Santa Venetia Flood Control District 7 parcel tax, Measure D (June 2010)

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A Santa Venetia Flood Control District 7 parcel tax, Measure D ballot proposition was on the June 8, 2010 ballot for voters in the Santa Venetia Flood Control District in Marin County, where it was defeated.[1]

Measure D, if approved by voters, would have imposed a $530/year parcel tax for 10 years on properties in Santa Venetia Flood Control District 7. A $4,000 tax per acre would have been levied on multi-family residential parcels, and $800 per acre for unimproved parcels. It was anticipated that the tax would have generated $4.6 million.

If Measure D had passed, the flood control district would have used funds generated by the new tax to pay for construction of Pump Station 2 and Estancia Ditch improvements. The Las Gallinas Creek levee would have also been evaluated using Measure D funds. In addition, capital improvement and reserve fund accounts maintained by the district would have been replenished.[2]

Measure D required a 2/3rds supermajority vote for enactment. About 787 households were in the region that would have been affected by the tax.[2]

Election results

Measure D
Defeatedd No55871.26%
Yes 225 28.74%
These final, certified results are from the Marin County elections office.


At the time of the Measure D defeat, Santa Venetia was an unincorporated community east of San Rafael. It was built on fill over bay mud. Bay mud is compressible and the original fill had a low initial elevation. As a result, the area has sunk and was below sea level. This put homes in the area at an increased risk of tidal flooding. At the time of this election, the flood control zone in existence as a local taxing authority was created in 1962.

Five pump stations and two levees had been installed in the flood zone from 1962-2010.

A portion of the property taxes paid by all property owners with property in the flood control district went toward funding the flood control zone, averaging about $315 per year per household, and totalling about $250,000 altogether.

Because of the heightened flood risk, homeowners in the area also paid an average of about $1,500/year in flood insurance.


Michael Perani was the chairman of the committee to approve Measure D. Arguments he made for a "yes" vote included:

  • Residents of the flood zone might see a reduction in their annual flood insurance bills if FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Authority) believes that improvements in flood control infrastructure are sufficient to reduce the odds of flooding in the zone: "If all of your infrastructure meets this 100-year flood requirement, your wheels are greased. You have some attractive discounts on your flood insurance. People go 'why does it take $2.4 million to replace this pump?' The reason is we're building it for the long haul."[2]
  • Upgrading the flood control infrastructure will have help the long-term value of homes in the district.


"Vote No on D" lawn sign, hand-made of 100% recycled cardboard. The sign features a silhouette of a California Clapper Rail.

Robert Dobrin was opposed to Measure D, and had helped organize an opposition group, "WaterShedYes." This group argued:

  • The proposed $530/year tax is more than 4 times the $125 average in the Ross Valley. In the Ross Valley, flood control risk is managed with an integrated approach that includes both flood control and habitat restoration measures.[3]
  • Whether Measure D would work in terms of reducing flood risk and reducing insurance bills is speculative. A wiser approach would be to emulate the approach used in Ross Valley.
  • Dobrin says: "When I talk to people I tell them three things: it's unfair, its unwise and it's uncontrolled."[2]
  • From the "WaterShedYes.Com" website: "Santa Venetia is home to Gallinas Creek, one of the greatest, and least appreciated natural assets in all of Marin County–the Las Gallinas Watershed. These pages advocate a comprehensive, natural approach to flood protection that looks to the future. In order to make this vision a reality for our watershed, we must send a clear message that we want to leave the failed policies of the past behind. Measure D is unfair to Santa Venetia, funds 1950s projects and lacks adequate financial controls."

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

"Shall a special tax be levied within Zone 7 for 10 years to fund construction of Pump Station 2 and Estancia Ditch improvements, evaluation of the Las Gallinas Creek levee, and replenishment of capital improvement and emergency reserves in the amount of $530.00 per parcel per year for improved residential parcels, $4000.00 per acre per year for multi-family residential parcels with five or more living units and improved commercial parcels, and $800.00 per acre per year for unimproved parcels?"[4]

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