Why Measure AA matters | Sonoma Ecology Center

Before it even had an official name on the June 7 ballot, Measure AA, the Clean and Healthy Bay measure, has enjoyed broad support from environmental groups around the Bay, including us.

That’s because Measure AA – a Bay Area-wide parcel tax of $12 per year for the next 20 years, raising approximately $500 million in total – would tackle a matter of grave importance to our region’s future: sea level rise. And the way things are going, with ice sheets melting faster than anticipated and an “emerging flooding crisis” expected by 2050, that $500 million could be the best money we ever spent.

The forward-thinking measure, placed on the ballot by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, would address these pernicious (and inevitable) effects of climate change by, among other things, restoring many thousands of acres of wetlands around the Bay, which will act as a buffer against sea level rise.

For Sonoma Valley, the incursion of seawater will come from the south, as San Pablo Bay gradually rises to swallow Highway 37 and the former marshlands stranded behind it. Raising the highway, and restoring those marshlands, will help protect our Valley for generations to come. (This interactive map by NOAA allows users to zoom in on various regions, including Sonoma Valley, and watch what happens as the water rises.)

Some people hope that living high up on the hillsides will protect them from sea level rise. But low lying areas are where most communities keep important infrastructure such as water treatment facilities and transit hubs. Seeking higher ground won’t be enough.

Perhaps that’s why it isn’t just environmentalists supporting Measure AA. This election season, we hope you will join the overwhelming majority of business groups, labor organizations, major newspapers, community leaders, elected officials and, yes, environmentalists in voting yes on AA.