SF voters back safety, bond measures

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday March 6, 2024
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Supervisor Joel Engardio was pleased that the nonbinding Proposition G about offering algebra I to eighth graders was passing. Photo: John Ferrannini
Supervisor Joel Engardio was pleased that the nonbinding Proposition G about offering algebra I to eighth graders was passing. Photo: John Ferrannini

San Francisco voters appeared to give greater powers to law enforcement, restrict public benefits for drug users, and defeated a measure that would have tied hiring more police to tax revenue, according to preliminary election returns.

Proposition E, supported by Mayor London Breed and moderate supervisors, would curtail the power of the police commission over the department, allow the department to hold community meetings before the commission can change policies, and authorize the department to use drones and install surveillance cameras without further approval. Proponents argued it will help the city better address public safety challenges.

Opponents, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, had countered that the measure guts reforms meant to hold police accountable and will disproportionately impact people of color. Voters seemed to agree with Breed, supporting the measure 59.9%-40.1%, according to preliminary election returns from the San Francisco Department of Elections.

In a statement, Breed stated she'd work with the San Francisco Police Department to quickly implement Prop E.

"By supporting the work of our police officers, expanding our use of technology, and getting officers out from behind their desks and onto our streets, we will continue in our mission to make San Francisco a safer city," Breed stated.

One of Breed's opponents in the upcoming mayoral battle, Levi Strauss heir Daniel Lurie, stated that the likely passage of Prop E shows voters want solutions to the city's public safety issues.

"City Hall's inaction and misplaced priorities have left San Francisco's law enforcement agencies facing a staffing crisis," Lurie stated. "The voters spoke clearly in passing Prop E to use community safety cameras and other common sense technology to apprehend and hold repeat offenders accountable — tactics that should have been employed years ago."

Former mayor Mark Farrell and District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí are also running for mayor. Farrell declined comment through a spokesperson, and Safaí did not return a request for comment.

Proposition F, also supported by Breed, requires single adults 65 years of age and younger with no dependent children who receive public assistance and who the city suspects are dependent on illegal drugs to participate in drug screening, evaluation, and treatment to remain eligible for city benefits. The measure is winning 63%-37%, according to preliminary election returns.

Breed stated that the proposition will help "get people into treatment and to create more accountability around our city programs."

"We are also sending a message that we are a city that offers help but not a city where you can just come and do whatever you want on our streets," she stated. "The passage of Prop F shows that the voters believe we must be both a city of compassion and accountability."

Proposition B was put on the ballot through a 6-5 vote of the Board of Supervisors late last year. Safaí argued that the measure is necessary because while he supports ending the understaffing of the police department, he believes voters should decide which tax revenues to "modify, repurpose or create" to cover the cost of the hundreds of new officers needed to bring SFPD back to full staffing, he stated in the voter information pamphlet.

Gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey originally wanted to deal with the staffing crisis but without mandating voters pass a tax in the future. He disavowed the measure, which he called a "cop tax scheme." Voters seem to agree with Dorsey, opposing the measure 67%-33%, according to unofficial returns.

During an election night party at Anina in Hayes Valley — which also celebrated Dorsey and his slate winning big for the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee — the South of Market supervisor was pleased with the early returns.

"Stop playing games on public safety," he intoned. "We need to hire police, get to a fully-staffed police department. Voters spoke. We are in the midst of a voter revolt on public safety and voters are still speaking."

Proposition A was put on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors to construct, develop, acquire, or rehabilitate affordable housing through $300 million in general obligation bonds.

It needed 66.66% to pass, and unofficial returns showed it ahead 67.7%-32.2%.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin stated to the B.A.R. on election night, after mentioning what looks like the victory of two incumbent judges he supported, that "I am equally pleased that over 2/3rds of voters saw fit to pass the affordable housing bond that will provide thousands with affordable homes. It is a testament to what we can do when we unite and put good public policy ahead of politics and press releases."

Breed backed Proposition C that would exempt from the real estate transfer tax a property being converted from commercial to residential use for the first time. The mayor argued it will help the city's beleaguered downtown economy recover. Opponents, such as the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, argued in the voter information pamphlet that it's a "billionaire tax break for luxury housing." Voters seem to agree with Breed, supporting the measure 53.8%-46.1%, according to preliminary returns.

Proposition D would tighten the city's ethics laws in the aftermath of the Mohammed Nuru scandal. The former head of San Francisco Public Works is currently in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud. Almost two-dozen city employees, contractors, consultants, and permit expediters have been implicated in the scandal. Voters appear to feel new ethics rules are needed, and the measure is succeeding 88%-12%, unofficial returns showed.

Proposition G would make it city policy to encourage the San Francisco Unified School District to offer algebra by the eighth grade. The district currently offers algebra in the ninth grade, though the school board recently announced algebra I would be offered to eighth graders. The nonbinding proposition was winning 84%-16%.

Gay District 4 Supervisor Joel Engardio, who sponsored the measure, was excited about that at the aforementioned Anina party, getting cheers when he said "let's hear it for algebra!"

The one state proposition was Proposition 1, to authorize $6.38 billion in bonds for mental health treatment for people with substance abuse challenges. It was boosted by Governor Gavin Newsom (D), and is narrowly leading 50.5%-49.5%.

Update 3/6/24: This story has been updated to include Farrell declining to comment.

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