November 2014 Voter Guide

California Propositions

Prop 1: Water Bond — Yes
Prop 2: Rainy Day Fund — No
Prop 45: Health Insurance Thing — Yes
Prop 46: Drug Testing of Doctors and Malpractice Limits — Frustrated No
Prop 47: Lock up Fewer Nonviolent Offenders — HELL YES
Prop 48: Approve an Off-Reservation Casino — No Endorsement

State Offices

Governor — Jerry Brown
Lt. Governor — No Endorsement
Secretary of State — Alex Padilla
State Treasurer — John Chiang
Attorney General — Kamala Harris
Insurance Commissioner — Dave Jones
State Board of Equalization, District 2 — No Endorsement
Superintendent of Public Instruction — Tom Torlakson
Controller — Betty Yee
US Representative in Congress, District 12 — No Endorsement
US Representative in Congress, District 14 — Jackie Speier
State Assembly, District 17 — David Campos!!
State Assembly, District 19 — Phil Ting
BART Board of Directors, District 8 — No Endorsement

Frisco Propositions

Prop A: $500 Million Transportation Bond — Yes
Prop B: Set-Aside for Transportation Funding — Conflicted No
Prop C: Reauthorize and Expand the Children’s Fund — Yes
Prop D: Retiree Health Benefits for Redevelopment Workers — Yes
Prop E: Soda Tax — Yes
Prop F: Increase Height Limits at Pier 70 — Yes
Prop G: Anti-Speculation Tax — HELL YES
Prop H: Grass Fields at the Beach Chalet — No Endorsement
Prop I: Artificial Turf Fields All Over the City — No
Prop J: Raise the Minimum Wage to $15! — HELL YES
Prop K: Non-Binding Pinky Swear to Build Affordable Housing — No Endorsement
Prop L: Non-Binding Recipe for Carmegeddon and Gridlock — HELL NO

Local Offices

Board of Supervisors: District 2 — Juan-Antonio Carballo
Board of Supervisors: District 4 — No endorsement
Board of Supervisors: District 6 — Jane Kim
Board of Supervisors: District 8 — No Endorsement
Board of Supervisors: District 10 — 1) Tony Kelly 2) Ed Donaldson 3) Shawn Richard
Board of Education — Stevon Cook, Shamann Walton, Jamie Rafaela Wolfe
Community College Board – 4-year term — Wendy Aragon, Brigitte Davila, Thea Selby
Community College Board – 2-year term — William Walker
Judge of the Superior Court, Office 20 — Daniel Flores
Public Defender — Jeff Adachi
Assessor-Recorder — No Endorsement

State Candidates

 

Governor: Jerry Brown

In June’s primary, we endorsed Chicano artist and activist Luis Rodriguez, but now that it’s down to two we’ll endorse the incumbent, Jerry Brown. He hasn’t done much for things we care about, but he’s definitely better than his free-market-cheerleader opponent, Republican Neel Kashkari. Brown sounded downright progressive debating Kashkari. And Brown signed the plastic bag ban!

Lt. Governor: No endorsement

We’ve got history with the current Lt Gav-ernor. (Four years ago, we endorsed him in the June primary, but then we switched to “no endorsement” in November after he made some stupid “no new taxes ever” statement.) Lately, Gavin and his developer friends have been busy suing San Francisco over 2013’s Prop B. You know, the Waterfront Height Limit Proposition we endorsed, that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in the last election? Lame.

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla

Padilla is a young Latino rising star in the Democratic party, currently serving as a State Senator from Los Angeles. He has some laudable (though vague and mainstreamy) goals like expanding voter participation, ensuring every vote counts, increasing transparency through technology, and making it easier to start a new business. If he can fix that Secretary of State website, he’d make our lives a hell of a lot easier writing this voter guide.

State Treasurer: John Chiang

We endorsed Chiang in June in the primary. Here’s what we had to say back then. The Treasurer is the State’s banker and chief investment officer, responsible for managing the state’s pooled dough. Before Chiang started his campaign for Treasurer, he was on the Board of Equalization and then became the state Controller. As Controller, Chiang was pretty effective — he even got sassy with the Governor and legislators in 2011, threatening to dock their pay because their so-called balanced budget was based on a bunch of accounting tricks. Rawr!

Attorney General: Kamala Harris

Harris is a Democrat and the incumbent. She’s been tough on transnational gangs, and in the fight for marriage equality she was a total badass: she forced several bigoted Republican County Clerks to issue marriage licenses after Prop 8 was overturned. When the banks settled with the states on foreclosure fraud, Kamala held out to get more money for California. However since then, we haven’t seen any follow through on prosecuting any of the bankers or cracking down on other predatory lending. And she’s not 100% aligned with League values: she’s opposed to legalizing marijuana, and just days after SF’s City Attorney sued landlords who evicted tenants to run Airbnb hotels, Harris held a fundraiser at Airbnb, co-hosted by Uber and others. /headdesk/

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones

We supported Hrizi in the primary but had good words for Jones, too. He’s broadly progressive — he’s fought against large insurance companies on behalf of consumers and fought against fraud. He’s also been on the right side of insurance battles re: ridesharing companies. Sweet.

State Board of Equalization, District 2: No Endorsement

The Board of Equalization collects tax, and is the only publicly-elected tax commission in the United States. Fiona Ma is the Democratic candidate, but we just can’t get behind her. Fiona Ma was a conservative Supervisor here in SF, and voted the opposite way from the League time and time again. Her donor list is a big business roll call. We think she’s more interested in raising money and gaining power than in tackling California’s problems. She’s running against a Republican and doing pretty well in the polls. In other words, we aren’t going to screw anything up by not voting for her, so no big thang.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson

The State’s Superintendent manages the operational side of the school system, licenses teachers, maintains school property and oversees the California Department of Education. Torlakson is the incumbent. He was once a school teacher and is funded mostly by labor. He’s advocated for after-school programs, fought junk food in schools, promoted health and fitness and wants to close the digital divide in public schools. Torlakson’s opponent, Marshall Tuck, is a charter school CEO who will redirect public school funds to corporate charter schools and private schools.

Controller: Betty Yee

In June, we endorsed Perez, another Democrat in the race. But once the top two primary dust settled, Yee & Swearengin were the candidates left standing. Betty Yee is a good candidate. As Board of Equalization Chair she is already familiar with CA finances and tax structure. She’s not a progressive champion or anything, but she’s a woman of color, a Democrat, and highly qualified.

US Representative in Congress, District 12: No Endorsement

Okay, so Barry Hermanson, who we endorsed in June, wasn’t the number two vote-getter, so it’s incumbent Nancy Pelosi Democrat vs a no-chance Republican challenger. Every two years we debate whether or not to endorse Pelosi. Some of us think she has been awful and doesn’t represent San Francisco values. She didn’t vote to impeach Bush, she wrote a blank check for the Iraq war, and she caved on universal healthcare. In 2010, we did endorse her because some of us were impressed with how she fought hard to pass the Affordable Care Act and the climate change bill (which died in the Senate). This time around we were too disappointed with her overall record to support her. Sorry, Nancy.

US Representative in Congress, District 14: Jackie Speier

Speier is a moderate Democrat who votes the party line on most issues, but she’s just progressive enough to earn our love. She opposes Keystone XL, pushed for tougher standards for natural gas pipelines, is outspoken on gun violence prevention, speaks up for transit and is an advocate for information privacy. And, dude, she took an effing bullet at Jonestown.

State Assembly, District 17: David Campos

Because Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is terming out of this seat, we need to replace him with another champion for progressive causes. Campos is currently Supervisor in District 9. He championed Free Muni for Youth, created legislation to close the loophole for the Healthy SF Ordinance, passed legislation to protect tenants, fought to protect San Francisco’s sanctuary city status, voted to support environmental review of tech buses, secured $1.2M for legal services for minors facing deportation, took a stand on FaceBook’s real name policy, and passed legislation to protect women’s right to choose. He’d be SF’s first Latino Assemblymember, and we like the idea of maintaining this as an LGBT seat in Sacramento.

His opponent David Chiu is hella catfish. He would fit right in with corporate Democrats in Sacramento…and that’s a problem. He voted to tear down hundreds of units of affordable housing at Parkmerced. He voted to criminalize homelessness by passing legislation to close the parks at night. He’s backed by big downtown money and folks sending a lot of nasty hit pieces on Campos. And, we’ll never forget “it’s on like Donkey Kong” — he made a sneaky backroom deal to appoint Ed Lee so he could be Board President again for a third term. No thanks, Chiu. We need Campos to represent San Francisco values!

State Assembly, District 19: Phil Ting

We didn’t endorse Ting in June, ‘cause we were pissed he supported the Mid-Market (Twitter) tax break and voted to rename the Bay Bridge after Willie Brown.That bridge belongs to Emperor Norton. But Ting does have a Republican opponent in November, Mormon clergy member Rene Pineda. And Ting does good work in Sacramento; he’s authored bills on harm reduction, supporting renters, energy efficiency, and affordable housing. He also has a history of supporting gun control, domestic workers and immigrant rights. In the end, we decided it’s time to show Ting some love.

State Props

 

Prop 1: Water Bond

This is a $7.1 billion statewide water infrastructure bond. It’s actually a slimmed down version of an $11 billion bond dreamed up in 2009. Worried that it was too controversial and too stuffed with pork to actually pass, the powers that be in Sacramento pulled it, delayed it, and trimmed it. The current version had huge bipartisan support in the legislature, which is how it ended up on the ballot. It includes cash for water storage, watershed protection and restoration projects, sustainability, water recycling, and flood management. Though borrowing money is a bad deal, and this is a big bond, we recognize that California’s water infrastructure is a mess. Though we can’t “legislate rain”, this bond is the next best thing we can do to prep for a potential megadrought. We say yes.

Prop 2: State Budget — Budget Stabilization Account

This Prop increases the size of the state’s “rainy day fund.” The idea is to help California save, and therefore insulate the budget from the boom and bust cycle. It’s a good idea in theory, but the devil is in the details. First of all, only the Governor can declare an “emergency” and allow the state to access the rainy day fund. What if there’s a crisis and a Republican refuses to break the piggy bank? Second, this prop sets an automatic trigger to start saving when CA has a budget surplus. But it’s based on the current situation, which is still a brutally austere budget compared with before the financial crisis of 2008. We’d prefer to get back to normal first. Finally, this forces public schools to dump their individual budget savings if the state does any saving on their behalf, and we don’t like the loss of local control. No on 2!

Prop 45: Healthcare Insurance — Rate Changes

Makes insurers justify their rates to the public and prohibits health, auto, and homeowners’ insurers from determining policy eligibility or rates based on lack of prior coverage or credit history. This prop requires changes to health insurance rates — or anything else affecting the charges associated with health insurance — to be approved by the Insurance Commissioner before taking effect. Big insurance companies have pooled a shit-ton of money ($35M) to fight this. Consumer watchdog groups, nurses and teachers are leading the charge with, wait for it… $568K in the bank. Let’s help them fight back.

Prop 46: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors — Medical Negligence Lawsuits

This is a medical-law grab bag. It requires drug and alcohol testing for doctors and suspension of any who fail; requires health care practitioners to consult state prescription drug

history database before prescribing certain drugs; and increases the damages cap in medical negligence lawsuits. We like that last part, so that wronged patients can pursue justice (right now, the limits make it pointless to even file suit). But we don’t really care if our doctors smoke weed on the weekend, and drug history databases creep out our civil libertarian side. Frustrated no on 46.

Prop 47: Criminal Sentences — Misdemeanor Penalties

Rational public policy in California? We’re amazed! This prop kicks serious ass. It “ensures that prison spending is focused on violent and serious offenses, maximizes alternatives for nonserious, nonviolent crime, and invests the savings generated into prevention and support programs in K–12 schools, victim services, and mental health and drug treatment.” This prop will keep families together, support crime victims, and start to dismantle the prison industrial complex. It will even reduce crime, by steering nonviolent offenders away from the long prison stays which turn them into career criminals. A step away from the counterproductive and cruel “war on drugs” which targets poor people, young people, and people of color. Hell yes on 47!

Prop 48: Indian Gaming Compacts

We couldn’t come to a conclusion on Prop 48. A Yes vote allows a small and currently under-resourced Native American tribe, the North Fork Tribe, to build a casino on off-reservation land — land much closer to potential punters. The Chukchansi, a tribe that already operates a nearby casino, is funding the “No” side, to protect their profits (in fact, they’re the ones that got this on the ballot. Otherwise, the North Fork would be able to build without voter approval). On the one hand, we want to support the underdog. We also recognize how unfair it is that colonial genocide pushed Native folks onto random scraps of land, some of which are better situated than others. On the other hand, once we allow off-reservation casinos, we’ve essentially legalized gambling in all of California. Modern casinos (with their psychologist-designed slot machines) are regressive institutions. Do we want more huge vacuums sucking money from the pockets of seniors, poor folks, and working people? Your call on this one.

Local Candidates

 

Board of Supervisors: District 2: Juan-Antonio Carballo

Carballo is a tech and energy scientist and investor, is focused on transportation, affordability, and government responsiveness. We’re not perfectly aligned with him on every issue, but we agree on some major points, and he seems both intelligent and reasonable. He did order a glass of wine while visiting a Mission dive bar, but still, he can hang with us anytime. He probably will not be able to oust incumbent Mark Farrell, but we decided to help him try. Farrell, on the other hand, has voted the opposite way from how the League would on almost every non-unanimous issue ever brought before the Board. We’re sure he’s a kind man that loves his children, but we are dead opposed to him politically. Go Carballo go!

Board of Supervisors: District 4: No endorsement

Katy Tang, the incumbent Supervisor, was a legislative aide to Carmen Chu before Chu was tapped to become Assessor-Recorder in 2013. Mayor Lee promptly appointed Tang to her boss’s seat, and now she’s running for re-election unopposed. We’re not supporting her because of her conservative record. But even if we weren’t politically opposed to her, we’re sick of the mayor appointing politicians who then cruise to re-election because of the advantage of incumbency. San Francisco democracy is ailing, and the sleazy appointment process is a major cause. We weren’t surprised when Tang was opposed to Avalos’ “Let’s Elect Our Elected Officials” legislation — maybe she’s afraid to have some competition.

Board of Supervisors: District 6: Jane Kim

We’ve endorsed Jane Kim because of her broadly progressive record on the board. At the same time, our endorsement conversations revolved around our disappointment with her. We were embarrassed by her votes on key issues like the Twitter tax break, her more-frequent-than-expected alignment with the Willie Brown Democratic machine, and her failure to stand up to the Mayor and his business-friendly agenda for the city. We believe Kim is a good Supervisor for her district, but we’re still waiting for the progressive champion we voted for in 2010 to appear.

Board of Supervisors: District 8: No endorsement

The incumbent Supervisor, Scott Wiener, is whip-smart but politically conservative. Unfortunately, four of the four candidates challenging him are middle-aged white men, and zero of them are strong, serious contenders for the seat. Seeing a pattern here? Something is wrong with our city’s democracy when the majority of local candidate races don’t offer voters a real choice.

Board of Supervisors: District 10: 1) Tony Kelly 2) Ed Donaldson 3) Shawn M. Richard

The District 10 race is a chance to change the makeup of the Board of Supervisors. A whole slew of folks are all hoping to unseat the incumbent, Malia Cohen. Cohen likes to convene a lot of task forces, but it seems like she’s forgotten the needs of her district. She loves being the swing vote on nearly everything and rarely agrees with the League.

Tony Kelly has been leading neighborhood efforts for more than a decade for sustainable land use, working-class jobs, open space & transit planning, affordable housing, and environmental justice. He’s whip-smart and he’s no stranger to City Hall. He nearly won this seat four years ago and we want to see him implement his ambitious plan for serving D10.

Ed Donaldson is known for his work around economic development and affordable housing for low income communities. He’s focused on job creation and retention, affordable housing and economic development, and increasing public health services and positive health outcomes in D10.

In 1995, Shawn M. Richard’s family was shaken by the handgun murder of his brother. One week later, Richard founded an organization, Brothers Against Guns, as a vehicle to abate gun violence in San Francisco and end the cycle of violence. His most important issues are equitable access to educational opportunities, public safety, affordable housing, economic workforce development, transportation, homelessness, and health and wellness.

Board of Education — Stevon Cook, Shamann Walton, Jamie Rafaela Wolfe

SF’s School Board manages the K-12 system in the city. There are three seats up for grabs this year, but with nine candidates running, it’ll be a very split electorate. Two of the nine are (lackluster) incumbents. It’ll be tricky for challengers to displace either of them, but neither of them have been endorsed by the powerful teachers’ union, so there’s a chance.

Walton — We endorsed Shamann Walton’s close-but-no-cigar effort two years ago. His answers to our candidate questionnaire show a deep understanding of policy and were extremely detailed, as well as politically progressive. He has the strongest chops and best chance of all the non-incumbents.

Cook — A young progressive and rising political star, he came up in SF at Thurgood Marshall. He’s undeniably charismatic, but also has an impressive amount of policy knowledge and experience working with the school district. He and Walton are both endorsed by the United Educators of San Francisco.

Wolfe — Wolfe doesn’t have as much policy wonk experience as our other two endorsed candidates, but as co-chair of the Trans March and a former board member of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, she’s got the organizational expertise and political guidance to make things happen. Plus, we appreciate that she’s running a grassroots campaign.

Community College Board: Wendy Aragon, Brigitte Davila, Thea Selby, William Walker

These candidates are exactly what City College needs right now: A deep commitment to education equity, familiarity with CCSF’s current accreditation drama, personal experience with higher education, and solid credentials. There are three seats open for four year terms on SF’s Community College Board, which manages City College. We’ve endorsed Wendy Aragon, Brigitte Davila, and Thea Selby (AFT 2121, the union which represents CCSF faculty, likes these three too).

There’s also one seat open for a two year term on the same board. For this one, we’ve gone for William Walker. A former student trustee, he’s determined to keep students first (even above faculty/staff concerns), and wants to keep our community college in line with the community’s needs.

BART Board of Directors, District 8: No endorsement

About half of our members voted to not endorse either candidate. Another half voted to endorse Nick Josefowitz. He wants to prioritize pedestrian and bike infrastructure around BART stations, run more frequent trains, upgrade cars and systems to improve efficiency and develop land owned by BART to help increase housing. But…. he’s not a supporter of the Anti-Speculation tax, he helped Mayor Lee bury CleanPowerSF when he was a Commissioner for the Dept of the Environment, and he rubber-stamped the Tech Bus Pilot without questioning the environmental impact. It’s also pretty crappy that he invested in Dow Chemical and General Electric, two major polluters. On the other hand, Josefowitz’s Republican opponent, James Fang, is pretty bad. Fang accepted contributions from contractors with business in front of BART, and has been accused of union busting and other shady dealings. SEIU is cheerleading for Fang because as a BART Board Director, he was instrumental in launching the independent investigation following the BART strike in July 2013. Hold your nose and pick your poison.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office 20: Daniel Flores

SF-born-and-raised, son of Salvadoran immigrants, he is the first in his family to graduate college. He is a Marines veteran and has a degree in Criminal Justice. He’s got a over a decade of experience as a defense and civil rights lawyer, endorsed by tons of people (that we like and also that we don’t like so much). In lawyer circles, he’s gotten kudos like Super Lawyer and Rising Star. We’re a teensy bit skeptical, but we’re excited that he wants to give back to the community on more “neutral” matters where weighing in isn’t a conflict of interest.

Public Defender: Jeff Adachi

So Jeff Adachi, SF’s public defender, has a long and complex political history in San Francisco. He’s a pretty damn good Public Defender. Plus he’s running unopposed. Adachi got a bad rap for the two years he spent spearheading pension reform leading up to pension reform legislation and his run for Mayor in 2011. Props for taking on a touchy subject, but he did it with union-hating venture capitalists. Now that the dust has settled on 2011’s Prop D, he seems to be back to the 2007 Jeff Adachi that we know and love, the one who fought against gang injunctions and created cool programs for at-risk youth.

Assessor – Recorder: No endorsement

The Assessor-Recorder is responsible for assessing property taxes. San Francisco’s skyline is dotted with cranes. There is construction everywhere. The Assessor should be right there, ready to get the City its fair share. Instead, the State Board of Equalization reported in their 2013 San Francisco City and County Assessment Practices Survey that SF has a huge backlog of assessable new construction. The Assessor should be all up in the business of the corporations that own big downtown office buildings, because every time a building changes hands, they owe Real Estate Transfer Tax. The incumbent, Carmen Chu, isn’t hiding that she’s super friendly with the Building Owners and Managers Association. Big Real Estate money funds her campaign even though she is is running unopposed this year. We just can’t bear to vote for her.

Frisco Propositions

Prop A: San Francisco Transportation and Road Improvement Bond

Prop A is backed by just about everyone — the Mayor, Supes, pro-transit orgs — and that’s good, because this will take a 2/3 vote to pass. We feel like throwing money at a mismanaged agency isn’t the answer, but we also NEED funding for bike, pedestrian, and motorist safety improvements. And, without the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) or Sunday Meters, there isn’t a revenue source. While we are typically against bonds, this is exactly the type of thing a bond should be used for: long-term infrastructure improvements rather than short-term unsustainable fixes. Prop A replaces old debt and doesn’t get us more in the hole. Seriously, Muni needs hella money. We say yes.

Prop B: Adjusting Transportation Funding for Population Growth

Prop B is a little complicated. We just got through saying that Muni needs hella money, so why are we against Prop B? This Charter Amendment proposed by Sup. Scott Wiener will adjust the appropriation from the General Fund to SFMTA annually to reflect increases in SF’s population. 75% goes to Muni, 25% bike/ped safety improvements. It includes a provision that it will be nixed if the VLF is passed in 2016 (which is savvy strategically because it holds the Mayor to his word that he’d lead the fight for that in two years). Dropping VLF and Sunday Meters was a huge eff you by the Mayor, and this feels like Wiener’s eff you back. It has definitely pissed off the Mayor since he came out saying that if it passes he will “punish” the Supes that support it. But, this ballot measure was being hashed out during the budget cycle — the time when Supes were earmarking money for certain projects. If Wiener really felt so strongly, he could have secured $22M for Muni months ago without changing the City Charter. We put on our picky-about-policy hats and say a conflicted no.

Prop C: Children’s Fund; Public Education Enrichment Fund; Children and Families Council; Rainy Day Reserve

Prop C, the Children and Families First Initiative, extends two important funds for children and youth services for another quarter century. The Child and Youth Fund receives money from property taxes and funds services like childcare, healthcare, recreation, and job training. Prop C reauthorizes it for 25 years and extends programs to transitional age youth between 18 and 24, including homeless youth and those leaving foster care or the juvenile justice system. The Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) ensures that every SF public school has a librarian, art classes, physical education classes, and sports opportunities. Prop C reauthorizes PEEF for 26 years and eliminates a provision that allows the City to reduce its contributions to the Fund in years in which the budget has a projected shortfall of $100 million or more. In addition, in-kind gifts to SFUSD would no longer count toward the City’s obligations for the fund. All this without raising property tax rates. Prop C was put on the ballot by the Mayor and the full Board with literally no opposition. Do it for the kids, ya’ll.

Prop D: Retiree Health Benefits for Former Redevelopment Agency and Successor Agency Employees

The Redevelopment Agency promoted economic development and affordable housing in San Francisco — and has a pretty complicated history. In 2012, the California Legislature dissolved all remaining agencies across the state. Successor agencies were essentially brought in to tie up the loose ends and shut down the affairs of the redevelopment agencies. There are approximately 50 former agency employees who would be affected by Prop D. We are talking about $75K for each person spread over many years. This is a drop in the bucket of San Francisco’s $8.5 Billion budget. They served the City and should get the same benefits as other employees. We say yes.

Prop E: Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

This is a 2 pennies-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks. The estimated $31 million a year it will raise will improve access to physical activity and healthy food in SF’s neighborhoods and schools, with more money going to the parts of the City that need it most. It’s no accident that low income communities of color have more diabetes and obesity—soda companies have aggressively targeted them for decades, and they’re spending big bucks to take this Prop down. Public health nerds see the soda tax as today’s biggest fight—just like battles with tobacco companies to raise cigarette taxes back in the day. Taxes like Prop E are regressive, but we think the pros outweigh the cons. We say yes.

Prop F: Pier 70

The Pier 70 project is exactly what we had in mind when voters approved Prop B in 2013 — public access to the waterfront, parks, affordable housing and local jobs, all with public buy-in. It is supported by a broad coalition including Sierra Club, affordable housing advocates and neighborhood associations. This is development that the City should be building and we say yes. (Fun fact: Remember Prop B from June, that said future development along the waterfront would have to be approved by voters? Ta-da!)

Prop G: Anti-Speculation Tax

People are buying up properties in the City as short-term investments. This type of speculation is driving up housing prices. This measure will disincentivize this kind of flipping, so people buy houses because they want to live in them — not to make money off them. There is already a transfer tax on sales of real estate in the City. Prop G would add an additional tax for certain multi-unit residential buildings when the owner sells them within five years of purchase. The tax rate would decrease the longer the owner held it. Harvey Milk was trying to pass legislation similar to this when he was killed in 1978. This is loooooong overdue. We say HELL YES!

Props H/I: Grass vs Fake Turf

There are two grass-related propositions on the ballot (no, not that kind of grass). There’s Prop H: “Requiring Certain Golden Gate Park Athletic Fields To Be Kept As Grass With No Artificial Lighting” put on by the Coalition to save Golden Gate Park. And, there’s Prop I: “Renovation of Playgrounds, Walking Trails, and Athletic Fields” put on the ballot by the Board of Supes. One is pro-grass and the other pro-fake turf. Artificial turf is already in use in several fields across the city, and the lower maintenance and increased playing time it offers make it a sound like a better option… unless you are worried about the smell of tires in the air. What about environmental, human, and animal health threats posed by toxic chemicals in plastic turf and the rubber tire crumb infill? We’re also wary of the impact on the natural aquifer that underlies these fields (which will soon be used to supplement the City’s potable water supply), combined sewer overflow discharges into the ocean, and the precedent set for SF parks and the rest of the California Coast. There’s also concern that the “nicer” soccer fields that use the artificial turf will stop being used for pick-up soccer and become pay-for-use fields. At our endorsement meeting, there was a half and half split between those for and against Prop H (giving us a no endorsement) and an overwhelming vote against Prop I. If both measures were to lose, Rec and Park would have to go through the public process on a park-by-park basis, which we think would be better. We say you choose on Prop H, but vote no on Prop I.

Prop J: Raise The Minimum Wage

The City has a humongous income gap. Prop J would raise our local minimum wage from $10.74 to $15 an hour by 2018, increasing the wages of 142,000 SF workers. The measure is part of labor and community groups’ regional referendum seeking to raise the minimum wage in a number of Bay Area cities this November. We know from cities like San Jose that raising the minimum wage benefits women and people of color and has minimal effects on the overall price of food and goods in businesses who employ minimum wage workers. We say HELL YES!

Prop K: Affordable Housing

Our votes were split on Prop K and it landed us with no endorsement. We totally get how not taking a position on this ballot measure might be confusing—affordable housing is one of our top priorities, right? Well, what started out as a gutsy piece of legislation by Sup. Jane Kim got watered down to a non-binding policy statement. The League is pretty allergic to policy statements (especially for issues we need real action on), and the legislation doesn’t really clarify what the definition of “affordable” is. Prop K proponents say that if the Mayor and developers don’t stick to the terms, they’ll put something stronger on the ballot in 2015 during the Mayoral election. Okay, but why not just do that now, and why not have stronger terms as part of this legislation? Anyway, it’s not gonna hurt if you vote yes, but it won’t bring about the huge shift in the stock of affordable housing that our elected officials should be working towards. No position. Womp womp.

Prop L: Policy Regarding Transportation Priorities

A group called “Restore Transportation Balance” is behind this initiative, which would not enact any binding legislation or directly change any city laws. It would, however, establish SF’s transportation and parking policies. This would stop the city from: charging parking meter fees on Sundays or holidays or longer hours; putting new meters in neighborhoods without consent from the affected residents and businesses; or increasing parking garage, meter or ticket rates for at least five years. It would also require the city to enforce traffic laws “equally for everyone using San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks” (we assume this is a dig at bicyclists?) and require representation for motorists in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. This is all in direct opposition to SF’s goal of becoming a transit-first city. Without the ability to recover costs from cars (which take up more than their share of space, budget, and energy), we’ll get more and more gridlocked as SF’s population grows. We say HELL NO!

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