Yeah, $12 per parcel is a relatively small tax as taxes go. But it sets a big precedent. It would be the Bay Area's first regional tax, put into the hands of an unelected regional taxing authority with no clear accountability. Any bets they won't seek to raise the amount later?
If a less localized approach to bay restoration is needed, the authority to do things on a regional basis already exists at the state level. Why would anyone think that creating another level of government is the answer?
It's not like the bay is in jeopardy as things stand. Shorelines and the bay itself have already been cleaned up significantly in past decades, and somehow it has gotten done without a regional bureaucracy getting involved. There has been major restoration of wetlands areas. In 2013, the San Jose Mercury News reported:
"...this area along the northern shores of San Francisco Bay is growing a new bounty: huge numbers of egrets, herons, ducks, salmon, Dungeness crabs and other wildlife, all returning to a vast network of newly created marshes and wetlands.
"Construction crews and biologists are in the final stretch of a 20-year project to restore 11,250 acres of former industrial salt ponds back to a natural landscape. The aquatic renaissance is already the largest wetlands restoration project ever completed in the Bay Area, turning back the clock 150 years and transforming the area between Vallejo and Sonoma Raceway, despite little public awareness because of the distance from the Bay Area's large cities."
Proponents of Measure AA are no doubt counting on that lack of awareness to make the public think that nothing has been done or can be done for the bay without this new tax and new bureaucracy, but obviously that's just false. More from the Mercury News article quoted above:
"It's a stunning achievement," said Marc Holmes, program director with the Bay Institute, an environmental group in San Francisco. "It's a phenomenal ecological restoration, one of the most important coastal wetlands projects ever done in the United States."
"The restoration -- encompassing an area as big as 8,500 football fields -- is also offering a road map for similar projects now underway in the East Bay and Silicon Valley, particularly the massive restoration of 15,100 acres of former Cargill Salt ponds that extend from Hayward to San Jose to Redwood City."
Has anyone seen a map for this project showing the locations for these additional proposed wetlands, and the details of the restoration methods to be used? How much land will they want? Will they seek to seize private property via eminent domain, using the taxpayers' money to pay lawyers and pursue expensive court cases? Is there a clearly defined end goal, a limit on how much natural habitat they seek to recreate? If not, what may be next on the agenda? Restoring big portions of western San Francisco to their original sand dunes?
Some restoration of natural habitat is obviously reasonable, but let's face it, the Bay Area is a developed urban area. Trying to make the area surrounding the bay as it was in the days of the Ohlone is not feasible. This is the kind of place that needs more infill, so that sprawl doesn't spread further up and down the coast in currently undeveloped areas. Underused bayshore lands could be used for new housing, but if they are all grabbed up for wetlands restoration, obviously that will not happen.
The argument that such lands can't be safely developed because of rising sea levels is bogus – if that's the case, then why is Treasure Island being redeveloped? And somebody better tell the mayor of Alameda that the largely flat island needs to be evacuated.
Significant sea level rise is purely speculative at this point, and likely many decades off if it occurs at all. A lot can change between now and 2100, not least the development of new technology such as cheap nano-building methods that may make construction super-cheap and render the problem moot. In the meantime there is a housing shortage, and people already have trouble affording housing and other basic needs in part because they are overtaxed.
Measure AA is unnecessary and dangerous. It's a non-transparent "solution" in search of a problem, a bunch of political insiders asking you to fork over your money and/or rob other people on their behalf and saying "Trust us."
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))