With nearly all of the votes counted, it appears that voters throughout the Bay Area last night approved Measure AA, a first of its kind regional ballot initiative that will generate $500 million for restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands. With 965,543 votes counted so far, the measure is passing with 69.08% of the vote and the campaign is confident in its projected victory.
“All indications show that the voters overwhelmingly agreed that restoring the Bay Area’s most precious natural resource is a top priority,” said Save the Bay’s Executive Director David Lewis. “Tonight’s vote is a resounding victory for wildlife and people who want a healthy, beautiful Bay for future generations.”
At current counts, it appears that residents in all nine Bay Area counties have approved the measure to restore of San Francisco Bay wetlands through a small parcel tax of $12 per year. Over the next 20 years, the measure will raise $500 million for critically important Bay restoration projects.
“The Bay is our region’s most important natural resource, and also its most threatened. It makes great sense that we all share in its restoration and preservation,” said Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman. “Voters from all walks of life recognize the importance of bringing the Bay back to good health by voting Yes on Measure AA.”
The San Francisco Bay is challenged by trash, toxins and sea-level rise among other threats. For the Bay to be healthy and sustainable, it ultimately needs 100,000 acres of wetlands to filter pollution from its waters and increase habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife that make up its rich and diverse ecosystem. These wetlands will also allow for further expansion of public access to the shoreline, and protect low-lying communities and critical infrastructure from the increased risk of flooding due to extreme weather and rising seas brought about by climate change.
Each year, rising seas swamp more and more of the shoreline, leaving less wetlands to restore and making restoration of those that remain more expensive to complete. The recently completed Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, a report that represents the consensus of scientists who study the San Francisco Bay, concluded that only 20 to 30 years remain for restoration that had previously been planned to take place over a period of 50 years.
“We would like to thank the many business, environment, labor and community leaders across the region who strongly supported the measure, as well as our elected leaders at all levels of government,” said Silicon Valley Leadership Group president Carl Guardino. “It is because of your efforts and support for this initiative that we will now be able to address one of our most pressing regional issues – protecting San Francisco Bay from the threat of rising seas and a changing world climate.”
Right now, the Bay has only 44,000 acres of tidal wetlands, and while more than 30,000 shoreline acres have been preserved from development and are awaiting restoration, lack of funding has slowed progress. Measure AA will generate sorely needed funding for the restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands, benefiting the people, wildlife, and economy of Bay Area communities. This local funding will also help the region leverage the additional state and federal funding necessary to finish the job.
“Bay Area voters made a terrific investment to restore San Francisco Bay and leave a legacy that will be cherished for generations,” said Michael Mantell, President of Resources Legacy Fund. “It’s a great testament to collaboration, and this investment can leverage additional state and federal support the Bay needs to be healthy.”
More than 2,000 individuals and organizations endorsed Measure AA, and an unprecedented, broad coalition campaigned for the parcel tax from Vallejo to Alviso, and Livermore to San Mateo.
The measure was place on the ballot by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a regional government agency charged with raising and allocating resources for the restoration, enhancement, protection, and enjoyment of wetlands and wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay and along its shoreline.
“The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Board is thrilled by tonight’s result and the public’s support for our mission to restore the Bay,” said Dave Pine, San Mateo County Supervisor and Chair of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. “We look forward to utilizing these funds in a fiscally responsible way to do the important work of preserving a healthy San Francisco Bay.”