Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Shoreline Advocates Ballot initiative follow-up; next mtg. Oct. 17

This is a follow-up to Shoreline Advocates' March 7, 2016 meeting with briefings on upcoming ballot issues.

Our next meeting will tentatively be Monday, Oct. 17, 10 AM -12:30 AM at Berkeley's Shorebird Nature Center. Stay tuned! 

1. Measure AA in June: I'm sure you all know that the Measure AA $12/year parcel tax for Bay restoration is on the June 7 primary ballot. The measure needs 2/3 approval to pass.
Below (blue block) is text that can be adapted to support the measure. Many groups, including Audubon and the League of Women Voters, have short support messages on their web sites that could be paraphrased. 

2. No constitutional amendment for stormwater in November:
Mitch Avalon, retired head of Contra Costa flood control, now working as a consultant, sent along the news that due to unpromising polling, the November ballot will not include a Constitutional Amendment to (a) allow local government raise stormwater fees without a vote, the treatment now given sewer fees, and (b) allow higher water rates for big water users, in order to encourage conservation. 

This leaves local government on the hook for urban-runoff costs, which have been greatly increased by state and federal mandates and are likely to balloon as infrastructure ages and global warming continues. It also means that it will remain difficult to use fees to discourage water wasting during drought.

Below (last block, white background) is full information from the groups backing the proposed amendment. 

Thanks for reading! Please share this blog post with others you think may be interested!

Susan Schwartz, Friends of Five Creeks, f5creeks{at}gmail{dot}com

Here is information that can be used or paraphrased to support Measure AA (thanks to Amanda Brown-Stevens of Trust for Public Land)

[I am/Organization] endorsing/es Measure AA, the measure to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay for future generations. Measure AA, the San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention, and Habitat Restoration Program is on the June 7, 2016 ballot. This measure is crucial to protecting the Bay and the region's economy.  If approved by voters, this measure would improve the Bay for people and wildlife, while strengthening our economy and preparation for climate change. Measure AA would restore thousands of acres of tidal marsh to:
  • Reduce trash, pollution and harmful toxins in the Bay;
  • Improve water quality;
  • Restore habitat for fish, birds and wildlife;
  • Protect communities from floods; and
  • Increase shoreline public access.
More wetlands will improve the Bay by filtering out pollution for cleaner water; increasing habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife; expanding Bay trails and shoreline access; and protecting low-lying communities and critical infrastructure from floods. The Bay is challenged by pollution, climate change, and other threats, and needs 100,000 acres of wetlands to be healthy and sustainable. More than 30,000 shoreline acres are already awaiting restoration, but the missing piece is funding. This measure will generate $500 million for critically important projects, and will help our region leverage even more state and federal funding.

We want our children to inherit a clean and healthy San Francisco Bay – one that will be part of their lives the way it is part of ours – we need to act now to clean it up and restore it. The San Francisco Bay Area is a uniquely desirable place to live and work, and San Francisco Bay itself is central to it – a touchstone of our region’s identity and a major reason for our strong economy and excellent quality of life. Measure AA would complete Bay restoration and shoreline protection projects to ensure that it will remain healthy, beautiful, and resilient for future generations.

The San Francisco Bay is the heart of our region, and its health is central to our economy and our quality of life. Yet, if left unchecked, the increasing flood risks facing the Bay Area could cause major damage and severely cripple the region's thriving economy. Sea level rise and increasing storm activity due to climate change coupled with an aging levee system and reduced wetlands have made the Bay Area vulnerable to devastating flood events. Compounding the threat, much of the region's vital infrastructure is located at or below sea level, including airports, hospitals, water treatment plants and many miles of area highways. An estimated $10.4 billion in damages is at stake.

This measure would establish a modest $12 parcel tax (just $1/month) on all property owners in all nine Bay Area counties. A two-thirds vote, Bay Area wide, is required to pass it. If successful, the measure would raise $500 million over 20 years to help fund restoration of more than 15,000 acres of wetlands and tidal marsh.

Please make sure you look for MEASURE AA on your ballot, and VOTE YES!  This is a
historic opportunity to make a difference, and protect and restore our Bay! 

Stormwater Initiative: April, 2016 Status
On December 14, 2015, the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), the League of California Cities (the League) and the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) filed a proposed Constitutional amendment with the Attorney General (AG), titled “The California Water Conservation, Flood Control and Stormwater Management Act of 2016”.  The proposed ballot measure would have amended Article X of the California Constitution to create a new, optional funding method that local agencies could use to fund local stormwater services and flood control projects, and establish conservation-based water rates or lifeline rates to assist low-income customers.  The proposal ensured that any local agency that utilized the optional funding method would be required to adhere to strict accountability, transparency and ratepayer protections. 

The Title and Summary, issued by the AG on February 18, 2016, can be found on the AG website as Initiative 15-116.  This is the language that would be printed on the ballot for a statewide election.  While the wording is very close to what was filed with the AG, the first sentence was viewed as potentially detrimental to passing the ballot measure.  It describes the optional funding procedure as one that allows local government to impose fees “without voter approval.”  The League, CSAC, and ACWA conducted follow-up polling on the Title and Summary to obtain a more thorough picture of voter sentiment. The polling results showed the Title and Summary would fail to get majority support and opposition exceeded support.   In addition, while strong support was expressed for rate payer protections and conservation pricing provisions, the phrase “without voter approval” overshadowed these positively viewed elements.  The polling results also demonstrated that any funded opposition would have a strong influence on voters’ reaction to the ballot measure.

On a more positive note, the polling results showed that voters believe local governments need additional funds to address stormwater and water-related issues.  Voter support was also expressed for many of the ballot measure’s objectives – to protect water quality, upgrade aging infrastructure, increase conservation and implement lifeline pricing.

The polling consultant concluded that passing the current ballot measure would be exceedingly difficult even with a superior funding advantage.  As a result, CSAC, the League, and ACWA decided to not move forward with the proposed ballot measure in 2016.  However, everyone agrees there is a great need for the ballot measure, as the need for sustainable funding for stormwater services and the need for conservation is going to continue to grow.  Between now and the next opportunity to place the ballot measure on a ballot, we all must do what we can to inform the public and elected officials why this is important.

CSAC, the League, and ACWA will continue the dialogue with each other, the larger coalition that had been working on the ballot measure, and their respective members regarding other viable options and strategies that build on positive elements of the polling and prepare ourselves for the next opportunity to pass the ballot measure.

For more information please contact Karen Keene, California State Association of Counties at 916-327-7500 (ext. 511), or Mitch Avalon, County Engineers Association of California at 925-313-2203, or go to the project website at www.cccounty.us/stormwaterinitiative.

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