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Jessie Brennan

Remembering John Sutter: A Champion of Bay Area Conservation

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that John Sutter has passed away. John was a founding Board member of Greenbelt Alliance (in the early days when it was known as Citizens for Parks) and later served as Board President. Not only was John a central figure in the history of our organization, he was a champion of Bay Area conservation efforts for decades.

Just last year, the East Bay Regional Parks District opened Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline Park to celebrate John’s commitment to the expansion of public access to the region’s parks and the shoreline. His advocacy efforts led to the protection of land around San Pablo Reservoir in the 1950s, and in the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in East Oakland. One of his biggest environmental victories was won over 50 years ago when Snow Park, near Lake Merritt in Oakland, was saved by blocking city efforts to develop it for commercial use.

In addition to his work with organizations like Greenbelt Alliance and the East Bay Regional Parks District, John played a critical role in local government. He was an elected City Councilmember in Oakland, served on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and was appointed by former Governor Jerry Brown as a Superior Court Judge in Alameda County. He also spent time with his family actively giving back to their community through volunteer work.

In 2016, we honored John’s lifelong contributions to ensuring an inclusive, sustainable Bay Area with our Greenbelt Alliance Champion Award. He also received the Making Democracy Work Award by the League of Women Voters and the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts Award of Distinction for Outstanding Board Member.

John’s influence and passion to protect this beautiful place we call home will be deeply missed. We promise to keep his legacy alive by continuing the work he helped start so many years ago. Our love and consolation go out to the Sutter family and to all of those who were fortunate enough to have known John Sutter.

Photo: East Bay Regional Parks District

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