TCEC members receive the Eco-Logic Newsletter, which is published monthly except for July/August and November/December issues. Each issue is full of local environmental news, events and activities, and ways you can get involved in environmental issues. Review a sample (past) issue.
Online, we feature the Closer Look column, written for our newsletter by TCEC Publications Chairperson, Donna Olsen.
Closer Look — January 2020
2019…Largest Holiday Donation Ever!
Each year at our December meeting, the ecology center selects organizations or causes that it feels merit an extra donation. This longtime tradition (since 1972) generally allocates from $1000 to $2000 per year. This year, however, it has exceeded that amount by $650 for a total $2700! With great pleasure, TCEC announces the following 15 recipients: Alameda Creek Alliance ($250), Bay Area Ridge Trail Council ($100), California Oak Foundation ($100), Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge ($100), Marine Mammal Center ($200), Ohlone Audubon Society (Shinn House Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden) ($200), SF Bay Bird Observatory ($100), San Francisco Wildlife Society ($100), Baykeepers of Northern California ($100), Save the Redwoods League ($150), Ohlone Humane Society (Wildlife Rehab Center) ($300), AC BeeKeepers Assn. ($100), Restore Hetch Hetchy ($100), River Otter Ecology Project ($100), and Museum of Local History ($200). This is a total of $2200.
In addition, we have put aside $500 to fund a TCEC and Niles Rotary project to restore and update the Sunrise Village Garden (ABODE). It will include new planters, updated irrigation system and soil rejuvenation. Final total is $2700!
Many thanks to all of you have worked at the Lemonade Booth, taken part in the Ducks for Bucks Race, or made extra donations. You have made these contributions possible.
Eco-Grant Enhances Tyson’s Lagoon
Congratulations to Akshay Gona. His recent Eagle Scout Service project has earned him a $300 eco-grant. His project is to design, develop, and construct three planter boxes at the Tule Ponds at Tyson’s Lagoon in Fremont (in back of the BART parking lot). There are two specific purposes for the planter boxes: (1) to house endangered native plant species and (2) to bar loose soil and sediment near a picnic area.
Akshay is a Life Scout from BSA Troop 154 and a Sophomore at American High. We look forward to seeing his finished product. Good luck!
We have a new volunteer for the Third Thursday at the TCEC office. Subru Baht will be taking over for me (Donna) next month. Thank you so much. Biographical Note…Subru is a 5 year TCEC member and lives in Union City.
And while we are talking about volunteers, I want to thank you – one and all – for your help at the office!! We couldn’t operate without you. Here is the volunteer list as of now: Lynn Miller, Sally Mills, Subru Bhat, Lynn Ragghianti (also substituting), Gail Blalock, Tom Browne (Substitute), Dee Miner (bio-compostables) And I will, however, still be around to oversee things in general. Donna
The Rest of the Story! The attempt to violate the 1981 Hill Initiative
By Gus Morrison, TCEC Chair and Member of the Committee to Preserve the Hills
In our last newsletter, we reported on the attempt of an owner of 7.7 acres on Cougar Circle to add 3 additional homes on his Hill Open Space property. City staff had opposed the project and it was denied by the Planning Commission. The owner appealed the commission decision and, finally, the matter was brought before the City Council on December 10.
The Hill Initiative was intentionally respectful of the rights of the owners of property in the Hill Area, generally East of Mission Blvd. or I-680 all the way to the Ridgeline. Owners were allocated the residential density to which they were entitled before the initiative passed. The property in question was entitled to 4 dwelling units when the measure passed in 1981.
However, in 1985, Citation Homes processed a Planned District over the 141 acres in the area and reallocated the densities assigned to each parcel. Citation was allowed to build 399 homes on the141 acres. All of the allowed residential density has been built. Several large parcels were designed into the development, including the 7.7 acre parcel now at question. All of these parcels had open space easements recorded on their deeds, specifically Hill Area Open Space.
In the initiative, Hill Area Open Space designations are entitled to one unit per 5 acres, so this 7.7 acre parcel is entitled to one unit, which has been built. The current property owner bought the parcel in 1995 or 1996, long after the easement was recorded.
The property owner argued he was entitled to the other 3 units before the 1985 Planned District and that the easement did not apply to him.
Tri-City Ecology Center, the creator of the Committee to Preserve the Hills, brought the Hill Committee back together and, along with the neighbors and the Sierra Club, worked first to educate the council on the initiative, stressing their inability to change a voter approved measure, and the community and political impacts of trying to do so, and, especially, to put it into context for them. The applicant, on the other hand, seemed to want to obfuscate the issue and confuse the council, several of whom are brand new to city government.
At the hearing on the 10th, the appellant’s representative and his attorney continued to try to confuse the council while the neighbors were organized and thoughtful. Judy Zlatnik spoke for the Committee to Preserve the Hills, I spoke for TCEC, and Jannet Benz spoke eloquently for the Sierra Club.
In the end, the City Council unanimously denied the appeal and each member made strong comments supporting the Hill Initiative. In my opinion, with this action and those comments, no other property owner is likely to try something like this. Fremont residents are proud of our hills and will give no quarter to those who attempt to change their character or impose more development upon them. But, as Thomas Jefferson is alleged to have said, ‘The price of democracy is eternal vigilance.” In this context, the price of keeping our hills as they are is eternal vigilance. Let us not have something like this happen again!
Lawsuit filed! Newark’s proposal fills wetlands in Area 4, Sanctuary West Development
In the last edition of the Kite Call (Ohlone Audubon), we reported that the City of Newark was poised to make a decision regarding the Sanctuary West development proposed on lands of the former Whistling Wings and Pintail duck clubs. On Thursday, November 14th, the Newark City Council, in a 4:1 vote, approved the project.
The Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a law-suit on Monday, December 16th against the City of Newark for approving a destructive plan to pave over a historic wetlands to build hundreds of luxury housing units along South San Francisco Bay. The Sanctuary West residential project is planned for Newark “Area 4,” which has long been prioritized by the environ-mental community for conservation. The development has been widely criticized by environmentalists, housing advocates and climate experts. It is entirely within a FEMA flood zone, pumped annually to avoid flooding and anticipated to be completely inundated by sea level rise.
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, says Newark violated the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to prepare a comprehensive study and mitigate for impacts from the luxury housing development proposed on historic wetlands. The suit faults the City for not properly analyzing the development’s potential to worsen the impacts of sea level rise on the public and San Francisco Bay wildlife species, including the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. The lawsuit seeks to overturn the City’s November approval of Sanctuary West.
The Project would require importing and placing 1.67 million cubic yards of fill (more than 100,000 dump truck loads) directly adjacent to the wetlands to elevate areas identified as “uplands” by approximately 5 to 15 feet to raise the building sites out of the FEMA 100-year floodplain. The elevated fill pads are proposed to be “armored” with riprap protection to prevent erosion from wave action in the event of flooding. The five development areas connected by four bridges will fragment the wetlands and consume all the higher elevation lands where wetlands and wildlife could migrate
when sea level rise eventually floods the lower lying marshes.
The site is located at the head of Mowry Slough and is a mosaic of uplands, fresh, brackish and muted tidal marsh, seasonal wetlands and areas of ponding. It has long been identified by Bay Area scientists and regulatory and resource agencies as an ideal site for preservation and restoration/enhancement of a continuum of tidal marsh habitats from the waters edge into upland habitat. This area has been identified as one of the few locations in the South Bay where this could easily be accomplished because of the existing ground elevations. These lands would aide in the recovery of listed species (2015 Goals Project, 2013 Tidal Marsh Recovery Plan, 2019 Adaptation Atlas). The site was identified by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a priority potential addition to the Don Edwards S. F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
We want to extend our thanks to everyone who submitted comments and to those who attended the two public hearings. The City Council Chambers were filled to capacity on November 14th with Newark residents and environmental organizations from across the region as the project will have regional impacts. One of the City Councilmembers mentioned they had received 3,000 messages in response to environmental group action alerts. –
Source: Carin High: Conservation Chair, Ohlone Audubon Society and Co-Chair, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge.