A regional ballot initiative proposing a parcel tax that would raise $500 million over 20 years to fund marsh restoration and flood protection projects in San Francisco Bay was approved by 69 percent of voters in the nine-county Bay Area in the June 7 election.
The "yes" vote for Measure AA, an annual $12 per parcel tax, exceeded the two-thirds voter approval threshold required for passage.
With all precincts reporting, the unofficial count showed the measure winning the approval of 71.5 percent of the voters in San Mateo County, 77 percent in San Francisco County and 72.5 percent in Marin County.
The measure fell short of the threshold in Sonoma County, where 62.5 percent of voters approved it, and in Napa County, where 57 percent supported it, but since the test was winning two-thirds support in the nine-county area, property owners in those counties will pay the tax, too.
Supporters of the proposal, including many local politicians, business and environmental groups, said the funding was critical to help restore wildlife habitat, protect communities from flooding and increase shoreline access, including the creation of 25 miles of new Bay Trails.
The measure's passage is "a historic milestone" because it gives us the opportunity to heal the Bay, to improve the ecosystem and provide for flood protection, said San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, who chairs the seven-member board of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, which put the measure on the ballot and will oversee the distribution of its tax revenues.
The state Legislature created the nine-county Restoration Authority in 2008 "for the sole purpose of the collection and distribution of revenues for restoration of wetlands," Mr. Pine said.
"(Tuesday's) vote is a resounding victory for wildlife and people who want a healthy, beautiful Bay for future generations," said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, one of the groups backing the measure.
In a ballot argument opposing Measure AA in San Mateo County, the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association said the measure was not specific enough in its goals and lacked oversight by a panel of scientists. The measure would create "a whole new bloated and expensive bureaucracy," with overhead costs and expense accounts, the association said.
Asked about these allegations before the election, Mr. Pine said the measure's language puts a 5 percent ceiling on revenues spent on administrative expenses. Support work for the Restoration Authority tends to be done by employees of the Coastal Commission, which can bill the authority for expenses, he added.
Supporters also said the measure includes an independent citizens' oversight committee to ensure funds are spent properly and that all funds must stay in the Bay Area to be used only for local habitat restoration and wildlife protection projects.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.
● Earlier story: Measure AA would raise $500 million to restore marshes.