[sfbarentersfed] Measure AA & Regional Governance

Hi Meghan,

  Thank you for weighing in. While it sounds like you have a potential conflict of interest as someone whose job might get taxpayer funding if this measure passes, you also obviously have expertise in the area.

  To be clear, I'm not saying the bay is perfect as it is, or that more work can't or shouldn't be done. I'm also aware of the environmental importance of wetlands and their historic shrinkage, and in general would like to see more of them restored. What I am saying is that this work has already been getting done around the bay without a new tax or an expanded regional bureaucracy. Maybe not as fast as you or I would ideally prefer, but things are headed in the right direction.

  You say this is not a "misguided hippie dippie attempt to revert the land back to what it was during Ohlone time", the implication being that the SF Bay Restoration Authority isn't seeking to bring back all of the wetlands that once existed. How much then? Where's the map to go with Measure AA? What's the specific plan, the oversight to guarantee the money will be spent responsibly and as advertised?

  My reading of the Mercury News article is that as of 2013, there have been 11,250 acres of wetlands already restored in the projects described by the article, with another 15,000 acres of restoration in the works (without Measure AA). According to the Coastal Conservancy, the bay area has 42,000 acres of existing wetlands, representing "less than 15% of the wetlands that existed around the bay in the mid-1800s" (see http://scc.ca.gov/webmaster/brochures/Wetlands_Brochure.pdf). If 42,000 is about 15% of what was once there, then according to the Coastal Conservancy, the pre-Gold Rush total was about 280,000 acres, not 542,000.

  In any case though, a lot of additional wetlands restoration in the delta could be accomplished without robbing taxpayers simply by cutting government water subsidies to farmers trying to grow inappropriate water-intensive crops like rice and almonds in the dry central valley and allowing that water to flow through the delta and bring more water into the area as it once naturally did. I'd like to see that solution pursued instead.

  You write:

If we don't want to pay taxes for wetland restoration we're going to pay much more for new and restored seawalls

  If this is true, then they should be able to reduce the budgets for seawall construction and put that money into wetlands restoration instead, without the need for a new tax. In fact, if what you say is true, there should be a net savings to government, and instead of imposing a new tax they should be offering a taxpayer refund (perhaps in the form of vouchers good for a discount off your tax bill in 10 or 20 years)!

  As for the chemicals in the bay, I have no reason to doubt your list, but compare it with, say, 30 years ago, and the bay is almost certainly cleaner now. For instance the Chronicle reported in 2014 (http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Dramatic-drop-found-in-PBDE-levels-of-S-F-Bay-5981427.php):

"According to (a) new study, the two forms of PBDE that California banned have declined steeply in bay life. The fish-eating Forster’s terns once had the highest concentrations of PBDEs found in any wildlife in the world, but the levels fell 80 percent between 2002 and 2012. Levels in mussels dropped up to 95 percent. The chemicals in the bay bottom fell by 30 percent. In shiner surfperch, a popular sport fish, the chemicals declined by nearly 50 percent between 2003 and 2009.
A third form of PBDE, which wasn’t phased out until last year in a nationwide agreement with manufacturers, remains unchanged on the bay bottom, the one place where it was commonly detected.

What makes the study valuable is that it covers the period before and after the 2003 California phaseout and encompasses a range of species as well as water and sediments, scientists say.

California was a 'hot spot' of contamination. Its 1975 product flammability standard was driving manufacturers to add PBDEs as a cheaper way to meet the specifications.

They used penta in polyurethane foam for cushions and octa in thermoplastics in electronic office equipment, TVs, telephones and computer casings. Deca, the third form, was added to plastics in electronics, furniture and carpet and drapery backing.

'Those products were sold all over the country, and California’s rule became the default rule,' said Carol Kraege, a manager at the Washington Department of Ecology."

  (I note in passing that the material quoted above is not an argument for government regulation, as the problem being alleviated by the recent regulation whose impact was registered by the study was caused by a previous government regulation!)

Love & Liberty,
                                ((( starchild )))

P.S. – I'm sure you've all heard politicians talking about the middle class getting squeezed, seen media stories about the disappearing American middle class, etc. The growing burden of government isn't identified often enough as a major cause, but it is. Wealthy people often tend to support proposals like Measure AA because being economically secure they are more willing to spend extra money to fix "First World Problems", and poor people often tend to support them because they don't own property on which they would directly pay tax, and don't see the connection between higher property taxes and higher rents, etc. Middle class people are more likely to oppose, but often get outvoted. So the burden increases and more of them drop into poverty, while more of the poor remain poor.

If I may contribute my humble two cents. We all want a healthy and safe San Francisco Bay, so arguing on the merits of wetland restoration and flood protection seems to me like a non-issue. What is an issue, and a serious one, is the structure of the Restoration Authority. If the Authority at some point becomes guilty of malfeasance, who are voters going to kick out of office? Who is the official voters elected to run the Authority? Who is the elected official who appoints Authority Board members? Agencies with power to tax and spend need to be accountable to voters, which the Restoration Authority is not. That's what Ezra Rapport was referring to in the video some of us have mentioned on these discussions -- Mr. Rapport wants the money, and knows the best way to get it is by removing voters as far from the process as possible.


Yes, people have become more environmentally conscious, and fortunately the bay is cleaner now...

On Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 6:32 PM, David Kaye <sfdavidkaye@...> wrote (in part):

And I'm thinking, heck, I'm lucky to have my health, my friends, and to be living in San Francisco.

Often I tell people what it was like growing up here. People literally pulled their pickup trucks to the edge of the bay and dumped their trash into the bay. They called it "landfill". On a warm summer day the smog was so bad that you couldn't see across the bay. People didn't fish much locally because the bay and the nearby ocean were so polluted.

Love & Liberty,
                              ((( starchild )))