Helping the bay
Proponents of Measure AA say the parcel tax would go toward conservation efforts aimed at helping the San Francisco bay. Photo courtesy Save the Bay

On June 7, Coastside voters will have the chance to weigh in with residents across the entire Bay Area on Measure AA. It’s a ballot measure that aims to bring $500 million to restore and enhance the bay itself.

“It is a historic measure in that it’s bringing all nine counties together in a common goal,” said Dave Pine who serves on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

Pine also sits on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, which was created in 2008 for the purpose of generating funds for the bay’s restoration.

Pine says that now that the economy is on the uptick it seemed like the right time to put forward the proposal, which calls for a $12 annual parcel tax on Bay Area homeowners over the course of 20 years.

If passed, the revenue generated from the measure would go toward funding a variety of projects that consider both the overall health of the bay environment as well specific areas of need.

Pine highlighted the Ravenswood salt pond restoration near Menlo Park as one such project that might be of interest to San Mateo County residents as well as various local projects addressing wetland restoration and levee construction in East Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Supporters of the measure stress that restoring the bay will not only benefit the species that rely on the habitat but will also help bolster an economy dependent on an infrastructure that is threatened by sea level rise.

“They do act like natural sponges and absorb water,” said Monica Canfield-Lenfest a spokeswoman for the environmental group Save the Bay.

By expanding the wetlands, Canfield-Lenfest explained, the flood threat is lessened.

Although the San Mateo County Coastside doesn’t border the bay itself, supporters argue that doesn’t mean Coastsiders shouldn’t care about the measure.

“The bay and what happens to the bay really does affect us all,” said Half Moon Bay Councilwoman Debbie Ruddock who suggested at the most recent City Council meeting that council support for the measure should be brought up at a future meeting.

“With restoration, you stabilize the system,” Ruddock said. “We’re affected by the flow of sediment out of the bay.”

Supporters also argue that the Coastside will rely on similar help when sea level rise starts dealing more damage on the ocean side.

“If you live in Half Moon Bay and never leave, it might not affect you,” said Lenny Mendonca owner of the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. and a vocal supporter of the measure. “We’re going to need support.”

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