Article Launched:08/10/2007 11:08:48 PM PDT
ROSS VALLEY FLOOD VOTE
Wow: I agree with Fielding
As a resident of Marin since 1967 and a homeowner since 1994, I often
have read and felt infuriated by many of the positions taken by
Fielding Greaves. I have come to expect it.
In a world where disagreement is a requirement of the human condition,
I have borne him no personal animosity but have found little common
ground with him - until now. In his Aug. 7 Marin Voice, he gives voice
to something with which I strongly agree - the sloppy, front-loaded,
politically predetermined flood election in the Ross Valley.
The conflicts and political strong-arming he alludes to is obvious to
anyone paying attention - except, perhaps, to those who have something
to gain from it. The design and implementation of this freak ballot and
the consequences of it are not intelligently arguable.
In my Oak Springs Drive neighborhood, we realized there was
insufficient water pressure to fight more than one fire at a time
should a tragic conflagration occur. As a neigborhood association, we
met with political, fire and water officials and agreed to cover a part
of the costs ourselves by assuming, voluntarily, a three-year property
tax assessment to help pay for bigger lines and pool pumps. We took
care of ourselves. The people in jeopardy in the defined flood zones
should consider taking parallel action on their own behalf.
Whether or not those property owners at most risk are ready to assume
this additional burden is only one aspect. The other is that the means
and mechanisms that were employed to pass the measure was unfair,
ill-conceived and fundamentally dishonest. And so, Fielding, you can be
and are right. I guess I'll need to take a step back and away from old
prejudices and take a more open look at your positions in the future.
We have agreed once; it could happen again.
David Reinstein, San Anselmo
Time to move forward
Perhaps too many words have been said and written over the flood fee
election results in the Ross Valley.
Accusations have been made that the county "hid the ball" to ensure
that the fee (averaging $125 per parcel) passed. Accusations have been
made that many who returned their ballots unsigned only failed to
follow the "simple" instructions that were clearly printed on the
The fact is the election was carried out as required by state law.The
requirements are strict and sometimes arcane. As with every election,
not everyone is pleased with the outcome. Rather than try the matter in
the courts of public opinion, the entire matter could better be
presented to the Superior Court for proper determination.
Meanwhile, in San Anselmo, we are continuing to prepare for winter,
with all its uncertainities. At the same time, we are completing
repairs totaling more than $1 million to our Town Hall and Fire
Department, while assisting residents who are still digging out and
rebuilding. Many more dollars and lots of sense still will be spent to
protect our town. It seems to me that the wisest use of our scarce
resources is to move ahead with the flood prevention work that was
approved by the hundreds of citizens who attended the three meetings
sponsored by Supervisor Hal Brown over the past 18 months.
Many valuable lessons have been learned. The entire experience, from
the terrifying early morning flood to the highly visible election
result, has been difficult for us all in at least one way or another.
Now is the time, while we are under clear skies, to move forward and
all work together to prepare for what might lie ahead.
Peter Breen, member,
San Anselmo Town Council
Supporter of Greene's lawsuit
Unless the proposed Ross Valley flood control measure also includes
landslide and erosion protection for hillside homes, I think the "fee"
is a bail-out (pun intended) for the owners of the 1,200 homes and 200
businesses who chose to live/work in a known flood zone.
I already have school bonds, school assessments, library, mosquito,
fire, paramedic, sanitary, fire-flow, etc., etc. tacked on to my basic
property tax bill. I do not want another 20-year "fee" added.
Another point: This proposed flood control measure wouldn't have
anything to do with the project to include restoration of steel-head
trout and coho salmon would it? If so, you can add another digit to the
$40 million price tag. And as much as I love trout and salmon, I'm not
willing to pay to restore nature - at least not by myself.
I will support attorney Ford Greene's lawsuit against this flood
Bert Dare, Greenbrae
Another flood fee solution
I have enjoyed reading the many letters concerning the Ross Valley
flood fee. It appears that those writers who have property that needs
the measure passed want the vote to stand, while those writers who own
property that don't need the measure passed feel that the voters truly
voted it down. I have an idea that could solve this debate without
having it go to court or having another vote.
Since the names already are on the ballots, why not let the voters who
voted "yes" pay, and the voters who voted "no" not pay. That way, those
who need this measure to pass will be the ones paying for it while
those who own property far away from the flooding would not have to
feel like they are subsidizing the flood insurance of those who chose
to live along the creeks. And for all those who didn't sign their
ballots, they could volunteer to pay the fee or not. This way the
measure could still move forward with those wanting and needing this
measure to pass paying for the fee.
Frank Matteucci, San Anselmo
'Stand by the vote'
Thank you for the Aug. 1 editorial concluding that the Ross Valley
storm drainage fee vote should stand. I read today (Aug. 6) that Ross
citizens support the storm drainage vote. I'm from Kent Woodlands. We
have been on record for a program of creek reconstruction and flood
protection, such as the storm drainage fee provides, for many years.
The election was conducted according to Proposition 218 and the measure
won. No unvoted ballots were counted; no voted ballots were uncounted.
A simple majority is a simple majority.
Where were Ford Greene and his tax protesters in the years Corte Madera
Where were they when the Army Corps "flood control project" of 1970
failed again and again to protect Ross Valley residents and businesses?
Where were they when a fine steelhead creek lost its fish because of
passage failure, silt and creek obstructions?
Where were they when citizens sought watershed wide flood protection
along the creek's length?
The storm drainage fee program was developed by county staff with
consultants who had guided other successful flood control and
environmental restoration projects. It took 40 years to produce this
program, and now, with a local cost share, federal and state support
can be expected to help fund the major needs of the creek while
protecting citizens in the flood plain.
Please, supervisors, stand by the vote. It was conducted according to
the rules. In 20 years, voters will be renewing it as a matter of self
Lindsay Merryman, Kentfield
Count the ballots
We believe that the unsigned Ross Valley flood ballots should be
counted. This whole process makes us feel like someone pulled a fast
one on us.
John and Ellen Weingart, Kentfield
Flood protection is vital
I live in an area of San Anselmo that does not flood. I voted in favor
of the flood fee because I want to protect property values and because
it is the right thing to do. I don't think our downtown merchants will
be able to financially survive the next flood. Without a vibrant
downtown, all of our property values will decrease. Voting for this fee
was the right thing to do because I care about the entire Ross Valley.
My support of this fee began to waver as I read the concerns about the
signature on the ballot. Once the IJ printed a copy of the ballot,
those concerns vanished. The directions to sign the ballot are clearly
stated on one side of the ballot; the actual signature line is very
clear on the other side of the ballot.
Many public hearings on the flood were held. Much was written about it
in the IJ. Information was mailed to property owners prior to the
ballot being mailed. The process used for the vote for the flood fee
The Ross Valley should now turn its attention to applying for grants
for the flood work. Let us not waste this opportunity to mitigate the
potential damage from the next flood.
Judy House, member,
San Anselmo Town Council
'Get rid of Hal Brown'
Let's have another election and get rid of Supervisor Hal Brown.
If Brown and his so called co-workers had been doing their jobs, they
would have funded flood mitigation projects years ago. If this is
really to benefit the entire county, the entire county should get to
vote on it and chip in for the cost. Heckuva job, Brown. You
cherry-picked and gerrymandered and sent out a half-baked ballot. The
best solution would be to get rid of Brown.
David Weinstock, retired FEMA flood planning specialist, Fairfax
Is SMART paying attention?
I have to admit, the whole flood tax/fee thing has been very
I wonder if the folks at SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) have
been paying attention. If they called their tax a fee, SMART would be
able to skip the whole annoying super-majority vote issue, and be able
to pass their tax, oops, I mean fee, with a simple majority. I also
hope the Franchise Tax Board isn't paying attention; I wouldn't want
them to get any bright ideas.
Also, since the county Department of Public Works is doing the job of
the Registrar of Voters, does this mean we can eliminate the
registrar's department from the county budget? Or perhaps, the
registrar is going to start maintaining Marin's infrastructure?
I'm surprised that the Registrar of Voters isn't furious with Hal Brown
and the Public Works' trespass into their (the registrar's) territory.
E. Anderson, Woodacre