Monday, October 24, 2016

November 2016 San Francisco Endorsements

Holy Moly, there's a lot of things to vote on this time! Twenty four, to be exact. We were in danger of running out of letters there. Well, we discussed, and here are our conclusions.

Prop A - School bond - Yes

This is a $744 million bond to do various school maintenance and upgrading activities. The debt service will be paid by a new property tax.

Historically, this group has voted no on bonds of this kind, because you pay almost as much in interest as the money you get for the actual thing you're trying get money for. And maintenance is the kind of thing should be done every year; it's not a one-time expense. Indeed, that is why one member voted against, saying they would be much more in favor of a new tax going directly to schools, not half to schools and half to bond investors.

But everyone else voted to take out a loan to do work on schools, so we voted Yes.

Prop B - City College Parcel Tax - Yes

This levies a $79 per parcel tax and send the money to City College, extending the Prop A from 2012. Well, that still doesn't sound like a lot of money, so we're still for it. Our one dissenter from this year's Prop A likes this approach to funding schools much more than a bond.

Prop C - Affordable housing spending - Yes

Waaay back in 1992(!), voters authorized $350 million in bonds for affordable and market-rate housing upgrades. Of that, only $95 million has been spent…over 24 years!

Prop C expands the eligible uses for the rest of the money to include at-risk housing. Sure, why not? See you in another 24 years when there's still a lot of money left.

Prop D - Vacancy appointments - Yes

This would put limits on the appointees named by the mayor to elected offices. Often these appointees have gone on to wield a lot of power *cough Gavin Newsom* and stick around for longer than originally anticipated *cough Ed Lee*. San Francisco voters seem to have great fondness for incumbents, so we want to shake that up.

Prop D is one of a series of measures intended to take power away from the mayor and place it in the hands of either the electorate or the board of supervisors. (See Props H, L, M.) Since we have not been big fans of the last few mayors (yeah, we're progressives), and think the City will continue to vote this way, we are for this.

Prop E - Sidewalk responsibility - Yes

Did you know that property owners in SF are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks in front of their properties? Not totally sure how this became the modus operandi.

Prop E puts the responsibility back in the hands of the City. Apparently the cost will be $19 million…out of the City's $9 billion budget. Sounds doable. Nobody seems to be against this one.

Prop F - Local voting for 16 year olds - No

This would let 16 year olds vote in local elections. Well, why is there a voting age anyway? Because we think that people below a certain age do not have the experience to make these decisions. Hey we were 16 once too, you know? In fact, we're not sure that 18 year olds have great judgement either, but if you can go die for your country, what the heck?

Anyway, back to the 16 year olds, we think they can wait. We also think those who put this on the ballot mainly just thought a vote by a 16 year old would be a vote for their policies.

Prop G - Police oversight - Yes

This would *gasp* rename a police oversight group and insist that they take more interest in use-of-force and police misconduct issues. Well, they could do that stuff right now if they want (except maybe the renaming thing). This is stupid, but fine, we'll vote Yes.

Prop H - Public Advocate - Yes

This would create an elected position of Public Advocate to work on behalf of voters on various issues. This type of stuff would usually be handled by a mayoral appointee, but we're looking to take power from the mayor, so we vote Yes.

Prop I - Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities - No

This is an earmark to divert money to certain people, people we are interested in helping out. But our group has historically been against earmarks (this one continues to the year 2037), and we still are. This money could be found in the regular budget through the regular political process, and we want it happen that way.

Prop J - Funding for Homeless and Transportation - No

Another earmark, this time for two completely unrelated things: homelessness and transportation. We still don't like earmarks.

Prop K - Increase sales tax - No

This would simply increase the SF sales tax. Well, sales taxes are regressive (they affect the poor more than the rich), so we're opposed. We prefer property taxes, payroll taxes, stuff like that.

Prop L - MTA appointments - Yes

This would allow the board of supervisors to appoint some MTA seats instead of the mayor doing all the appointing. We want to take power from the mayor, so Yes.

Prop M - Housing and development appointments - Yes

Take more appointments away from the mayor? Sounds good to us!

Prop N - Non-citizen voting in School Board elections - No

Non-citizens voting? That's preposterous! Well, except many of these people pay taxes and non-citizen voting has been common in the past; there's even a movement to re-instate it.

Like Prop F, we think this is just a ploy by certain people to get voting rights for people they think will be like-minded. Two thirds of us were against.

Prop O - Remove limits for Hunters Point development - No

Way back in 1986 San Francisco passed a limit on the about of new office space that could be built in a year. Prop O would make an exception for a new development, which might not be a bad idea as this thing is way out where Candlestick Park used to be.

But then if you remember the traffic getting out of Candlestick, the area wasn't well-prepared to handle that many people 90 times a year, much less every workday. We think building slowly is smarter.

Prop P - Affordable housing bidding - No

This would require at least three bids before one could be selected for an affordable housing project. But I guess there is often less than three bids available, so this is really a ploy to prevent more affordable housing from being built. Apparently over 3,000 current units would not exist if this rule had been in place. Nope!

Prop Q - Prohibit tents on sidewalks - No

This would make it against the law for a tent to be set up on a sidewalk. In simple terms, this makes life harder for the homeless, so two thirds of us voted against.

Let's get a little more complex. Someone blocking a sidewalk with a tent or anything else is a nuisance. Actually, you already can't sit or lie on a sidewalk between 7am and 11pm thanks to a 2010 ballot measure. But if people are allowed to sleep on the streets at night, what's the harm in them having a tent at that time? Well yeah, they usually keep them up all day too, but how many of you have actually been impeded by such a tent? If this law said no tents during the day only, that would have swayed at least one of us to yes.

As it is, we were two thirds against. The dissenter pulled out his curmudgeon card, which our non-existant bylaws do not prohibit.

Prop R - Neighborhood crime unit - No

This would require the police to dedicate a certain number of police to enforcing certain quality of life laws, particular those perpetrated by the homeless. Well, we're not really interested in micromanaging the police, so No.

Prop S - Hotel tax allocation - No

This earmarks hotel tax funds for arts programs and homeless services. We like those things, but not earmarks, so No.

Prop T - Lobbyist restrictions - Yes

This puts certain restrictions on lobbyists. Sounds good, and even the lobbyists couldn't be bothered to lobby against this one in the election materials.

Prop U - Affordable housing redefinition - No

This would drastically redefine affordable housing in SF. What is currently reserved for a person making $41,450 a year would be accessible to people making double that, i.e. $82,950. So of course we're against this, right?

Well, there was a dissenter, and at this point in the night he accounted for half of the vote (why weren't you there, reader?). His rationale is that SF's affordable housing situation has created a Tale of Two Cities, where the low-income half lives in the vicinity of all San Francisco has to offer, but doesn't actually get to participate. Meanwhile, many middle-income people (teachers for example) who would be able to participate in the culture are forced out. While our dissenter appreciates the sentiment, he doesn't think low-income housing is really doing anyone any favors. But then again, Prop U goes too far. Someone making over $80k can get qualify for affordable housing? That's more than starting salary at Google.

Prop V - Soda tax - No

This is a soda tax. It's not a grocery tax (except for the soda part of your groceries). It's designed to change people's behavior for the better by charging them more for something that's bad for their health.

Well, believe it or not, us liberal nanny-staters are all against it. Shoot us, we think the government shouldn't be penalizing people for their personal choices that don't affect other people. Yes, soda is bad for you, and yes a tax could reduce consumption, but we simply don't believe this is a role the government should have. Oh, but someone says obesity costs the health system more? Actually, it doesn't. And it seems a little inconsistent to tax soda, but not ice cream or fried food or our sedentary lifestyles, which are at least as big contributors.

Prop W - Property transfer tax - Yes

This will tax the sale of properties over $5 million. Well, we think people dealing in valuable property like that will be just fine, and we don't think the rental market will be affected. Tax the rich!

Prop X - Mission art space preservation - Yes

Just as new housing in SF has to leave space for low-income people, this would require Mission and SoMa developments to leave space for art and small business spaces. Just trying to hold on to some semblance of the City's character, you know. Sorry if you were hoping to put your next app startup in one of those spots.

Measure RR - BART bond - No

This is a $3.5 billion bond to repair and upgrade BART. As a bond it will eventually accrue as much interest as principal, but it will be paid for by a property tax.

We are fans of the BART system, but don't like this measure. Our biggest beef was the part about 1/3 of the money being spent on prior debts acquired by paying workers overtime, which is often very excessive. In one of our member's words, this is a management issue being presented as a fiscal issue.

Dear, BART, come back to us next year with a better bond deal and we'll vote for it.

Nancy Pelosi

Well, she does have a campaign website this time, although no issues or anything, just a form to send money. She also has an opponent, Preston Picus, who shares many liberal beliefs. Naturally, Pelosi won't debate him. Let's look back at this Matt Gonzalez gem.


A - Yes
B - Yes
C - Yes
D - No
E - Yes
F - No
G - Yes
H - No
I - Yes
J - Yes
K - No
L - No
M - No
N - Yes
O - Yes
P - No
Q - Yes
R - No
S - Yes
T - Yes
U - No
V - Yes
W - Yes
X - Yes
RR - Yes

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