Regional voters to decide proposed parcel tax for Bay restoration

June ballot measure would impose $12 annual tax on all Bay Area properties through 2037

Contra Costa County voters are among those set to weigh in on a Bay Area-wide measure on the June ballot that would impose a parcel tax over the next 20 years to raise funds for shoreline improvement projects.

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a governing body established in 2008 to allocate resources for preserving the Bay's natural resources, voted last Wednesday to put the measure on the June 7 ballot, according to supporters.

The measure would impose a $12 parcel tax from 2017 until 2037 for every property owner in the nine-county Bay Area. The "Clean and Healthy Bay Ballot Measure" would need two-thirds approval of voters in all nine counties: Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma.

Exactly what projects the roughly $500 million the tax is expected to raise would fund remains unclear and would be at the discretion of the restoration authority.

The large slate of projects would include restoring wetlands and habitats for marine wildlife, trash and pollution cleanup, adding and expanding recreational activities like hiking trails and parks, and shoring up areas at risk of flooding.

Half of the funding would be allocated according to the population of the area, so for example the more heavily populated shorelines of the East Bay would potentially receive more funding than the more sparsely populated areas of the North Bay. The authority also hopes to attract other sources of funding to supplement the tax revenue.

Supporters said they gathered more than 11,000 signatures in favor of the measure online. In addition to various environmental groups in favor of it, business groups and local politicians have also advocated its passage.

"The San Francisco Bay is our region's defining feature, and this measure is an historic opportunity to leave the Bay better off for our children and grandchildren," Bay Area Council business association CEO Jim Wunderman said in a statement.

"By acting now to restore our wetlands, we can improve the Bay ecosystem for fish and wildlife while protecting huge portions of the Bay shoreline from storm surges and rising seas," Wunderman said.

Among the elected officials in favor of the measure are the mayors of the region's three largest cities: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

"It may bear our city's name, but the San Francisco Bay is the shared treasure of all 7 million Bay Area residents," Lee said in a statement. "This measure is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the entire Bay Area to come together to support something that will touch each of our lives -- a cleaner, healthier and safer San Francisco Bay."

— Bay City News Service

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4 people like this
Posted by mphb
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 19, 2016 at 7:28 am

mphb is a registered user.

Parcel taxes always fall on the homeowners. What about the millions of renters in the Bay Area? Should they not share in this cause?

2 people like this
Posted by Karin
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2016 at 9:44 am

I agree with the comment regarding renters; they visit the parks and shores also. But, really, most renters probably are contributing indirectly to this cause. Consider a landlord whose taxes increase. Most landlords will, over time, increase the rent they charge when their property expenses increase.

5 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:05 am

Obtaining resources to clean up the bay would be most equitably accomplished through a sales tax, not a parcel tax. That way, all who live in and visit the bay area would contribute.

9 people like this
Posted by Louie
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:11 am

"Exactly what projects the roughly $500 million the tax is expected to raise would fund remains unclear and would be at the discretion of the restoration authority." LOL

Hey! I know. Let's vote to give a bureaucrat millions and the authority to decide with to do with it- later. Kind of like waiting to read the Affordable Health Care Act, as Nancy Pelosi suggested, after it was voted in.

4 people like this
Posted by no fool
a resident of Danville
on Jan 22, 2016 at 8:39 am

This scheme appears to be similar to the flat tax scheme for "waterway clean-up" we soundly defeated several years ago. No accountability involved. Just say NO to any more government tricks to steal our hard-earned money to pay inflated government salaries and gold-plated benefit packages.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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