The Times editorial supporting the San Francisco Bay Restoration Measure AA misses the mark. This seemingly minor tax increase to finance shoreline projects is actually the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent.
The proposed $12 annual parcel tax is grossly unfair and inequitable. Even though it amounts to what one might spend for lunch for two at McDonalds, it is a serious incremental burden for those seniors and others who are already strapped to meet the dramatically growing cost of living in this region - the highest in the nation. The owners of multi-million dollar commercial properties along the shoreline will pay exactly the same as the elderly widow struggling to stay in her small inland cottage, but they will reap huge hikes in property value.
Under the “environmental” banner, there is a politically correct implication that the proposal must be worthwhile. Everyone is for a clean environment, but will this scheme really accomplish what it claims? Or, is it more likely that once launched, we will be asked for additional taxes down the road? As new regional agencies have evolved, local taxpayers have been asked repeatedly to pay new taxes for worthy infrastructure purposes. Yet, we have witnessed the state correspondingly decrease its traditional funding for those functions, instead diverting funds to pay for ballooning pension costs and social programs.
In terms of jurisdiction, if the Bay is threatened by rising sea levels, why isn’t the US Army Corps of Engineers leading the way? It is chartered by Congress and funded by our federal taxes to manage all navigable waterways in the nation, and spends mega-billions annually in regions other than California. Why should the Bay Area pay higher taxes in order to lure back some of the money we send to Washington in the first place? It is well known that California is viewed in Washington as a reliable cash cow “exporter” of tax revenues to subsidize other states’ needs.
So, what is the SF Bay Restoration Authority agency? Few knew of its existence before this tax proposal was announced, other than the various environmental groups and construction unions that stand to benefit financially from its activities. The board is considering a Project Labor Agreement, which will raise costs by 15-20%, and lock non-union contractors out of bidding. All publicly-funded projects should go to the lowest qualified bidder; PLA’s are bad public policy.
The really scary thing is that this is the first “regional” government body empowered to levy taxes, and its governing board consists of officials NOT directly elected to the position; where is public accountability?
If this measure passes, the camel will be back, again and again, sticking its nose deeper and deeper into our wallets. Proponents proclaim there is no opposition to this proposal, of which the public only recently learned. For over 75 years the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association has promoted “Good government at affordable cost.” We vigorously oppose this scheme, because it is neither.