With the Washington legislature recently in session, I found it fitting to write a letter to my representative, to feature in this week’s blog post. As I’m from Oakland, California, I’ll be writing to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 13th District.
Fun side note: My sister won the Fan Favorite component of the Congressional Art Competition, and had the opportunity to meet Congresswoman Lee (pictured).
Writing to your representative may feel like a daunting task. The likelihood of your representative personally reading your letter is slim, but that’s not to say no one will open it. Usually teams are dedicated to opening and responding to citizens’ letters, and to quote my hometown basketball team (go Warriors!), there’s strength in numbers.
The proposed bill I’m asking Congresswoman Lee to put her support behind is State Sen. Scott Weiner’s (D) bill, SB-50, also known as the Transit Zoning Bill. This bill would change zoning laws around transit stations and high frequency bus stops, allowing for more multi-family housing and apartment buildings to be built. As described by State Sen. Weiner, this would be “pro-affordability and pro-sustainability,” as more affordable housing would be available for the ever-growing population of the Bay Area. As for being a sustainable measure, more housing around train stations, such as BART (which I grew up riding), would give people more incentive to ditch their cars and take public transportation to work. The transportation sector is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gasses, and so making buses and trains more accessible would mitigate our emissions.
Here is the letter I sent to Congresswoman Barbara Lee:
Honorable Barbara Lee
House of Representatives
1301 Clay Street, Ste. 1000-N
Oakland, CA 94612
Dear Representative Lee,
My name is Eden Cypher, and I was born and raised in beautiful and vibrant Oakland, California. At the moment, I’m living as a California transplant in Seattle, attending the University of Washington and pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and Communication. Aside from having seasons and enjoying a lot more fresh salmon in the PNW, Seattle has a lot in common with the Bay Area. Both cities face a massive influx of people, but at the same time want to move toward a greener future.
I believe that State Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB-50 bill addresses these issues in a proactive way. Restructuring zoning laws around transit centers to allow for multi-family homes is a great way to deal with the increasing population of the Bay Area, provide more affordable housing, and promote public transportation.
Promoting sustainable practices on an individual level is one of my main motives for entering the environmental field. Aside from the larger issues this bill would address, I hope to one day move back to Oakland. On a personal level, if this bill is passed I will be more likely to live in my favorite, diverse and magnificent hometown, as will many others! SB-50 allows many others to experience the Oakland I was lucky enough to grow up in, so I hope that you take this into consideration and support this proposed bill.
I hope this letter can be an example for others to reach out to their own representatives! I’ve never written a letter like this before, so I looked at some examples online. You can find them here and here. Citizens Climate Lobby is another great resource for learning about how you can reach out to your representative, and they have a great webpage for finding your congressperson and writing to them!