakland has become one of the major ports for the Pacific Basin, serving the local market and shipping by rail to Chicago and eastward. Today, railroad tunnels in the Sierra are being enlarged to permit higher stacking of containers on freight cars. Ships so large they will not go through the Panama Canal are being built in Germany and they will require a very large amount of dredging to deepen Bay channels. The Port now has 17 percent of the West Coast's shipping trade, and of its 13 million tons, 11 million were in containers (which represented 90 percent of the container traffic in and out of the Bay in 1986). Foreign cars are offloaded at Benicia and Richmond, and there is a constant stream of tankers bringing oil to the refineries of the East Bay. In the past two decades it has been the market, not the Bay Plan or the Bay Commission, that has regulated Bay Area shipping.
So, as these highlights of the current picture demonstrate, the Bay has been both conserved and developed, as was the purpose of the 1965 McAteer-Petris Act establishing the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and the approval, in 1969, of the Bay Plan.
How did we get from 1969 to 1988? Will the same considerations continue in the future?
Thanks to all the events which Esther has described, there were fewer people, and particularly, fewer decision makers who did not know by 1969 that San Francisco Bay needed saving. Elected officials had come to have a healthy respect for citizens who would crowd hearing rooms and hallways and fill up dozens of buses to Sacramento. Our efforts were highlighted in the local media and even in national magazines such as the Readers Digest. The Bay has become a newsworthy subject, and there have been important articles, including an excellent one in the National Geographic, with its international circulation. The landmark legislation and the success story that followed it have been the subject of numerous studies and research projects. Every year, visitors from around the world come to talk with BCDC staff to learn what part of this success can be duplicated elsewhere.
Unquestionably, the success story of Saving the Bay has depended on and still depends on the unique provisions of the law which established the Bay Commission, or BCDC. It clearly states for what purposes fill is permitted in the Bay, and why. It requires public access to the water. It describes who shall be members of the Commission and the procedures it shall follow.
The mix of Commissioners has been very important. They are appointed from and therefore are beholden to different constituencies. Each of these constituencies shares some form of jurisdiction over the Bay but their interests do not coincide, so that decisions are most frequently made with the long-run consequences to the Bay paramount over short-run individual concerns. The mix includes seven members appointed by the Governor to represent the public interest. They change with the Governor. There is one representative each from the State Resources Agency, the State Lands Commission, the Business and Transportation Agency, and the Department of Finance. These state officials share the vote with local political leaders - one each from the nine counties and four appointed from an area-designated group of cities. An important member represents the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Two federal representatives, one from the Environmental Protection Agency and one from the Corps of Engineers, have limited voting rights.
In addition to its composition, the second outstanding difference between the Bay Commission and other governmental boards, city councils or agencies, is the requirement in the law that an application for a permit may not be decided at the same meeting at which it is presented by the applicant, and a noticed public hearing must be held. A minimum of two weeks between hearing and voting allows Commissioners to seek more information, formulate their questions to staff, and read letters or review the statements made at the public hearing. This has prevented the frequent complaints directed at other public bodies that officials come to a hearing with their decisions already made in private, and the vote is taken at the time the subject is first presented. The delay at BCDC allows time to sort out the facts and to allow consideration of long-run consequences. The procedure is of further value because detailed minutes are taken at each meeting and com-prehensive descriptions of every application for a permit are provided in advance by mail to Commissioners and interested members of the public.
Now, to turn to some of the present problems. The expansion of the Port of Oakland has greatly affected the Port of San Francisco. The northern waterfront, from Telegraph Hill to the Ferry Building, includes old, illused, dilapidated piers and buildings. Without back-up space, it cannot be used for container traffic. A spasmodically aggressive port authority and the usual city deficit have spawned development schemes in this area, as though it were a proverbial pot of gold.
In the 1970's efforts were made to get permission for a large office building and shopping mail to be built on piers in the Bay near the Ferry Building, even though such non-water-dependent uses are illegal. Once again our troops poured into the public hearings, regional and state political and community leaders were alerted, the illegality of the proposal made clear to the financing institutions, and the Bay Commission denied the permit. Mayor Alioto promptly sued BCDC, which was a lawsuit never pursued.
Last year, the glimmer of gold again aroused the port's determination to make money out of the northern waterfront. This time, the public was to be enticed into changing the law itself, so that proposals would no longer be illegal. The appeals of the current effort are three: First, the historic ferry building can collapse and offices built on new piers could provide needed funds both for its renovation and to expand ailing maritime facilities. Second, other ports such as Los Angeles can build offices on fill and use them for maritime related commerce, even though these activities do not need a waterfront location. Third, the public could enjoy the view at the end of the piers supporting the large office buildings.
Depending on the judgment of the new mayor and port commission, San Francisco could again make a serious attempt to achieve its own ends, regardless of the law enacted to protect the Bay for the sake of the region and future generations. The Association has worked to discourage another big conflict. No state legislator has as yet indicated an interest in initiating such a conflict and the Association is making it clear that attempts at changing the law will result in a major conflict.
The law gives the Bay Commissioners the authority to determine what is necessary Bay fill, whether there are upland locations that could be used instead and, within its 100-foot shoreline jurisdiction, what is the greatest amount of feasible public access which should be required. Every foot of waterfront property that has to be devoted to a landscaped path or viewing area, or to preserving wetlands or wildlife habitat, represents a cost to developers. So it was not surprising that eventually, actually five years ago, a new non-profit group was incorporated as The Bay Coalition. It includes, among others, companies that have been previously cited for illegal developments and many who would benefit from minimum regulation and enforcement. Among these are the sanitary land fill operators, dredgers, oil refineries, real estate corporations and a dozen land development and investment companies, private marinas, the ports, and the Oakland and San Francisco Chambers of Commerce. Water-related industry and real estate development firms are encouraged to pay $6,000-$7,000 a year, and a somewhat lesser amount is charged to others. This contrasts with the one dollar membership dues of our Association.
At the Bay Commission public hearings, the staff or attorneys of the Coalition support the applicant (who usually offers the kind and amount of public access designed to cost his project the least), while our Association and other representatives of the public report on the amount and quality of needed public access appropriate to the project. Fortunately, the commitment of the early Commissioners and of the well-known architects and landscape architects who voluntarily serve on the BCDC Design Review Board, have established important precedents regarding the appropriate requirements for public access. However, constant pressure from groups such as The Bay Coalition, well-known for their lack of concern for the Bay and the public interest, is a constant challenge.
Law enforcement is now an important problem. The number of BCDC Cease and Desist Orders has greatly increased, and this takes the time of Bay Commissioners who have the legal right to issue penalties. There are as many as one hundred illegal fills of seasonal wetlands around the Bay which are currently known and documented by the Army Corps of Engineers. However, this agency has no direct enforcement powers, and the process of moving a case to the U.S. Attorney General's office is a long and often futile endeavor. There are also violations of the regulations of the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Environmental Protection Agency. Some lawyers encourage clients to ignore the law, anticipating that a long-delayed after-the-fact permit will have few, if any, costs.
Therefore, lawsuits by environmental organizations are as crucial today as in the past when (as in the Westbay lawsuit) 10,000 acres of open water were saved, and later in the Berkeley-Santa Fe decision when a public trust easement was held to apply to the hundreds of acres of Santa Fe owned baylands. Lawsuits are expensive, however, in spite of a great deal of donated legal time. Today the Association is a party to two legal cases - one against the Port of Oakland for filling a seasonal wetland, and the other against Leslie Salt regarding the extent of governmental authority over one of its properties. A major challenge today is how to secure the large amount of funds needed to adequately fight a case.
A picture of the present situation would not be complete without commenting on the great increase in the number of agencies and organizations that have Bay-related priorities. While our Association membership has expanded to 22,000, there are at least that many in the Bay Area chapters of the Audubon Society, Sierra Club, the Citizens for a Better Environment, Oceanic Society, the Marin Conservation League, the Peninsula Conservation Center, People for Open Space, the Committee for Green Foothills, the San Francisco Bay Institute, and several small but effective local groups.
There is not time to discuss the Bay in relation to toxic pollution, the loss of wetlands, and the consequences of reduced fresh-water inflow. Several agencies and many organizations are concerned with these problems. Our Association, however, is the only one with the principal responsibility of monitoring the Bay Conservation and Development Commission for Bay fill and for the quality of public access to the Bay.
When we started out in 1961, we thought all we had to do was to get a good law and the Bay would be saved. What we have learned is that the law itself must be saved and that this requires constant vigilance against those that would change it or weaken it. What we have learned is that the Bay is never saved. It is, instead, always in the process of being saved. That is why we have been so heavily involved for all these years, and why our successors will be involved far into the future. The concluding words of the University hymn are appropriate - "for endless years the same."
Saving San Francisco Bay - The Future
by Sylvia McLaughlin
The future of Saving San Francisco Bay is a rather ambitious topic for 20 minutes! It is also a wonderful opportunity to share with you our future goals and to suggest ways to achieve these goals.
First of all, I'd like to say how very delighted I am to participate in this distinguished lecture series that honors Horace Albright. I was privileged to know him.
Horace Albright had a vision of what the National Park Service could be and should be. He thought BIG. His imaginative concepts served to impress people with the importance of preserving our heritage of outstanding natural areas. This awareness and appreciation of our natural resources was translated into action. Specific plans were communicated to key people in government, and then, finally, passed by Congress. We are most grateful to him for his vision and leadership and for our world-renowned National Parks.
Similarly, in the 1960s, as you have heard, Esther, Kay and I were inspired by the vision of what we felt San Francisco Bay could be and the reality of what was happening to it. We regarded the Bay as one of this country's national treasures and to us, and to many others, it was unthinkable that most of this beautiful natural resource could be filled.
Our vision for the 1980s, 1990s and the future coincides with Save the Bay's current goals. This vision is in four parts: a continuing strong and effective Bay Conservation and Development Commission; a clean and healthy Bay with sufficient fresh water inflow; a Bay fringed with wetlands to provide habitat for micro-organisms, wildlife and migratory shorebirds; and a Bay encircled by a necklace of public shoreline parks, linked together, where feasible, by a system of shoreline trails.
I'd like to focus on the vision of the Bay's necklace of shoreline parks and trails. Perhaps in the future, it will be a blue and gold necklace, with lots of poppies, lupine and golden cordgrass.
As the human and automobile population of the Bay increases, it becomes more important than ever to have recreational opportunities close at hand, particularly to serve the residents of the more intensely developed areas closest to the edge of the Bay. Fortunately, many improvements and additions to existing parks are already in progress. Save the Bay's vision of shoreline parks encircling the Bay is well on the way to becoming a reality! Let's tour the highspots of the Bay's shoreline to see some of the principal parks that exist there now and some of the parks and open space being planned for the future.
First, I'll highlight the current status and future plans and hopes for the East Bay shoreline. This shoreline is the last remaining large and mostly undeveloped area along the Bay. A future oasis of urban open space, it is becoming a case history in patience, persistence and coordination among many environmental and community groups and state and local agencies. Eight years ago, in response to concerned citizens, the State Park and Recreation Commission conducted an urban park site selection process for Alameda County. Reports and studies were made by the Coastal Conservancy, by the Park and Recreation Department and by Cal Trans. Now, after many hours and years of meetings, workshops and hearings in Sacramento, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and Albany, an Eastbay Shoreline Park, from the Bay Bridge to the Richmond Bridge, is looking more and more hopeful. A very active coalition known as Citizens for the Eastshore State Park (or CESP), started out under the umbrella of Save the Bay and the Sierra Club. It is now a separate, non-profit organization.
As with many environmental issues, this one is not simple. It involves the five East Bay cities, seven State agencies, several Federal agencies, and numerous community and environmental groups. Fortunately, there is only one private owner, Santa Fe Pacific Realty Corporation. Since the railroad merger with Southern Pacific was not approved, Santa Fe is playing out its own internal drama. In a few months there may be a name change to Santa Fe Olympia and York, Santa Fe Henley and York, or maybe back to the old Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe, for those who remember the ballad of Casey Jones. In any event, Santa Fe Pacific Realty has plans for massive commercial, residential and open space development along the shorelines of Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany and Richmond. This narrow strip of shoreline is mostly our garbage and solid waste, but it's all we've got. It's a uniquely beautiful shoreline with unparalleled views of the Bay, San Francisco, the Golden Gate and the Marin Hills. It's the future prime jewel in the necklace of shoreline parks.
Emeryville and Berkeley have gone through extensive planning processes, and both cities have come out strongly for a minimum of commercial and residential development and a large amount of open space. This open space provides areas suitable for on-site environmental education and for a wide variety of active land and water sports, as well as for passive recreational activities accessible to all. The Crescent Marsh would continue to be used as a wildlife habitat and, where appropriate, as a sculpture garden. In Emeryville, negotiations with Santa Fe Pacific Realty and several State agencies are already under way for acquisition of the privately held lands. The people of Berkeley have voted for a waterfront plan that allows the private owner 565,000 square feet for development. However, Santa Fe does not consider this a reasonable return on their property and is suing the city for 85 million dollars. Any future plan for State acquisition must first involve settlement of the lawsuit. The City has won the first round and the case is now being appealed.
In Albany, a 650 page Draft Environmental Impact Report on alternative waterfront plans is to be totally revised due to the over one thousand written comments sent in by interested citizens. This revision, being paid for by Santa Fe, will be ready next fall. It is our expectation that some fine day, when sufficient money becomes available, Santa Fe will be a willing seller and the State of California a willing buyer. When that happens, we hope in the not too distant future, the East Bay and the world will have an outstanding urban shoreline park.
Cities across the United States and in other countries are now recognizing the economic, aesthetic and recreational values of riverfront, lakefront and shoreline parks. This list of cities is long and is still growing. Even in these stringent times other waterfront cities have chosen park priorities and have found the ways and means to implement their plans. Surely our San Francisco Bay shoreline cities can do so too.
Although, in the past few years, Save the Bay has been principally preoccupied with the East Bay shoreline as a park site, we are concerned with the entire nine-county Bay shoreline. There is, and I'm sure always will be, close cooperation among the region's environmental organizations. We also work closely with public agencies and special districts.
Heading north on our tour, the East Bay Regional Park District is continuing to implement its long range Master Plan policy of creating additional shoreline parks in their two-county jurisdiction. Richmond, known for its petroleum-related industries, has some outstanding parks and scenic areas from Keller Beach at Pt. Richmond to Pt. Pinole Regional Park. Ferry Point is a needed and hoped-for addition to the Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline. Out in the Bay is Brooks Island, a Regional Preserve. It will always be lovely to look at and in the future will become available for limited educational and recreational use.
We're indeed lucky that most of our hills surrounding the Bay are not terraced and covered, as in Malvina Reynolds' song, "with rows of ticky-tacky little boxes."
Some years ago, a woman I'd never met called and said, "We must save the Marin Headlands." Of course I agreed. Fortunately, she and her determined cohorts were persistent. Now, the glorious sweep of the Golden Gate Headlands can be enjoyed for ever more, since they are included in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Again and again, such victories were the result of individuals with a strong sense of purpose, banding together and successfully persuading the decision-makers.
Marin County is richly endowed, not only with the GGNRA, but also with State, County and City parks. These are on shorelines close to the Bay and also on important hill-viewing areas, many of which are now carpeted with wildflowers. A debt of eternal gratitude is owed to Peter Behr, Huey Johnson, Ed Wayburn, Amy Meyer and numerous others who defeated large development schemes and who, with enthusiastic supporters, achieved the Pt. Reyes National Seashore and the GGNRA. Sites such as Angel Island and Richardson Bay, which will always be enjoyed by future Bay Area residents and visitors, are made even more precious to us by knowing a bit of their history. Angel Island was once considered for use as a quarry, and shallow Richardson Bay as a development site. Caroline Livermore, Mary Summers and others of the Marin Conservation League managed to preserve Angel Island intact. They also purchased checkerboard squares of underwater lots to thwart development of Richardson Bay. As with housework, conservation is never done, and refinements, refurbishings and good maintenance are always needed. Currently, the City of San Rafael is expanding its shoreline path, and a public fishing pier is nearly finished at McNear's Beach County Park. Burdell Island, fronting on San Antonio Creek, may soon be Marin's next public open space acquisition. Castro Cove, near East Fort Baker, is soon slated to become a part of the GGNRA.
Across the Bay, Crissy Field, the former airport for the Presidio, is undergoing a landscape restoration design and planning process. It has a natural beach with breathtaking views. The water offshore is a favorite area for wind-surfers. Situated between Ft. Point and the Marina Green, it is well located for future public use and enjoyment.
Mission Bay, located in San Francisco near China Basin, is another very large development project of Santa Fe Pacific Realty. A citizen group, Mission Bay Conservancy, would like to ensure that any development plans include adequate areas parks and open space. A marsh restoration project has also been proposed. As a shoreline park, this historic waterfront, site would be easily accessible to residents and to business people in the rapidly developing South of Market district. There are no existing parks in this area except the very small South Park built in 1865.
On the Peninsula, the City of San Mateo is considering a plan for
their entire shoreline to be a public park. This would be a fine
addition to the County's well used beach and park at Coyote Point.
At Palo Alto's Baylands, a small boat launching facility is proposed.
And along the shoreline of East Palo Alto
there is now a potential opportunity for much needed open space and parks.
In the South Bay, a group called "Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge" is proposing an addition, as designated the original plan, of another 20,000 acres to the existing San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. These lands are critical for the biological diversity of the refuge.
As Thomas Jefferson tells us, at the main entrance to the Library of Congress, "Let us then take what we can get, and press forward eternally for what is yet to get. It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good."
We have been primarily concerned with San Francisco Bay. However, it is the combination of Bay and hills that makes the Bay Area such a unique and very special place. As with our vision for shoreline parks, the time for trails seems be right. Governor Deukmejian has proclaimed April l6th and 17th to be California Trail Days. In fact, the Bay Area trail system has already started to happen. Last year saw passage of Senator Lockyer's bill to establish a trail around Bay. Its guidelines and implementation are now being determined by Advisory and Regional Planning Committees composed of public and private agencies under the Association of Bay Area Governments.
A Bay Area Ridge Trail counterpart to the Bay Shoreline,",,% Trail has also been set in motion. The Bay Area Trails Council, a coalition of public agencies and trail groups, is working to create a ridgeline trail on the hills. Plans are also being projected for trails from the hills to the Bay, linking the outer ridgeline trail to the inner shoreline trail. What a superb web of trails that will be! As an important side benefit, trail building can provide work project opportunities for the Marin, San Francisco, San Jose and East Bay Conservation Corps, the Student Conservation Association, and skilled volunteers.
Another related movement has started. Members of the Urban Creeks Council hope not only to restore creeks that ultimately flow into the Bay, but also to restore trout, steelhead and salmon to these creeks. There is now a Berkeley Citizens for Creek Restoration. Wouldn't it be great if Berkeley's four creeks could be liberated and too freely again from the hills to the Bay!
Finally, as a means of implementation of these ecotopic visions, I'll touch on the essential role of education. In order to achieve our goals, whether monitoring agencies, saving wetlands or helping to create shoreline parks, Save the Bay's task very often is to persuade decision-makers. As a charitable and educational tax-exempt organization, lobbying activities are severely restricted. In fact, we never use that word. We like to give decision-makers the opportunity to be informed.
San Francisco Bay, now and in the future, depends on a broad and well-informed constituency. The more citizens know about the natural resource and human needs of the Bay/Delta System, the more likely they are to become actively involved in its protection. Save the Bay develops, maintains and distributes to the public and to schoolteachers a variety of educational materials. Our three films, now in dire need of replacement, have been seen by well over 500,000 school children. As a result, we have a delightful collection of Bay-related poems, drawings and letters from grade school children. Berkeley's School District, in cooperation with the City's Park and Recreation Department, has a fine environmental education program for kindergarten through fourth grade. Berkeley's waterfront is their classroom. These youngsters will be the voters of tomorrow. For other students of all ages, there are increasing opportunities for Bay-related "life-long learning." Studies of the Bay and Delta that will have a significant future impact are currently being done by Federal, State and Regional agencies. Other important scientific data is presently being gathered by several environmental organizations. All this attention being paid to the Bay is quite wonderful. However, studies are worth very little unless the decision-makers, at the local level, at Sacramento, and in Congress can be persuaded to implement the recommendations of these studies.
There is an ever-growing awareness of the complexity of issues. We have finally learned that everything is related. We've learned that the Bay is related to the Delta, to Los Angeles, to the Central Valley, to traffic, to toxics and to sewage. It's also related to the over intensive urban development and to ever-growing metropolitan sprawl. It was relatively simple when the principal concern was Bay fill!
A lot of progress has been made, as you have heard, in the Saving of San Francisco Bay. One might say we have made a good beginning. Horace Albright, in his concluding remarks of his first lecture in this series in 1961, said in part, "Is there work for new conservationists, for young conservationists? ...There certainly is, and there are many projects that need prompt attention. We have to acquire much more land for recreation. We need more city, state and national parks, more seashores.... Wildlife preservation needs much consideration, such as the saving of wetlands."
One problem not itemized by Horace Albright is generally heard in the form of a question. Where is the money coming from to acquire these desirable shoreline parks? Some time ago, a group of Boy Scouts bought several acres of tideland in Marin County with the S and H Green Stamps they had saved and collected. For years, I've been sending in Reader's Digest Sweepstakes cards and I am still waiting for their grand prize to add to Save the Bay's shoreline park fund.
At the June election, however, there will be a real chance for everyone to win. Proposition 70, the 776 million dollar Californians for Parks and Wildlife Act will be on the ballot. If it passes, 25 million dollars will be used for acquisition of the Eastshore Park, 4 million for a recreation area in the North Bay and 1.5 million for Carquinez Shoreline Park. In the South Bay, 13 million will be available for purchase of wetland areas. This grass-roots initiative was the result of hundreds of individual citizens working together. It was supported by many public officials and by a broad range of business and environmental groups. Please remember to vote!
As Esther indicated in the beginning, environmentalists were not always appreciated. However, it seems to me attitudes are changing and new alliances are forming. Common issues and interests are bringing environmental and community groups together. In the foreseeable future it's quite possible that business, labor, environmentalists, academics and decision-makers will all be on the same team, working together for the protection of the Bay.
San Francisco Bay is a magnificent and internationally significant
estuary. Our lives are enriched and our spirits are uplifted by
it. There is still much to be done. It is well worth everyone's
effort. The Bay will always need many good friends. Individuals
can make a difference. Groups of individuals working together can
make an even greater difference. The price of Saving the Bay will
always be the eternal vigilance of concerned citizens. We are the
ones who can determine our choices and make our vision of the future
happen. I encourage anyone who is interested in the Bay's future
and not yet a member to join Save the Bay. Thank you!
Introducing: Catherine Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin, and Esther Gulick
The three women pictured here, CATHERINE KERR, SYLVIA MCLAUGHLIN, and ESTHER GULICK, share the honor of being the 28th Albright Lecturers. They are recognized for their contributions in Saving the San Francisco Bay. Beginning in 1961 they led a grass-roots effort to protect the San Francisco Bay from being filled for development. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of the Save San Francisco Bay Association in 1961, the creation of the San Francisco Bay Study Commission in 1964, the establishment of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission in 1965, and the adoption of the Bay Plan in 1969.
Mrs. Gulick, Mrs. Kerr and Mrs. McLaughlin have worked to build the Save San Francisco Bay Association into an ongoing organization that monitors the uses of San Francisco Bay. They have provided the leadership necessary to maintain the 1960's legislation which provided a framework for the protection of the Bay. Their efforts will give inspiration to succeeding generations of grass-roots conservationists. Through their hard work, tireless persistence, and creative thinking they have succeeded in protecting a state resource of international importance. The significance of their accomplishment deserves their recognition as the Horace M. Albright Lecturers in Conservation,
Esther Gulick is an economics major, graduating from the University of California, Berkeley; Catherine Kerr graduated in Political Science from Stanford University; and Sylvia McLaughlin is a graduate of Vassar College, where she majored in French. Among the honors they have received are the national Sol Feinstone Environmental Award and the Robert C. Kirkwood Award of the San Francisco Foundation.