San Francisco Proposition Voting Guide 2015

Oct 31, 2015

It’s ballot time again! I’ve lived in San Francisco for four years, though as a non-permanent resident I can’t vote. Instead I write blog posts about how I would vote. Ballotpedia has a full list and text of the propositions for your reference, and I also found SPUR’s analysis to be useful even though they are partisan (I mostly ended up agreeing with them).

My mnemonic summary is No on FIGJEt, which you should be able to remember as a fruit with engines.

Prop A: Affordable Housing Bond

Allows the city to issue $310 million in bonded debt and raise property taxes to fund housing development. This is part of a larger ongoing strategy to make San Francisco more affordable. More housing construction is desperately needed, and this bond goes part of the way towards funding some.

Vote: Yes.

Prop B: Paid Parental Leave for City Employees

Currently, parents may take 12 weeks leave between them. This change allows 12 each, plus a few other minor changes. I’m surprised this issue is even on the ballot. Apparently, the initial leave policy was enacted by ballot back in 2002 so it can only be changed by ballot. Estimated cost on the upper end is about $1.1 million. I have no idea how babies work but this seems legit.

Vote: Yes.

Prop C: Expenditure Lobbyists

Reporting requirements for “indirect” lobbying, in the form of urging others to do the lobbying for you. Seems to be a decent amount of opposition to this from smaller non-profits worried about a chilling effect, but I’m not convinced it would be significant. You should know where your money is coming from, and making that data available should be mandatory. Transparency for money in politics is important.

Vote: Yes.

Prop D: Mission Rock Project

More housing. Particularly in this location, it’ll fit right in.

Vote: Yes.

Prop E: Public Meeting Requirements

Stream public meetings and allow comments from the internet. Have these people not seen youtube comments!? Or in SPUR’s more subtle words:

Internet and social media channels do not always bring out the most civic-spirited dialogue.

At the very least this should be trialed before being ballot-mandated.

Vote: No.

Prop F: Short-Term Residential Rentals

Everyone has an opinion on this one. I recommend avoiding the popular I Have Read Prop F, And It Is Worse Than You Think, instead favouring this response which seems more reasonable. Also try to avoid any funded partisan opinion; it’s all shouting.

I don’t see this solving any relevant problems. There are already laws against excessive short-term rentals, with limited standing for interested parties to sue over violations. If they can’t be enforced, how will these newer ones be? The extra reporting requirements aren’t sufficient.

Regulations have already changed this year and the industry is moving quickly. Introducing a ballot regulation (that can only be changed by another ballot) seems overly hasty. SPUR agrees:

It doesn’t make sense to tie up this emerging policy issue at the ballot. Current regulations on short-term rentals have been on the books for less than a year and will likely be adjusted and improved as the city gathers data and learns more about how short-term rentals affect the city. Passage of Prop. F would prevent that from happening by locking in regulations that could only be changed by another lengthy, difficult and costly ballot measure process.

I am also not convinced that this would even tangibly affect housing affordability. The only way out is to build more houses.

Vote: No.

Prop G: Disclosures Regarding Renewable Energy

From Ballotpedia:

The board of supervisors discussed the issue with IBEW 1245 and came to a compromise in Proposition H, which the PG&E union now supports. This left no organized support for Proposition G as even the group behind its circulation opposes it.

Ok, moving on then.

Vote: No.

Prop H: Defining Renewable Energy

Should San Francisco use California’s state definitions of “eligible renewable energy resources” in its CleanPowerSF program, and should it prefer local electricity?

Not sure why we’re voting on this. Probably because G couldn’t be taken off?

Vote: Yes.

Prop I: Mission Housing Moratorium

Establish an 18-month moratorium on market rate housing in the Mission District. This would buy time for a “neighbourhood stabilization” strategy.

Or in my opinion, delay the unavoidable. We need to be building houses, not stalling.

John Elberling, in favour, says:

It’s that once you generate a critical mass of new, high-end, market-rate housing, you fundamentally change the character of the neighborhood. The invading army takes over. You can’t roll back that once it happens.

Correct, but it’s already too late. Have you walked down Valencia St recently? Times are a changin’. This is the sound of inevitability.

Vote: No.

Prop J: Legacy Business Fund

Allow the city to provide subsidies to old business essential to the “character” of the city. I’m not sure how this wouldn’t become an obvious misappropriation of city funds.

Sorry San Francisco, you’re changing whether you like it or not.

Vote: No.

Prop K: Surplus Public Lands Policy

Expand the range of allowable uses of surplus land to more types of housing developments. No brainer.

Vote: Yes.