PRO & CONS – DISTRICT MEASURE PROPOSITION AA– JUNE 7, 2016

PROPOSITION AA – CLEAN AND HEALTHY BAY PARCEL TAX

Parcel Tax

Placed on the ballot by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority

Requires a 2/3 vote among Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and San Francisco counties for passage

THE QUESTION:

Should the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority authorize a parcel tax of $12 per year until 2037 throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and San Francisco for the purpose of restoring 35,000 acres of wetlands that surround the San Francisco Bay?

BACKGROUND:

 

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is an independent regional governmental entity formed in 2009. The Authority is charged with raising and allocating resources for the restoration, enhancement, protection, and enjoyment of wetlands and wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay.

 

The Bay Area lost about 85 percent of its marshlands for the purpose of urban development during the past 100 years, and currently there are approximately 35,000 acres of wetlands and marshlands that surround the Bay. The Authority has a long-term goal of restoring 100,000 acres of wetlands within 50 years, with an estimated total cost of $1.5 billion.

 

Proposition AA is the first regional parcel tax proposed, and is meant to provide a reliable funding source that would also leverage potential federal funding sources for the purpose of wetland and marshland restoration and protection of Bay Area cities from the potential impacts of future sea level rise.

THE PROPOSAL:

This parcel tax would authorize the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority to levy a tax based on units of property of $12 per year throughout the nine counties that surround the San Francisco Bay. The tax would automatically expire in the year 2037, and during its lifetime would generate approximately $25 million per year, for a total of $500 million over 20 years.

The majority of funds raised through the tax would be used to restore tidal marshes on former hay fields in the North Bay, salt ponds in the South Bay and diked-off areas from the Petaluma River to Santa Clara. The Measure ensures allocation of 50% of the funds to the Bay Area counties in proportion to their populations, and 50% allocated without regard to location.

Under this measure the San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Program would protect the Bay by reducing trash, pollution and harmful toxins, improving water quality, restoring habitat for fish, birds and wildlife, protecting communities from floods, and increasing shoreline public access.

Proposition AA is subject to independent citizen oversight, regular audits, and would require all funds generated by the tax to be spent locally.

There are no public comments on the District measure provided by the Controller of the City of San Francisco.

A “YES” Vote Means:

You authorize a parcel tax of $12 per year throughout the nine counties that surround the San Francisco Bay to finance the construction, development, acquisition, and preservation of affordable housing.

A “NO” Vote Means: You do not authorize a parcel tax of $12 per year throughout the nine counties that surround the San Francisco Bay to finance the construction, development, acquisition, and preservation of affordable housing.

 

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR DISTRICT MEASURE AA:

  • This measure includes accountability protections and citizens’ oversight so that all funds must stay in the Bay Area to be used only on local habitat restoration and wildlife protection projects
  • The tax will generate funding for the restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands, benefiting the people, wildlife, and economy of Bay Area communities. Funding from this measure will reduce trash, pollution and harmful toxins in the Bay, improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat, protect communities from floods, and increase shoreline habitat for future generations throughout the Bay Area.
  • The tax will leverage additional state and federal funding necessary to support the Authority’s restoration goal.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST DISTRICT MEASURE AA:

  • There is no requirement for a scientific advisory board to evaluate proposed projects or assess project accomplishments.
  • It is a blank check because Section 5.A states that the Authority Board can “amend this measure by majority vote.”
  • The tax is regressive because it does not levy funds in proportion to the value of the property.

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