Marin IJ

Time to vote for flood control fee

Marin Independent Journal
Article Launched:05/31/2007 11:07:01 PM PDT

That well-worn statement applies to the flood control fee now in 15,000 voters' hands in the Ross Valley.

They have until June 25 to get their ballots back to the county elections office; the average annual fee will be $125 for single-family residences with a cap of $180. Fees for condos are less; commercial property owners will pay more.

We urge all property owners to vote. We support the much-needed and long-overdue effort to curb flooding in the Ross Valley.

Vote today. Don't procrastinate. Mark that ballot and drop it in the mail. There is no benefit to waiting; the county won't count the ballots until June 25, but getting them early will allow election staff to have the ballots prepared and make the vote count go much faster. Voting now also will eliminate any chance of your ballot not arriving in time. Remember: It must arrive at the county by June 25 - not be postmarked by that date.

The need to reduce flooding in the Ross Valley is clear. Officials have been trying to do something on a regional level for nearly 50 years. Marin Supervisor Hal Brown, who represents much of the Ross Valley, estimates there have been a dozen or so failed attempts.

The devastating flooding on New Year's Eve 2005 provided the momentum that produced this flood fee. Brown deserves credit for not letting this issue slip off the front burner. He has convinced colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to spend $500,000 on a modeling study and other work needed to get the ball rolling. The county also has committed a flood engineer to the project full time. Those have been important investments. They need to be validated.

Environmental and watershed groups have climbed on the bandwagon, as have 19 of 20 members of the four city and town councils in the valley. San Anselmo and Fairfax even rejoined the local flood control district after pulling out in the early 1970s over this very issue.

Many warring factions have managed to bury the hatchet and come together behind this flood plan. But for it to work, for change to come to the Corte Madera Creek watershed, for downtowns to stay dry in huge storms, this flood fee must be passed. It will raise about $2 million a year for the next 20 years and will enable the county and flood district to secure additional money from state and federal sources for a series of projects.

The threat of flooding seems abstract on pleasant, sunny days. We urge property owners who have not voted to remember what it was like in the days and weeks and months after floodwaters did more than $100 million in damage to homes and businesses 18 months ago. Many local businesses and homeowners are still repairing the damage.

The Ross Valley will flood again - it's a matter of how soon, not if. Now is the time to take real action.

After all, if not now, when?

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