March 15, 2023 was a big day for climate activism. In the morning at a meeting of Bay Area Air Quality Management Board, we joined Sierra Club, many doctors from SF Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility and others to speak out for phasing out polluting fossil-fuel-powered appliances. Many people also had written to the board members before the meeting. And we won! The BAAQMD board voted to approve the nation's first zero-nitrogen oxides (NOx) standard for furnaces and water heaters, which will effectively phase out the sale of new gas furnaces and water heaters, beginning in 2027. The rules will apply when a consumer replaces a burned-out appliance — no one would be required to remove working appliances.
In the afternoon, we went to City Hall for the Budget & Appropriations hearing on the CLEE report. Back in December, the Supervisors passed a non-binding resolution urging the Capital Planning Committee, now developing the City’s 10-year Capital Plan, to schedule climate bonds in the queue for the near future. As of the hearing, they had NOT done so. Such bonds are recommended by UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & Environment (CLEE), which analyzed funding and financing strategies to generate sufficient revenue for San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) while advancing equity and ensuring smart implementation. At this informational hearing, we heard from SF Environment Department, the City Controllor, the Office of Resilience and Capital Planning, Supervisors on the Budget & Appropriations Committee,and writers of the CLEE report. We gave public comment - and many others had written to the policymakers before the meeting. You can STILL write to them to emphasize the urgency of funding the City's CAP until the end of March, by using our easy letter- writing tool.
Like candidates’ requests for campaign money, city budget talks seem to be never-ending. But so many of the pressing needs confronting our elected officials, from health crises to housing or lack thereof, are exacerbated by the ever-increasing climate catastrophes besetting our warming planet.
In January 2023, once again we urged Mayor Breed to include funding in her budget proposal, for SF Environment Department to continue implementing the City’s Climate Action Plan. The request is for less than $7 million, reasonable in an annual budget of $14 billion. Many letters were sent. We'll see what her budget includes when it's due June 1st.
Background. With first-ever General Fund money provided by the Board of Supervisors (they listened to us!) the Environment Department (SFE) commissioned a study to look into how to fund San Francisco's Climate Action Plan (CAP), our City's roadmap to reaching our climate goals. The Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) at UC Berkeley released that report this past November (“Funding San Francisco Climate Action: Strategies for Revenue, Implementation, and Equity,”) having studied many options and made several recommendations.
The Capital Planning Committee, which consists of 11 department heads and other city leaders and makes recommendations to the Mayor and BoS on the City’s capital expenditures and plan, is now updating its 10-year plan for future bonds to be placed on the ballot.
Resolution. In December, after a barrage of messages from SFCEC members and allies, the full Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a (non-binding) resolution urging the Capital Planning Committee to include funding priorities recommended by the CLEE Report in the proposed General Obligation Bond schedule. Supervisor Mandelman called a hearing on the CLEE report to be held before the Supervisors' Budget & Appropriations Committee in the new year.
Electioneering for the Climate. Before the November 2022 election, we advocated for YES on Prop J to keep the JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park a safe, protected open space for families, seniors, people with disabilities, and all San Franciscans. It passed! We endorsed NO on Prop I, a competing measure to end the JFK Promenade, along with the weekend compromise on the Great Highway, and cost taxpayers over $80 million by overturning the Ocean Beach Climate Adaptation project in favor of a ridiculous, ultimately doomed seawall. It failed! We were also successful in our support for Yes on Prop L to extend an existing ½-cent sales tax for 30 years to fund transportation projects. Unfortunately, state Proposition 30, which would have funded air-pollution-reducing programs by taxing personal income above $2 million, failed - although it did win in San Francisco county.