Bay Area voters made history on Tuesday by passing Measure AA, the region’s first ever nine-county ballot measure. The measure will raise $500 million over the next 20 years to clean, restore and protect the Bay and enhance its resilience against extreme storms and rising seas. The Yes-on-AA campaign demonstrated the awesome power of regional collaboration, as the coalition lead by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Resources Legacy Fund and Save the Bay crossed the finish line with an impressive 69 percent margin.
Success would not have been possible without the leadership of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the committed support of many Bay Area Council members, including PG&E, Facebook, TMG Partners, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Google, Kaiser Permanente, Hanson Bridgett, Dignity Health, Wells Fargo, AECOM, Recology and Dick and Barbara Rosenberg. Thanks also to San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, chair of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, which will oversee the many important projects funded by Measure AA.
“Absolutely nothing is more important to us than keeping the public safe. Joining efforts like this will protect our communities and enable PG&E to continue to provide the reliable service our customers count on to power their lives. We are a company with a strong and enduring commitment to the environment and combating climate change. It’s rooted in a commitment to our customers and to doing our work in a way that protects the vital species and habitats that call our service area home and that’s why we’re pleased to be joining this important effort.” Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President, PG&E; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee
“This was a tremendous multi-year team effort by business leaders, politicians, non-profits, environmental groups and media. A very satisfying victory, and the big winner is our San Francisco Bay. Thanks to all!” Andy Ball, President & CEO, Suffolk Construction West Region; Member, California Water Commission; Co-Chair, Bay Area Council Water Committee
“Measure AA provides critical funding to clean and restore San Francisco Bay, protecting and enhancing this irreplaceable and invaluable natural asset for generations to come. We were honored to partner with the Bay Area Council and other groups to pass Measure AA and continue a legacy of environmental stewardship.” Michael Mantell, President, Resources Legacy Fund
“The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors has long understood the need for the protection of Silicon Valley from tidal flooding. Our $1.5 million dollar investment in placing Measure AA on the ballot was to ensure that we continue to step up to protect Silicon Valley from the significant economic damage that would result from a tidal flood and cripple the region. Obviously, the voters agreed that tidal flood protection and restoration is something they should also invest in. On behalf of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, I want to congratulate the voters and all whom made this possible.” John Varela, Vice Chair, Santa Clara Valley Water District
“Facebook appreciates the Bay Area Council’s great work in leading the charge to pass this very important measure.” Juan Salazar, Public Policy Manager, Facebook
“Hanson Bridgett was proud to support Measure AA because it provides much needed funding to preserve our most precious asset, the Bay, while at the same time taking important measures to guard against the impact of climate change. That kind of long term thinking and acting is critical to making sure our region continues to thrive. The measure was also an important precedent for taking regional action at the ballot box for important projects that would not happen if we did not come together as a region.” Andrew Giacomini, Partner, Hanson Bridgett; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee
“Climate change represents perhaps the greatest challenge to human health and well-being that humanity has ever faced. Increasingly we must take practical steps toward managing many inevitable impacts. The Bay Area has now recognized the imperative of preparing for rising ocean levels.” Lloyd Dean, President & CEO, Dignity Health; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee
“As San Francisco’s hometown community bank since 1852, we were proud to support the campaign to protect and restore the bay. The Bay Area proved that when we come together, we can accomplish a lot.” Jim Foley, EVP and President, Pacific North Region, Wells Fargo Community Banking
“Recology was proud to stand with the Bay Area Council, to support and restore the San Francisco Bay.” Mike Sangiacomo, President & CEO, Recology; Member, Bay Area Council Board of Directors
A brief history of Measure AA
Measure AA was decades in the making. Prior to the Gold Rush, the San Francisco Bay had about 250,000 acres of thriving wetland habitat. By the 1960s, barely 20,000 acres survived. Then in 1966, with the support of the Bay Area Council, Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation creating the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) to halt the rampant destruction of Bay wetlands. In 1999, the San Francisco Estuary Institute released its landmark Baylands Goals report, detailing how the Bay needed 100,000 acres of wetlands to improve water quality and habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife. In 2003, Senator Dianne Feinstein negotiated the transfer of about 15,000 acres of salt ponds from Cargill for future wetland restoration.
In 2009, the California legislature created the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a special regional body tasked with raising local funds to restore the former Cargill Salt Ponds and other restoration opportunities across the nine county region. Meanwhile, mega storms in New Orleans and the Atlantic Coast highlighted the dangers of extreme storms and sea level rise, and the ability of green infrastructure, such as wetlands, to provide cost-effective flood defenses. These storms prompted a 2015 Bay Area Council Economic Institute study, Surviving the Storm, which estimated the region could suffer over $10 billion in economic damages during a 150-year storm event. The passage of Measure AA means millions will now be available to actively invest in and improve the health and security of the Bay shoreline for people and wildlife in all nine Bay Area counties.