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Measure D: Belvedere voters reject charter-and-tax plan for seismic roadwork

Belvedere voters have rejected Measure D, a 0.8-percent real-estate transfer-tax and charter plan on the Nov. 8 ballot to fund $20 million in seismic upgrades, with 56 percent in opposition as of Nov. 16.

The controversial measure divided the city, with proponents stressing that making the upgrades to Beach Road and San Rafael Avenue — the first phase of the Protect Belvedere Project's seawall-and-infrastructure project — was critical to ensuring resident safety, and critics saying the project was being used to justify an unfair tax that skirts voter protections and would generate a blank check for City Hall.

Legally, voters were asked to approve a simple-majority general tax that would raise $1.6 million annually for any municipal purpose, from parks to pensions. However, officials separately promised it would be used only to pay off the debt from a bond issued for road hardening, the first phase of the Protect Belvedere Project. In California, specific-purpose projects require a special tax with two-thirds’ voter approval, with the funds bound to the project. Opponents argued Measure D was an end-run around the state Constitution that’s ripe for abuse and that officials are making promises that future councils aren’t required to keep. They note surplus revenue could be used for any purpose, saying the city could even move forward with the more-controversial seawall-fortification plan without needing another ballot initiative.

“We are pleased that Belvedere voters agreed with our viewpoint, and that our city representatives will now most likely have to submit a new infrastructure improvement finance plan that better suits Belvedere homeowners,” said Accountable Belvedere co-leader Greg Wood. “Ultimately, we all want what is best for our Belvedere community.”

Mayor Sally Wilkinson said the city is still pursuing federal and state grants totaling about $42 million but, if the measure fails, “we need to verify whether the community understands and accepts the potential consequences of doing nothing. If they don’t, we will go back to the drawing board, but I honestly don’t know what that looks like or how long it will take."

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