Climate

How to make Richmond’s air cleaner? BAAQMD turns to residents for answers

Like many Richmond residents, Jim Zahradka starts his morning commute with a ride across the Richmond-San Rafael bridge. But while others drive, Zahradka, an avid cyclist, pedals his way up and over the 325-foot tall structure.  Rumored plans to close the bridge’s bike lane, which opened in 2019, so more vehicle traffic can pass into Marin County were just one concern discussed at a Virtual Town Hall held by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on Tuesday evening. The…

Herring fishers sue Chevron for answers about spill in San Francisco Bay

Amid the hum of the Bay Area’s cities, it is easy to forget that to live here is to live alongside a vast ecosystem. The biggest and most vital is the Pacific Ocean. And once a year, the ocean reveals its abundance to herring fishers.  “‘The water will be white, that’s when you know,” said Keith Nguyen, a kayak fisher from San Jose. Nguyen is describing the herring spawn, an annual event from November to February, when adult herring migrate…

Richmond could become next California city to ban gas appliances

Gas stoves and fireplaces may be a thing of the past in Richmond under a proposed ordinance that would shut natural gas out of new buildings. Richmond City Council could vote next month on the  proposed ordinance by Councilmember Eduardo Martinez that closes a loophole in the city’s natural gas ban, which applies to new structures and major renovations. Gas-powered appliances and fireplaces are now exempt from the ban but would not be under Martinez’s proposal, which would leave electricity…

‘We feel like a neglected child’: Residents in fire-hazardous hills say city too slow in clearing brush

Dying trees, withering leaves, flammable plants. They fill in spaces around and between homes on East Richmond’s hills, an ember away from fueling disaster.  On these slopes east of Interstate 80 lie dense neighborhoods such as May Valley, El Sobrante Hills, and Castro Heights. In 2009, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection assessment flagged the area  as a “very high fire hazard severity zone.”  ​​Every year, the Richmond Fire Department inspects vegetation in the area and urges homeowners…

Committed to climate cause: 13-year-old activist is at El Cerrito City Hall every Friday, sign in hand.

In the spring, Eleanor Pilling Chappelear skipped school every Friday. Instead of Zooming in for class, the 13-year-old stood outside her hometown City Hall in El Cerrito to protest inaction around climate change. One of her signs says: WE SKIPPED OUR SCHOOL TO TEACH YOU A LESSON.  Eleanor still stands outside of El Cerrito Hall every Friday, only now she comes after school.  Inspired by Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish environmental activist who walked out of school at the age…

UPDATE: PG&E picking up pace of pole washing to address power outage problem

PG&E told Richmond City Council Tuesday that dirty insulators on poles have triggered the frequent power outages residents are experiencing and that the company will wash poles “on a more regular basis.” PG&E is washing 100 to 160 poles a day in Richmond and other parts of Contra Costa County and plans to increase that to 1,000 poles per week. With about 6,000 poles to address, PG&E expects to finish the work by Nov. 15, PG&E’s Darin Cline said.  Over…

Why is Richmond plagued by power outages — 269 in a month?

Madalyn Law knows how to keep the food in the refrigerator from going bad when the power goes out. She learned the hard way.  Living in Richmond’s Park Plaza neighborhood, Law has experienced four power outages over the past four weeks. To keep her food from spoiling, she “did it old school” by not opening the refrigerator door too often. “I have never experienced outages like this, and I’ve been here for 42 years,” Law said. “The scary part is,…