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New draft scales back city charter needed to pose tax

Belvedere has significantly narrowed the scope of a draft charter that will need to be approved by voters to allow the city to levy a new tax for its planned multimillion-dollar infrastructure project.

The latest revisions to the document, reviewed by the City Council on March 22, would limit Belvedere’s new powers under the charter only to imposing the real-estate transfer tax to pay for the $28-million seawall upgrades, eliminating previous provisions that would have given the city broader control over other municipal affairs.

Councilmembers said the earlier version was too broad and feared it could turn off voters who viewed it as an expansion of government power.

The city plans to ask voters to approve the property-transfer tax to fund the infrastructure project, which officials have said is critical to protecting the city against sea-level rise and potential earthquake damage. As designed, the project, dubbed “Protect Belvedere,” calls for short, exposed seawalls and shoreline pathways along San Rafael Avenue and Beach Road as well as flood fixes on stretches of West Shore Road.

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