Polls are open on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Registered voters can vote early in person as well beginning Oct. 11. If you are a first-time voter and registered by mail, bring an acceptable identification card (driver’s license, state ID card, passport, employee ID card) with you when you vote in person. You can register online by visiting registertovote.ca.gov. The deadline to register for the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 24.
This November the ballot includes issues that affect you—general tax amendments, street tree liability, MTA appointments, neighborhood crime, police oversight, funding for seniors and adults with disabilities, voting age requirement and more. District 5 residents will also be voting for their supervisor representative: London Breed vs. Dean Preston!
PROP A FUNDS RENOVATIONS, TECHNOLOGY & CONSTRUCTION FOR SFUSD
The legislation itself states that “until all project costs and funding sources are known, the BOE cannot determine the amount of bond proceed available to be spent on each project, nor guarantee that the bonds will provide sufficient funds to allow completion of all listed projects.” However, SFUSD is in dire need of funds to complete renovations and to build new schools. $100 million would spur a philanthropic drive for an arts center. The district supports about 60,000 students across 143 buildings and expects 14,000 new students by 2030. The bond would also pay for technology upgrades. In the 94117 there are about 3,000 school aged children.
PROP B KEEPS CITY COLLEGE OPEN
Currently, City College’s enrollment has been in decline due to a threat to accreditation. The college is in restoration status and has two years to demonstrate it meets standards. Hence, it needs money for financial security due to low enrollment and state budget cuts to prove credibility. There are nine City College campuses in the City serving about 60,000 students annually. The funds would be used to attract better teachers, protect libraries, provide counselors for students and support modern technology and instructional support. If passed, the funding would face tough accountability practices: independent audits and a citizen oversight committee. The parcel tax would expire in 15 years.
PROP C FREES UP OLD MONEY TO REHABILITATE & BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING
We approved a $350 million earthquake safety bond in 1992 and still have $261 million leftover. This ordinance would free that money up to go toward multi-unit buildings in the form of loans for seismic, fire, health and safety upgrades. There are two forms of loans: the Affordable Housing Loan Program, which provides loans at an interest rate equal to one-third of the City’s true interest cost of the bonds; and, the Market Rate Loan Program, which yields a return of 1 percent above the City’s true interest costs of the bonds. There are hundreds of multi-unit residential buildings that are at-risk an in need of these upgrades.
PROP D SETS SPECIAL ELECTIONS FOR VACANT SEATS & PROHIBITS APPOINTED SUPS FROM RUNNING
This measure establishes a timeline (28 days) for the mayor to appoint a supervisor to any vacant seat on the Board of Supervisors. Once that person is appointed, they would be ineligible for running for that seat on the BOS. A special election would be held unless a regularly scheduled election would occur within 180 days. Supporters say this measure would ensure vacancies are filled properly, which could prevent ‘loopholes’ arising from a seat left vacant for an extended period of time. Proponents argue the proposition is expensive and that voters already have an opportunity to choose their supervisor (rejecting the clause that the appointed supervisor would be ineligible for re-election). They further argue that officials who are ineligible would have no accountability to their constituents due to their limited term. Progressive supervisors placed this on the ballot in a 6-5 vote.
PROP E GIVES THE CITY ITS TREES BACK
San Francisco has about 105,000 street trees on sidewalks and medians. Liability for the trees and any damage caused by tress currently belongs to San Francisco property owners abutting the trees. This proposition would give the City full responsibility for the care of the trees (pruning) and for any sidewalk destruction caused by trees. The measure also encourages the City to give SFUSD up to $500,000 for the cost of maintaining trees on public school property. In the past, the City has failed to fund tree care in the annual budget. Supporters say this change is necessary because not all property owners can afford to maintain trees to the detriment of our tree population.
PROP F LETS THE YOUTH VOTE IN LOCAL ELECTIONS
Similar to Scotland, where youth voting has been implemented with great success, this measure would change the minimum voting age for local elections to 16. Supporters say this change would bring greater democracy to San Francisco, stating that 16- and 17-year olds, on average, are educated in civic knowledge as much as 21-year olds. In a press release, board commissioners pledged SFUSD’s involvement, should the proposal pass, in educating, preparing and registering teen voters. Proponents also claim 18 is a terrible age to begin voting due to the transitionary nature of the age. Opponents claim it is simply too young to vote, although 7,000 adult voters voted for Trump this summer.
PROP G REBRANDS CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT OF SF POLICE
Prop G would rename the Office of Citizen Complaints, which began in 1983, as the Department of Police Accountability. The rebrand is intended to give citizens a better indication of the agency’s purpose. In June we voted for the body to investigate all fatal shootings by officers and it was given increased funding. This measure would pull the OCC/DPA out of the Police Department’s budget and give the DPA authority to conduct audits every two years on police disciplinary practices. Minimal opposition has suggested that the changes are not enough and that there needs to be even more done for civilian oversight. If Prop G and H both pass, the Public Advocate will appoint the director of the DPA.
PROP H CREATES A WATCHDOG POSITION TO HOLD GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE
Proposition H creates a publicly elected Public Advocate position, which would work as an independent director in charge of police oversight. This position would appoint the Director of the OCC/DPA, review the administration and performance of City programs and services, investigate some complaints to the city and introduce new legislation when applicable. Supporters say the public advocate would strengthen the citizen complaint system by increasing its capacity to reply to complaints, investigate fraud in City programs, crack down on bad City contracts to save the City money and more. Opposition claims this position would diminish the mayor’s authority, creating a “junior mayor,” and that the staff size of the office would waste money.
PROP I ENSURES SENIORS & ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES CAN LIVE INDEPENDENTLY
Prop I benefits seniors ages 60 and older, adults with disabilities, isolated LGBT seniors, veterans, caregivers, people aging with HIV, seniors living with dementia and others. The fund would enable community agencies to deliver services without competing for funds. According to the DAAS needs assessment guide, San Francisco’s senior population is growing. The Public Policy Institute’s research shows that there will be less informal support (family and friends) for seniors in coming years. District 5, particularly near Western Addition and Haight Ashbury, is home to a disproportionate amount of the City’s low income seniors: 12 percent are very low income. This measure also supports work that prevents seniors from becoming homeless, which hastens aging.
PROP J ALLOCATES $ FOR TRANSPORTATION & HOMELESS SERVICES
Through Prop J, the Homeless Housing and Services Fund and the Transportation Improvement Fund would be created. The proposition is connected to Prop K, which increases the City’s sales tax. On the transportation side, the new money would be used to fund improvements on Muni service to low-income communities, support for seniors and riders with disabilities, infrastructure repair, transit optimization and street resurfacing. Services that prevent homelessness or help transition people out of homelessness would also be targeted.
Opposition to J is concerned the City is trying to bring in more money but won’t actually fund these two funds. The legislation gives the mayor authority to terminate either fund depending on the state of the budget on Jan. 1, 2017.
PROP K CREATES $ TO SUPPORT PROP K
Our sales tax is scheduled to reduce by a quarter of a cent on Dec. 31, but K would set that amount a half of a cent higher than the current percentage, resulting in a shift from 8.5% to 9.25%. The legislation does not specifically tie itself to Prop J, but the revenue is intended to support homeless housing and services as well as transportation improvements. The change takes effect on April 1, 2017 if approved and expires in 25 years. Supporters point out that the tax rate would still be lower than many other Bay Area cities and counties, and that the tax would generate $150 million to invest in housing and transportation. Opponents argue that spending in SF could drop by up to $150 million per year, which would harm small businesses.
PROP L SPLITS POWER TO APPOINT SFMTA DIRECTORSBETWEEN THE MAYOR & BOS
Prop L changes the appointment process for the MTA Board and the approval process for the budget. The goal is to bring more transparency and diversity to the board. In the new scenario four of the members would be appointed by the mayor while three would be appointed by the BOS. All appointments would have to be confirmed by the BOS. The budget would require an extra supervisor to pass—six supervisors could block it with a vote of rejection versus the current seven. Opposition believes this measure would shift too much power to the BOS and would reroute the SFMTA to a repeat meltdown. Supervisor Yee placed it on the ballot and says it’s for consistency with similar commissions, committees and city departments that are approved by the BOS.
PROP M CREATES A REAL ESTATE OVERSIGHT COMMISSION
Prop M would create a Housing and Development Commission. It would also create the Department of Economic and Workforce Development (DOEWD) and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DOHCD) to replace Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD). These two offices would cease to exist. The commission, instead of the Mayor, would have the power to appoint and remove the heads of these two new departments. The commission would establish new rules for the competitive selection process for the development of affordable housing on City-owned property; review and make changes to below-market-rate inclusionary housing requirements; and, oversee the spending of the City’s affordable housing funds.
PROP N GIVES NON-CITIZEN VOTING RIGHTS TO SFUSD PARENTS
Prop N was created to let more parents of San Francisco United School District students vote. The proposal would expire after the third election cycle, but the BOS could then pass an ordinance permitting non-citizens to vote for members of the Board of Education permanently. This would dramatically increase the number of people who are able to vote within SFUSD’s community for the BOE and gets more parents involved in their children’s education. Requirements for non-citizens would match normal minimum age requirements for voting and their child would have to reside in SFUSD terrain.
PROP O CHANGES REQUIREMENTS FOR OFFICE SPACE DEVELOPMENT AT HUNTERS POINT SHIPYARD
To prevent rapid development in downtown San Francisco, voters approved a proposition in 1986 that established an annual limit of 950,000 square feet on new office space construction in the City. Then, 22 years later, Prop G was passed, which encourages development of mixed-use project area at Candlestick Point and Hunters Point. This was supposed to include public parks and open space, new homes, retail space and office space. This new proposition would permanently exempt this area from limitations on office space development and would encourage a rapid approval process for City development. The measure reduces oversight requirements for project authorization and effectively treats new projects as if they have been granted authorization.
PROP P PITS QUALITY & EXPEDIENCY AGAINST PRICE
The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) would have to receive at least three bids for any affordable housing project using City funds before proceeding with a project if this measure is passed. Requirements for developers seeking affordable housing projects would change as well and would reward plans that have community oriented planning processes and are budget friendly. Opposition fears this will delay the process for starting new projects and quotes the Mayor’s Office, which suggests that more than 1,000 housing units would have been blocked from being built if the three bid requirement had been at play. As well, the opposition suggests that by awarding the bid to the lowest projected project we could wind up footing the bill for slum housing or could see a lot of change order requests and higher final costs.
PROP Q DOESN’T SOLVE ANYTHING
Prop Q is a ban on tents in the City, which supply a degree of shelter and privacy to people experiencing homelessness. Officials would not be able to remove a tent without written notice and by providing a bed in a shelter for the night. This policy is problematic because there are not enough beds in San Francisco to support everyone who would need one. Tents can at least provide a slight sense of stability for people, but the victims of this proposition would be chucked outside to the concrete following their one night at a shelter. Having shelter is a human right. Our resources would be better invested in creating actual exits from homelessness and having compassion rather than criminalizing people who are homeless.
PROP R MICROMANAGES SFPD
Prop R pulls police out of their neighborhood stations and create a centralized neighborhood crime unit that would roam the streets searching for car theft bandits and homeless people. At a meeting on June 15, Sup. Eric Mar brought people together to discuss the $18 million out of $20.6 million that was spent by SFPD to respond to quality of life calls in 2015. Out of 57,000 dispatches, 4,000 citations were written and only 0.2 percent of all incidents resulted in an arrest. These are the populations who are vulnerable to these types of calls, but nothing is resolved with the practices. At the same meeting, Bilal Ali, a man who was formerly homeless, said he has firsthand knowledge of being blamed and penalized through the quality of life laws. He pointed out that the laws are “punitive, unproductive and costly.” Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director for the SF Coalition on Homelessness, said $20.6 million could pay for 1,300 housing subsidies for the homeless.
PROP S FUNDS THE ARTS & HOMELESS SERVICES
In 1961, the City began dedicating funds from a hotel tax towards arts agencies, convention facilities and low-income housing, but about 15 years ago those funds were dumped into the City’s General Fund. This ordinance would reallocate those funds back to their original purpose. Taxes would not be altered whatsoever for the consumer, just the backend arrangements in the City budget. The Arts Commission, Cultural Equity Endowment Fund, Grants for the Arts and War Memorial Complex would be funded via the tax, and funds would be set up for a Neighborhood Arts Program Fund and Ending Family Homelessness Fund. Proposition S would also establish the Ending Family Homelessness Fund to provide subsidies and case management programs to house homeless families; provide services to low-income families at risk of becoming homeless; and develop, rehabilitate and acquire new housing for homeless families.
PROP T FIGHTS UNETHICAL PRACTICES BY OFFICIALS/LOBBYISTS
Prop T was placed on the ballot unanimously by the Ethics Commission and seeks to limit financial influence by lobbyists. Supporters of the measure say that San Francisco ethics lag far behind other cities. We now have LeeAnn Pelham, formerly on the LA Ethics Commission, bringing us up to par. This ordinance will specifically eliminate travel gifts (for private one-on-one time), bundled donations and campaign contributions. This is on top of requirements for lobbyists to register their intent, contributions and meeting dates and topics.
PROP U CHANGES AFFORDABLE HOUSING POLICY
This proposition would make affordable housing accessible to a higher income bracket. Opponents to this measure believe landlords would endeavor to evict low-income tenants to earn more money from those who would pay a higher rent. This measure retroactively opens all affordable housing (nearly 800 units) to all income brackets up to 110% area median income. Opponents say this measure was put on the ballot by real estate developers who would earn excessive profits. Currently there is a mixed-income system, which serves both low- and middle-income families, but this proposition sets to make all properties available to anyone falling within the spectrum.
PROP V TAXES SODA IN THE NAME OF HEALTHCARE
Prop V creates a one-cent per ounce tax on soda and sugary beverages and sugary powdered drink mixes to support the reduction of obesity in the City. (Studies show about 46.4% of adults in SF are obese or overweight.) The tax would be paid by the distributor, so it could be applied to any product in the store. Medical professionals support the measure and want to see health care initiatives formed with the funds created by the tax. A 16-person advisory committee would be formed in conjunction with the tax, and its purpose would be to evaluate the impact of the tax on beverage pricing, consumer purchasing behavior and public health. They would also come up with proposals on ways to use funds to reduce the consumption of sugary beverages. Money from the tax would go to the City’s general fund. Arguments agains Prop V imply small neighborhood stores will suffer because they rely on the sales of sugary drinks to thrive. As well, opponents say the measure is paternalistic.
PROP W USES TRANSFER TAX TO MAKE CITY COLLEGE FREE
Supporters of this bill want to see funds from a “luxury tax” used to make City College free again to San Francisco residents. (It was last free in 1983.) City College supports nearly 60,000 students. The tax would only apply to real estate sales and transfers amounting more than $5 million. This increases the existing transfer tax collected by the City between 0.25% and 0.5% higher (2.25%-3% total) for properties depending on the transfer amount. The controller estimates this would bring in $45 million on average, but the amount would range between $10 million-$73 million+. Opposition says this tax would raise rent for San Franciscans residents because rental properties would be affected.
PROP X MAKES DEVELOPERS MAINTAIN ART SPACE
San Francisco voters will decide in November if developers in certain downtown neighborhoods will be required to give more to the arts with Proposition X. The ordinance points out that diversity is threatened in SF and that retail rental rates have risen 122% in recent years. The BOS believes local regulation can solve the problem. From the legal text: “to alleviate the impact of loss of PDR (production, distribution and repair zoning) uses and to revitalize PDR uses and to attract technology and biotech businesses to the City, it is necessary for the City to aggressively pursue retention of PDR and its associated job sectors. Development that removes PDR use should have the option of replacing the lost space at a one-to-one ratio. To accomplish this, a PDR replacement program should be established.” This would apply to spaces that are at least 2,500 or 5,000 square feet based on the usage of the space.
RR FUNDS INEVITABLE BART IMPROVEMENTS
The measure aims to keep BART safe by preventing accidents, breakdowns and delays; to reduce traffic congestion, pollution and overcrowding; to improve earthquake safety standards by replacing 90 miles of severely worn tracks; to improve access for seniors and disabled persons; and, to repair tunnels damaged by water intrusion and time (on the 44-years old train system). The bond is for $3.5 billion and would ultimately cost the city about$6,830,382,000. Opposition says BART hasn’t earned our trust for that amount of money, while supporters says they’ve had a long term view. BART has seen a 23% increase in ridership recently and serves as a dynamic gateway in the Bay Area.