Election - November 6, 2012
Santa Clara County

Measure B:
Santa Clara Valley Water District
Special Tax
(approx. half a billion dollars)

SVTA recommends a NO vote
against Measure B.

Summary of Measure B:

Safe, Clean Water Program
  • Ensure safe, reliable water supply;
  • Reduce toxins, hazards and contaminants in waterways;
  • Protect water supply and dams from earthquakes and natural disasters;
  • Restore wildlife habitat and provide open space;
  • Provide flood protection to homes, schools and businesses;
  • Provide safe, clean water in creeks and bays.

ou may read the Full Text and Impartial Analysis of Measure B here.

SVTA is concerned about Measure B:

The only part of Santa Clara County outside the five "flood control zones" is the remote area beyond Mount Hamilton. So you pay for "flood control" undefined no matter how high or dry your home.

SCVWD says the expiring tax has "helped reduce the flood threat" for only 16,000 parcels.    
Shouldn't the 1% who buy flood-prone property fund their own flood protection, instead of burdening the 99% who don't?

The tax is also supposed to "ensure safe, reliable water supply." However, SCVWD already directly bills those who buy its water or pump from its aquifers. Shouldn’t improvements to water’s (or any product’s) reliability and quality be reflected in its price, in order to promote conservation and efficient use? That’s not how SCVWD sees it; they sell water to farmers at a 90% discount.

Civil Grand Jury reports have criticized SCVWD over their high salaries and wasteful spending.  In Gold Street Education Center: $1.38M for What?, theCivil Grand Jury reported, "Educational efforts should no longer be masqueraded as Environmental Enhancements." They even noted the center was built adjacent to a trailer park owned by a SCVWD director's family.

In 2000, jurors reported in SCVWD Awash in Cash as County and Cities Drown in Red Ink, that the District "polled the public on price points and found $39 would be what voters would accept. Program funding was NOT based on the cost of needed projects." 
 Is SCVWD spending money on polls again?  Yes: at least $27,000 already!

Last time, District employees failed to report 75% of pro-tax contributions, thus were fined $24,000.
Last time, tax proponents told us that this parcel tax "will end in 15 years."
This time, what part of what the tax proponents are telling us will prove false, in hindsight?  How many Civil Grand Jury reports will it take, for this agency to tell us the truth?

You can be FOR clean water and AGAINST against Measure B. Tell SCVWD to be fiscally responsible: Vote NO on B.

 Argument in Favor of Measure A
 Argument Against Measure A

Vote YES on Measure B to ensure safe, reliable local water supply in the Santa Clara Valley, without increasing tax rates.

Measure B is needed to:

  • Ensure a safe, reliable water supply
  • Reduce toxins, hazards and contaminants in our waterways
  • Provide clean, safe water in local creeks and bays
  • Protect our water supply and dams from earthquakes and natural disasters
  • Provide flood protection to homes, schools and businesses
  • Restore wildlife habitat and provide open space access

Measure B does not increase tax rates; it simply renews existing local funding.

Seventeen streams and 7 reservoirs in Santa Clara County have been designated "impaired" due to pollutants like mercury and PCBs in fish and the water. Without increasing tax rates, Measure B will renew local funding needed to continue improving water quality in our creeks and reservoirs - and track annual progress to ensure our water stays clean.

Measure B will allow the Santa Clara Valley Water District to bring in $400 million in federal and state matching funds to stimulate our local economy, create 3000 new jobs, and expand the focus of the current program of protecting local creeks and waterways to fund additional water supply, pollution cleanup and earthquake safety improvements.

By investing in long-term water supply projects in Santa Clara Valley, like retrofitting Anderson Dam so it's earthquake safe, Measure B will protect the community from water shortages during an extended drought.

If local funding is not renewed, a lack of funding will slow down or end many current programs that fight toxins and contaminants in waterways and protect homes and businesses.

Measure B requires mandatory annual audits and independent fiscal oversight by a citizens' monitoring committee to ensure all funds are spent as promised. Measure B includes exemptions for senior citizens.

Vote YES on B to ensure our safe, reliable, local water supply - without increasing tax rates.

Margaret MacNiven
Board President, Committee for Green Foothills

Carl Guardino
President & CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

A. Yiaway Yeh; Mayor, City of Palo Alto

Neil Struthers
CEO, Santa Clara County Building Trades Council

Don Eagleston
President/CEO Sunnyvale/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce

Balanced funding between flood control, water supply and stream restoration is a good thing. It's also good to restore our Santa Clara County creeks to be "living streams" - full of fish and wildlife that once lived here in profusion and with opportunities for us all to enjoy these streams.

Sadly, the proposed tax doesn't provide this. The best way to fund flood control and stream restoration is to vote NO on this tax measure. This will send the Water District back to come up with a better plan before 2016 - when the current tax expires. We have time for a better plan!

The Water District could restore our creeks AND provide valued flood control and water supply services. But repeatedly, the Water District votes to make the environment low priority - diverting environmental funds to other programs and breaking their environmental agreements. For example, between 2000 and 2012, they took 60% ($15.7 million) of the environmental restoration revenues collected from taxpayers and didn't spend it on environmental projects. The new tax will slide those environmental reserves into other projects instead. Then they will collect another $15 million to do the same work that tax payer dollars in reserves were originally committed to do. Outrageous! Another example: in 2003, the District initialed an agreement to restore the trout fishery on three major streams. Then they found loop holes that allowed them to not honor their commitments.

The Water District does some good projects - just enough to fill their public relations brochures. But they cover up that they didn't do most of what they promised. If you want to see our creeks restored in our lifetimes and see better balance between flood control and stream restoration, then vote NO on Measure B!

See http://www.envirosforlivingstreams.org for more information.

Richard K. McMurtry
Former Water Resources Engineer/Treasurer, Environmentalists for Living Streams

Lawrence M. Johmann
President, Western Waters Canoe Club

Rebuttal to
Argument in Favor of Measure B

Rebuttal to
Argument Against Measure B

Our community wants clean water, flood protection and healthy streams. Unfortunately, Measure B won't deliver on its promises and deserves a "NO" vote.

The Water District' "YES" argument emphasizes a safe reliable water supply - because that's what people care most about - but turns around and doesn't put much of the budget into that purpose. They emphasize pollutants, but don't focus their budget on the programs likely to really improve water quality. Environmental goals are left vague and without the budget to accomplish significant change. They try to reassure us by citing the citizen's oversight committee. But the citizen's committee for the existing tax made recommendations recently to protect $15.7 million of environmental restoration reserves. Dismissing those recommendations, the District voted instead to distribute those reserves amongst the new tax's projects.

In response to a year's letters and expert testimony on how to write a strong, effective water-related measure focused on getting things done, the District made only minor changes and rejected most of the environmental community 's major recommendations.

The Sierra Club and Audubon Society have debated (sometimes heatedly) whether or not to endorse Measure B. Why? Because some see that the Water District hasn't kept their environmental commitments and is not likely to (without major change). Check our website (http://www.EnvirosForLivingStreams.org) or theirs to see what they finally decided.

Vote NO on Measure B. Send the District back to the drawing board to write a balanced ballot measure we can trust - before the existing tax expires in 2016.

Richard K. McMurtry
Former Water Resources Engineer;
Treasurer, Environmentalists for Living Streams

Lawrence M. Johmann
President, Western Waters Canoe Club

We're all committed friends of the environment. We're also committed to providing a safe, clean water supply. We share our opponents' passion for protecting and restoring habitat.

Opposing Measure B is simply irresponsible. Our local water district may not be perfect, but it does more for environmental protection than any other water agency in California. Measure B funds support many critical environmental improvements. Measure B is the ONLY source of funding for local environmental programs that we and our opponents are equally passionate about.

More importantly, Measure B isn't just about environmental protection. Urgent water supply and safety projects cannot wait.

We ALL care about ensuring a safe, clean water supply for our region's future. Toxin removal improves people's health as well as birds and fish. Some local dams and aging water supply pipelines are seismically inadequate and unprepared for earthquakes and natural disasters. We cannot delay these projects.

Finally, we CANNOT wait until 2016 to pass Measure B. That's flat-out false. By then, local funding will have expired, and many vital local water supply and clean-up projects (including environmental programs) will have stopped or disappeared completely. We will have delayed urgent seismic upgrades for no good reason.

It would be irresponsible to defeat this important measure because a few special interests think it isn't perfect. Measure B is vitally important to ensuring a safe, clean future supply. Passing it now is urgent. It cannot wait.

Please join us: vote Yes on B for safe, clean water.

Rod Diridon, Sr.
Chair, Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters
Supervisor, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors,
Retired Executive Director, Mineta Transportation Institute

Herman Garcia
President, Coastal Habitat Education and Environmental Restoration (CHEER)

Frederick J. Ferrer; CEO, Health Trust

Clark Williams
Director, Santa Clara County Open Space Authority
Vice-Chair, Santa Clara County Democratic Party

Matt Mahood
President/CEO San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce

Paid for by the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association PAC.

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