Recommendations for the June 5, 2018 election

Election Day is near. If you haven’t already, come out to vote on Tuesday, June 5. Here are Livable City’s recommendations for the ballot measures and propositions to make San Francisco a more equitable, greener and transit-friendly city.

Yes on Prop. A
Public Utilities Revenue Bonds
Proposition A amends the City Charter to permit San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission to issue revenue bonds to fund clean power infrastructure, including electricity generation and  transmission lines. The measure prohibits the PUC from constructing fossil fuel or nuclear power facilities. Revenue bonds are repaid from earned revenue, and don’t increase taxes. The ability to finance clean power infrastructure with revenue bonds will help the SF PUC fulfill its mission of providing hydroelectric & solar power to Hetch Hetchy electricity customers, and electric power to San Francisco residents and businesses through the CleanPowerSF program. Expanding clean power options, and improving the efficiency, reliability, and resiliency of the City’s electricity infrastructure, will help the City reach its climate and clean energy goals. The proposition builds in a system of analysis and oversight for the future issuance of bonds, including approval by the Board of Supervisors.

Yes on Prop. F
City-Funded Legal Representation for Residential Tenants in Eviction Lawsuits
Proposition F will provide no-cost legal representation for residential tenants facing eviction from their homes. With San Francisco’s sky-high rents, eviction from a rent-stabilized home increasingly means leaving San Francisco, or homelessness, for low- and moderate-income tenants. Programs that prevent homelessness by keeping people housed – legal representation like Prop F provides, as well as short-term rental assistance and rent subsidies – are the most effective ways to reduce homelessness and the toll it takes on both individuals and public services.

No on Prop. H
San Francisco Police Taser Policy

Proposition H would establish a policy for the use of Tasers by San Francisco police officers. Proposition H is unnecessary – the City’s Police Commission is empowered by the City Charter to establish and review police policies, including taser policy, in consultation with the Police Department and the community. The public deliberative process at the Police Commission allows evidence and best practice to inform policies,  allows members of the public to have their say, and allows for policies to be reviewed and amended as evidence, experience, and standards demand. The ballot box is a terrible place to make police policy, and Proposition H is an attempt to end-run evidence-based policy making by the Police Commission. Proposition H was created without a rigorous and public process, and any flaws in Prop H would require another ballot measure to correct.

No recommendation on RM 3
Regional Measure 3, which would increase tolls on six bridges in the region and spend the proceeds on a predetermined list of transportation projects and programs, is a conundrum for us.

Roads and highways are expensive to build and maintain, and consume valuable land. Private autos use far more space per person than any other mode of transportation, and creates a greater environmental impact. Those impacts are not evenly distributed, but fall most heavily on communities located near freeways and arterial roads. The region’s transportation choices have long imposed a disproportionate environmental burden on certain urban neighborhoods, whose residents generate the fewest transportation impacts overall.

Increasing tolls is fair, and creates multiple benefits. Drivers pay a fair share for the infrastructure they use, rather than shifting the cost to non-users. Peak-period tolls reduces traffic congestion and pollution, which encourages more sustainable transportation choices, from carpools to public transit. Toll revenues can be used to increase transportation equity – expanding transportation options for low-income residents, and reducing traffic and pollution impacts on low-income communities.

It’s the expenditure plan portion of the measure which concerns us. The expenditure plan is less a plan than a grab-bag of transportation projects chosen by state legislators. Many of these will make the Bay Area more sustainable and equitable, while others will increase automobile traffic and pollution. The projects and programs we support include almost $2 billion in regional transit and sustainable transportation projects, including additional BART cars, Caltrain modernization, and safe routes to transit and Bay Trail funding. However, it also includes several hundred millions of dollars to expand freeway capacity, including I-80, I-680, US 101, and various freeway interchanges. State legislators picked their favorite projects to include in the measure, and prevented the region from re-prioritizing funds towards more equitable and sustainable alternatives; the measure runs in perpetuity, so fixing its defects would require yet another regional measure.

It didn’t need to be this way – the legislature could have allocated the money to programs with individual projects vetted and selected according to effectiveness criteria, rather than pre-determine projects without the benefit of a guiding plan or strategy. In 2018, a regional transportation measure that doesn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles, and doesn’t address equity, is an inexcusable policy failure.

Lots of groups we respect, including San Francisco Transit Riders, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and Greenbelt Alliance, support RM-3; for them, the additional funding for transit, walking, and biking outweigh the measure’s downsides. We encourage you to weigh the pros and cons, and decide for yourself.

Yes on Prop. 68
Proposition 68 is a $4 billion general obligation bond to fund parks, habitat protection, climate adaptation, and water quality and supply, and flood protection projects across California. The bond will not pay for new dams or the proposed delta tunnels. Some of the bond funds will go to state parks, and others will go to cities and counties to buy, build, expand, or improve parks in low-income communities across the state.

No on Prop. 70
Proposition 70 is a Constitutional amendment which would require a supermajority of the legislature to approve any allocations from California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Reserve Fund. The reserve fund is part of California’s cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting the state’s climate protection goals; polluters must purchase emissions permits, and the proceeds go into the reserve fund to fund projects and programs which help California transition to clean energy. Budgeting by supermajority is undemocratic, and Prop 70 is aimed specifically at giving the legislature’s Republican minority an effective veto over how the reserve fund is used – in particular, denying funding to the state’s High Speed Rail network.

Yes on Prop. 71
Proposition 71 is a state Constitutional amendment clarifying that voter-approved initiatives will take effect after the Secretary of State has fully and completely counted all the votes and files the Statement of Vote. Under existing law an initiative statute, referendum, or constitutional amendment approved by the voters takes effect on the day after the election, unless otherwise specified by the measure itself. When measures can go into effect before the vote tally is finalized, it can create unnecessary uncertainty and legal confusion.

Yes on Prop. 72
Proposition 72 is a Constitutional amendment which allows the legislature to exclude newly constructed rainwater capture systems from the constitution’s property tax reassessment requirement. Reassessment can be a big financial disincentive for homeowners to install rainwater capture systems; this measure is intended to encourage investment in environmentally sustainable infrastructure by eliminating tax disincentives.