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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The waters of the bay touch all nine Bay Area counties, and Measure AA asks each Bay Area property owner to pay a $12 property tax per year, to fund grants to restore tidal marshes that make the bay healthy.

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“We have actually protected 30,000 acres that are just waiting to be restored to tidal marsh, but we don’t have the funds to do it,” said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay. “And now people in the Bay Area will have a chance to help pay a portion of that cost, and not just rely on a trickle of federal and state funds.”

Lewis explains the bay has lost most of its tidal marshes due to development of the shoreline.

“If we turn these brown, empty areas and salt ponds into vegetative tidal marsh, they can actually keep up with sea level rise. If we wait to get started, it will be too late,” Lewis told KCBS.

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Retired judge Quentin Kopp is among those critical of Measure AA.

“This is the worst kind of tax imaginable, and it didn’t have to be that way. A parcel tax can be shaped legally to be based on the value of your parcel,” Kopp said.

Kopp believes the parcel tax should have been shaped to be based on the value of the parcel, noting homeowners will pay the same $12 as Facebook, PG&E and AT&T. And those corporations stand to benefit more from the restoration work.

Lewis said the bigger picture should be kept in mind. “It makes sense for all of us to pay a tiny tax for a huge shared benefit,” he said.

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Measure AA has broad support: electred officials from the governor to local mayors, business associations and enviornmental organizations. It needs a 2/3 vote to pass, not of each county, but of the entire region.