Election - June 3, 2014
San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties
Open Space Bonds
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
Summary of the ballot measure:
To improve access to hiking and biking opportunities, protect and preserve redwood forests, natural open spaces, the scenic beauty of our region and coastline, critical wildlife habitat, restore creeks to protect water quality, and reduce forest fire risk; shall Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District be authorized to issue up to $300 million in bonds, at a tax rate not to exceed $3.18 per $100,000 of assessed value of property owned, with expenditures verified by an independent citizen oversight committee?
that's 300 million dollars!
SVTA recommends a NO vote against Measure AA.
Every local government entity probably would like to have the authority to borrow money (by selling bonds) for any number of current and future projects.
Keep in mind, however, that borrowed money must be repaid - with interest. California "general obligation" bonds are guaranteed for repayment by the accompanying authority to raise property taxes.
Under the language of this measure, there is no telling how the $300 million will be used (except generally to purchase and maintain open space areas such as provided in its Section 3). This section refers to an "Expenditure Plan" containing "priority actions" with lots of possible projects; however, no project is assured.
Another concern is that this measure contains no limitation on when the bonds may be sold. This is important because the projected tax rate is based on current interest rates. Years from now, if interest rates go up, the bonds authorized by this measure could be sold and pay interest as high as state law allows (currently 12% per year). The total cost of the borrowing could soar.
Proponents should address the above-stated concerns and explain to voters:
(1) just how the Open Space District has been spending its current budget of more than $30 million per year,
(2) how much money each of the many possible projects listed in the current Expenditure Plan would cost, and
(3) how many of these projects could be completed for the $300 million sought in the current bond measure.
Or think about this for a moment:
This government agency claims it will require $300,000,000 to turn an unused piece of land into an unused piece of land.
For billions of years, Nature has traditionally performed this service for free; however, our local bureaucrats have found a way to make this freebie mind blowingly expensive.
Where would this money go to then if not to fulfill the District's mission statement of "...making a preserve system of diverse and unparalleled beauty" you ask? Answer: "Provide parking areas" and "Add welcome center." Seriously, that's what this money is for.
It is already illegal for the private sector to buy and develop anything on the Open Space District's property so the rejection of this proposed bond (and its enormous cost) will continue to preserve this land for the future.
Ironically, this measure passes, then animals' habitats will be torn from the ground to make way for construction crews and equipment. Not only will the passage of this bond put the region into nearly a half-billion dollars in debt but it also guarantees that wild and indigenous species will be selectively destroyed to make way for the government's contractors and builders. We are talking about years upon years of this type of activity, if this measure passes.
The people behind this bond measure are supposed to be stewards of our green spaces; now they want to tear them up by handing out ridiculously lucrative contracts to the heavy construction industry.
Here are some examples of the construction projects, and their costs, they have planned:
- El Sereno: Dog trails = $2,254,000
- Establish safe corridors for mountains crossing Highway 17 = $13,966,000
- Sierra Azul: Develop parking = $6,714,000
- Equestrian trails and parking = $17,478,000
- Sierra Azul: Family Recreation with parking = $10,078,000
- El Corte de Madera Creek: develop trail system leading to parking area = $8,376,000
- La Honda Creek: reintroduce conservation grazing = $11,733,000
- La Honda Creek/Russian Ridge: provide additional public use facilities = $15,347,000
- Rancho San Antonio: bus service or additional parking = $10,811,000
- Long Ridge: Improve roadside parking & provide restrooms = $5,140,000
- Cloverdale Ranch: increase conservation grazing = $15,712,000
And these are just a few of the construction projects they have planned.
You may read the Full Text, Arguments, Rebuttal Arguments, and Impartial Analysis of Measure A
at the web site of the County Elections Office: here.
Paid for by the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association PAC.