What is happening with the Sierra Club? Earlier this year, the organization’s local Loma Prieta chapter made regional headlines for opposing a 100% affordable housing project in Moss Beach. Such a project might house, for instance, some of the thousands of low-wage workers who work on the coastside but cannot afford to live anywhere nearby.
Now, the chapter has been conspicuously silent about the Measure Y ballot measure in San Mateo, which is officially opposed by other environmental organizations like Save the Bay and Greenbelt Alliance. That measure’s extension of onerous height and density limits around the city’s transit hubs directly contradicts the Sierra Club’s national infill policy, which declares that “development areas served by public transportation … should be zoned for dense/multi-family/mixed use development in order to reduce emissions and waste.”
Additionally, some of the most anti-housing, pro-sprawl political candidates in cities to our south are touting the Sierra Club endorsement. In Cupertino, it endorsed Mayor Steven Scharf, who opposes sufficient homes to go along with the city’s new 12,000-employee Apple campus. And in Palo Alto, it endorsed a full slate of NIMBY candidates, who resist building more housing in the city with the worst jobs/housing balance in the entire Bay Area.
For Sierra Club members who understand that addressing the climate crisis is more important than currying favor with the political establishment, these endorsements should be an embarrassment. Until the club changes its ways, it’s hard to argue it is treating climate change as an existential threat.