By Wade Holland | 10/10/2018 —
Bolinas will vote on Measure X, an advisory vote to urge the county to restrict overnight parking downtown in order to force out vehicles being used for human habitation. I’m not taking a position on this item, because it is the opinions of the residents of Bolinas that matter in this non-binding measure. Stinson Beach residents should vote yes on their fire district’s appropriations limit override, which will ensure that all tax revenues intended for the district are distributed by the county to the district.
The most intriguing local issue is Measure W, which asks that we authorize an increase from 10 percent to 14 percent in the transient occupancy tax on overnight accommodations in West Marin. The estimated $1.3 million in annual revenue will be split evenly between local fire departments and affordable housing initiatives. It requires a two-thirds majority to pass. I’m disappointed that instead of a spirited give-and-take discussion of the issues surrounding this proposal, the opposition has focused on polemics that are largely irrelevant and border on the incoherent. If you don’t see it in the letters to the editor, see the voter handbook’s mishmash of non sequiturs and rehashes of old grievances (especially the truculent “Rebuttal to argument in favor of Measure W”). Measure W may not be perfect, but it’s a fairly ingenious and painless way to generate a significant amount of revenue for two worthwhile causes that resonate with residents throughout West Marin. Vote yes on W.
Now let’s get back to those troublesome, but in some cases very important, state ballot propositions. I recommend no votes on Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 7; all the others deserve yes votes.
Voting yes on Props. 1 and 2 expresses support for affordable housing, with Prop. 2 targeting housing for mentally ill homeless people. Prop. 4, equally worthwhile, is a $1.5-billion bond measure to fund grants for construction, expansion, renovation and equipping of nonprofit and public children’s hospitals. Who could say no to hospitals dedicated to the care of children?
Prop. 8 aims to put the brakes on runaway profiteering in dialysis clinics. Experience within my own family has shown how dialysis has become one of the medical industry’s most lucrative gravy trains (mostly from Medicare dollars!), so I support Prop. 8.
Prop. 10 would restore to local governments the authority to enact rent control laws. It doesn’t impose rent control anywhere, but it does seem reasonable to allow the citizens of individual cities and counties to make these decisions.
Prop. 11 is a narrow measure that allows private-sector ambulance employees to remain on-call while on rest and meal breaks. If you need an ambulance, you assume it will be dispatched immediately, not when the driver’s snack break is over.
Prop. 12 asks voters to set specific standards for the sizes of cages in which certain farm animals are confined (chickens, veal calves and pigs, in particular). This measure became necessary because of the omission of objective standards in previous voter-approved restrictions on confinement of animals on industrial-scale farms, and we should pass it.
There are four state measures we should oppose. I am convinced by the California Sierra Club’s vigorous opposition to Prop. 3’s water bonds. The club said the proposition “flies in the face of good governance by being written behind the scenes by those who would gain funds from it.” Bonds for statewide infrastructure projects should be put together through the legislative process, not behind closed doors by “pay-to-play” special interests who hire signature gatherers to shoehorn their self-serving handiwork onto the ballot. As the Sierra Club notes, the measure contains no provision for legislative oversight of how funds are spent or of the efficacy of the programs it would create. It even takes away revenues from other worthwhile endeavors, such as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and gives that money to the Metropolitan Water District and Central Valley agribusiness water agencies. Vote no on Prop. 3.
The real estate industry is behind Prop. 5, claiming piously that its intent is to enable homeowners over 55 to keep their existing home’s property tax savings when they move to a different home. While that may be true on some scale, the proposition’s real beneficiaries are real-estate speculators who would be unleashed to churn houses indefinitely without ever incurring property tax reassessments. Savings for these investors would come at the expense of billions of dollars in lost property-tax income to schools and local government. No on 5.
Prop. 6 misuses the initiative process. In 2017, our state legislators for once proved themselves to be the adults in the room by passing a long-overdue increase in fuel and vehicle taxes to address chronic shortfalls in funds for maintaining the state’s increasingly decrepit roads, highways and transit programs. In a move of Trumpian cynicism and hubris, a cohort of mostly Republican politicos, rallied by gubernatorial candidate John Cox, paid signature gatherers to place Prop. 6 on the ballot to repeal the increased taxes. They even had the gall to make their measure a constitutional amendment that would lock their dirty work into place should it pass. This proposition would cost the state $5.1 billion in annual revenues and accelerate the deterioration of all elements of California’s transportation infrastructure. Don’t be beguiled into saving a few pennies at the pump; you’ll pay much more in the long run as roads crumble and traffic gridlock becomes endemic. Please do the responsible thing and vote no on 6.
Prop. 7 asks us to tell the legislature whether we want California to solicit the federal government for permission to adopt year-round daylight savings time (to do so would then require a two-thirds vote in the legislature). When year-round D.S.T. was tried nationwide in 1974, it proved very unpopular and was quickly abandoned, largely because in the dead of winter parents became alarmed that they were packing their children off to school before sunrise. Prop. 7 seems a waste of space on the ballot and should be rejected.
Wade Holland, the Light’s copy editor, is a 48-year resident of Inverness.