SF Apartment : May 2018


Be in the “No”

by Charley Goss

With more than two dozen ballot measures on the November 2016 ballot, voters in San Francisco needed a year off to rest. But in 2018, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ recent trend of legislating via the ballot box, combined with a number of citizen’s initiatives and an unexpected mayor’s race, mean that we’ll see another lengthy, tax-heavy ballot in June. In this article, you’ll find an overview of the proposed ballot measures and candidates who are up for election, as well as the SFAA Political Action Committee’s stance on these measures.

No on Proposition A

Proposition A was placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote from members of the board of supervisors.

It would amend the city charter to authorize the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to issue revenue bonds to build or improve clean power facilities, with approval by two-thirds of the board of supervisors. It would require the SFPUC to use revenue bonds to finance new power facilities that deliver clean energy, enhance reliability and safety, and increase sustainability.

The measure would also prohibit the SFPUC from financing construction of power plants that generate electricity from fossil fuels or nuclear power. The measure is designed to build on the SFPUC’s policy of producing clean and greenhouse-gas-free electric power for the Hetch-Hetchy water delivery system, bringing it to all city departments, the airport, the San Francisco Unified School District, and affordable housing developments. The SFAA Political Action Committee recommends a “No” vote on Prop. A.

No on Proposition B

Proposition B is also a proposed amendment to the city charter, and was placed on the ballot by Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Jane Kim, Ahsha Safai and Norman Yee. It would require appointed members of boards and commissions established by the charter, like the Planning Commission, to forfeit their appointed commission or board seat if they file to run for a state or local elected office. The measure does not apply to currently elected officials, members of citizen advisory committees and appointed members of boards and commissions created by ordinance instead of the city charter.

The ballot measure purports to prevent conflicts of interest, even though existing policies require appointed commissioners to recuse themselves if they have conflicts of interest. The SFAA PAC recommends a “No” vote on Prop. B.

No on Proposition C

Proposition C is one of two competing proposed increases to the city’s gross receipts tax on commercial property. Currently, the city collects a gross receipts tax on revenue from commercial property like office buildings, warehouses and retail spaces at rates ranging from 0.285 to 0.3 percent. This measure, being pushed by Supervisors Jane Kim and Norman Yee, would raise the gross receipts tax rate on commercial property by more than tenfold, to 3.5 percent. City Controller Ben Rosenfield estimates that the proposed tax increase would generate around $150 million each year, with 85 percent of proceeds to fund childcare and educational services for children and 15 percent of the funds generated available for any public purpose. Prop. C needs just 50% of the vote to become law. The SFAA PAC recommends a “No” vote on this tax increase.

No on Proposition D

Proposition D is a proposed increase to the city’s gross receipts tax on commercial property, but at a lesser rate than Prop. C. Prop. D, which has also been labeled the “Housing for All” measure, would increase the gross receipts tax for commercial space to 1.7%. Funds generated from the tax increase would go towards housing and homeless services. This includes temporary and permanent housing for homeless adults, families and youth, the city’s small-site housing acquisition fund, the rehabilitation of single room occupancy hotels, and towards rent subsidies for very low-income seniors in affordable housing developments. Prop. D exempts gross receipts from revenue from Production, Distribution or Repair (PDR) uses, arts and entertainment activities, and from the retail sale of goods and services directly to consumers. The measure also includes language that specifies if both Propositions C and D pass, only the tax increase with the most votes will become law. The SFAA PAC also recommends a “No” vote on Prop. D.

No Position on Proposition E

Prop. E aims to prohibit tobacco retailers from selling flavored tobacco products. In 2017, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a city ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco products in San Francisco. A referendum on the ordinance was filed, requiring it to go before the voters before taking effect. If Prop. E passes, flavored tobacco products will be prohibited from being sold in San Francisco. The SFAA PAC did not take a position on this measure.

No, No, No on Proposition F

Proposition F received enough voter signatures to get on the ballot and is sure to get the attention of SFAA members. If passed, Proposition F would provide city-funded attorneys to represent all tenants facing eviction in San Francisco. The city already funds dozens of nonprofits to provide free and low-cost eviction defense on a number of different scales, but Prop. F would require the city to fund an attorney for every single tenant being evicted in San Francisco. This includes wealthy residents and residents being evicted for just cause, like nonpayment of rent, nuisance to other tenants in the building, breach of lease agreement, and even evictions for domestic violence.

This measure would result in much higher legal bills for SFAA members who must evict a tenant, and overall would make just cause evictions much more difficult. The measure is unfunded and would take away resources from the city’s general fund. SFAA members know that evictions in San Francisco are already highly regulated, extremely costly and politicized, even when the tenant is creating problems for other residents in the building. SFAA recommends a very strong “No” vote on Prop. F.

No Position on Proposition G

Proposition G is a proposed parcel tax of $298 per parcel. The tax would be increased for inflation each year and would sunset (expire) after 20 years. Funds raised from the tax are designated to increase the salaries and benefits of teachers and employees of the San Francisco Unified School District. Generally, parcel taxes are designed to fund infrastructure and public improvements rather than salaries and benefits for public employees. The measure exempts senior citizens (65 or over) as well as parcels designated as a parking space. The SFAA PAC did not take a position on Proposition G.

Yes on Proposition H

Proposition H was placed on the ballot by the San Francisco Police Officers Union, and if passed would authorize the San Francisco Police Department to purchase tasers for every police officer. It would also require police officers to complete use-of-force training and comes at a time when the police commission is attempting to develop policies around tasers and alternate uses of force after a number of police-involved shootings over the past few years.

The use of force policy could only be changed via ballot measure, rather than as a result of police commission recommendations or ordinances passed by the board of supervisors. SFAA recommends a “Yes” vote on Prop H.

No Position on Proposition I

If Proposition I passes, the city would adopt a policy that it will not “invite, entice, encourage, cajole or condone the relocation of any professional sports team that has established itself in another city.” The policy reached the ballot by citizen initiative and comes about after San Francisco lost the 49ers to Santa Clara, and as the Golden State Warriors are constructing their new arena in San Francisco after playing at Oracle Arena in Oakland since 1971. The SFAA PAC did not take a position on Prop. I.

London Breed for Mayor

In addition to the local ballot measures, San Franciscans citywide will be voting for a new mayor after the unexpected passing of Mayor Ed Lee in December of 2017. SFAA has endorsed current San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed, who represents the Haight, Western Addition and Cole Valley, for mayor. Breed is running against current District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, former state Senator Mark Leno, and former Supervisor Angela Alioto.

President London Breed has the best and most nuanced understanding of housing, land use, and quality of life issues amongst the candidates, and is worthy of the support of SFAA members.

Charley Goss covers government affairs for SFAA. He can be reached at charley@sfaa.org.