Proposition 84 - Clean Water, Parks and Coastal Protection Bonds

Voter Guide
This measure appeared on the November 2006 California state ballot.


What it does

This is a state bond authorizing the issuance of nearly $5.4 billion in general-obligation bonds to fund programs and the construction of improvements for a diverse array of natural resource areas throughout the state, including safe drinking-water supply, flood control, and the protection and preservation of parks, forests, lakes, rivers, beaches, bays and ocean coastline.

The following are the uses of those bonds (in millions):

Water quality ($1,525)

  • Integrated regional water management (1,000)
  • Safe drinking water (380)
  • Delta and agriculture water quality (145)

Protection of rivers, lakes, and streams ($928)

  • Regional conservancies (279)
  • Other projects-public access, river parkways, urban stream restoration, California Conservation Corps (189)
  • Delta and coastal fisheries restoration (180)
  • Restoration of the San Joaquin River (100)
  • Restoration projects related to the Colorado River (90)
  • Stormwater pollution prevention (90)

Flood control ($800)

  • State flood-control projects-evaluation, system improvements, flood-corridor program (315)
  • Flood-control projects in the Delta (275)
  • Local flood-control subventions (outside the Central Valley flood control system) (180)
  • Floodplain mapping and assistance for local land-use planning (30)

Sustainable communities and climate change reduction ($580)

  • Local and regional parks (400)
  • Urban water- and energy-conservation projects (90)
  • Incentives for conservation in local planning (90)

Protection of beaches, bays, and coastal waters ($540)

  • Protection of various coastal areas and watersheds (360)
  • Clean Beaches Program (90)
  • California Ocean Protection Trust Fund-marine resources, sustainable fisheries, and marine wildlife cconservation (90)

Parks and natural education facilities ($500)

  • State park system-acquisition, development and restoration (400)
  • Nature education and research facilities (100)

Forest and wildlife conservation ($450)

  • Wildlife habitat protection (225)
  • Forest conservation (180)
  • Protection of ranches, farms and oak woodlands (45)

 Statewide water planning ($65)

  • Planning for future water needs, water-conveyance systems and flood-control projects (65)

Total $5,388

Why it is on the ballot

Since 1996, California voters have passed a series of natural bond measures similar to Proposition 84. These include:

  • Proposition 12 (2000) $2.1 billion
  • Proposition 13 (2000) $1.97 billion
  • Proposition 40 (2002) $2.6 billion
  • Proposition 50 (2002) $3.4 billion

The $9.07 billion collectively in funds from these bond measures are beginning to run out.

San Francisco and the Bay Area historically have benefited from the types of programs to be funded under this measure, and are eligible to apply for and be granted a substantial amount of funding under this bond measure. The current San Francisco renovation of the Hetch Hetchy water system and the San Francisco sewer system, the restoration of Yosemite Slough and Islais Creek on the southeast bayshore, the restoration of Lake Merced and the Bay Trail, Coastal Trail and Ridge Trail are examples of the kinds of projects that would benefit from Prop. 84.


Those who support Proposition 84 claim:

  • The natural-resource infrastructure improvements to be funded by these bonds are necessary to provide an adequate and safe supply of drinking water, protection from flooding, and maintenance of forests, parks, bays, beaches and coastlines for the state's existing residents and the 25 million new residents expected by 2040.
  • The programs and improvements to be provided by these bonds are distributed reasonably and fairly around the state, and will substantially benefit many programs critical to residents of San Francisco and the Bay Area.
  • The funds to service these and other bonds on the November 2006 ballot are prudently available in the state's current and expected General Fund.


Those who oppose Proposition 84 claim:

  • The programs and projects to be funded under this measure represent simply a political compromise among the proponents of this measure rather than an objective analysis of the state's most pressing capital needs.

SPUR's analysis

The population of California is expected to grow by 25 million by 2040. Increasing the supply of clean drinking water, reducing the threat of flooding in various areas of the state, and maintaining the condition and quality of the parks, bays and coastline are necessary to sustain this growth with a decent quality of life.

Although a definitive analysis of the rationality and fairness of the distribution of funds to various programs and areas within the state is difficult, if not impossible, it appears that the distribution in Prop. 84 is reasonable and fair. The measure is backed by a broad, non-partisan coalition of interests- water districts, conservation and environment groups, museum and park interests, elected officials from both major parties, and civic organizations.

If the voters adopt Prop. 84 and the other $37 billion in infrastructure bonds in November (Props. 1B through 1E), the percentage of General Fund revenues necessary to service all the state's capital-outlay bonds would be less than 6 percent. Most financial analysts deem this ratio prudent.

The specific programs and projects this measure would fund are not set forth in the bond act, but are ultimately left to various state regulatory and administrative agencies, and the state Legislature.

The majority of these funds are necessary to finance purchase of key new natural-resource parcels. We see no serious argument against this proposal. As with the other bond measures, this is a tiny fraction of what we really need, but something is better than nothing. This is an important cause and an important part of the broader package of infrastructure bonds.

SPUR recommends a "Yes" vote on Proposition 84.