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Tuesday March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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Special District

Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority
Measure C - 2/3 Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


75,638 votes yes (70.8%)

31,200 votes no (29.2%)

100% of precincts reporting (152/152).

111,147 ballots counted.

To support coordinated wildfire prevention including early detection, warning and alerts; reducing vegetation; ensuring defensible space around homes, neighborhoods and critical infrastructure; and improving disaster evacuation routes/procedures; shall the Marin Wildfire Prevention Measure, levying up to 10¢ per building square foot tax ($75 per multifamily unit or as described in the full measure) for ten years, providing $19,300,000 annually, with annual inflation adjustments, independent citizen oversight/audits, and low-income senior exemptions, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Impartial analysis / Proposal

In 2019, 17 Marin County agencies with fire prevention responsibilities formed the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority (“MWPA”) through a Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement. MWPA’s mission is to organize and sustain local wildfire detection, preparedness, and prevention efforts. The special tax proposed by Measure C would be used to fund MWPA for ten years.

If this Measure is approved by two-thirds of the votes cast on this special tax proposal, the County of Marin, through the taxing authority of the 17 fire protection agencies, will be authorized to levy an annual special tax within the jurisdiction of the MWPA member entities. The MWPA members are:

• Southern Marin Fire Protection District
• Novato Fire Protection District
• Stinson Beach Fire Protection District
• Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District
• Kentfield Fire Protection District
• Bolinas Fire Protection District
• Marinwood Community Services District
• Muir Beach Community Services District
• Inverness Public Utility District
• Town of Fairfax
• Town of San Anselmo
• Town of Ross
• Town of Corte Madera
• City of Larkspur
• City of San Rafael
• City of Mill Valley
• County of Marin (including County Service Areas
13, 19 and 31)

If approved, the County will levy a special tax of 10 cents per building square foot for improved commercial and residential parcels, $75 per unit for multi-family residential (3 or more units), and $25, $100, or $150 per parcel depending on acreage for unimproved parcels on all parcels of real property in the fire protection jurisdiction of the MWPA member entities, as described in the full measure. This proposed tax would begin on July 1, 2020, last for a period of 10 years, and would be subject to an annual increase to adjust for inflation of no more than 3% per year.

The estimated revenue from this tax is approximately $19,300,000 annually. This Measure states that proceeds of the tax will be placed in a special fund for use solely for the purpose of providing wildfire protection and prevention services with the member entities’ fire protection jurisdictions, including vegetation management, wildfire detection, alert and evacuation system improvements, grants, public education, and defensible space and home hardening evaluations. Proceeds would be controlled locally, reviewed by an independent citizens’ oversight committee, and subject to independent annual audits.

The Measure provides that certain property owners over 65 years of age may obtain an exemption from the special tax. The Measure also creates an exemption from the special tax for parcels which are classified by County Assessor Use Codes 12, 13, 15 and 53-90. This Measure was placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Marin, at the request of the 17 member entities.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

Vote Yes on C - the Marin Wildfire Prevention Measure - to help protect Marin from the very real threat of wildfire.

So far Marin has escaped a major fire. However with longer, hotter, drier fire seasons combined with abundant natural vegetation, the need for coordinated fire prevention is crucial.

Wildfire can start in one place and quickly spread. Even if your property is fire safe, you may be at risk if adjacent properties or communities are not protected.

Destructive, fatal wildfires in Sonoma, Paradise and elsewhere taught us that we must act now to prevent wildfires, save lives, protect our environment during fire emergencies.

Vote Yes on C to create a coordinated wildfire prevention program to:
• Improve emergency alert and fire warning systems
• Improve evacuation routes and infrastructure for quicker, safer evacuations
• Reduce hazardous vegetation and protect native species using environmentally-responsible practices
• Expand defensible space and fire safety inspections
• Protect roads, bridges, power and communication lines, schools, police and fire stations
• Provide support for seniors, low-income homeowners and people with disabilities needing assistance to keep their homes fire resistant
• Expand neighborhood wildfire safety and preparedness programs

Measure C requires mandatory accountability protections:
• All funds must be spent locally for wildfire prevention and preparedness only
• By law, no funds can be taken by the State
• An independent citizens’ oversight committee ensures funds are spent properly
• Low-income senior citizens are eligible for an exemption from the cost

Without Measure C, the growing risk of wildfire will increase the cost of homeowners’ insurance by more than the cost of this measure. Insurance companies may stop offering fire insurance.

Join Marin’s fire chiefs, elected leaders, business and environmental leaders, civic leaders and the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers (CO$T) in supporting Measure C to protect property and save lives!

Congressperson, 2nd District

Ann Batman, Co-President

Linda J. Novy, President

Richard Shortall, President

Marin County Fire Chief

Arguments AGAINST

“Never let a crisis go to waste.” Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff to former President Obama.

Northern California has been hit hard by devastating fires in the past few years. Nearly everyone knows someone who’s been affected. While it is necessary to do everything possible to prevent future tragedies, the Marin County Board of Supervisors (BOS) is exploiting our grief to enact this unnecessary tax.

Marin’s tax revenues have exceeded inflation the past few years. Expected revenue is up more than $25 Million this year, far more than this new tax is projected to raise. The BOS should prioritize fire prevention in its budget over elective programs.

There is ample revenue from other taxes already. There is a fire flow fee from Marin Municipal Water District that every property owner pays. In 2013, Marin voters passed a ¼ cent sales tax for open space. A substantial part of these revenues is supposed to go to maintenance and fire prevention. Local fire departments are vigilant in fire prevention measures already.

The proposed Joint Powers Authority or JPA is simply another layer of bureaucracy that will waste your money on consultants, studies, commissions and other measures that will add little to public safety. This measure expands government and diverts money from real fixes such as establishing firebreaks and clearing dead vegetation.

Fires have been a part of Marin and California for as long as we know, but the BOS is trying to capitalize on our emotions to pass this unnecessary tax. Don’t let them.

Vote NO on Measure C.

Michael Hartnett

Replies to Arguments FOR

Please vote No on this Tax.
• It will create an expensive, unelected bureaucracy that governs whether you can have trees/shrubs on your property - based on the opinion of some out-ofstate consultant.
• More taxes make it impossible for families to live here. Marin homeowners already pay thousands annually for added taxes. We will have the rich, and homeless.
• Local governments will ignore pension problems by passing “scare-taxes” to pay for the same work firefighters are doing now, and use that money for bloated pensions.

A new Joint Powers Association “JPA’’ may override your local jurisdiction on matters not yet defined. If your town protects trees, and others don’t, your community can be overridden. You could be ordered to kill every living plant within 5 feet of your house, like in Mill Valley. Councilmembers dropped the proposal after hearing from angry voters. Here an unelected JPA Board rules.

The promoters promise what we have already: Wellfunded Fire Departments working together doing fire inspections, reducing hazardous vegetation, expanding neighborhood safety and preparedness programs. We were just taxed twice for Emergency Radio to guide us.

Residents of the Ross Valley passed a tax that supposedly went to Flood Protection. Over a decade later nearly all the money has gone to consultants and studies. A cautionary tale.

A toothless “oversight committee” has no power to stop such abuse.

Supporters’ fearmongering that insurance rates will go up in Marin is unfounded.

Reject scare tactics, protect your property rights.

Michael Hartnett

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Marin’s fire professionals and wildfire experts STRONGLY disagree with the opinion of the lone opponent.
• Following the 2017 Sonoma County fires, a close study (“Lessons Learned from the North Bay Fire Siege”) determined that Marin has nearly identical fire risk and has been lucky to avoid a major wildfire ignition. The report STRONGLY
recommends a countywide coordinated wildfire preparedness and prevention initiative like Measure C.
• A year later, the “Marin Civil Grand Jury Report on Wildfire Preparedness: A New Approach,” took an independent look at Marin’s wildfire risk and also STRONGLY recommends a countywide, multi-agency wildfire prevention program with a dedicated source of funding like Measure C.
• Measure C was developed by Marin’s fire chiefs, cities, towns and respected citizen organizations for coordinated, efficient and comprehensive wildfire prevention and preparedness. Measure C’s detailed and binding expenditure plan strictly limits funds for administration to guarantee funding goes directly to the highest priorities:
- Early fire warnings and evacuations
- Reducing hazardous vegetation and creating fire breaks
- Ensuring defensible space around homes and critical public infrastructure
• Measure C requires strict accountability. Funds must be spent for wildfire prevention in Marin and cannot be taken by the State. A strong Independent oversight committee is required. Measure C helps Marin qualify for state and federal grants that will otherwise go to other communities.

The threat of wildfire is real and ignoring the risk is irresponsible. That’s why Marin’s most respected elected leaders, fire chiefs, environmental groups, Citizens for Wildfire Preparedness and the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers (CO$T) ALL support Measure C.

William Tyler, President, and Novato Fire Chief
Christopher R. Gray, San Rafael Fire Chief

Marin County Sheriff

Mimi Willard, President

Patricia Randolph, Founding Member, and Marin County
Civil Grand Jury Foreperson 2018-2019

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