In the recent mail-in ballot for the , only one of the county's 19 cities approved it – El Cerrito.
Newly released data shows that the – a proposed parcel fee for water pollution control – was rejected by a majority of voters in each of the county's 18 other cities, as well as in unincorporated areas. In El Cerrito, however, it was supported by 54.9 percent.
The attached graph shows city-by-city results.
The measure, mailed to property owners in February, received a 59-percent no vote in the county as a whole. It needed a majority of all votes to win. The overall result was announced May 7, and the percentages of votes cast by each municipality were recently released by a consultant company that worked on the measure, SCI Consulting Group in Fairfield.
The lowest margin of support came from Pinole, where only 33 percent of voters approved it.
It's not the first time that El Cerrito voters have displayed an above-average willingness to support extra taxes to fund public services. In November 2010, the city's voters approved a half-cent boost in the local sales tax, Measure R, raising El Cerrito's sales tax at the time to 10.25 percent to prevent cuts in city services. The increase meant that El Cerrito, along with Union City, had the highest sales tax in California outside of Los Angeles County.
Earlier, in 2008, El Cerrito voters approved a local half-cent sales tax, Measure A, for street improvements. Those revenues helped support a remarkable turn-around in street quality, earning the city the Bay Area's "Most Improved Roads" award last year from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
The mail-only ballot for the Clean Water Initiative generated some public confusion and criticism because it was conducted under the infrequently used Proposition 218, which permits an election for a parcel fee to pass with a simple majority, instead of the two-thirds needed for a parcel tax. The election was sponsored not by the county elections department, but by the Contra Costa Clean Water Program, a consortium of the county's 19 cities plus the county government and the county flood-control district.
Also, the amount of the tax would have been determined by location, apparently adding to voters' apprehensions.
The measure would have added between $6 and $22 per year on the property tax bills of most parcels. The money would have been used to help local governments meet stricter standards for water runoff that enters streams, storm drains and the Bay. The tax would have come on top of an existing $35 annual fee.
The defeat of the measure means that local governments need to find other ways to fund measures to meet tightened water-quality standards imposed the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.