NBLC’s Ballot Measures Endorsements
SUPPORT: Measure I: SMART Train Sales Tax Extension
In 2008, voters Marin and Sonoma counties had the foresight to create SMART. They voted to build a modern train system to bridge county lines and connect to the ferry in Larkspur. They wanted a green transportation system, a way to travel without sitting in traffic and fewer cars on Highway 101. SMART has delivered on that promise – despite serious obstacles. When the recession hit in 2009, the floor dropped out of the bond market, slashing the projected $455 million in revenue to $298 million over the last 10 years. Despite this setback, SMART still got a world class transportation system up and running by leveraging $328 million in regional, state and federal matching funds. So far, SMART has carried over 1.7 million passengers, including over 6,300 passengers who require wheelchair access and 164,000 bicyclists.
In December, SMART opened the Larkspur station to connect to the ferry. In January, SMART revamped the commuter schedule to run trains every half hour. Now, SMART is at a crossroads. Measure I is critical to SMART’s future. Measure I would extend SMART’s ¼ of one cent sales tax with NO TAX INCREASE.
Measure I would ensure SMART’s financial survival and allow restructuring of construction debt. This would save $12.2 million annually, fully funding operations from Larkspur to Windsor for the next 30 years.
Vote YES on Measure I to:
- Take hundreds of thousands of car trips off Highway 101 every year
- Support SMART service to additional cities
- Increase the frequency of SMART trains
- Fund safety enhancements along the rail line
- Add additional parking to SMART stations
- Build more bicycle and walking paths connecting SMART stations
We finally have a modern train system for Marin and Sonoma counties. Please don’t let one family with a fat checkbook dictate the future of transportation in the North Bay. Vote “Yes” on Measure I to keep SMART rolling and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. http://staygreenkeepsmart.org/
SUPPORT: Measure C – Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority
Fire safety improvements are needed as climate change impacts the North Bay. The tax being proposed would amount to 10 cents per building square foot for improved residential and commercial space. An exemption would be provided for low-income seniors. The tax could be increased up to 3% annually to adjust for inflation. Perhaps most vital to its broad support, the tax, which is estimated to bring in $19.3 million annually, would sunset in 10 years.
Sixty percent of the revenue generated by the tax would be dedicated to core functions such as vegetation management, wildfire detection, evacuation improvements, grants and public education. Twenty percent would be used for annual defensible space and home hardening evaluations, and another 20% would be used for wildfire prevention efforts designed for specific locales. The authority will divide Marin into five zones: Ross Valley, San Rafael, West Marin, Novato and Southern Marin. Its board will consist of a representative from each of the 17 participating agencies. Another provision assures that at least 80% of the revenue generated for vegetation management by each operational zone shall be allocated within the respective zone. The measure’s proponents pledged that the authority would utilize an “environmental/climate change lens” while doing its work.
SUPPORT: Measure G – Sonoma County Fire Safety and Emergency Response Improvements
Again, the ability to fight and prevent fires is of tremendous importance in the North Bay. The measure will generate approximately $51 million annually, which will be distributed across the county’s more than 30 fire districts, with the aim of improving alert, warning, and siren systems; vegetation management inspection and mitigation programs; replacement of aging infrastructure and equipment; and the recruitment and retention of firefighters.
“We need more firefighters,” Mark Heine, Sonoma County Fire District Fire Chief, told the supervisors. Heine pointed out that there are about 375 firefighters in Sonoma County, but it took a force of about 4,000 firefighters, some coming from as far away as Washington and Arizona, via statewide mutual aid agreements, to stall the Kincade Fire. The new sales tax would provide funding to hire 200 additional full-time personnel across the county, including firefighters and battalion chiefs. The increase in firefighters is a top priority as districts aim for three-person staffing on engines, which is closer to the national standard of four people.In addition, the tax will provide the funding for the installment of seven new fire inspectors to carry out a more robust vegetation management program throughout the county. Local fire agencies will also receive an influx of funding so their staff can provide vegetation inspection and remediation in their jurisdictions. Additionally, the sales tax will fund a 10- to 12-person regional “fuels crew” to perform vegetation management, reinforce evacuation routes, and construct fuel breaks throughout the county. The home location of the regional crew has not yet been decided.
The resulting funding from the measure will be divided by percentage, based on district size and need. Fire districts that have specific challenges recruiting and retaining full-time firefighters will receive additional funding to help those efforts. A portion of monies raised will go to the county’s Department of Emergency Management to improve the county’s alert and warning systems, not just for wildfire, but any natural disaster including earthquake, tsunami and flood. Funds will be dedicated to improving digital technologies like the Wireless Emergency Alert system, SoCo Alert, and Nixle notifications, and to construct, operate and maintain a network of emergency sirens.
Overall, the measure would raise funds to build nine new fire stations throughout the county, move the location of eight existing fire stations, and retrofit or remodel another eight existing fire stations.
Current jurisdictional boundaries may also be going away soon. One and one-quarter of the proposed sales tax will provide funding to incentivize fire district consolidation, a move Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Mayacamas and Schell-Vista are currently studying. As long as a district is “working toward consolidation,” it will receive funding – although that can be modified after three years.
NBLC’s Candidate Endorsements
Marin, Napa and Sonoma Counties have primaries for Board of Supervisors’ races in March. NLBC has recommends the candidates below. If the race is uncontested, we are taking no position. If candidates have taking a voting pledge, we have a policy of not endorsing as we fear that means that votes have been promised before hearing from the public. And in some races, we didn’t endorse because there was no candidate that reflected NLBC’s commitment to supporting fair and balanced voices that support more workforce housing, improved transportation, support for business and economic competitiveness and the development of a workforce whose skills and talents match the jobs our members are creating.
District 5 – Belia Ramos (Inc.): Support Ramos grew up in St. Helena, worked as an attorney and founded Raise The Bar to help prepare applicants for the California Bar Exam. She was elected Supervisor in 2016. Ramos was recently elected as vice president of the Association of Bay Area Governments which focused on housing issues. During her supervisor term, Ramos has drawn attention to various issues she said are important to her district, among them housing, traffic in the south county and noise heard in American Canyon and other areas from bird-scaring propane canons in vineyards. Ramos said her focus during a second term would continue to be on such things as housing availability and affordability, land use and transportation.
District 4 – Alfredo Pedroza (Inc.): Support Pedroza has been a balanced voice on the Napa Board and is a rising star. He is pro-business, against accelerating the minimum wage and didn’t sign any union pledges. He is a housing advocate and called for streamlining the approval process and building on surplus County land. He is currently the vice chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Pedroza is a problem-solver and results-oriented. He used to work for Redwood Credit Union.
District 5: Lynda Hopkins (Inc.): Support Hopkins has been working hard in her first term and deserves a second one. She is a strong supporter of housing and finding solutions to address homelessness and mental health services. As a small business owner, she supports business and a strong economy. As a parent, she is a great advocate for children, child care and education. Hopkins is balanced, fair and hard-working.
District 3: Stephanie Moulton-Peters: Support Moulton-Peters served on the Mill Valley City Council for 2 years and has been chair of the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM). She supports more housing, currently serving on the Mill Valley Housing Advisory Task Force, and continuous improvement of the transportation infrastructure. Moulton-Peters also is a champion of addressing the impacts of climate change and a healthy economy.