Marin IJ

Vote 'yes' on the Ross Valley flood 'fee'

Marin Independent Journal
Article Launched:04/12/2007 11:07:17 PM PDT

NO ONE should be surprised that there are local property owners objecting to another tax - this one to help the remedy flooding that all too often damages the Ross Valley.

But without this tax and the improvements it will pay for, flooding inevitably will strike the valley again, repeating the loss of property and setting back the local economy. The most recent floods - on New Year's Eve 2005, when stormwaters escaped the banks of local creeks - turned several into rivers of destruction.

In May, property owners in the Ross Valley area will be asked to endorse a special fee. This fee will cover each property owner's share of the proposed improvements. The average charge, based on an estimate of each property's contribution to local drainage, is $125.

This fee goes to the greater good: Protecting Ross Valley homes, businesses and government properties. The government properties, remember, are owned by all of us.

Those who object to the fee offer various reasons. Two of the most common: That there should be a senior-citizens exemption or discount, and that the fee should require a two-thirds majority for passage, the same required for most local tax measures.

Interestingly, there has been little objection to the plan itself, which seeks to strike a balance between flood protection and environmental conservation.

While senior-citizen exemptions are offered on most school taxes, this proposed fee is different. With school taxes, the theory is that seniors already have paid taxes and that they are unlikely to have school-aged kids. The exemption has helped sell school taxes; seniors, a solid core of Marin voting population, can easily vote for a tax they don't have to pay.

This flood fee is different. It is based on each property's estimated drainage and for improvements that benefit all residents, regardless of age. Remember, property that is not in a major flood zone still contributes water to potential flooding in the form of runoff. That property is part of the problem, and needs to be part of the solution.

Protecting downtown San Anselmo means a great deal to the local economy and to local residents. A thriving marketplace is much more appealing than a flooded disaster zone.

More than 15,000 Ross Valley property owners will be asked to vote on this tax. These are property owners who rely on their downtowns and its shop owners for services.

The Ross Valley flood-protection fee is important to each and every property owner and resident in the area.

It is time for effective action to prevent recurring flooding. That's why the IJ has supported Ross Valley leaders' hard work in putting together a flood-protection plan and is asking all property owners to vote for it. 

Hub Law Offices 711 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo, California 94960-1949 415-258-0360