Pros and Cons – Marin County
Measure AA – San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority
Two-thirds Vote Required

THE QUESTION:

Shall the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority authorize a parcel tax of $12 per year, to protect San Francisco Bay for future generations 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, raising approximately $25 million annually for twenty years with independent citizen oversight, audits and all funds staying local?

THE SITUATION:

The San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast and its watershed is the largest in western North American. Historically, the San Francisco Bay was the dumping grounds for quickly growing cities, as new lands were created by filling in the Bay with sediment, garbage sites located on the Bay’s shorelines. Waste and pollutants were dumped directly into the Bay. 

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) was created in 1965 in response to these concerns. BCDC effectively halted the inappropriate development of the Bay. After passage of amendments to the Clean Air and Water Act in 1972, much has changed and the Bay is less polluted now, even as the population has grown.

More recently, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, has begun restoring 15,000 acres, but scientists feel a total of 100,000 acres of wetlands around the Bay still need restoration. These projects are estimated to cost $1.5 billion.

New challenges for the Bay have emerged with the understanding of climate change and the effects of sea level rise. This may be an even greater challenge, which requires the funding of adaption measures to restore the Bay ecology, provide flood protection and other wetland restoration.

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is a regional government agency created by the California Legislature in 2008 to raise and allocate resources for the restoration, enhancement, protection and enjoyment of wetlands and wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay and along its shoreline.

The Authority is governed by a board of seven local elected officials appointed by the Association of Bay Area Government from among the nine counties in the Authority’s jurisdiction.

State law requires that funds raised by the Authority be spent on tidal marsh restoration and associated flood protection and public access projects. Administrative expenses are limited to 5% per year of revenues.

THE PROPOSAL

Called the San Francisco Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration ballot measure -- Measure AA would establish a $12 a year parcel tax for 20 years on all parcels in the nine Bay Area counties.  It would generate approximately $25 million per year ($500 million over 20 years) to fund programs to 1) reduce trash, pollution and harmful toxins, 2) to improve water quality; 3) restore habitat for fish, bird and wildlife 4) protect communities along the Bay’s shoreline from risks of severe coastal flooding caused by storms and high water levels; and 5) provide improved public access to the shoreline of the Bay.  

A six-member Independent Citizens Oversight Committee will be appointed from the North Bay, East Bay, West Bay and South Bay who are bring expertise in areas related to the Bay restoration efforts and annual reports will be made.

SUPPORTERS SAY:

  • ŸIt is critical to restore the Bay’s wetlands. 100,000 acres are needed to protect habitat for fish and wildlife, and, with funding, 30,000 acres will be restored.
  • Bay restoration will protect local communities from flooding, and other effects of sea level rise.
  • The measure has fiscal constraints in place with strict accountability and transparency with a citizens oversight committee and annual reports
  • Measure AA monies will leverage more federal and state funds for water quality improvements and wildlife habitat restoration.
  • ŸThe funding allocation formula ensures Marin County will benefit for numerous local projects.

OPPONENTS SAY:

  • ŸThis tax imposes the same tax amount on a residential property owner in Marin as on owners of high-rise parcels in San Francisco, and major high-tech companies in Silicon Valley.
  • ŸMonies raised will be managed and disbursed by a non-elected board appointed by ABAG. There is no Marin representative on the board.
  • ŸHalf of the money will be distributed based on population; Marin will contribute 5 percent of the funding, but only receive 3.5% of this allocation.
  • ŸMarin plays a leadership role in environmental awareness and stewardship.  We do not need a “new” bureaucracy, with its attendant inefficiencies, to do what we and existing agencies, such as BCDC, are already doing.
  • ŸThe new agency will likely focus on the more populous counties of the southern and eastern Bay.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Supporters: Save SF Bay Action Fund - www.yesonaaforthebay.com

Opponents: Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans - www.marincountypensions.com

  Prepared by Gloria Chun Hoo and Linda Craig, LWV Bay Area    4/13/16