RR to A to Z: San Francisco’s Fall 2016 Ballot Measures
The ballot confronting San Francisco voters for the 2016 Fall elections is daunting. BLUPAC is pleased to summarize the following information that was featured by the nonprofit San Francisco Urban Research Association about the various measures to help voters make informed decisions.
Measure RR would authorize BART to issue $3.5 billion in general obligation bonds to fund core system renewal projects, including track replacement, tunnel repair and computer and electrical system upgrades to allow more frequent and reliable service. The bond would fund those renewal projects most needed to improve system performance and allow BART to plan for future capacity needs, including a second transbay rail crossing. The system renewal plan would be implemented over the course of 21 years, from 2017 through 2038. The bond would be backed by a tax levied on property within the three-county BART District (San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties) and would increase property taxes over a term of 30 to 48 years. BART anticipates that the average cost per household would be $35 to $55 per year, depending on the assessed value of a home.
Proposition A would authorize the San Francisco Board of Education to issue $744,250,000 in general obligation bonds for facilities upgrades and other capital improvements to schools in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). The district plans to dedicate funds for seismic upgrades and modernization in schools and administration buildings across the city; construction of the SFUSD Arts Center and the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts; technology upgrades to schools; construction of two new elementary schools; the district’s student nutrition program; energy sustainability upgrades; and the construction of teacher housing. The bond would be backed by a tax levied on property within San Francisco over the estimated 25-year lifetime of the bond. The bond is expected to raise the annual property taxes of the typical homeowner by $15.90 per $100,000 of assessed value.
Proposition B would authorize a parcel tax in San Francisco of $99 per property annually for 15 years to provide funding for the City College of San Francisco. This measure would effectively extend and raise by $20 the current tax of $79 per parcel, passed by the voters as Prop. A in 2012 and set to expire in 2020. Prop. B would generate $3 million to $4 million of annual revenue in addition to the $14 million generated by the current parcel tax each year. The parcel tax proceeds would be used to support the college’s general operating expenses. Proposed expenditures include maintaining math and science programs and student services like school libraries and counselors. Part of the funding would increase faculty salaries, which are below 2007 levels.
Proposition C would amend an existing seismic safety bond program to make unused funds available for a new purpose: to acquire and rehabilitate apartments that house tenants at risk of eviction and to convert those apartments to permanently affordable housing. In addition, these funds could be used to perform seismic, fire, health and safety upgrades or other improvements necessary to ensure that units remain habitable.
Proposition D would amend the City Charter to change the conditions of the mayor’s power to make an appointment when a vacancy occurs in an elected office. Under this charter amendment, the mayor would be required to make an interim appointment within 28 days to fill the vacancy. This measure would also require that, when a seat becomes vacant on the Board of Supervisors, a special election be held in that district to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term of office. The interim supervisor appointed by the mayor would be ineligible to run.
Proposition E would make it the City and County of San Francisco’s responsibility to maintain all street trees, repair sidewalks damaged by trees and assume liability for any property damage or injury caused by the city’s failure to maintain a street tree. This measure would pay for these costs through a $19 million set-aside from the General Fund, adjusted annually by the percentage increase or decrease in discretionary revenues. It would allow the city to grant $500,000 annually from this fund to the San Francisco Unified School District to maintain trees on its property. The level of funding would also cover maintenance costs for the 50,000 new trees the city aims to plant over the next 20 years to stem the current and ongoing decline of the city’s urban forest. Until January 2017, this measure would give the mayor the one-time authority to terminate this set-aside based on the city’s financial condition.
Proposition F would amend the San Francisco City Charter to grant 16- and 17-year-olds who are U.S. citizens and residents of San Francisco the right to vote in municipal and school board elections. This measure would only apply to youth who are U.S. citizens — estimated to be between 6,000 and 15,000 people in San Francisco. If every eligible 16- and 17-year-old registered to vote, this group would amount to approximately 3 percent of registered voters.
Proposition G would amend the City Charter to rename the Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC) as the Department of Police Accountability (DPA) and would eliminate the requirement that the Police Commission approve the DPA’s proposed budget and instead allow the department’s proposed budget to be submitted directly to the mayor.
Proposition H is a charter amendment that would create a new citywide elected office — public advocate — and establish the powers for this office. The public advocate would be elected by citywide vote in a general or special municipal election. She or he could not serve more than two consecutive four-year terms, but there would be no limit to the number of nonconsecutive terms a public advocate could serve. The public advocate would be required to have an office in City Hall and a staff, including a deputy public advocate and at least two assistant public advocates. This measure would also make a nonbinding recommendation that the Office of the Public Advocate have at least two staff members per supervisorial district (a total of 22 additional staff) to perform constituent services and investigations.
Proposition I is a charter amendment that would establish a fund to support services for seniors, veterans, adults with disabilities and adults living with chronic and life-threatening health conditions. The city would be required to contribute $38 million to the fund for fiscal year 2016–2017, an amount that would increase by $6 million for fiscal year 2017–2018 and subsequently increase by $3 million a year for the next nine years until the annual contribution reached $68 million in fiscal year 2026–2027. The fund would continue at that amount, adjusted annually for changes in aggregate discretionary city revenues, for the next 10 years until fiscal year 2036–2037. Growth in this baseline support could be suspended but not reversed if the city’s projected budget deficit exceeded $200 million. Funds unspent in one year would carry over to the next.
Proposition J is a charter amendment that would dedicate funding that comes into San Francisco’s General Fund from the Prop. K sales tax measure. Of the funds generated by the three-quarter-cent sales tax increase, this measure would put a quarter cent toward homeless services and a half cent toward transportation system improvements. In the first full year of the sales tax increase, those amounts are expected to be $47.75 million and $95.5 million, respectively. The budget set-asides created by this charter amendment would sunset in June 2041.
Proposition K would increase San Francisco’s sales tax by three-quarters of a cent (0.75 percent) in order to fund the homelessness and transportation programs. Because a quarter cent of the state sales tax will expire on January 1, 2017, the actual sales tax rate would change from 8.75 percent currently to 9.25 percent under this proposal. This sales tax increase would sunset after 25 years, in fiscal year 2040–41.
Proposition L is a charter amendment that would alter how appointments are made to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors. The SFMTA is the agency that oversees the city’s transportation network, including public transit, streets and parking. Currently, the mayor appoints all seven members of the board of directors, and the Board of Supervisors confirms those appointments. Under this charter amendment, the Board of Supervisors would appoint three of the seven members, and the mayor would appoint the remaining four, who would still be subject to confirmation by the Board of Supervisors.
Proposition M is a charter amendment that would establish a new Housing and Development Commission. The commission would oversee a new Department of Housing and Community Development (currently the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development) and a new Department of Economic and Workforce Development (currently the Office of Economic and Workforce Development).
Proposition N would allow San Francisco residents who are of legal voting age and who are the parents, legal guardians or caregivers for children in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote in elections for the Board of Education, regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens. The measure would provide these voting rights to noncitizens who are in the country legally and illegally, as long as they have children ages 18 or younger.
Proposition O would allow office development in Candlestick Point and the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard to go forward without being counted toward the citywide annual cap on allowable office development in San Francisco. The measure would specifically change the city’s zoning code to remove Candlestick Point and the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard from the provisions of a measure adopted by voters in 1986 that limits the approval of new office development to 950,000 square feet per year. That limit would still apply to other areas of the city. This measure would not make changes to the approval process for any other type of development (like residential or retail) in Candlestick Point, Hunters Point or elsewhere in the city.
Proposition P would establish a competitive bidding process for affordable housing projects funded by San Francisco on city property. Specifically, the measure would require the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) to publish proposed affordable housing projects to the public for open bidding and submission of proposals, receive at least three bids or proposals and accept the proposal with the “best value.” Under this measure, the city could not proceed with an affordable housing project if MOHCD received fewer than three proposals.
Proposition Q would amend the San Francisco Police Code to prohibit tent encampments on public sidewalks. Under this measure, the city would be authorized to clear people camped on public sidewalks, provided they are served with at least 24 hours’ advance notice and offered alternative housing or shelter and homeless services. “Housing” is defined as placement in a Navigation Center or another housing option provided by the city or a nonprofit group; “shelter” means a temporary stay in a city homeless shelter; and “homeless services” refers to the city’s Homeward Bound program, which pays for transportation to other cities where family and friends can offer housing and support. The Department of Public Health, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and the Department of Public Works would enforce this measure. Because it amends the Police Code, it would also be enforceable by the San Francisco Police Department. Under the terms of this measure, if the city could not offer the occupants of an encampment housing or shelter, the city could not clear the encampment.
Proposition R would require that the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) establish a Neighborhood Crime Unit and dedicate a minimum of 3 percent of total sworn personnel to the unit. The 3 percent minimum requirement (59 or more officers) would only apply when the SFPD has met its charter-mandated minimum staffing of 1,971 sworn officers.
Proposition S would allocate a portion of San Francisco’s hotel tax revenue, which currently goes into the city’s General Fund, to specific services that support the arts and homeless families. San Francisco imposes a 14 percent hotel tax (consisting of an 8 percent base tax and an additional 6 percent tax surcharge) on the rental of hotel rooms.
Proposition T would amend the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code to create stricter registration requirements for lobbyists and restrict gifts and campaign contributions from lobbyists to city officials. This measure would (1) require lobbyists to identify which city agencies they influence or intend to influence and would require them to update their registration information and disclosures within five days of any changed circumstances; (2) prohibit lobbyists from making any gift of any value to a city official — including gifts to underwrite travel expenses — and would prohibit city officers from accepting or soliciting such gifts. The measure would further clarify that a lobbyist could not give gifts to a city official through a third party; and (3) prohibit lobbyists from making any contribution to city elected officials or candidates, as well as from gathering contributions from others (known as “bundling”).
Proposition U would increase the income eligibility limit for all new and existing on-site inclusionary rental housing units to 110 percent of AMI (currently $118,450 for a household of four), instead of the current mix of 55 percent and 100 percent of AMI. It would also change the way rent is charged, setting an affordable unit’s rent at 30 percent of an individual household’s income, which could be any income under 110 percent of AMI. If this measure is adopted, developers would not know the amount of rent they could collect until specific tenants are identified for the units. In addition, the measure would require the city to change its agreements with existing property owners to allow for this change. This measure would not change the income eligibility limit for for-sale units or for affordable units built off site.
Proposition V would impose a tax of 1 cent per ounce on drinks that have added sweeteners and contain more than 25 calories per 12 ounces. The measure is intended to discourage the distribution and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. The tax would cover most non-diet sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks distributed in San Francisco. Milk, infant formula, meal replacements, 100 percent juices, alcohol and drinks prepared by hand would be exempt.
Proposition W would increase San Francisco’s property transfer tax rate from 2 percent to 2.25 percent on properties with a value of $5 million to $9.99 million and from 2.5 percent to 2.75 percent on properties with a value of $10 million to $24.99 million. The measure would create a new bracket for properties with a value of at least $25 million, establishing a transfer tax rate of 3 percent for those properties. Prop. W would make explicit that San Francisco’s transfer tax also applies to the sale of real estate owned by a partnership, such as a trust or a tenancy-in-common ownership arrangement.
Proposition X would make two changes to development projects within the Mission and South of Market neighborhoods. First, it would require a conditional use authorization from the Planning Commission if the development project would demolish or convert space used for production, distribution or repair (known collectively as “PDR”), arts activities or nonprofit community uses. Second, it would require the new development to replace the PDR, arts or community space that is converted or demolished.