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Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Bond Issue and Property Tax, Measure AA (June 2014)

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A Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Bond Issue and Property Tax, Measure AA ballot question was on the June 3, 2014 election ballot for voters in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, California, where it was likely approved by a very narrow margin.

Measure AA authorized the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to increase its debt by $300 million through issuing general obligation bonds in that amount. It also approved an increase to the district's tax rate by up to $3.18 per $100,000 of taxable property value to repay the bonds.[1]

A 2/3rds supermajority vote was required for approval of Measure AA.

Election results

ApprovedaMeasure AA
County: Yes No
Votes  % Votes  %
Santa Clara County 50,977 68.81% 23,109 31.19%
Santa Cruz County 1 50% 1 50%
San Mateo County 24,783 66.3% 12,606 33.7%
Totals: 75,761 67.96% 35,716 32.04%
These election results are from the Santa Clara County elections office, Santa Cruz County elections office and San Mateo County elections office

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

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?[1][2]

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:[1]

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?[2]

Impartial analysis

The following impartial analysis of Measure AA was prepared by the office of the county counsel:[1]

If approved by at least two-thirds of those voting on the measure, this measure will authorize the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (the “District”) to issue general obligation bonds in a maximum aggregate principal amount not exceeding $300,000,000. The bonds would constitute an indebtedness of the District.

The money raised through the sale of the bonds may only be used by the District for the purposes stated in the Expenditure Plan. Accountability measures required by State law would apply, including an annual report and establishment of a citizen oversight committee to verify annual expenditures of bond proceeds. The interest paid on the bonds and their terms to maturity will be limited by State law.

Payment of interest and principal relating to the bonds would be financed by a tax levied on real property within the District. The Tax Rate Statement for Measure AA which is printed in this ballot pamphlet provides information about that tax.

This measure was placed on the ballot by the District’s Board of Directors.

A “yes” vote on Measure AA is a vote to authorize the bonds to be issued and financed by ad valorem taxes levied on real property in the District.[3]

A “no” vote on Measure AA is a vote against issuing the proposed bonds.[2]

—By Jane M. Scott, Assistant County Counsel[1]


MediaCenter5, "Regional Open Space District Bond Measure AA Pros and Cons"

Fiscal analysis

The following fiscal analysis and tax statement was provided by the General Manager of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for Measure AA:[1]

An election will be held in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (the “District”) on June 3, 2014, to authorize the sale of up to $300 million in bonds of the District to provide public access and acquire, restore, and preserve open space throughout the District as described in the ballot measure. If the bonds are approved, the District expects to sell the bonds in several series over time. Principal and interest on the bonds will be payable from the proceeds of tax levies made upon the taxable property in the District. The information contained in numbered paragraphs 1 - 3 below is provided in compliance with sections 9400-9404 of the Elections Code of the State of California.

1. The best estimate of the tax which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue during the first fiscal year after the sale of the first series of bonds, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $1.00 per $100,000 of assessed valuation in fiscal year 2015-16.

2. The best estimate of the tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue during the first fiscal year after the sale of the last series of bonds, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $2.90 per $100,000 of assessed valuation in fiscal year 2044-45.

3. The best estimate of the highest tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $3.18 per $100,000 of assessed valuation in fiscal year 2034-35.

Voters should note that the estimated tax rates are based on the estimated ASSESSED VALUE of taxable property on the respective County’s official tax rolls, not on a property’s market value. Property owners should consult their own property tax bills to determine their property’s assessed value and any applicable tax exemptions.

Attention of all voters is directed to the fact that the foregoing information is based upon the District’s projections and estimates only, which are not binding upon the District. The actual tax rates and the years in which they will apply may vary from those presently estimated, due to variations from these estimates in the timing of bond sales, the amount of bonds sold and market interest rates at the time of each sale, and actual assessed valuations over the term of repayment of the bonds. The dates of sale and the amount of bonds sold at any given time will be determined by the District based on its needs for funds and other factors. The actual interest rates at which the bonds will be sold will depend on the bond market at the time of each sale. Actual future assessed valuation will depend upon the amount and value of taxable property within the District as determined by the respective County Assessor in the annual property value assessment process.[2]

—Stephen E. Abbors, General Manager Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District[1]

Support

"Yes on Measure AA" campaign logo

Supporters

There was an official "Yes on Measure AA" campaign called Yes For Open Space. A full list of the supporters of Measure AA can be found on the Yes For Open Space website under "Endorsements".[4]

The following individuals signed the official arguments in favor of Measure AA:[1]

  • Anna G. Eshoo
  • Carl Guardino
  • Karen Douglas
  • Margaret Aloe-Koga
  • Diane Talbert

The San Francisco Chronicle also endorsed a "yes" vote on Measure AA.[5]

Arguments in favor

Official arguments

The following was submitted as the official argument in favor of Measure AA:[1]

Once our natural areas are gone, they're gone for good.

Protecting and conserving natural resources and open space, including our unique redwood forests and coastal lands, is important now and for future generations.

Measure AA opens new places to walk, hike, and enjoy wildlife and nature.

Measure AA protects forests of old trees, incredible coastal views, local creeks and streams, and other natural areas.

Measure AA expands public access and usability into more of our protected areas, while carefully managing to conserve and sustain them for generations to enjoy.

Measure AA protects our redwood forests: the original "giants" of our area.

Measure AA protects local creeks and streams, a vital part of local water resources.

Measure AA preserves open views and coastal lands, which are critical anchors of our high quality of life.

Measure AA preserves local farms and ranches that sustain our agricultural heritage.

Measure AA adds more trails, and helps connect existing networks, like the Bay Trail.

There's broad support for Measure AA.

Business and technology leaders recognize that our area's natural character makes it a great place to live and work. Teachers know it's critical to protect our environment for future generations. Advocates for working families and housing appreciate that Measure AA enhances our natural areas and improves open space access and trails for all, including the disabled.

Independent citizen oversight and annual audits will ensure that the funds are used as promised.

It's a rare opportunity when a small investment can make such a big difference. We must pass Measure AA now to help save natural areas that cannot be replaced.

Please join Peninsula Open Space Trust, community members and local leaders: vote yes on AA.[2]

—Anna G. Eshoo, Carl Guardino, Karen Douglas, Margaret Aloe-Koga and Diane Talbert[1]

Opposition

Opponents

The following individuals signed the official arguments in opposition to Measure AA:[1]

  • Mark W.A. Hinkle, president of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association
  • Edward Leo Wimmers, chair of the Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County

Arguments against

Official arguments

The following was submitted as the official argument against Measure AA:[1]

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 any 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 as provided in its Section 3). The 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 those projects could be completed for the $300 million sought in the current bond measure.

Vote No on Measure AA.[2]

—Mark W.A. Hinkle and Edward Leo Wimmers[1]

Priority actions

According to the county's voter pamphlet information on Measure AA, the following is a list of priority actions that were designed to be funded by Measure AA, along with a map showing the location of each project:[1]

MidPenninsualMeasureAA2.png
MidPenninsualMeasureAA.png
A map showing the location of each priority project listed above by number

See also

External links

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Support

Opposition

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Santa Clara County Elections Department website, "June 3, 2014, ballot measures," accessed March 14, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  3. Note:The source document says, "...real property in the School District." The word "School" was added in error as noted at the bottom of the official document. Ballotpedia writers removed the word in compliance with the express wishes of the county counsel.
  4. Yes on Measure AA campaign website, accessed April 19, 2014
  5. San Francisco Chronicle online, "S.F. Chronicle endorsements for June 3 primary election," June 2, 2014