News

Editorial: Vote 'yes' on Measure AA, Bay restoration parcel tax

 

What can be done with a mere $12 paid annually by each property owner in the region surrounding San Francisco Bay? When the region in question comprises nine counties and the cumulative payments equal $500 million over 20 years, the answer is obvious: a whole lot.

Voters in those nine counties -- including San Mateo County -- are being asked to approve Measure AA on the June 7 ballot, a $12-per-parcel tax to raise money to pay for vital work: the restoration of San Francisco Bay shorelines to functioning tidal marshes. The projects planned by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority would do more than improve public access to the Bay for enhanced recreational purposes; they would also fortify and expand wildlife habitat and create an effective flood protection system -- an urgent need given the perils of sea-level rise predicted in coming decades.

The measure needs approval by two-thirds of the voters for passage. If passed, the tax would raise about $25 million per year for two decades. Counties would be divided into four regions, with San Mateo and San Francisco counties forming the West Bay region. Funding would be allocated based on population, and half of the $500 million would be divvied up among the four regions. The West Bay region can expect some $55 million for its shoreline projects.

The other half of the tax revenues would fund high-priority projects identified by the Authority's governing board.

A significant selling point for the measure is that the Authority and regional administrators will be able to leverage tax revenue to generate matching funds from the state and the federal government, according to county Supervisor Dave Pine, who chairs the Authority's governing board.

Local projects that are likely to be funded through Measure AA include the SAFER Bay Project, an effort launched by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority to focus on South San Mateo County areas threatened by sea-level rise. Measure AA revenue would likely fund the planned Ravenswood Slough marsh-restoration and levee-improvement project. That area is adjacent to Bedwell Park in Menlo Park.

Projects planned over all four regions to benefit from the tax would also focus on improving water quality by tackling longstanding trash- and toxin-pollution problems in the Bay and restoring wetlands, which provide natural filters that continually remove pollution from the water.

This tax measure makes sense. The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority has worked since 2008 to identify solutions to the complicated network of problems facing the Bay and the communities surrounding it. Property owners are being asked to contribute only $12 a year to pay for remedies to those problems. We will pay a far higher price in the future if we choose not to pay a nominal tax now.

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Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Boo
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 26, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Even the editors of the SF Chronicle who have never seen a tax measure they didn't like are opposed to this one. Property tax revenues in the Ba Area are at an all-time high, and increase every day as properties are sold. Stop with the parcel taxes! Like the MPSD parcel taxes that were voted down this is yet another with no accountability, no specifics, and just nice-sounding goals.


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Vote NO on Measure AA

The idea that a single family parcel would pay the same that a FB building would pay is not fair.

No exemption for Seniors


8 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 26, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Opponents to Measure AA, those of you who unable to think ahead and comprehend the basic science behind the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and its consequences, those of you incapable of seeing a global catastrophe in the making in the face of irrefutable evidence, please consider taking your heads out of the sand on this occasion?

Opposing this measure is THE HEIGHT of foolishness. Thankfully, polls show that you opponents are not numerous enough to stop it. The rest of us will act on your behalf. You're welcome.


6 people like this
Posted by facts, please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Boo, in which issue did the SF Chronicle publish an editorial against Measure AA? I don't remember seeing it.

I do remember a recent guest opinion by the cantankerous Quentin Kopp, opposing Measure AA. But if that's what you're referring to, it's a gross misstatement to say the Chronicle editors are opposed.

Please supply the day of publication to back up your claim.


6 people like this
Posted by facts, please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Boo, I just found the SF Chronicle's position on Measure AA. The Chronicle editorial board does not oppose it. The editorial board has endorsed it. Read for yourself.

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Wrong agency; wrong tax
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2016 at 2:51 pm

California already has too many regional agencies overseen, if at all, by boards of local politicians not elected regionally. Other existing agencies could do any work needed. Plus, why tax each parcel the same amount? That is not even remotely fair to residential property owners. Maybe tax the big companies that have imported labor from around the globe. Or tax contributors to pollusion and global warning that impact the Bay. And any measure should specify how the money could and would be spent. Better yet. I promise to work on restoring marshes if you send the money to me.


1 person likes this
Posted by Out of Control
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 26, 2016 at 5:08 pm

Sadly, there are proponents of AA like "Joe" who seem to believe (and are willing to yell) that anyone who doesn't support yet another tax measure "has (his) head in the sand." Apparently, he thinks that just because I oppose this tax, I'm an idiot who doesn't believe in global warming. Not true. There may be a correlation between opponents of Measure AA and those who don't buy into the pending "global catastrophe," but there are also many valid other reasons to Vote No on AA. First and foremost is the fact it is the "height of foolishness" to believe that this $500M will be spent as described in the campaign material. It is even more foolish to believe that this is the only way to address the environmental issues. Setting up yet another regional bureaucratic agency composed of appointees who don't directly answer to us is not the best way to efficiently spend this money. Does anyone really believe they won't end up wasting this $500M on "studies" and pet projects that are supported by a few power brokers behind the scenes? And is a regressive tax like this really the best way to raise the money? And should Bay Area residents who live miles from the Bay really pay the same as those who live, say, just a block away? There are lots of reasons to oppose this tax, even if you support the environmental goal. I hope the "Joe's" out there step back, take a breath, and recognize that you can be pro-environment and anti-tax / anti-bureaucrat at the same time.


Like this comment
Posted by Boo
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 26, 2016 at 5:30 pm

I stand corrected. The Chronicle piece was an opinion by the venerable Quentin Kopp. I apologize for my misstatement. Judge Kopp, though maligned by some, is a wise and logical thinker who well understands how government institutions operate and all too frequently fail to operate.

To Joe: I appreciate and respect your viewpoint. Many share your view and approach. I don't, but I'm open. Can you point me to some science that shows how this initiative will have any impact on climate change? Also, if this is so important, can you help me understand why the state or county governments have elected not to appropriate money for it? It strikes me that since, according to this Almanac endorsement, the SFBRA has already identified great projects, if they were really great, our elected officials would have funded them.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 26, 2016 at 5:56 pm

While some organizations and agencies are still engaged in slowing down climate change, others have decided to cope with the inevitable effects.

That's what this measure is about. It will affect how we cope.

Local government funding seems built on a foundation of seed money because local governments never have enough for their needs. They use at least some of their funds to apply for grants from the state and the federal government in hopes of getting their money matched.

Sometimes, it goes much farther than matching. In planning repairs to defective roads and bridges, local funds can generate leverage way beyond the local contribution, sometime more than 80%.

Protecting against flooding in a bay with nine counties around it in either a regional collaboration or it is nothing. If San Mateo County builds levees that are x feet high and Santa Clara County builds them at x feet + 5, San Mateo County is in big trouble if the water rises beyond x feet.

Levees are expensive and not the first line of defense. Marshes are the first line of defense -- after not polluting the atmosphere with excess CO2 in the first place -- and marshes are probably much cheaper to build than levees. They also have the benefit of being good for the environment and for recreation.

There are too many pockets of localized thinking and not nearly enough of regional thinking. Transportation problems are exhibit A. Measure AA is a fine example of regional thinking for addressing a problem that cannot be properly -- and reliably -- addressed in any other way.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 26, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

"...the SFBRA has already identified great projects, if they were really great, our elected officials would have funded them."

Without new taxes. Read my lips. NO on AA. No on NEW taxes!


1 person likes this
Posted by Boo
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 26, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Joe states, "Local government funding seems built on a foundation of seed money because local governments never have enough for their needs. They use at least some of their funds to apply for grants from the state and the federal government in hopes of getting their money matched."

Two principles are illustrated in these statements:

1. Government entities are like a gas. A gas will always expand to fill all available space. Government agencies will always expand to spend all available cash. If we give them more (or they take it), they will surely spend it, whether or not it does any good.

2. Matching funds from the state or Feds is a shell game. Where do they get the matching funds? From us! Or those of us who pay taxes. There's still no free lunch.

I think restoration of the Bay after years of destruction is great. I'm excited to see progress at Bair Island and near the Facebook campus. But I think it's wrong to keep coming back to taxpayers election after election seeking one new tax after the next.


2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 27, 2016 at 9:24 am

As is well known and often stated, Libertarians know the price of everything and the value of nothing. I might add that their cynicism is offensive.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 27, 2016 at 9:55 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

The Legislature created the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. They can also provide enabling legislation to allow voters an opportunity to designate a small percentage of the 1% general property tax already being collected. No need to raise taxes. The Sequoia Healthcare District, whose legitimacy has been questioned, on whose board I serve, expects to collect more than $11,000,000 in 2016-2017. The legitimacy of the philanthropic role they have assumed since they sold Sequoia Hospital in 1996 has been questioned by the SMC Civil Grand Jury. The Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District collects a similar amount from South County property taxes. They could kick in some of that revenue to support the open space of the marshland.

The money is already being collected, it just needs to be prioritized by the voters. No NEW tax necessary, particularly not a parcel tax. Vote NO on AA.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 27, 2016 at 10:14 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

The Mosquito Abatement District collects a few $Million from property owners. It would be a natural for the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority to absorb that agency and it's revenue flow.

And, the Peninsula Healthcare District, which no longer owns a hospital, collects more than $5,000,000 per year in property taxes from the 1% already being collected.

Joe, you could learn something from libertarians. Check out Milton Friedman on YouTube.


4 people like this
Posted by Barry
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 27, 2016 at 2:40 pm

This is by far the most exciting proposition that has come along in years. Imagine Humpback Whales breeching in the bay feeding on on abundance of krill, being able to safely swim and fish in the bay, having more extensive restored marshlands that nourish and give life to all forms of sea creatures, having restored bay land access and perimeter trails for recreation and to view large flocks of native birds in a restored habitat, and having increased protection from global warming induced sea level rise. I, for one, want these things for my grandchildren.
What's not to like about this proposition?
And the cost? One dollar ($1) a month for each parcel. For this very modest contribution, we can further restore the greatest natural resource of the Bay Area.
Please consider joining me in voting for Measure AA.

Thank you


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 27, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Barry said: "I, for one, want these things for my grandchildren."

Just another boondoggle which will add to the debt being piled on those grandchildren.


2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 27, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Milton Friedman is the influence behind the displacement of actual industry by the finance "industry" now at the center of the American economy.

The idea of corporations being single-minded in focusing on profit for shareholders -- to the detriment of the communities and countries in which these corporations reside and do business -- is also to be laid at Friedman's feet.

Did Friedman see anything wrong with too big to fail? Of the boom-and-bust and boom-and-bust and boom-and-bust ad infinitum American economies of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the 20th until Glass-Steadman was enacted?

Milton Freidman, champion of greed. A big, big part of being human is the search for, as Abraham Lincoln put it, "the better angels of our nature." Milton Friedman is the antithesis of this outlook. He is nothing short of a pox on the values of compassion and sacrifice.

He had no business getting a podium much less a hearing when he was alive, which I'm glad to say, he no longer is.


Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2016 at 4:00 pm

So, Jack Hickey, would you want the grandchildren you supposedly care so much about to live in an area where the environment is toxic?

Oh wait, we already know the answer to that...


2 people like this
Posted by facts, please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 27, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Thanks, Joe, for your excellent and accurate analysis of Milton Friedman.

And Jack, I would no more resurrect this villain via YouTube (or any other means) than I would tap on the lid of Dracula's foul coffin and invite him out on a picnic.


4 people like this
Posted by Barry
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 27, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Jack said "Just another boondoggle that will be added to the debt being piled on those grandchildren".

Jack, actually no, this is not debt that will be piled on. This actually will be pay-as-you-go.

This is an investment that will pay dividends forever. I wish there were other places we could put our money that would pay even a fraction of returns our future generations will get with Measure AA

Barry


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 28, 2016 at 11:36 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

In ten years, my grandchildren will be paying this ADDED tax.

As I said before, "The money is already being collected, it just needs to be prioritized by the voters." And, "The Legislature created the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. They can also provide enabling legislation to allow voters an opportunity to designate a small percentage of the 1% general property tax already being collected. No need to raise taxes."

No NEW tax necessary, particularly not a parcel tax. Vote NO on AA.


1 person likes this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 28, 2016 at 11:50 am

It is a bit of a scam that a large corporate parcel right next to the Bay - like those owned by Facebook - pays the same as individual upland property owners. At 7 feet above sea level, I figure I'm close enough that I can ante up the 12 bucks and feel it's fair - but this law is not in general fair.

Salt marshes sequester more carbon than rainforests: they're really good that way. Here's a presentation: Web Link


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