Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The worst ballot ever: part three, San Francisco measures

Can it really be that having spent hours on the state propositions, I now have City Measures A through X plus RR to try to comprehend? Yes, it can. Here goes:

Measure A: School bonds We need to fund the schools. (See also state Prop. 51.) Yes.

Measure B: City College parcel tax We need to fund City College. (See also the Community College Board.) Yes.

Measure C: Affordable housing loans We voted bonds in 1992 for seismic upgrades and some of that money is still around. This redirects it to affordable housing. Yes.

Measure D: appointments to vacant elected offices Since Willie Brown's time (1996-2004), mayors have frequently been able to overturn the will of the voters by replacing uncooperative supervisors with more malleable ones. Sometimes a sitting supervisor won higher office; sometimes the mayor dangled a plum appointment. This would stop that practice by requiring a special election for any vacated seat within 180 days. Let the people vote! Yes.

Measure E: Street trees WTF? The Department of Public Works has been passing off responsibility for trees on sidewalks (often the work of Friends of the Urban Forest) to property owners. Too many of these would rather cut the trees than assume the cost of care. This would raise $19 million to cover the cost of city care of the trees by a parcel tax based on property frontage. We'd be willing to pay for the care of our tree. Yes.

Measure F: Youth voting in local elections Would allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in San Francisco elections. If we can pass this, we'll be emulating Scotland. That seem like a pretty sane place. Youth activists jammed up the system to get this on the ballot. It's a great story. Yes.

Measure G: Department of Police Accountability This isn't going to solve the problem of the San Francisco Police Department running wild in communities of color. That's going to take "reconstitution," starting over with a command structure that comes from outside the old boy network and current police union. This would give what has been called the Office of Civilian Complaints at least a tiny amount of independence. Yes.

Measure H: Public Advocate New York has one of these and it seems to have got a pretty good mayor, Bill de Blasio, out of it. A Public Advocate's job is to make sure you’re getting fair treatment from the government. My termed out supervisor David Campos thinks we could use one; Campos is a smart guy so I am willing to give it a whirl. Yes.

Measure I: Funding for seniors and adults with disabilities This is a "set-aside" -- a budget category that legislators won't be able to wheel and deal with. I don't like that sort of thing. We elect people to figure out how to make all the interests get their piece; they should do their jobs. Yet I also know that some populations get screwed by the "regular" process. Am I really going to vote against old people? No. So, reluctantly, yes.

Measure J: Homeless services and transportation Well we certainly need them, so yes.

Measure K: Sales tax increase But apparently San Francisco can't have homeless services and transportation unless we also vote an additional sales tax. This is extortion. Let the tech billionaires pay for keeping the city whole! Apparently we can't do the obvious -- tax the people with the money -- so we have to do this. Very reluctantly, yes.

Measure L: Muni oversight This would let the supervisors appoint some of the members of the board of the transit system. Currently the mayor appoints all of them. Since nobody in their right mind thinks the mayor stands up for the interests of anyone but developers and tech money men, it would be helpful to introduce some popular friction into an otherwise closed system. Yes.

Measure M: Housing and development commission This aims to move some power over development away from the Mayor's Office because in recent seasons, the Mayor's Office has seemed to be shilling for developers rather than acting in the interests of all San Franciscans. Measure like this are what happens when people feel excluded from control over their homes. Yes.

Measure N: Non-citizen voting in School Board elections Sure -- remember whose kids are in the schools. These kids are our future. This is not a crazy San Francisco novelty: it happens in some parts of Maryland and Chicago. Yes.

Measure O: Office development in Hunters Point Lennar is a big corporate developer, long beloved of our mercenary city fathers going back to Willie Brown. It's always been their hope to develop the old Navy property and the city's last Black community by giving it away to Lennar. This would violate existing city rules which limit office development because developers never pay for the infrastructure and transit costs their projects create. The rest of us pay for that stuff while the corporations take the gravy. Lennar already won bounteous permits in Hunters Point. Enough. No.

Measure P: Competitive bidding for affordable housing San Francisco has an experienced cast of nonprofit housing developers based in our different communities such as Chinatown, the Mission, etc. This would require three bids for any city project, forcing groups that have managed to arrive at an intricate web of interconnections to compete. If there weren't three bids, a nonprofit housing project could not go forward.. Talk about the kind of over-regulation that conservatives (like the measure's conservative author Mark Farrell) usually rave against. It almost makes you think that the author doesn't want any nonprofit housing at all. No.

Measure Q: Tents on the sidewalk This is another Hate the Homeless measure. We vote on this sort of thing every few years. Street camping is already illegal -- but after all, we must Hate the Homeless. NO.

Measure R: Neighborhood crime unit Great, we've got a supervisor wanting us to vote to require the SFPD to focus on "quality of life" issues. That is, more Hate the Homeless. How about an initiative to disarm these killers on the loose among the communities of color? There's a bit of micro-managing I could get behind. NO.

Measure S: Hotel tax allocation We already tax hotel visits. Let's put some of that into housing homeless families. Yes.

Measure T: Lobbyist contributions Bars certain lobbyist contributions to candidates, though it is not clear whether many would escape its prohibitions. This kind of law often just moves money around. Still we have to try. Yes.

Measure U: Affordable housing requirements This would let developers off the hook for building as large a proportion of housing units for low income people as the current law requires -- and thus raise their profits. San Francisco is a profitable place to build. Make them recognize that the city's citizens retain some rights to control what they build and how many of us they can force out for their gain. NO.

Measure V: Sugary beverages tax We certainly should tax sodas! The beverage industry is trying to describe this as a "grocery tax". Sugar water is not my idea of groceries. This is coming; they can only hold it off for so long. Yes.

Measure W: Mansion tax This would raise the transfer tax on properties that sell for more than $5 million. I can't believe it would kill the buyers and sellers. Yes.

Measure X: Arts and industrial space retention San Francisco wouldn't be San Francisco if there were no place for the arts and small shops. But if the tech money gets its way, we'll have nothing but gleaming steel and orange paneled condos. This tries to help. Yes.

Measure RR: BART bonds I like BART (our subway). It's expensive, unless, like me, you are on senior fares, whereupon it is the best bargain around. It was designed for commuters from suburbs while we could really use more lines to get around town. But we need to fund its upkeep. Yes.

Part one: federal, state and local candidates.
Part two: state propositions

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