[sfbarentersfed] Measure AA & Regional Governance

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 )))

I was surprised BTW to see that Tim Redmond of the Bay Guardian got it right on this one, even opposing AA for some of the right reasons (unaccountable regional government)!

Love & Liberty,
                               ((( starchild )))

Hi All,

Thank you, Starchild! Good job pointing to the more egregious aspects of Measure AA. Sonja hits the nail on the head when she states that AA is a much bigger deal than wetlands. Right! The Nine County Coalition website Sonja refers to contains a video of Ezra Rapport, head of ABAG, saying just that, and I paraphrase, "we cannot go to voters for approval of the big kind of money we need, not realistic." So, voters, you stand warned.

Here is another one: Voters, are you aware that the Restoration Authority (who would be collecting the $12 from both your grandma and from Facebook) has no elected officials? Folks elected by local communities for dog catcher do not count as elected to run the Restoration Authority. These folks are appointed by ABAG, who in turn is made up of appointed people. If something goes wrong, who do you kick out of office?

So many people are endorsing Measure AA, right? Yeah, there is a long list of contractors, non-profits, etc. waiting to get lots of money from AA to do everything from building bike trails to saving the garter snake. http://sfbayrestore.org/docs/Projects.pdf

Well, you all been warned.


Thanks, Marcy. New to me was how much wetlands restoration has already been done, and evidently is being done, without Measure AA. The Mercury News article I just found was eye-opening in that regard, and I wish now that I'd found it or similar material when writing our ballot argument and made reference to it therein.

Love & Liberty,
                               ((( starchild )))

Oh totally. The Coastal Conservancy has been working on restoration for decades. But what proponents of AA claim is that entities such as the Coastal Conservancy do not have authority to raise money on their own (tax people) and depend of elected officials to allocate money to it. Geeee, I thought that's how things were supposed to work. Voters elect the people who will do what voters want done how they want it done.

Opposition to AA has absolutely nothing to do with opponents not liking clean water and a healthy Bay. Opposition has to do with, as you say Starchild, setting a precedent that is going to bite voters in the future.