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June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election

City of Foster City
Measure P - 2/3 Approval Required

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Election Results


6,117 votes yes (80.65%)

1,468 votes no (19.35%)

Bond Measure
— undefined

To improve the levee protecting essential city services, including fire, police, water, sewer, transportation infrastructure; protect Foster City homes, schools, businesses from flooding; avoid both Foster City being designated a FEMA special flood hazard area and flood insurance requirements for residents/busnesses; shall Foster City issue $90,000,000 in bonds at legal rates; levy approximately $40 per $100,000 assessed valuation, averaging $5,171,000 collected annually while bonds are outstanding, with citizens' oversight, no funds for administrators, all funds staying local?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Foster City (the "City") is protected by approximately 8 miles of levee surrounding its perimeter. Based on a revised Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Coastal Flood Hazard Study with maps that became effective in 2017, roughly 85% of the City's levee does not meet new FEMA accreditation standards. If the levee is not improved to meet FEMA's new standards, the City will be designated a Special Flood Hazard Area. Individuals and businesses in the City will then be required to buy flood insurance prior to receiving any type of direct or indirect federal financial assistance (such as any loan, grant, guaranty, insurance, payment, subsidy, disaster assistance, or mortgage loan from a lender that is federally regulated or whose deposits are federally insured). Levee Improvement Bond Measure P would fund improvements to the City's levee system as required to meet new FEMA's accreditation standards. These improvements would provide additional protection against floods, sea level rise, and avoid FEMA designating the City a Special Flood Hazard Area. 

Article 16, Section 18 of the State Constitution authorizes a city to issue general obligation bonds if at least two thirds (66 2/3%) of those voting in that city approve the issuance of the bonds. Levee Improvement Bond Measure P on this ballot is a general obligation bond to be issued by the City.

General obligation bonds are used by cities to raise money for large capital projects that benefit their citizens, will last many years, and have costs that exeed available cash resources. If approved, Measure P bonds would be sold to investors and the City would be required to pay back the amount borrowed, plus interest. The bonds are repaid by property taxes levied on all taxable property in the City.

Levee Improvement Bond Measure P would authorize the City to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $90 million. The bonds will have an interest rate not exceeding 12% and are estimated to mature not more than 30 years after issuance. The City's best estimate of the average tax rate levy per $100,000 of assessed valuation (AV) to pay annual debt service on these bonds is $39.66, assuming all the bonds are issued in December 2018 at a true interest cost of 3.62%. The highest estimated tax rate is $40.01 per $100,000 AV. Total debt service for the bonds is estimated to be $155,122,284 over 30 years ($90 million in principal plus interest).

These estimates are based on projections only, which are not binding on the City. Actual tax rates in the future will depend on variables such as market conditions when bonds are sold, the number of and timing of bond sales, and actual assessed valuation over the term of the bonds. 

A "Yes" vote on this measure would be in favor of authorizing the City to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $90 million to construct the levee improvements described above.

A "No" vote would be against authorizing the issuance of bonds. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Measure P presents Foster City with a simple choice:

Vote Yes to improve the levee that protects us from flooding at an annual cost of approximately $272 for the average homeowner


Vote No and Foster City will be placed in a flood zone, requiring mandatory flood insurance at a minimum cost of $2,000-$3,000 while our community is left at risk without flood protection.

When you study these 5 INDISPUTABLE FACTS, a YES vote is the obvious choice.

FACT #1: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has determined that Foster City's levee does not meet minimum flood prevention and safety standards.

FACT #2: If Foster City does not take immediate steps to upgrade the levee, FEMA will designate Foster City a flood zone.

FACT #3: Flood zone designation will hurt our property values and require homes and businesses to pay thousands in flood insurance every year.

FACT #4: Ignoring FEMA and living in a flood zone is expensive and it puts the safety of our children, families, and seniors at flood risk in an earthquake, disaster, or emergency.

FACT #5: Measure P is on the June ballot to allow Foster City to begin immediate levee improvements to keep us safe and avoid unnecessary insurance costs. Measure P requires a 66.7% Yes vote for levee work to begin.

Yes on P makes sense from a safety and financial perspective because it will:

 * improve the levee to protect Foster City homes, schools, businesses, and roads from flooding

 * protect essential city services during storms, like fire, paramedics, police, water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure

 * avoid expensive flood insurance requirements for homeowners and businesses

A citizens' oversight committee and annual audits will ensure levee improvements are completed as promised. Measure P founds must stay local and cannot be taken away by the State.

Measure P saves money and saves lives. Please vote YES. 

/s/ Herbert Perez, Council Member

/s/ Sam Hindi, Mayor

/s/ Gary Pollard, Vice Mayor

/s/ Charles Bronitsky, Council Member

/s/ Catherine Mahanpour, Council Member 


Arguments AGAINST

The City of Foster City realizes its levee needs $90,000,000 of improvements to meet Federal, FEMA, standards. With interest, the City estimates the taxpayers will pay a total of $155,122,284.

These bonds must be repaid by Ad Valorem property taxes. In California, the Ad Valorem taxes are very unequal. Some families must pay many times what neighbors pay, for the very same floor plan. The tax collector does not care.

Foster City does face problems from a once-in-a-100-year flood but is that even the most urgent danger? With the San Andreas fault running straight through the Peninsula and with Foster City built on vulernable fill land, concern for the inevitable earthquake seems more urgent than the slow rise in sea level.

The levee protects about 8,000 properties in San Mateo as well as the 9,000 in Foster City, according to the Daily Journal. Why don't the people in San Mateo who are also protected by this levee pay their share of the $155,122,284? And why don't they get a vote on this important issue?

Slowly rising sea level would surely affect the entire Bay Area. This is a regional problem with regional benefits and costs. In fact, Alameda County expressed concern that Foster City's levee work could negatively impact its communities. Why does Foster City have to do this all alone?

This is a regional problem; it needs a regional solution. Why does Foster City have to pay the $90,000,000 all by itself?

Vote "No" on Measure P.

/s/ Mark W.A. Hinkle, President, Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association

/s/ Harland Harrison, Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County 

Replies to Arguments FOR

Don't let the City Council scare you! If voters reject this measure, the City Council can just offer a better deal in November. The complete project design is not expected until October. Don't rush.

Can the Foster City City Council really offer a better deal? Yes! Foster City has over $57,000,000 in reserve funds. The City Council could spend some of that money and borrow less.

Sure, Measure P funds would "stay local" but they would protect properties in San Mateo and Foster City. But Foster City would pay the entire cost! Why should only Foster City pay? A flood would not stop at the San Mateo boundary. A special assessment district where all protected properties pay for their benefit would spread the cost fairly. Why should only the people of Foster City pay for a regional problem?

Foster City has about $37,300,000 in the Capital Asset Preservation/Acquisition Fund and over $20,000,000 in the General Reserve Fund. Just $30 million would cover a third of the cost and still leave millions for emergencies. But the City Council voted against using even $10 million in February.  What better investment could the Foster City City Council plan for that money than protecting their voters from flooding? Refusing to spend $30 million already available makes the tax burden 50% higher!

That $272 estimate might look small but Ad Valorem taxes in California are terribly unfair. Some families pay many times what others pay for identical houses. The tax collector does not care.

Let the Foster City City Council offer a better deal getting everyone to pay their share and using money that Foster City already has.

Vote "NO" on Measure P.


/s/ Mark W.A. Hinkle, President, Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association

/s/ Harland Harrison, Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The two opponents of Measure P do not live in Foster City. They live in Morgan Hill and in Belmont! They submit arguments like this against virtually every bond measure regardless of the needs or the specifics. It's easy for them to oppose this common sense proposal because they don't face flood risk or mandatory flood insurance costing us thousands of dollars each year!

While they admit the need to improve the levee to protect Foster City from flooding, they clearly don't understand what makes Measure P different from most bond proposals: Measure P is FAR less expensive than the alternative. 

Foster City's residents and most respected leaders support Measure P because of these simple facts:

 * Measure P upgrades our levee to keep Foster City safe for about $272 annually for the average homeowner

 * Without Measure P, FEMA will designate Foster City as a flood zone triggering approximately $2,000-$3,000 in mandatory flood insurance costs.

The choice is that simple: pay less to ugrade the levee and keep our homes, families, and businesses safe. Or pay a lot more for expensive, unncessary flood insurance while remaining at flood risk.

Foster City's respected police, firefighters, and paramedics support Measure P because it protects homes, schools, businesses, and roads from flooding. Measure P protects our essential city services and infrastructure so emergency services can respond in a disaster.

Foster City business leaders support Measure P because it's fiscally accountable. All funds stay local and can only be used to improve the levee. Mandatory citizen oversight and audits ensure funds are spent as promised.

Protect Our City. Protect Your Savings. Vote YES on P.

/s/ Pam Frisella, Former Foster City Mayor

/s/ Jennifer Selvitella, Local Insurance Professional

/s/ Craig Courtin, Retired FCPD Police Chief

/s/ Richard Wykoff, Former Foster City Mayor

/s/ Amit Saini, Co-Secretary, Foster City Parks & Rec Citizen Committee 

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