Environment

Baykeeper sues Oakland recycler whose plant caught fire last summer

From the end of a boardwalk that juts into Oakland’s Arrowhead Marsh, it can be hard to appreciate the fragility of this ecosystem. At low tide, native cordgrass and pickleweed brim with life, rustling, snapping and popping as they dry under the morning sun. California clapper rails dig their long beaks into the mudflats in search of small crustaceans. Above, bright white kestrels dart, periodically diving into the water and emerging with small, shining baitfish. Birdsong crescendos, sage fills the…

AC Transit accelerates toward zero emission goal

Despite setbacks caused by COVID-19, AC Transit expects to meet its 2023 goals to convert 10% of its bus fleet to zero emission vehicles.  The California Air Resources Board enacted a regulation in 2018 that requires all public transit agencies to transition from diesel fuel to 100% zero‑emission electric bus fleets by the end of 2040. AC Transit set an internal goal of converting 10% of its 630 buses to zero emission technology by the end of this year, said…

Oakland City Council considers banning plastic plates, cups, forks

California and cities in the Bay Area have led the country against plastic pollution: A series of laws and ordinances have already banned Styrofoam and restricted plastic bags and plastic straws.  The next items on the chopping block are single-use plastic foodware — things like cutlery, cups, lids, stirrers, plates, and doggie bags. On Dec. 19, Oakland City Council will vote on the Reusable Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance, which would ban these items from local eateries and large events. …

Toxic algae blooms becoming more common at Lake Temescal and other East Bay swim sites

As global temperatures rise, the frequency and size of dangerous blue-green algae blooms are increasing worldwide. For East Bay residents, that means more warnings not to touch the water at local lakes and reservoirs.  Warnings and closures have been seen across the East Bay in recent years, from Lake Anza in Berkeley to Lake Merritt in Oakland, where an algal bloom deprived the water of oxygen and killed thousands of fish in 2022. Coming into contact with the toxic algae…

Oakland adopts environmental plan that misses many resident concerns

Oakland City Council recently approved the city’s first Environment Justice Element to address pollution, health food access and other health risks over the next two decades. But many of the recommendations Oakland residents put forth were ignored, some community leaders say.   City Council approved the 222-page Environmental Justice Element last month as part of the city’s 2045 General Plan. While the city invited feedback from residents in low-income areas and communities of color — those most impacted by environmental pollution…

Oakland wins $8 million for greening against climate change: Will it be enough?

Ricky Brown wakes up and rolls down the window of his home: a 1981 Chevy truck parked on a hot, treeless block near the Coliseum in East Oakland. Just a few miles away, Nancy Wellington leaves her four-bedroom house in the city’s Rockridge neighborhood to walk her poodle along a shady, tree-lined street. Rockridge is over four times greener than the Coliseum area, which has just 5% tree coverage. This makes the area more prone to air pollution, heat island…

Oakland sharply increases trash pickup but can’t keep up with illegal dumping, especially in Chinatown

Oakland Chinatown is one of the communities deeply bothered by illegal dumping, even though the city has seen a nearly six-fold increase in the quantity of trash cleared from its streets in the past seven years.  Liao Shen, an employee at D&K Market in Chinatown, said the store pays about $800 a month for trash services and then has to deal with trash overflow from illegal dumpers.  “It is very frequent,” said Shen. “It happens all the time.” Businesses in…

How will winter’s wet weather affect fire season in the East Bay?

Record rainfall last winter mitigated California’s severe drought and brought a slow start to fire season. But the wet weather hasn’t reduced the threat.  The heavy downpours that bombarded the Bay Area and the relatively cool weather that followed kept vegetation from drying out in the spring and early summer. But as the summer wears on, that vegetation will become fuel for fires, said Ranyee Chiang, director of the Meteorology and Measurement Division at Bay Area Air Quality Management District. …

Bay Wheels looking to add hundreds of e-bikes to East Bay fleet

Getting around town might get a lot easier, especially for college students in the East Bay. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission wants to subsidize 20,000 annual Bay Wheels passes for community college and public university students across the Bay Area, with the addition of 600 electric bikes and 19 stations in Oakland. The rollout would begin in 2027 if a proposed contract between Lyft and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission comes to fruition. The project is part of the larger Plan Bay Area…