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Prop I not an easy sell in SF

by Alex Madison

Construction continues on Chase Center, the future home of the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Construction continues on Chase Center, the future home of the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

The NBA champion Golden State Warriors are in the midst of another postseason run, with fans packing watering holes and holding viewing parties for the games. But some people are upset the Warriors will soon leave Oakland for San Francisco, and a June 5 ballot measure would ask the city to formally apologize for enticing the team's move across the bay.

To Allen Jones, a black, homeless San Francisco resident who identifies as a homosexual, it is a prime example of San Francisco City Hall's greed and lack of compassion toward the city of Oakland, which will also soon see its pro football franchise the Raiders decamp to Las Vegas.

"I am riding up as a sports fan and San Franciscan who knows right from wrong," Allen said in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "San Francisco has a $10 billion-a-year tourism industry and are taking Oakland's jewel from the black community and giving it to a white community."

Jones is the author of Proposition I on the June 5 ballot. It's a declaration of policy that states City Hall will "not endorse or condone the relocation of any team with an extensive history in another location." The language also asks the city to submit a formal apology to the city of Oakland for wooing the Warriors.

Although Prop I does not have the power to stop the Warriors from jumping ship, it will, in Jones' eyes, demonstrate just how many people - presumably the 14,686 who signed the petition to get the measure on the ballot plus whoever votes for it - do not support the move and bring awareness to the negative impacts it will have on Oakland.

"A lot of people look at the situation and realize what's going on here," he said. "[San Francisco] will squeeze the life out of the community. The policy is an apology and commitment to not act this way again and a record of how San Francisco City Hall conducted itself."

The Warriors soon-to-be home, Chase Center, is an 18,000-seat, multi-use arena on an 11-acre plot in Mission Bay that is currently under construction. The land was purchased by the Warriors in 2015 from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

The project was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in December 2015, and ground was broken on the site in January. The Warriors plan to start playing at Chase Center in 2019.

It was an accumulation of events that inspired Jones to pursue the ballot measure. He said San Francisco City Hall has discriminated against the black community for decades. James Erickson, an insurance salesman and Oakland resident, joined forces with Jones and shelled out $50,000 for signature gathering for the proposition to qualify for the ballot, he said.

Erickson said the petition demonstrates that an overwhelming number of city residents don't agree with the move and is a decision solely decided by "billionaires" and "corrupt politicians."

Erickson specifically pointed out the loss of jobs Oakland will face with the move.

"This will cost people jobs," said Erickson, who also runs a nonprofit called Direct Help, which helps support low-income children.

"I have a union document right now that shows people at Oracle will lose their jobs," he said, referring to the arena where the Warriors currently play.

(Jones made news in 2011 when he pushed San Francisco city leaders to honor the late Oliver Sipple, a gay disabled veteran who was credited with thwarting an assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford when he visited San Francisco in 1975. While the city did name September 22, 2011 as "Oliver W. Sipple Day," Jones told the B.A.R. he was upset more wasn't done to celebrate the honor.)

Tepid support
Although Jones and Erickson have support from some people, the measure has not received many endorsements. Every member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, except one who voted no contest, voted for a recommendation to vote no on Prop I.

David Campos, a gay man who's chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, said it was because none of the committee members understood the reasoning behind the proposition.

"The general sense that people had was that they didn't understand what the point of it was," he said in an interview with the B.A.R. "If you go to the ballot, there needs to be a point to try and accomplish."

Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, agrees with Campos that the policy does not have an impact.

"It's a bad idea because it's a political statement that has no legal impact," he said. "There is a cost to putting these things forward, and we think policy statements that don't direct city government to conduct an action is a waste."

The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club voted no on endorsing Prop I, while the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club took no position.

Another significant component of Prop I is condemning the $40 million in bond debt the Warriors allegedly owe the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority, a joint powers agency established by the city of Oakland and Alameda County that own the Oracle Arena. In 1996, the Warriors signed a 20-year lease with the Coliseum Authority, which issued $140 million in bonds to renovate the arena to accommodate changes requested by the Warriors.

The Warriors have paid a significant portion of the debt, but are now suing Oakland for the remainder, claiming the language of the contract does not hold the organization responsible for the debt if they are no longer using the arena. The lawsuit goes to arbitration in July.

Rebecca Kaplan, a lesbian who is the at-large member of the Oakland City Council, is asking the Warriors to drop the suit and pay the debt, which she said Oakland taxpayers will be burdened with.

"The people of Oakland will be left with a huge cost and burden if the Warriors move forward with trying to not pay the $40 million in bond debt," said Kaplan, who has started an online petition on the matter. "That means less after-school programs, less money to help the homeless, fix potholes, illegal dumping, real needs for Oakland."

She also said African-American and other minority groups will be disproportionately affected by the move, especially if Chase Center begins to host concerts and other events that would otherwise be booked at Oracle.

She condemned San Francisco for its encouragement of the move saying, "How would San Francisco feel if another city encouraged their companies to relocate and deadbeat on $40 million of debt?"

Kaplan, who supports Prop I, also mentioned the negative consequences of building Chase Center next to UCSF's Mission Bay campus. The arena, located at 16th and Third streets, sits across the street from UCSF, which offers emergency services. UCSF sent a formal letter to the late mayor Ed Lee during the approval process that voiced the university's opposition.

"Our major fear is that the Mission Bay site will lose its appeal - not only for the new biomedical enterprises that the city would like to attract here, but also for most of its current occupants. The result could critically harm not only UCSF, but also the enormously promising, larger set of biomedical enterprises that currently promises to make San Francisco the envy of the world," read a letter by UCSF heads, faculty, and staff.

The last straw for Jones was when the California Supreme Court in January 2017 threw out lawsuits by the Mission Bay Alliance, a group of academics, staff, and benefactors of UC, to stop the construction of the new arena on the grounds it would create major traffic, inflict upon the services of the medical center, and other negative environmental impacts.

Campos and Lazarus said these issues have been worked out among city officials and don't foresee any major issues with the Chase Center.

The B.A.R. reached out Warriors spokesman Raymond Ridder, but did not receive a response by press time.

The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority also did not respond to a request for comment.

For more information, visit Jones' website at www.goodneighborcoalition.org.

Other SF props
Other local measures include Proposition F, which provides city-funded legal representation for residential tenants facing eviction. Gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who supports Prop F, said in an editorial board meeting with the B.A.R., "it would identify the bad actors" and help stop serial owner move-ins.

Board of Supervisors President and mayoral candidate London Breed said she supports the intention behind Prop F, but that legal representation can be provided through an ordinance put forth by the Board of Supervisors.

Opponents include the San Francisco Apartment Association.

More clean energy is the focus of Proposition A, a charter amendment. The amendment would authorize the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to issue revenue bonds for facilities to produce hydroelectric power for city and port land, including developments on Treasure Island, the Hunters Point Shipyard, Pier 70, and Mission Rock.

The amendment was introduced by Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Katy Tang.

The Libertarian Party of San Francisco is against Prop A, saying on its website that the measure gives politicians the "power to incur debt without voter approval to force all residents to get all our power needs from the city and no one else."

Peskin said in an endorsements column in the Semaphore, "This will not come at an expense to taxpayers. The SFPUC has proven that they can manage ratepayer finances responsibly."

Proposition B, spearheaded by Peskin, is another charter amendment. It formalizes an unenforced policy that members of city boards and commissions resign their seat when they decide to seek elected office. Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown was known to kick people off of city boards and commissions when they entered a race, but the policy was never codified.

City Controller Ben Rosenfield said in a letter to the Department of Elections that if passed, "It would have a minimal impact on the cost of government."

Regional measure
Known as the "Bay Area Traffic Relief Plan," Regional Proposition 3 would increase Bay Area bridge tolls (on all but the Golden Gate) by $3 by 2025 to fund $4.5 billion in capital improvements to Caltrain, BART, Muni, and several highways. The measure would add new BART cars, extend BART through downtown San Jose and Santa Clara, expand ferry services, extend Caltrain to the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco, and add new carpool lanes on the Marin-Sonoma Narrows on U.S. Highway 101, and maintenance.

The legal text of the measure states, "Between now and 2040, the Bay Area's economy is expected to add one million jobs, while our population is expected to grow by two million residents."

The plan includes 35 projects and programs to help relieve traffic and enhance public transportation.

Terence Faulkner, the former chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, does not support the initiative.

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2018-04-25 22:11:59

    Full disclosure, I am the proponent of Prop. I. This is interesting. David Campos and the entire SF DCCC voting committee do not understand the point of an apology nor do they care about a sports team stiffing Oakland for $40 million.


  • Anonymous, 2018-04-26 02:55:36

    Also: Compare the 14766 signatures of registered voters that I turned in to SF Elections to get this measure on the ballot with the David Campos and 29 other top Democrats who claim they didn’t understand it. These facts in the piece contrdict the title of the piece.


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