By Susan Gorin, First District Supervisor
Ahhh, Fall – walking on crunchy yellow and brown leaves, watching pumpkins appear on our porches… and election signs sprouting in our yards and along our highways. The Board of Supervisors are always politically involved, and I hope you read the following to understand how Measure M and Proposition 6 will significantly affect Sonoma Valley and the County.
Yes on Measure M
This election season, there is an opportunity for us to solve a problem together that we’ve been working on for years. Measure M proposes to fix and maintain important parks infrastructure while allowing for new trails and park features to be added, many of which have been in the pipeline for years. If passed with two-thirds of the vote countywide, Measure M would generate approximately $11.5 million annually for our county and city parks.
What is Measure M? It’s a one-eighth cent sales tax (0.125%) to support Sonoma County Regional Parks and city park systems for 10 years. The tax would apply to all areas of Sonoma County. A 0.125% tax would add just 3¢ to the cost of a $25 restaurant meal and 6 cents to the cost of a $50 gift card.
If adopted by Sonoma County voters, two-thirds of the funds collected would be spent on Sonoma County Regional Parks and one-third would be shared by Sonoma County’s cities to maintain and improve city parks. The measure would require that revenue be added to – rather than replace or reduce – existing funding for parks and recreation. A 7-person citizens’ advisory commission would oversee the annual expenditure of funds to ensure proper oversight and use of the money for parks and recreation projects.
How will the First District benefit? Individual cities will determine how best to prioritize their funding projects. In the City of Sonoma, Measure M can fund things like improved bathroom facilities on the square, or more recreation programs for seniors.
In Santa Rosa,we can look towards restoring the park in the damaged Coffey Park neighborhood, and to building and maintaining bike and pedestrian trails that enable better connectivity throughout the County. What’s more, after Prop 68’s success in June, we would be in the ideal circumstance to leverage other funds for future parks and open space, such as the Southeast Greenway.
Sonoma County Regional Parks will use the funds to maintain parks, trails and open spaces, reduce the risk of future wildfires, protect wildlife habitats and fisheries, open new parks, and improve access to Regional Parks for all county residents. Major improvements are planned to fields at Maxwell Farms, Larson, Ernie Smith and Arnold Fields, and other parks in Sonoma Valley. There is development of new sections of Class 1 bike paths including the Sonoma Valley Trail (from Santa Rosa to Kenwood) in the works. And the Regional Parks Department is also committed to opening Mark West Regional Park where we continue to work towards land stewardship and wildfire protection plans.
No on Proposition 6
The number one issue I hear about from constituents is the deplorable condition of our roads. We are moving forward with even more road projects this year as we are receiving the benefit of additional gas tax revenue that we pay at the pumps.
Repeal of the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (current law SB1) would prevent the Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works from completing many projects already in progress. It would also at least delay and likely inhibit work on the backlog of deferred maintenance and other scheduled improvements, including repair of damaged pavement and potholes, cleaning and repair of road signs, removal of roadside vegetation, and repair of slip outs and landslides.
Although the County is prohibited from election advocacy, it is able to educate the community on how we are using the revenue from this SB1. You will soon see informational roadside signs at SB1 project locations over the coming months to let you know what roads are being financed by the gas tax.
In the coming year, the County is anticipating the use of SB1 funds to help maintain and rehabilitate our inventory of 1,380 miles of roads and 328 bridges. Other substantial projects with direct benefit from SB1 include two high-intensity activated crosswalk beacons (HAWKs), the Chico Avenue road paving and pedestrian improvement project, over 15 miles of re-surfaced roads, roadside drainage improvements, and the replacement of 13 culverts, which prevent flooding and damage to roads and private property. Absent alternative funding, these projects would not be possible without support from SB1.
A list of SB1 supported projects in the 1st District include pavement preservation on Grove Street, Los Alamos Road and Wallace Road and maintenance on Porter Creek Road, Arnold Drive, Mountain Road, and Bonness Road.
These revenues are essential to provide the services and infrastructure we need. Please vote to support a better future for Sonoma County.