Editorial: SF ballot measure recommendations

  • by BAR Editorial Board
  • Wednesday May 18, 2022
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Proposition A would issue general obligation bonds to fund Muni improvements and street safety. Photo: Cynthia Laird
Proposition A would issue general obligation bonds to fund Muni improvements and street safety. Photo: Cynthia Laird

There are eight ballot propositions that San Francisco voters will decide on the June 7 ballot.

Proposition A: Muni Reliability and Street Safety Bond. YES. This would allow the City and County of San Francisco to issue $400 million in general obligation bonds to fund improvements for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. According to the voter guide, these would include increasing reliability, safety, and frequency; reducing delays; improving disabled access and equity; increasing subway capacity; and improving pedestrian, bicycle, and traffic safety. There are many other goals as well, such as improving Muni's deteriorating bus yards and redesigning streets and sidewalks. The mayor and a unanimous Board of Supervisors placed this on the ballot. The bond will help get the city back on track after more than two years of the COVID pandemic that decimated transit ridership, and the fares that go along with that. Bonds are a good way to improve infrastructure, and Prop A would allow the city to leverage federal matching funds. Vote Yes on Prop A.

Proposition B: Building Inspection Commission. YES. In light of the recent City Hall corruption scandals tied to the Department of Building Inspection, the Board of Supervisors placed Prop B, a charter amendment, on the ballot with a unanimous vote. It would change the structure of the Building Inspection Commission by removing designated industry seats and allowing qualified members of the public to serve instead. Three seats would require subject matter expertise, much like the Historical Preservation Commission. Nominees would also be required to go through a public hearing process, while the mayor would have the power to hire or fire the director, providing greater accountability, according to proponents' statement in the voter guide. We see this as increasing transparency. Vote Yes on Prop B.

Proposition C: Recall Timelines and Vacancy Appointments. NO. We editorialized against this a few months ago. The Board of Supervisors put this charter amendment on the ballot with a 7-4 vote. Prop C would change the rules for city recall elections. We think it is undemocratic because if a city official is recalled, the candidate appointed by the mayor would only be a placeholder and unable to run for the seat themselves in the next regular election if that election is more than 12 months away. This looks like an effort timed with the recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, because if successful, the new DA named by Mayor London Breed could not run in 2023. It should be the voters who weigh in on these replacement candidates, as they will in November with the three commissioners Breed named to the school board after their predecessors were recalled. (Prop C does not apply to them because they're within 12 months of a regularly scheduled election.) Vote No on Prop C.

Proposition D: Office of Victim and Witness Rights; Legal Services for Domestic Violence Victims. YES. This measure would create an Office of Victim and Witness Rights, a new city department. Four supervisors placed Prop D on the ballot. The office would establish a one-year pilot program to provide free legal services for domestic violence victims starting July 1, 2023. The Board of Supervisors would determine subsequent funding through the city's budget process. Currently, victims must navigate a maze of bureaucracy through several departments. Prop D would streamline that process. Domestic violence victims face enough hurdles — they should be able to more easily access services. Vote Yes on Prop D.

Proposition E: Behested Payments. YES. A behested payment is a donation solicited by a public official to benefit either a government agency or a private organization. Five supervisors placed Prop E on the ballot. It would amend the city's existing law with two additions: members of the board could not seek behested payments if the board had approved a beneficiary's contracts; and the board can only amend the behested payments law if the city's Ethics Commission approves proposed amendments by a majority vote and then the Board of Supervisors approves them with a two-thirds vote. While Prop E may affect some organizations' ability to raise funds, we believe transparency and accountability are more important and that behested payments present too great a risk of corruption. Vote Yes on Prop E.

Proposition F: Refuse Collection and Disposal. YES. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to place this on the ballot. Prop F would restructure membership of the Refuse Rate Board, change the process by which rates and regulations are set, and implement rules governing how future changes are made. The city controller would assume new duties as the refuse rate administrator. Recently, it was revealed that Recology, a private company that provides refuse services, was allowed to overcharge customers by up to $200 million and had agreed to refunds. This is not a measure against Recology workers who pick up trash and recycling. It's a good government measure to rein in a system that is prone to overcharging. Vote Yes on Prop F.

Proposition G: Public Health Emergency Leave. YES. Under this measure, private employers and the city would be required to provide paid leave to employees for public health emergencies. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to place Prop G on the ballot and stated in the voter guide that the COVID pandemic revealed massive gaps in protections for essential workers and increased wildfires are causing more unhealthy air quality days each year. Such emergency leave would kick in during any public health emergency. It's a common-sense policy that empowers workers to protect themselves. Vote Yes on Prop G.

Proposition H: Recall Measure Regarding Chesa Boudin: NO. We editorialized for a no vote on Prop H in our April 28 issue. For the editorial, click here.

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