Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority and Parcel Tax Approved
On Tuesday, November 5, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved placing a parcel tax initiative on the March, 2020 ballot to fund the new Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority. For information check out marinwildfire.org. It includes a video of the presentation; the MWPA text, details on process, jurisdictions and background.
Since July, fire chiefs have conducted over 50 public informational meetings in communities throughout Marin to collect community input on the proposed coordinated wildfire prevention and preparedness initiative. Seventeen public agencies responsible for fire services, who have taxing authority in Marin, have joined the MWPA and support placing a countywide parcel tax on the March 2020 ballot to fund the identified wildfire preparedness, prevention and mitigation efforts.
The proposed funding measure — to be considered by Marin voters in March of 2020 — would levy up to 10 cents per building square foot and provide approximately $20 million annually for 10 years in dedicated, locally controlled funding to be used only for wildfire preparedness, prevention and mitigation projects.
OFA has been involved since our Firestorm: Wildfires and Climate Change forums (2018 and 2019) working cooperatively with the Fire chiefs. We put together an adhoc Wildfire and Climate Coalition to draft amendments to the framework document reflecting our group's concerns. Most changes were accepted and now there is a separate "Whereas" provision up front acknowledging climate change as contributing to wildfires that “should be addressed through ecologically sound practices that minimize release of greenhouse gases and protect the biodiversity and resilience of Marin’s landscapes.”
We are in support of the MWPA.
The Wildfire Initiative is compatible with climate goals. In fact, it funds important actions to reduce climate change through sound wildfire prevention measures. If a major wildfire comes to Marin, it will not only threaten lives and homes, but likely release many thousands of tons of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, setting back our efforts to curb the growing climate crisis.
The Initiative will expend $21 million a year for ten years to help reduce wildfire threats, taking on the costly burden of controlling a devastating climate change impact. By properly managing vegetation, the Initiative should result in healthier landscapes and soils, able to continue absorbing and retaining carbon.
The Initiative can be seen as a good first step towards a comprehensive climate measure urgently needed to fund the vision and solutions of Drawdown Marin. Think of it as a model for a structure, process and a way of building momentum. Strategically, we’re going to need all the cohesion and good will we can garner, and our experience with the JPA suggests how critical it is to have partners with a real understanding and willingness to cooperate.
Moving forward, we expect that the Marin Wildfire Authority will continue to draw on the expertise of the climate and environmental communities to plan the implementation of the initiative. That is facilitated since there will now be an environment member on the Citizens Oversight Committee and as an at large member of the Advisory/Technical Committee.