Stopping Bay Fill

Save The Bay Was Founded to Stop Bay Fill
Save The Bay was founded in 1961 to stop plans to fill the Bay. At that time, one-third of the Bay had been filled or diked off and there were plans to fill 60 percent of the remaining Bay, leaving only a narrow channel. Less than six miles of shoreline was accessible to the public, the Bay was choked with raw sewage and industrial pollution and only ten percent of the Bay's original wetlands remained.

Thanks to Save The Bay's work over the last several decades and tens of thousands of supporters, the Bay is cleaner and healthier. Citizen advocacy secured better sewage treatment and cleaner factories, and stopped major Bay fill projects. Now more than half of the Bay is ringed with public trails, linking a necklace of shoreline parks. Many large-scale wetland restoration projects are underway. 

The Era of Filling in the Bay is Over; Yet People Still Try
With the Bay Area population expected to grow another 15 percent to 8.1 million by 2020, the Bay continues to be threatened by misguided development plans. Stopping this Bay destruction remains at the forefront of Save The Bay's work:

  • Save The Bay is currently working to stop agribusiness giant Cargill from paving over 1,400 acres of restorable salt ponds in Redwood City. Cargill's development plan would fill an area larger than San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, destroying forever of the opportunity to restore it.
  • In 2003, Save The Bay lead the successful campaign that halted San Francisco Airport's plan to expand runways on two square miles of Bay fill. 

Save The Bay Halts Airport Project to Fill the Bay

In 1998, SFO reversed a decade of denials and announced it would build runways farther into San Francisco Bay by launching a $75 million public relations campaign to sell the public on the largest proposed Bay fill project since the 1960s. SFO's media blitzes and paid opposition research instead strengthened a deep regional consensus against paving over more of our Bay, which has already been shrunk by one-third.

In response to growing criticism of the project led by Save The Bay and our supporters, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors ordered a management audit of the airport by the City Budget Analyst. The audit confirmed that SFO tried to sell the runways instead of studying alternatives, ignored public input, skirted contracting regulations and let consultants and vendors gorge themselves at the trough.

After four years of intense public scrutiny and Save The Bay advocacy, and with the airport more than $4 billion in debt, SFO shelved its plans and the Board of Supervisors prohibited any further spending on runway expansion into the Bay. Finally in 2008, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that no additional fill should be placed in San Francisco Bay for new or reconfigured runways at San Francisco International Airport, ending a nearly decade long battle.