Most recently, McConnell donated his time and talents to serve as the narrator and on-camera host for a promotional video called "Bay Trail: Journey to the Water's Edge." The four minute video includes numerous views of the trail environment from all around the Bay, and McConnell's narration summarizes the origin and goals of the Bay Trail Project. The video is used as a visual component to staff presentations before various organizations, and is also shown at environmental fairs and sports festivals. Local governments and private organizations may borrow the video for trail-related purposes.
McConnell's affiliation with the Bay Trail began in 1991 with the Bay Trail Criterium. As guest weatherman, he gave the weather report from the race course at Oakland's Lake Merritt. He also spent a full day cycling, interviewing trail users, and filming a special program for the evening news. McConnell then shared the Bay Trail with the public by shooting a segment for "Bay Area Backroads." He cycled with his son along the Bay Trail in San Mateo County from Millbrae, just south of the San Francisco Airport, to the Coyote Point Museum in San Mateo. Many of the shows' segments feature parks, wildlife sanctuaries, recreational opportunities, or beautiful waterfronts that are on or near the Bay Trail.
Through his television programs, special reports, his volunteer efforts for the project and his example as a responsible outdoorsman, McConnell helps to build public support for the Bay Trail and to encourage people to get out and enjoy this great regional resource.
According to reports submitted to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, most local governments in the Bay Area have reduced waste disposal with great success. Nearly all cities and counties around the Bay achieved their 25% goals; many report waste reduction levels of 30 to 40%.
The City of St. Helena reported an astonishing 60.7% reduction in solid waste disposal! The unincorporated portion of Napa County achieved a 55.3% reduction. The City of Brisbane slashed its waste disposal by 55.4%. Palo Alto, homebase for the author of the legislation, was not far behind at 47.1% reduction in waste. However, most jurisdictions will have to work hard to move from 25% to 50%.
In Marin County over the last year, more than 80% of the population has been included in a curbside yardwaste collection program. With yardwaste comprising about 14% of the county's waste stream, it is expected that the curbside collection program will be the key to reaching the 50% diversion goal. The City of San Jose attributes its 48% residential waste diversion rate to an early and sustained emphasis on recycling, the introduction of yardwaste collection in 1991, followed by mixed paper and multi-family dwelling services in 1993, volume-based garbage rates, and tri-lingual education materials.
For San Francisco, waste reduction is a unique challenge. The resident population of about 750,000 expands to a million when counting the total workforce. And, 70% of the city's waste stream is commercial and industrial waste. In response, the city is focusing on links between businesses and private recyclers to get the job done by the year 2000. San Francisco maintains an aggressive waste prevention campaign, operates a successful phone book recycling program, and boasts a 70% recycling rate for Christmas trees. Also, 42% of San Francisco residents do not speak English in the home. Outreach and education materials are provided in English, Chinese, and Spanish; some publications are available in Russian and Tagalog, and may soon be available in Vietnamese.
Alameda County is proud to say that support of the residents has been crucial to the success of waste management programs - including the passage of Measure D in 1990, a $6 per ton surcharge on all waste disposal. In addition, 9% of single family homes have purchased a home composting bin offered by the county's waste management authority for only $33; many have taken free classes.
Like other jurisdictions, reaching 50% will require expanded yardwaste programs and significant efforts to divert commercial waste.
The trail is constructed of an all-weather chip seal material. The path crosses three state parks and is used by an estimated 2 million people annually. Special care was taken in the design and construction of a 400 foot bridge spanning a seasonal stream which is habitat for a multitude of plants and animals, including the endangered San Francisco garter snake.
The City of Walnut Creek received the top award in the "Planned Development" category, honoring its Creeks Restoration and Trails Master Plan. The adopted plan calls for the restoration of 2.5 miles of San Ramon, Las Trampas, and Walnut Creeks, and the construction of a trail along creek greenways. The plan balances public access to the restored creeks and minimizes impacts on wildlife. Vegetation barriers will be planted to discourage direct public access in the most sensitive areas, but overlooks will be constructed for access to the view.
Santa Clara County received top honors in the "General Policy Study Category" for its Countywide Trails Master Plan. The winning plan is a policy guide for the acquisition, design, operation and maintenance of all county trails and trail-related facilities.
The plan aims to secure a trail system throughout the county that provides public benefits while respecting natural landscapes as well as property owners. The plan was developed by an advisory committee that met monthly for two and a half years. They evaluated existing trail segments with walking inspections in order to integrate those trails with new conservation-based trail plans and strategies.
The Creative Designs for Conservation Contest is held annually by the Bay Trail Project to recognize designs or plans that effectively provide public access and wildlife protection near wetlands or other sensitive habitats.
The conference is designed for local government, the business community, and organizations interested in conducting the people's business on the Internet.
The Electronic Government conference will address the following: Community Building and Citizen Access; Freedom of Information vs. Privacy Concerns; Community and Economic Development; Filing and Processing Government Permits Online.
ABAG General Assembly attendees are invited to participate at no additional charge. The conference is co-sponsored by Smart Valley.
A new feature of abagOnline is the Environmental Help Line. This service has been established to help citizens and businesses obtain information about environmental laws and regulations applicable to the Bay Area. Simply type in your inquiry and your question will be answered by the appropriate environmental staff at one of the following agencies: the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9), or the Association of Bay Area Governments.
You may ask questions about air quality or air permits, the Clean Water Act, dredging, groundwater contamination, solid waste or hazardous waste reduction, superfund, underground storage tanks, recycling, pollution prevention, wastewater treatment, and wetlands. The environmental help line will also allow you to browse previous questions and answers.
The Green Business program is a partnership among business leaders, non-profit organizations, environmental groups, and local governments around the Bay. The goal of the program is to encourage public support and patronage of environmentally responsible businesses by recognizing those businesses that demonstrate ongoing compliance with environmental regulations - as well as excellence in pollution prevention and resource conservation.
The program will clearly benefit the participating businesses, marketing opportunities, as well as free assistance with environmental compliance, and an improved communication link with regulators. But governmental agencies and the public will benefit too. Local governments can offer tangible incentives to businesses in their communities to meet their environmental obligations and to improve their pollution prevention efforts. Cities and counties can promote environmental compliance with a positive reward, rather than with punitive sanctions. And consumers will be provided with information to help them seek out those local businesses that are "clean and green."
The Green Business Program is getting started with pilot projects in Alameda and Napa Counties, and will be expanding to include the entire nine-county region. Each pilot county will be selecting two businesses types on which to focus: both counties have selected automotive shops as one category, and Napa will also be focusing on vineyards and wineries. Once the categories are chosen, all appropriate businesses in each county will be informed about the program and encouraged to get involved.
Although participation is entirely voluntary, project manager Jennifer Krebs anticipates a high level of response. "The Green Business Program will be a great marketing tool for environmentally responsible businesses," Krebs said. "People truly want to patronize businesses that help keep the community clean, and this program will be a big help to get the word out to prospective customers."
The Green Business Program plans to recognize businesses on two levels of accomplishment, for compliance with current environmental laws and regulations and for excelling in pollution prevention and resource conservation. The program expects to begin comprehensive inspections this summer and to make recognitions by this fall. Participating businesses in Alameda and Napa Counties that are chosen for recognition will have their names announced at a press conference and will receive certificates to display onsite. Project coordinators continue to develop additional perquisites for the program, such as camera-ready art that could be used for advertising purposes, and patches, stickers or magnets to distribute to customers.
Recognizing this need, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), recently awarded a three year grant of $7 million to the Bay Area for the Innovative Regional Homelessness Initiative - a program dedicated to providing collaborative, landmark approaches to solving homelessness.
ABAG has been working with a coalition of local government representatives, non-profit agencies, funding providers, homeless advocates, and homeless people for many years to find lasting solutions to the problem of homelessness. Led by HomeBase, a non-profit law firm focused on homeless issues, the coalition has identified priorities and developed the Initiative proposal to combat the problem from a regional perspective. ABAG's role in the Initiative will be to convene elected officials (through the Regional Planning Committee) who will review policy recommendations, develop policy reforms and facilitate the involvement of local governments to support all related Initiative efforts. The $7 million grant will be leveraged by securing matching public and private resources - for a total of $35 million!
Between five and ten projects will be funded directly with individual grants ranging from $250,000 to $2 million. Funding decisions will be made by an Allocations Committee comprised of representatives from Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, San Jose, the nine counties, federal agencies, private foundations, business, labor and homeless people. Funding criteria for regional projects prescribe that projects must be innovative, promote a regional approach (crossing at least two county lines), support a continuum of care, respect the dignity of all people, as well as offer measurable, quantifiable results. Project outcomes must include long-term, structural changes to reduce homelessness.
Letters of intent are due by March 12, and selected applicants will be invited to submit full proposals in early April.
The primary goal of the Initiative is to marshal resources to provide the fullest possible range of services by strengthening and increasing the effectiveness of local efforts and filling in the gaps in the current regional system of homeless care. This range of services, known as the "continuum of care," focuses on prevention; outreach; emergency, transitional and permanent, affordable housing; support services, including mental health and substance abuse treatment; and job training.
The Initiative's seven priority areas are: improving delivery of support services to homeless people; increasing incomes of people eligible for public benefits; promoting accessible, affordable transportation; providing job training, development, creation and placement; expanding community acceptance strategies; developing support services linked to permanent housing; and establishing a housing trust fund.
The Homelessness Initiative Grant will provide a tremendous opportunity for substantive progress in homelessness programs in the Bay Area using a regional, continuum of care approach.
Proponents and opponents are hard at work following the California Supreme Court's decision on December 14, 1995 not to review the "Prop. 62 case" [Santa Clara County Transit Authority v. Guardino (1995)].
Prop. 62 from 1986 required local governments to obtain majority vote approval for all general taxes. The Guardino decision upheld this provision. In response, look for Senate Bill 1590 by Senator Jack O'Connell, which would make the Guardino decision inapplicable to any tax that was first imposed or increased by an ordinance or resolution adopted prior to December 14, 1995.
While SB 1590 may sound like the most logical and practicable response from the local government perspective, it will require the full and active support of all cities and counties. The bill will be opposed by Jarvis, with the same counsel that argued successfully before the Supreme Court.
Be aware, also, of Jarvis' Right to Vote on Taxes Act, slated for the November ballot. This initiative, if approved, would extend Prop. 62's voter approval requirements to all property-related fees, assessments, and charges - except for sewer, water, and refuse collection services.
The initiative would also provide that the revenues derived from all fees, charges and assessments may not exceed the funds required to provide the specified property-related service. ABAG will be addressing the Prop. 62 dilemma at the April 19 General Assembly, and will be supporting SB 1590 through the L&GO Committee and Executive Board.
Mining the landfill added 12 years to its life, as well as profits
from the additional years of tipping fees - expected to exceed
$60 million in revenues.
The National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have called for an immediate national summit on the "devolution" of federal governmental activities that will directly affect the operation of local government and the delivery of local services.
The summit will include White House representatives, bipartisan
Congressional leadership, governors, state legislators, and city
and county officials. The focus will be strategies for more effective
investment, avoiding mandates, and a renewed dedication to localism
The 13th Annual Environmental Solutions Conference and Exhibition.
ABAG's Spring 1996 General Assembly
FOCUS ON THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHALLENGE:
Surviving Proposition 62 and Guardino
Friday, April 19, 1996
|March 9. 7:45 a.m. Workshop: Earthquake Retrofit for Wood Frame Houses. MetroCenter Auditorium, Oakland.|
|March 12. 3 p.m. Bay Trail Steering Committee. Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center.|
|March 15. 10 a.m. Homebase/Homeless Steering Committee. MetroCenter, ABAG Room 106B, Oakland.|
|March 21. 8:30 a.m. Training: Soils, Geology & Seismicity Concerns in CEQA. ABAG Training Center, MetroCenter, Oakland.|
|March 21. 3:30 a.m. Legislation and Governmental Organization Committee. ABAG Room 106B, MetroCenter, Oakland.|
|March 21. 5 p.m. Finance and Personnel Committee. ABAG Room 102A, MetroCenter, Oakland.|
|March 21. 7:30 p.m. Executive Board. MetroCenter Auditorium, Oakland.|
|March 28-29. 8:30 a.m. Erosion and Sediment Control Class. MetroCenter Auditorium, Oakland.|
|April 3. 1:30 p.m. Regional Planning Committee. MetroCenter Auditorium, Oakland.|
|April 9. 3 p.m. Bay Trail Steering Committee. Coyote Point Museum, San Mateo.|
|April 19. 8:30 a.m. GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Fairmont Hotel, San Jose.|
|April 19. 8:45 a.m. Electronic Government Conference. Fairmont Hotel, San Jose.|
|April 23-25. HAZMACON CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION. Santa Clara Convention Center.|