Water is going to be one of the key issues here in California and worldwide in the next decades, as population growth collides with an aging infrastructure.
California Proposition 50 proposes a $3.44 billion general obligation bond issue to be used for a variety of water-related projects.
I support improving the California infrastructure, and believe that intelligent water projects, combined with agricultural and urban conservation are absolutely necessary to get our stare through the first part of this century.
But I oppose this bond measure.
Like Prop 51, it has been co-opted by a series of real estate developers who have contributed to it in the hopes that they will directly benefit. In this case, via the purchase of sensitive wetlands that they cannot realistically develop anyway.
From the O.C. Weekly
In fact, of the $3.44 billion raised by bond sales under the initiative (another $3.46 billion would go to interest payments over 30 years), a paltry $50 million is set aside for “Water Security.” According to the state legislative analyst, more than half of Prop. 50 would pay for land acquisition and Bay Area watershed cleaning.
Prop. 50 sports a huge list of pro-environmental endorsements, including Heal the Bay, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Audubon Society and Surfrider Foundation. This support, based on the measures ostensible clean-water emphasis, plays a high-profile role in the pro-Prop. 50 campaign.
But more illustrative of the reality behind Prop. 50 is the mammoth list of developer contributors. Not only is there a standard Yes on 50 campaign, but two PACs are also feeding money into the battle: the shrewdly named California Conservation Campaign and the Conservation Action Fund. Together, these PACs have already brought in about $3 million in campaign contributions from big developers. They include:
Signal Landmark, which owns the controversial Bolsa Chica mesa, donated half a million to the various pro-Prop. 50 campaigns. In court for decades over a plan to cover the mesa with more than a thousand homes, Signal Landmark would benefit heartily from ballot language setting aside “not less than $300 million” in projects in the LA area with “priority” given “to the acquisition of not less than 100 acres” of the Bolsa Chica area.
Playa Capital Co., which has been trying to develop the Ballona Wetlands in West LA since 1998, has donated a whopping $830,000 to the pro-Prop. 50 fight. Prop. 50 will buy up land and protect coastal wetlands throughout the LA area.
Cargill, the huge agribusiness conglomerate that recently paid out $1 million to clean up its mess on the Missouri River, has donated $100,000 to the Conservation Action Fund. It owns salt ponds in San Francisco Bay and will benefit heavily from Prop. 50s $825 million in appropriations for the bay.
We cant afford not to do something about water here in arid Southern California. But we certainly cant afford a bond issue like this here in financially strapped California.
So Im voting no on Prop 50, and Ill wait for a more public-spirited water bond to support.