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Bay Area Elections Roundup

By Aimee Strain and Ari Barak

February 6, 2008

San Francisco voters Tuesday approved propositions to fix aging park facilities and to allow deferred retirement for police officers, but nixed a proposal to convert Alcatraz Island into a global center for peace, according to unofficial election results.

Proposition A, a bond measure authorizing the city to borrow $185 million for construction, rebuilding and improvements to park and recreation facilities, was approved by nearly 72 percent of voters. The measure required a two-thirds majority for passage.

Proponents argued the money is needed to repair or replace deteriorating facilities, and to make safety and aesthetic improvements and earthquake retrofits, and that there would be no increase in property taxes to repay the bonds.

The bond funds will be divided into $117.4 million for 12 neighborhood parks and $33.5 million for potential projects at nine waterfront parks. The remainder will be allocated for park restrooms, athletic fields, nature trails, forestry and other park and recreation projects.

Proposition B, allowing certain San Francisco police officers eligible for retirement benefits to continue working for up to three years while accruing retirement benefits in tax-deferred retirement accounts, was approved by approximately 65 percent of voters.

Supporters of the proposition say the program will help San Francisco's shortage of police officers by allowing the department to retain experienced officers, particularly in the neighborhood patrol and investigation units. They claim the program would be cost-neutral to the city.

Proposition C, which voters rejected by a 72 to 28 percent margin, would have enacted a nonbinding city policy that San Francisco "should explore and facilitate the acquisition of Alcatraz Island from the United States government to transform it into a Global Peace Center." The island is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is maintained by the National Park Service.

The Global Peace Foundation, proponents of the proposition, wanted to remove the island's main prison block and build in its place an international center for nonviolent conflict resolution, accompanied by several multimedia centers and "an architecturally advanced sacred, healing environment."

San Mateo County residents cast their votes Tuesday in favor of local schools by appearing to pass three measures that will give more money to county school districts.

Of the four county measures on the ballot, three pertained to school districts. Measure J will have the Sequoia Union High School District issue $165 million in bonds for a 10-year technology fund to upgrade classroom computers as well as modernize the classrooms themselves. Complete unofficial results show that 65.5 percent of voters approved this measure.

Measure L is similar to J, as it will allow the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District to issue $175 million in bonds to upgrade schools with new technological equipment, as well as perform maintenance work on some of the older school campuses. It appears to have passed with 75.5 percent of the vote.

The final measure relating to schools, Measure M, will allow the Ravenswood City School District to levy an annual parcel tax of $98 for five years to support supplemental educational programs and services. It needed a two-thirds majority to pass and appears to have secured a victory with 78.3 percent of the vote.

Measure I, the lone measure not relating to schools, is the levy of a special tax for four years that would go toward fire protection and police services in service area No. 1 of the county, located mostly west of the College of San Mateo, including portions or all of the Highlands, Baywood Park, Baywood Place and Ticonderoga Court neighborhoods. The tax, which will not be more than $65 a parcel, appears to have passed with 74.5 percent of the vote.

Voters in Sonoma County approved all three school-related measures on the ballot, according to unofficial results.

One of the measures however, also required approval of Napa County voters and it was defeated there. The school bond measures in Windsor and Geyserville passed easily.

Sonoma County voters living in the Napa Valley Community College District narrowly approved Measure L, a $178.4 million bond issue. The vote was 101-76 or 57.1 percent to 42.9 percent. The measure requires 55 percent approval. It failed in Napa County 50.54 percent to 49.46 percent, according to unofficial results.

The interest and principal of the bonds would have been paid with a property tax estimated at $19.85 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

Voters approved a $133.8 million bond for the college six years ago but school officials claim they need $70 million more to complete those projects that were approved in 2002 because of increased construction costs.

Measure L provides $115 million for previously approved projects and $65 million for new projects.

Voters in the Geyserville Unified School District approved Measure A 391-188 or 67.5 percent to 32.5 percent. It needed 55 percent approval to pass. The $3.2 million bond issue is for repair, construction and replacement of classrooms.

The money will be spent for painting, roofing and removing dry rot, replacing and improving plumbing, sewer and septic systems, upgrading the fire alarm and communications systems, resurfacing walkways and parking areas and providing other upgrades required by safety codes.

The highest tax rate that will be levied to finance the bonds is estimated at $26.90 per $100,000 of assessed valuation and the lowest rate is expected to be $18.68 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

Proponents cited the need for improvements to the district's facilities and said approval of the measure will qualify the district for $1.8 million in additional state funding.

Windsor Unified School District voters approved Measure B, a $50 million bond issue. It also needed 55 percent approval and passed with 61.5 percent approval with all precincts reporting early this morning.

The highest estimated tax rate to finance the bonds is $49.69 per $100,000 of assessed valuation and the average tax rate is estimated at $26.69 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

There are more than two-dozen entries on the bond project list. They include building a track and field at Windsor High School, building new classrooms to relieve overcrowding, replacing aging portables with permanent classrooms to save $570,000 a year and building and equipping science labs, music classrooms and libraries.

Napa County voters rejected a bond measure for the Napa Valley Community College but approved adding food preparation and wine tasting at the Stanly Lane pumpkin patch, according to unofficial results.

Voters in the Napa Valley Community College District, including those in Sonoma County, voted on Measure L, a $178.4 million school bond issue.

The measure lost 50.5 percent to 49.4 percent in Napa County but was approved by voters in Sonoma County with 57 percent approval, not enough to overcome the Napa County vote.

It needed 55 percent approval to pass.

The interest and principal to buy the bonds would have been paid with a property tax estimated at $19.85 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

Voters approved a $133.8 million bond for the college six years ago but school officials claimed they need $70 million more because of increased construction costs to complete those projects that were approved in 2002. Measure L would have provided $115 million for previously approved projects and $65 million for new projects.

Proponents of Measure L included 1st District Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and retired Napa Police Chief Dan Monez. Supporters said growing enrollment and rising construction costs have strained the finances of one of the few remaining educational institutions working families can afford.

The money would have expanded the college's nursing program, expanded the college's solar electric generating system to save $200,000 annually, upgraded electrical systems and wiring for computer technology, renovated science classrooms and labs and added classrooms and labs for career paths in health care, high tech, alternative energy and other booming industries.

Opponents included the Napa Valley Taxpayers' Alliance, which argued taxpayers already are paying for three other school bonds and the previous bond for the Napa Valley College.

They said schools must live within their means in the current tough and uncertain economic climate.

Measure K is an amendment to the Napa County general plan and zoning regulations that allows expanded commercial uses, such as barbecues and wine tasting, on agricultural land.

The measure applied to the Stanly Lane Marketplace on state the Highway 12 entry to Napa where owner Billy Wilcoxson also sells Christmas trees and operates a year-round store. It passed with 57 percent in favor and required a majority approval. The measure was opposed by some farm and environmental groups.

Marin County voters approved all three local measures on the ballot Tuesday, according to unofficial results.

Voters in the Kentfield School District approved Measure A 3,191 to 1,290 or 71.21 percent to 28.79 percent. The measure needed two-thirds approval.

Measure A increases by 5 percent a year for 10 years an existing parcel tax, currently $773.94 for single-family residences, and at other rates for all other parcels. Measure A also grants senior exemptions and implements an annual financial audit.

The parcel tax expires in 2009 and currently generates $2.5 million a year. It barely passed in 2002 by 27 votes.

School officials said the money will support core programs, attract and retain highly qualified teachers, maintain small class sizes and enhance technology programs. No formal opposition to the tax extension was submitted in the voter's pamphlet.

Voters in the Muir Beach Community Services District approved Measure B, 128-29, or 81.53 percent to 18.47 percent. The measure imposes an annual special parcel tax of $200 for four years starting in fiscal year 2008-2009. It required two-thirds approval.

The district said the tax will raise $30,000 a year for the volunteer fire department and will prevent budget shortfalls.

Voters in the Stinson Beach County Water District easily approved Measure C. The vote was 194-55 or 77.91 percent to 22.09 percent. The measure increases the district's appropriations limit from $421,711 in fiscal year 2006-1007 to $681,083 for fiscal years 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. It required majority approval.




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