Perhaps overshadowed by the presidential primary, Tuesday’s California election saw a major win for a highly unique measure in the San Francisco Bay Area — one that could have big implications for regional approaches to solving environmental challenges like transportation and land use.
Measure AA was significant for two reasons: first, the $12 per parcel tax is likely the first in the nation to deal specifically with climate change impacts, as it dedicates the revenue, assessed across nine Bay Area counties, to help prepare for climate impacts and restoration on the San Francisco Bay. While much of the country pretends to ignore climate change science, Bay Area voters are actually setting aside money to prepare for it and protect the ecological and economic centerpiece of the region.
Second, and more importantly for other regions around the state, it’s the first time that multiple counties have gathered together with a two-thirds majority to raise money for a pressing environmental issue. Notably, the measure fell short of two-thirds support in some outlying counties, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, but overcame that deficit with strong support in core Bay counties.
With this successful model, regional advocates may try the same approach for other metropolitan challenges that require multi-county coordination, such as transportation measures and land use policies. And maybe one day Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties will proposal a multi-county measure to link downtown Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego with high speed rail — the best corridor for the choo-choo in all of the state (and slated to be the last section built under current plans).
The possibilities are fairly wide open, limited only by organizing and political support. But Measure AA shows that the model can work.