By Jeremy Madsen for the San Francisco Chronicle
In sharp contrast to the national election results, Bay Area election results showed millions of voters marked their ballots “yes” for a more sustainable and inclusive future. In local elections around the region, people chose to invest in building more homes that people can afford, improve transportation choices, and protect natural landscapes and local farms.
That’s important because we’ve known for years that we can’t simply rely on the federal government to solve the Bay Area’s challenges. To get the job done, time and time again, we have to turn to local do-it-yourself solutions. So Bay Area voters rolled up their sleeves and took matters into their own hands. Here are just a few examples:
- In Sonoma County, voters passed Measure K to protect 53,000 acres of beautiful countryside — an area nearly twice the size of San Francisco — from sprawl development.
- In San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, voters passed Measure RR to invest $3.5 billion in repairing and improving BART.
- In Santa Clara County, Measure A is headed to victory, raising $950 million to create homes for those most in need.
- Voters in the city of Albany adopted Measure N1 to ditch 1970s-era requirements that mandated excessive parking for new homes to foster a healthier, walkable city for all.
Voters’ priorities are loud and clear. But now that we’ve emerged from the voting booth, we’ve got a lot more to do to stand up for the values of environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness that define our region.
Now more than ever, we must remember the old mantra, “think globally, act locally.”
That means being a welcoming neighbor. We’ve all watched the housing affordability crisis force people out of our communities and into ever-lengthening commutes to the edges of the region. Each of us can be part of the solution. When new homes are being considered in town — especially if they’ll serve those most in need — we can speak up in support. If a new transit hub or bike lane is being proposed, we can be a positive voice for change. That’s what we’re about here — giving people of all walks of life a chance to succeed.
And the fight must continue to defend the iconic open spaces that make the Bay Area the envy of the world. If those rolling hills or fertile farmlands at the edge of town come under threat from development, together we must rally to save them.
Our actions may run counter to the desires of the new administration in Washington, but the truth is what we achieve here matters far beyond our borders. Our region is a global center of innovation and leadership that’s recognized across the country, and our accomplishments often become the model for the rest of the nation.
Now it’s up to us to do all we can to make our corner of the world a better place. Here, we can make smart choices. We can make our region a model metropolis, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
Together we can forge our own path — and invite the whole nation to follow.
This article was originally published by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr