Voter Guide 2016

[people. power. media] San Francisco Voter Guide 2016
Joseph Smooke, Dyan Ruiz | 10/16/2016
I Voted sticker

Here’s our summary guide!

Vote YES on:  A through G, I, L, M, N, S, T, V, W, X

Vote NO on:  O, P, Q, R, U

No Position: H, J, K


A: School Bonds

Vote Yes.

We need to support our public schools, and this measure will do that.

B: City College Parcel Tax (property tax) 

Vote Yes.

Placed on the ballot by the Community College Board to raise money to support City College.

C: Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing 

Vote Yes!

This is extremely important for supporting new affordable housing and for nonprofits purchasing existing, occupied apartment buildings to save tenants from evictions when buildings are sold. It’s essential to vote Yes because it needs ⅔ of all votes to pass (not just 50% +1) because it’s a general obligation bond! 

It’s supported by a broad coalition of affordable housing advocates, tenants rights organizations, and neighborhood organizations.

D: Vacancy Appointments 

Vote Yes.

Currently the Mayor can appoint a new Supervisor when a seat becomes vacant who then can run as an incumbent to retain that seat. This happens when a member of the Board of Supervisors wins election to another office, so their seat becomes vacant before the end of their term. The power for replacing an elected Supervisor should be with the people, not the Mayor. 

E: Responsibility for Maintaining Street Trees and Surrounding Sidewalks 

Vote Yes.

This shifts the burden of maintaining street trees from property owners to the City. This measure sets aside $19 million annually to cover these costs. 

F: Youth Voting in Local Elections

Vote Yes.

This would allow SF residents who are US citizens to vote starting at age 16 for Board of Education and Community College Board of Trustees. Hopefully this will get a new generation involved early with voting and the democratic process.

G: Police Oversight

Vote Yes.

This renames the Office of Citizens Complaints as the Department of Police Accountability, although it would still be overseen by the Police Commission. This charter amendment would ensure that every 2 years, there would a review of the Police Dept’s use-of-force policies. 

H: Public Advocate

No Position.

This Charter amendment would create a Public Advocate who would be elected in 2017 to a 4 year term. This new position would work with its 25 new staff to investigate and attempt to resolve complaints about City services and programs; review the administration of City programs and contracting procedures; and other similar functions.

I: Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities

Vote Yes.

This Charter amendment creates a set aside of budget funds through June 30, 2037 for the City’s Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) to support services for seniors and people with disabilities. Supported by organizations that provide services to seniors and disabled adults.

J: Funding for Homelessness and Transportation

No Position. 

These are necessary services, but the people who put this on the ballot want to tie it with a regressive sales tax (Prop K), to get around the ⅔ vote required to dedicate revenue.

This Charter amendment would create a fund homelessness assistance and a Transportation Improvement Fund. 

K: General Sales Tax

No Position. 

Sales taxes are regressive because they tax rich and poor the same. This would increase SF’s sales tax from 8.75% to 9.25%. The people who put this on say they would use the revenue to fund programs like ones in Prop J, but this is not required to be true.

L: MTA Appointments and Budget

Vote Yes.

SFMTA has authority over SF’s transportation system including roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, parking, taxis and Muni. This reduces the Mayor’s powers over SFMTA and increases the Board of Supervisors’. It would make the SFMTA consist of four Mayoral appointments and three Supervisors appointments instead of all seven being appointed by the Mayor. It also reduces from seven to six the number of votes needed by the Board of Supervisors to reject the SFMTA’s proposed budget. 

M: Housing and Development Commission

Vote Yes!

This Charter amendment creates a commission to oversee two existing departments, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Department of Housing and Community Development. It would give the public the ability to comment on affordable housing policies and deals the City cuts with developers of market rate housing and office developments. Three Commissioners would be selected by the Mayor; three by the Board of Supervisors; and one by the City Controller. It’s supported by tenants rights and affordable housing organizations. 

N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections

Vote Yes.

Would allow non-citizen residents of San Francisco to vote for Board of Education members in 2018, 2020 and 2022. 

O: Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point

Vote NO!

This is a blank check to Lennar (the developer of Candlestick Point and the Shipyard) to build more than 5 million square feet of office space (equivalent to nearly 10 Transamerica Pyramids!) without increasing Lennar’s obligations for new housing, transportation infrastructure, open space, or local hiring. This would permanently exempt new office space there from the City’s annual 950,000 square foot limit. Not only would it burden these southeast neighborhoods with more office space without any increased benefits or infrastructure, but other neighborhoods like the Mission, SoMa and Potrero Hill will continue to see huge increases in office space.

This measure is opposed by tenants rights organizations and org’s that work directly with residents in this neighborhood.

P: Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property

Vote NO!

This is a devious measure that would cut community members out of the process of creating new affordable housing. Nonprofit affordable housing developers are awarded development projects currently through a competitive process. Once they get the award, they work with communities to define the project. Then, they put all professional services and construction contracts out for competitive bids to ensure competitive pricing and local hiring. This measure would lock in pricing at the beginning and not allow for substantive community input because the project’s details would already have to be set. It’s counter-productive to the goal of affordable housing as a way of building not just housing, but strong communities as well.

Follow the money. The SF Realtors gathered signatures to place this on the ballot, and funding to support the measure comes from: National Association of Realtors; CA Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization PAC; SF Association of Realtors.

Q: Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks

Vote NO!

A mean-spirited measure that prohibits placing tents on public sidewalks without a City permit. The measure says that before destroying the tents, shelter would have to be offered, but only for one night-- if you can find a space in our City’s overcrowded shelters. The measure doesn’t create any new shelter or housing opportunities. This is opposed by organizations that actually support people who lack a home and work every day to get them connected to services, shelter and permanent, supportive housing.

R: Neighborhood Crime Unit

Vote NO!

Another mean-spirited measure-- but this one also attempts to manage the Police Department through a Charter amendment. It assigns 3% of the Police force to a special Neighborhood Crime Unit to crack down on sidewalk tents, panhandling and other street crimes. With our growing wealth gap, this measure criminalizes poverty rather than providing any solutions and support. This is opposed by the Coalition on Homelessness, our Public Defender Jeff Adachi among others, while it’s supported by the SF Chamber of Commerce. Remember that the Chamber of Commerce exists to promote profitable business activity in SF, not humane approaches to poverty and ensuring that all people have a chance to succeed.

S: Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds

Vote Yes.

This measure doesn’t raise the hotel tax rate, it simply ensures that the hotel taxes that we do collect go toward the Neighborhood Arts Program Fund and the Ending Family Homelessness Fund. This is supported by neighborhood organizations, major arts org’s, neighborhood arts and cultural organizations, and org’s that provide essential services for those who are homeless.

T: Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists

Vote Yes.

This measure would prohibit a lobbyist from contributing to a City official’s campaign or bundling contributions for the official if the lobbyist is registered to lobby the official’s agency. This is supported by the Ethics Commission and a broad range of political leaders and citywide organizations.

U: Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Development Projects

Vote NO!!!

This is the companion measure from the Realtors to Prop P. Yes, P and U stink! Down with U & P! Whatever slogan you want to use, these measures are two of the most destructive and misleading ballot measures we have seen targeted at affordable housing. Prop U would double the rental price of below market rate (BMR) apartments because it doubles the income targeting. Seriously? Double?! Yes! 

So a 1-bedroom BMR currently capped at $1,121 including utilities will now cost $2,242. And those making the previous income limit (55% AMI) will be turned away! Even worse is that it would apply to existing BMR units, giving landlords incentive to kick out existing tenants so they can move in higher income tenants who would then pay double the rent!

This is opposed by every affordable housing provider and advocacy group, many unions, community organizations, tenants rights org’s, and on and on.

Who supports it? Realtors! The same cluster of Realtors groups supporting Prop P.

V: Tax on Distributing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Vote Yes.

We know this one’s controversial, but we’re supporting it. Why? Partly because the beverage industry is putting so much money into defeating it. Partly because reports appear to show that Berkeley’s similar law has caused sales of sugary beverages to decrease. And partly because the reason the beverage industry is so scared is that if similar measures keep passing in cities throughout the US, it may lead to a change in federal law that could allow direct taxation of sugary beverages similar to how cigarettes are taxed. They don’t want that. We’re taking the long view. This current measure might not be perfect, but the only groceries you currently buy that are taxed are prepared and processed foods. Healthy fruits and veggies aren’t taxed. So, we see this as a limited impact on the consumer, and hopefully it will lead to big changes in the future that will significantly reduce sugar consumption and obesity.

W: Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million

Vote Yes.

Tax property sales (on properties that are either super luxury residential, or larger apartment or commercial buildings) at a higher rate. The intent of the new tax would be to provide free City College. Absolutely!

X: Preserving Space for Neighborhood Arts, Small Businesses and Community Services in Certain Neighborhoods

Vote Yes.

SF is losing Production, Distribution and Repair (aka PDR or Light Industrial) space at an alarming rate. This jeopardizes our blue collar jobs and the ability for artists and arts organizations to stay in SF. Full disclosure that [people. power. media] signed on to a ballot argument supporting X, and we want you to vote for it!



As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, we cannot recommend any candidates. Since all the odd numbered Supervisors districts are up for election, this means that a majority (6 seats) are on the ballot. 

Making sure that those who are tasked with making and passing the laws that put people instead of corporate interests first is essential. Corporations and developers of office towers and luxury housing pour money into candidate campaigns especially through Independent Expenditures (IE’s), and they control messaging around ballot measures as well.

Inform yourself! Look at who’s supporting the candidates. Check out those mailers and online ads and read who’s behind them. How can you find out? Click here!

And as you scroll through the candidates, you’ll see a colored bar next to each name for the money supporting and opposing them. Hover over the colored bars and it will reveal information about where the money’s coming from. Explore before you vote!