PHOENIX — The San Francisco Bay Area Restoration Authority will ask voters to impose a new parcel tax that could be used as a means to back bonds.
The authority's board voted Wednesday to place the San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention, and Habitat Restoration Program, known as the "Clean and Healthy Bay Ballot Measure," on the June 2016 ballot in all nine Bay Area counties.
The measure, if passed by a two-thirds vote, would levy a "special parcel tax" of $12 per year for 20 years on each property parcel in the nine-county region. The authority, created in 2008 to lead the effort to restore wildlife habitat, reduce pollution, protect shoreline communities from flooding and increase trails and public access to San Francisco Bay, has the legal authority to borrow against its revenues, said Sam Schuchat, executive officer of the State Coastal Conservancy.
The tax would bring in an estimated $25 million per year, Schuchat said, and the authority would likely turn to issuing bonds if it needed to undertake a coastal restoration project that would cost more than that in a single year.
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a business-focused public policy trade group, is a big supporter of the measure.
"Crumbling infrastructure, rising sea levels and lack of natural barriers leave the Bay Area open to the risk of devastating floods, said SVLG chief executive officer Carl Guardino in a statement. "Compounding this danger, many critical elements of the Bay Area's infrastructure, including airports, hospitals, water treatment plants and the headquarters of major employers, are built at or below sea level. That means a severe storm or major flood could knock out huge parts of our regional economy, causing long-term damage to the Bay Area's economic health."
The measure would fund critical projects to protect the health of San Francisco Bay and protect the region's economy by reducing water pollution, expanding wildlife habitat, increasing bayside recreation opportunities, and protecting shoreline communities from flooding, Guardino said.
But there is opposition. Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal told the San Jose Mercury News that the $12-pe-parcel tax would unfairly benefit big businesses like Apple, who would pay the same tax as homeowners far from the Bay.
The authority said polling it conducted in 2015 indicated strong support for a "modest" tax to fund restoration projects.