November 8, 2016 Voter Guide

***Click here for a printable 17x11" PDF of our voter guide***

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Polls are open 7am-8pm.

Where’s your polling place? Look it up here, or call 311, or anyone can vote in City Hall. Or if it's 7:50pm and you can't make it to your polling place, find the nearest one and vote provisionally.

Even if you've committed a felony, you can vote as long as you’re off parole. Don’t let the Man disenfranchise you!

TL;DR - the League Endorsement ‘Cheat Sheet’!

National Races *

US Senate: Kamala Harris

US House District 12: Preston Picus

US House District 14: Jackie Speier

California Legislature

State Senate, District 11: Jane Kim

State Assembly, District 17: No endorsement

State Assembly, District 19: No endorsement

Superior Court Judge

Office No. 7Victor Hwang

Board of Education

      Stevon Cook
      Matt Haney
      Mark Sanchez

Community College Board

      Rafael Mandelman
      Tom Temprano
      Shanell Williams

BART Board of Directors

District 7Lateefah Simon

District 9Bevan Dufty

Board of Supervisors

District 1: Sandra Lee Fewer

District 3: Aaron Peskin

District 5: Dean Preston

District 7: Norman Yee

District 9: #1 Hillary Ronen
                   #2 Melissa San Miguel

District 11: #1 Kimberly Alvarenga
                     #2 Francisco Herrera

State Propositions

Prop 51: School Construction & Repair Bond - No Endorsement
Prop 52: Wonky Hospital Medi-Cal Matching Fees - Yes
Prop 53: Require Even More Bonds On the Ballot - No
Prop 54: Publish Bills 72 Hours Before a Vote - Yes
Prop 55: Extension of Income Tax on the 1% - Hell Yes
Prop 56: Tax E-cigs & Bump Up Cigarette Tax - Yes
Prop 57: Progressive Parole Reform - Hell Yes
Prop 58: Allow Multilingual Education in Public Schools - Yes
Prop 59: Citizens United Sucks - Sure ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Prop 60: Moralizing Crusade to Require Condoms in Adult Films - No
Prop 61: Wonky Prescription Drug Pricing Change - No
Prop 62: Repeal the Death Penalty - Hell Yes
Prop 63: Gavin Newsom’s Vanity Gun Control Prop - Ugh, fine
Prop 64: Marijuana Legalization - Hell Yes
Prop 65: Redirect Money from the Disposable Bag Fee - No
Prop 66: Kill Everyone Even Faster with the Death Penalty - AYFKM? No!
Prop 67: Protect the Plastic Bag Ban - Yes

San Francisco Propositions

Prop A: Local School District Bond - Yes
Prop B: Renew the Parcel Tax for City College - Yes
Prop C: Bond to Make Loans to Buy and Fix Affordable Housing - Yes
Prop D: Let’s Elect Our Elected Officials - Hell Yes
Prop E: Make the City Responsible for Street Trees - Yes
Prop F: Vote 16! - Hell Yes
Prop G: Rename the Office of Citizen Complaints - Sure :/
Prop H: Create a Public Advocate - Yes
Prop I: Set Aside Funding for Seniors & People with Disabilities - Yes
Prop J: Set Aside Funding for Homelessness & Transportation - Yes
Prop K: Sales Tax to Cover Prop J’s Set Aside - Yes
Prop L: Shift 3 of 7 MTA Board Appointments from Mayor to the BoS - Yes
Prop M: Create Oversight Commission & Kill Realtor Props P & U - Yes
Prop N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections - Hell Yes
Prop O: Special Favor for Lennar Corp on Office Development - No
Prop P: Snarl Affordable Housing in Red Tape - Hell No
Prop Q: Demonize Homelessness for Political Gain - Fuck No
Prop R: Micromanage the Police Department - No
Prop S: Reallocate Hotel Tax to Arts and Homeless Family Services - Yes
Prop T: Restrict Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists - Yes
Prop U: Eliminate Affordable Housing - Hell No
Prop V: One Cent an Ounce Soda Tax - Yes
Prop W: Luxury Property Transfer Tax - Hell Yes
Prop X: Preserve Industrial and Arts Spaces - Yes

Regional Proposition

Prop RR: $3.5 Billion Bond to Repair & Upgrade BART - Yes


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Holy props, Batman! Can you believe the size of this ballot?! Neither could we. Take a deep breath and dive in with us...

Primaries vs Run-Off Elections:

For a few candidate races in our guide, you’ll see us refer to what we wrote “back in June”. That means that there was a primary a few months ago in which candidates had to vanquish a wider field of opponents. The top two vote-getters are now facing off to determine the winner.

Of course, that’s just in theory. Often there were only two serious candidates anyway, so the race has effectively already been run once. In other races, the contest has changed slightly, but there was never any doubt that we’d be endorsing the same candidate again….so we’ve mostly just copy-pasted our text from the June races.  

National Races

US Senate: Kamala Harris

[Note: this is a remixed version of our June writeup] While Kamala isn’t aligned with our values 100% of the time, she’s pretty damn progressive by national standards - and many Leaguers are inspired by the opportunity to elect a woman of color to represent San Francisco values in DC.

A few days after our endorsement vote in June, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and the Board of Supervisors called for Harris (who is currently California’s Attorney General) to launch a “civil pattern and practice” investigation of the SFPD, which would have the power to shake up the department. She responded by assigning someone in her office to monitor the Department of Justice’s non-binding investigation of the Department, and said that she’ll step in if that doesn’t bring needed reforms. Well, she still hasn’t stepped in, despite pressure from activists and the families of victims of police violence. So that’s underwhelming. Still, we’ll be swallowing our disappointment and voting for her.

For some more context, here’s our our text on Kamala from her successful November 2014 for Attorney General:

“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 illegal Airbnb hotels, Harris held a fundraiser at Airbnb, co-hosted by Uber and other tech giants.”

US House, District 12: Preston Picus

[Our remixed June write-up] Picus (pronounced pick-us) is a public school teacher taking on Nancy Pelosi and the democratic establishment. He was a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, and snagged just enough votes to knock out the no-name Republican candidate in a nail-biter of a finish. That means that now he’s facing down Pelosi head-to-head! This is the first time since California enacted top-two primaries that Pelosi won't face a Republican in the general election. Picus's number one issue is campaign finance reform. He's an excellent choice for a protest vote against Nancy Pelosi, who doesn’t represent our San Francisco values.

US House, District 14: Jackie Speier

[We wrote this in June] Speier is a career politician who is running unopposed. While she’s not perfect, at the national level she’s progressive - she’s for LGBT equality, restrictions on gun ownership along with background checks, and has been vocal about addressing climate change with legislation.

California Legislature

State Senate, District 11: Jane Kim

[This one has turned out to be quite the brawl! Wiener and Kim were neck and neck all spring, and when all the votes were counted, our pal Jane had won by a nose despite being massively outspent by Wiener’s corporate money machine. Here’s all our spilled ink from June:]

Both Jane Kim and Scott Wiener are smart, talented, ambitious politicians that have supported safer streets and building lots of new housing. But as a progressive, Jane Kim led tough negotiations with developers to maximize affordable housing. Meanwhile, Wiener’s neoliberal approach is content to let developers maximize their profits and let the market sort things out.

On public safety, Wiener prioritizes hiring more cops over everything else and sides with the Police Officers Association who think the SFPD is doing a bang-up job. Kim sees the public’s lack of trust in our police department as a threat to our public safety, and knows that reforming SFPD’s culture, along with funding education, job training, and mental health services, is what will make us safer.

Jane Kim goes way back with the League. When she first ran for the School Board back in 2004, she started her stump speech by saying she was inspired to run for office by the national League’s book, “How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office.” She’s part of the crew of organizers who founded the San Francisco chapter of the League in the wake of Matt Gonzalez’s 2003 Mayoral campaign.

As Supervisor, sometimes she seems like that - an OG progressive organizer, representing and empowering District 6 communities, which include many of the City’s most vulnerable residents. And sometimes she seems like a savvy and ambitious politician, negotiating deals with the power players in the City and setting herself up for bigger things... not that there’s anything inherently wrong with being a savvy and ambitious politician. We need a bunch of them on our side if we’re ever going to kick all the stupid white men out of office!

Because Jane represents downtown and SOMA where many of the new mega-developments are happening, and because the Mayor has either no ability to or no interest in negotiating with developers, Jane’s become the City’s de-facto negotiator:
* On the Giants’ Mission Rock development, the Mayor signed on to the original deal for 15% affordable housing. Jane Kim and John Avalos worked with community leaders to negotiate that up to 40% after they bluffed putting a competing measure on the ballot.
* She also negotiated a significant increase in affordable housing and community benefits at the “5M” mega-development at 5th and Mission. That one got ugly, unfortunately, with awesome neighborhood groups like United Playaz and SOMCAN clashing over the final deal.

For several years she served on the Land Use Committee where she got into many important but technical legislative debates with Scott Wiener. She led the charge to protect rental housing from condo conversion and brokered a compromise on CEQA reform in a way that streamlines environmental review while still preserving community’s ability to hold developers accountable.

Unfortunately, we have to bring up what we consider Jane’s biggest fumble: when she supported the Twitter tax break. We wish she would have stood with progressives to call Twitter’s bluff. They were never going to move to Brisbane!

California’s state legislature is kind of an enigma to us. It seems like a giant cesspool of lobbyist money and corporate Democrats and actual real Republicans. We don’t know why anyone would want to make that commute, but we’re glad Jane does, and we think she’ll make a great State Senator.

A little about Scott Wiener
Although Wiener has been okay on some issues like Muni, biking, and nightlife, we have fundamental philosophical differences with him.

Wiener’s record on criminalizing the poor and homeless is unforgivable: from supporting the Sit-Lie law to outlawing sleeping in the parks to evicting recycling centers to supporting Ed Lee’s inhumane, ill-conceived and counterproductive sweeps of the Division Street homeless encampments, Wiener is one of the architects of the City’s current failed “crackdown on homelessness.” This crackdown has needlessly driven the homeless into more residential areas where they are less comfortable and more disruptive to neighborhoods.

Wiener is one of the Police Officer Association’s last allies on the Board of Supervisors. He prioritizes hiring more cops over more progressive solutions to crime like reentry services and he pushes the cops and D.A. to lock up more people for low-level, nonviolent crimes. He opposes Mark Leno’s bill to provide basic transparency on police misconduct records. In fact, when he opposed Sheriff Mirkarimi’s attempt to reduce the jail population by expanding the electronic monitoring program, he said our jails were too empty and we need to lock up more people!

Wiener is also a strong ally to the real estate industry. He tried to water down the affordable housing requirements for the new high-priced group housing projects, and he watered down the transit impact fee developers pay, which cost Muni millions. Whenever there’s a debate between developer’s profits and public benefits, expect Wiener to vote for the developer’s profits.

Some of our allies have suggested we should support Wiener for Senate because he can do less damage there and we could hopefully replace him with a progressive on the Board of Supervisors. But we’re not going for that. We want his neoliberal, poor-bashing political career to end here when he’s termed out in 2018.

Vote for Jane Kim for State Senate!


San Francisco Races

Superior Court Judge, Office No. 7: Victor Hwang

[Here's what we wrote in June] With a 23-year track record as a civil rights attorney, public defender, and district attorney, Victor Hwang has serious experience and social justice chops. He’s tried almost 100 cases to a jury verdict, including prosecuting hate crimes and sex trafficking. Named a “Local Hero” by the Bay Guardian & the Chinese World Journal, he’s a way better choice for judge than the Mayor’s right-hand man, Paul Henderson. Side note: It’s so weird to vote for judges!

Board of Education: Stevon Cook, Matt Haney, Mark Sanchez

Four of the seven seats on SFUSD’s Board of Education are open this year. Three incumbents and six challengers make for nine total candidates; the top four vote-getters will get the seats. We’ve endorsed just three candidates: Board president Matt Haney, plus Stevon Cook and Mark Sanchez!

Matt Haney has served on the Board of Education since 2013. As President of the Board, he’s an advocate for safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments. Haney recently came under fire for suggesting that some SF schools be renamed because they are named for slaveholders. Haney clarified that he believes all schools should have a name they can take pride in.

Stevon Cook is CEO of Mission Bit, a start-up that helps urban/rural (read: low-income) public school students “bridge the tech divide”. He ran for school board in 2014, and has developed a better understanding of how the district runs and operates since then.

Mark Sanchez served on the Board from 2001-2009, as President. During that time he proposed eliminating JROTC because of the military’s discrimination against LGBT people. Sanchez co-founded Teachers 4 Social Justice, which organizes educators to develop empowering learning environments and equitable access to resources. He is currently principal at Cleveland Elementary.

Community College Board: Rafael Mandelman, Tom Temprano, Shanell Williams

The City College Board of Trustees has four seats open this time around. We’re endorsing these three candidates who we know will fight hard for CCSF students, faculty, and staff. City College is more important than ever in San Francisco- for ESL classes, job training programs, and affordable, high-quality education for anyone and everyone who wants it. The bogus accreditation crisis is almost over but declining enrollment, budget cuts, and potential real estate land-grabs are still major challenges. We need progressive trustees who are committed to diversity, equity, and maintaining a college that meets our communities’ needs.

Rafael Mandelman is a long-time progressive and SF native who has been on the Board since 2012. He’s fought to keep City College strong through the accreditation drama.

Tom Temprano is an activist, DJ, and small business owner whose plan for CCSF focuses on recruiting all kinds of students to address the current enrollment crisis.

Shanell Williams is a CCSF graduate who fought tirelessly to keep the college open and accredited during her two terms as CCSF Board Student Trustee, and we’re excited to see her sticking around.

Side note: An easy way for average San Franciscans to help save City College is to take a class! Study another language, brush up on your acting skills, learn upholstery . . . Show the powers that be that SF has City College’s back!


BART Board of Directors

District 7: Lateefah Simon

Lateefah Simon is a badass. She’s spent her career fighting for racial justice and improving the lives of children and communities of color in various ways. She was the Executive Director of the Center for Young Women's Development, she led the creation of SF’s first reentry services division under Kamala Harris, she was the ED of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, and is currently Program Director for the Rosenberg Foundation.

She’ll fight for transit as a civil right: transit that serves all riders, including people with disabilities and low-income families. Under her, we could even envision a better relationship with BART Police and organized labor.

The incumbent, Zakhary Mallett, is driven by dream of expanding BART to West Contra Costa County. That’s been his main goal on the BART board so far. He’s super pissed about the SFMTA contract that governs Muni rates paid to BART, and wants to prioritize long trips over short trips...but we think BART should work for long and short trip riders.

Vote Lateefah Simon!

District 9: Bevan Dufty

Dufty has transit cred. Under Congressman Julian Dixon, he crafted the legislation that created the LA Metro rail system. He later worked for the LA County Transportation system handling its federal affairs. As an SF Supe from 2002 to 2011, he chaired the county transportation authority and represented the city on the board that oversees the Golden Gate Bridge district.

We are excited for Bevan 2.0. When he was a Supervisor, he leaned moderate, but we’re optimistic that working as Director of HOPE he’s moved further to the left. In fact, Dufty ran on the June 2016 Reform Slate for DCCC.

Back in 2011, Dufty was part of the Lee/Newsom/Brown dynastic political machine...but his work as ‘homelessness tsar’ for Ed Lee’s administration didn’t end on good terms. That’s probably why this race has gotten kinda funky. After Bevan Dufty entered the race, progressive Lisa Feldstein dropped out...and the Mayor’s candidate, Gwyneth Borden, jumped in.

Borden is Executive Director of the conservative Golden Gate Restaurant Association, is on the SPUR Board of Directors, and is a staunch Ed Lee supporter. She was appointed to the SFMTA Board of Directors in 2014, was previously on the Planning Commission, and was an aide to Gavin Newsom way back when he was a Supervisor. Borden hasn’t been great on the SFMTA Board, especially on recent projects that are imperative to safety and Vision Zero. When voting on the Polk Street bike lane, she favored curbside parking over a continuous bike lane. She called bicyclists “self-righteous” and voted against bulb outs on Haight Street, which was SFMTA’s first opportunity to make a Transit Effectiveness Project into a complete streets project. Then she supported the pilot for the hotly contested Dolores Street median parking (SFMTA is notorious for using pilots as a way to fasttrack programming without comprehensive planning).

Michael Petrelis is a transit rider, transit advocate, prolific blogger, and proud protest candidate. He’s loud and kind of ridiculous, but he’s sometimes right on the money with his Sunshine transparency requests, which he uses to uncover ethics violations. We think he expands the conversation, but we’d prefer someone with more transit legislative experience.

Vote Bevan Dufty!


San Francisco Board of Supervisors 

(that’s like the city council) Last year progressives took back the Board of Supervisors from Mayor Lee and his allies. This year, six of eleven seats are up for grabs, and in order to keep a majority, progressives need to win all six races. Don’t know your supervisorial district? Check out this map or look for any of these awesome candidates on your ballot!

District 1: Sandra Lee Fewer 

Nine candidates are running for the seat being vacated by termed-out Supervisor Eric Mar. Our choice is School Board member Sandra Lee Fewer, who we also backed as part of the DCCC Reform slate in June. Fewer has led School Board efforts to stop evictions of students and teachers during the school year. When the School Board proposed building market rate housing on unused SFUSD property, Fewer fought to make it a 100% affordable project instead. Fewer supports Vision Zero and protected bike lanes in the Richmond, although she has expressed concerns over Geary BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). Fewer is one of three progressive moms running this year, along with Hillary Ronen in D9 and Kimberly Alvarenga in D11. We’d love to have Sandra’s powerful voice for children and families on the Board! 

UPDATE: Richmond district peeps: if you're still deciding on who to vote for for Supervisor, check this out. Kristin Tieche for Broke-Ass Stuart brings a ton of research for why NOT to vote for Marjan Philhour. Join us in voting for Sandra Lee Fewer!

District 3: Aaron Peskin

We worked hard to get Peskin back on the Board last year. Let's keep him there for a full term!

District 5: Dean Preston

Board President London Breed is up for reelection, and unlike past District 5 races, she faces a single challenger in longtime tenants rights advocate, Dean Preston. Breed has reliably sided with the Mayor and downtown interests during her time in office. Most recently, she voted against creating a public advocate and against holding special elections for supervisor vacancies (see Props H and D). What’s worse, she’s been an ineffective Board president - exhibit A is this year’s gigantic local ballot. At least fifteen of the local items we’re voting on could have been resolved in legislative chambers had Breed done her job as chief negotiator.

Preston is the founder of Tenants Together, California’s only statewide tenant advocacy organization. He’s written legislation defending rent control and protecting educators from evictions. He led a series of tenant bootcamps with the SF Tenants Union, followed by dozens more community meetings on issues ranging from fires to chain stores. Back in 2013, Dean Preston was advocating for smart controls of TIC/Condo conversion legislation while London Beed was trying to water it down for realtors. 

District 5 is nearly 80% renters, and they deserve a strong voice in City Hall. Dean Preston will be that voice.

UPDATE: We got a lot of questions about why we're supporting Preston over London Breed, so we wrote this post with 17 reasons why! Here's the summary of 17 disappointing votes and actions by London Breed:

   Sides with landlords, realtors and developers over tenants:

  1. Proposed amendments to water down TIC/condo legislation which would permanently remove rent controlled apartments from the market. 
  2. Opposed 2014’s Proposition G, the anti-speculator tax, which would have stopped speculators from evicting tenants.
  3. Voted repeatedly against regulating Airbnb, making rent-controlled homes in the city more scarce. She has only supported stronger regulations after Preston got in the race.
  4. Tried to weaken tenant protections by giving less relocation compensation to people being evicted through the Ellis Act.
  5. Voted against regulating “tenant buyouts” which have displaced thousands of San Franciscans.
  6. Voted against a small increase in the fee developers of office space pay to fund transit impacts.
    Sides with the Police Officers Association over police reform:
  7. Voted against holding the Police Department accountable for implementing reforms by putting a small chunk of their budget on reserve.
  8. Refused to call for former Police Chief Suhr’s resignation amidst police killings and racist text scandal, despite community demands.
  9. Voted against post-Ferguson resolution recognizing racial bias in Police Departments, calling the resolution “divisive.”
    Sides with Mayor Ed Lee over good government reforms:
  10. Voted against Prop H that will create an Office of Public Advocate, an independent watchdog over the Mayor and City Hall.
  11. Voted against Prop D that will let the people decide who should represent them when there’s a vacant Supervisor seat, making sure the Mayor kept the power to appoint successors.
  12. Voted against Prop L that will split appointments to the MTA Board between the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor, which would continue the Mayor’s ability to bully the MTA Board into failed policies (rescinding Sunday parking meters, bad bike lanes on Polk, allowing median parking on Dolores, etc.).
    Other bad votes:
  13. Voted against a 1% wage increase for nonprofit health and human services workers!
  14. As Board President, handed control over key board committees to the most conservative supervisors and shut out progressive leaders.
  15. Was the only supervisor to vote against sunshine legislation requiring supervisors to keep and release work calendars.
  16. Endorsed Mayor’s candidate for District 3 Supervisor (Julie Christensen) over Aaron Peskin, and endorses Scott Wiener over Jane Kim
  17. Supported and was a member of the realtor-backed slate for conservative control of the SF Democratic Party that would have made endorsements the opposite of our voter guide.

District 7: Norman Yee

Supervisor Norman Yee is up for reelection and has four challengers. Yee is the closest SF has to a centrist on the Board. He doesn't always vote with the progressives, but he's not a conservative mayoral ally in the way Scott Wiener or Katy Tang are. For example, Yee supported 2014’s anti-speculator tax but not the Mission Moratorium. This year he's supporting Vote 16 (Prop F) and public advocate (Prop H), but also Mark Farrell’s awful tent encampment ban (Prop Q). Although Yee doesn’t always vote our way, he’s a thoughtful, independent Supervisor with a heart, and he’s light-years better than the bros who are running against him! 

District 9: #1 Hillary Ronen
                   #2 Melissa San Miguel

Progressive heavyweight David Campos is termed out in District 9. This is the most heated of all the Board races: the Mission is the front line of SF’s battles against gentrification, displacement, and developers. We're backing Campos’s Chief of Staff Hillary Ronen and local education advocate Melissa San Miguel.

Hillary Ronen is a civil rights attorney and has an impressive record fighting for workers’ rights, immigrant rights, and affordable housing. Her experience in City Hall means she’s well-versed in how to bring people together and get things done. A key example of her commitment to the Mission is her instrumental role in saving St. Luke’s Hospital amidst a back-door deal the Mayor made to close St. Luke’s and open a Cathedral Hill mega-hospital instead. Every person born and raised in the Mission has a connection to St. Luke’s. Ronen knows that and not only fought to keep it in the Mission, but also to expand the services it provides to the community. We trust her to represent District 9 and keep that seat progressive at this critical time.

Melissa San Miguel is an attorney and Mission native who has worked to increase educational opportunities for low income people and people of color. She was also policy manager for the National Center for Youth Law. Ranked Choice Voting helps keep seats progressive, no matter who your favorite candidate is. If you’re on team San Miguel, please rank Hillary 2nd and vice versa! 

District 11: #1 Kimberly Alvarenga
                      #2 Francisco Herrera

Another of our progressive champions, Supervisor John Avalos, is terming out of his District 11 seat and five candidates are vying to replace him. The clear #1 choice is Kimberly Alvarenga, a queer Latina mom who worked in Tom Ammiano’s Assembly office, where she played a significant role in the campaign to Save CCSF, the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, and Seth’s Law, which protects children who are bullied in California schools. She’s currently the political director for SEIU 1021, the most progressive union in San Francisco. She's running a kickass campaign but strong community & labor roots - and we need her to beat the developer candidate in the race! This looks like the crucial tipping point race to keep the Board progressive, so we all need to get down there and help Kim!

Our #2 choice is Francisco Herrera who was part of the 1-2-3 Defeat Ed Lee coalition and came in second in the 2015 mayoral election. Co-founder of the Day Laborer Program, he’s always on the right side of immigration, neighborhood, and social justice struggles. He doesn't have anywhere near the broad-based support that Alvarenga has, but because he shares our values, we're giving him our #2 endorsement.

UPDATE: We added a blog post listing 9 reasons we are NOT voting for Ahsha Safai. Here's the summary:

  1. Safai is supported by the Police Officers Association, the biggest bullies in town and the biggest impediments to reform of the SFPD. 
  2. He's supported by the Mayor, who has done several press events and press releases with Safai in the last few months.
  3. He’s a house flipper. He bought a house in foreclosures in 2005, and sold it less than a year later for a profit.
  4. Safai was kicked off the Housing Authority board after Executive Director Henry Alvarez was fired for gross mismanagement, discrimination, and intimidation, and the Authority was found to be in disarray. At the time Safai said Alvarez had “done a great job.”
  5. On the ballot he claims to be a union organizer, but almost all of Safai's income comes from being a consultant for landlords and developers. In 2012 and 2013, he earned less than $10,000 as a consultant for the janitors union, but more than $100,000 from his consulting firm.
  6. The leadership of the janitors union pressured its members to campaign for Safai, and fined members who didn’t "volunteer" $150 a day. These are janitors who are barely earning a living wage! 
  7. Safai claims that he "saved St. Luke's Hospital," but the California Nurses Association and others who led that campaign say he had nothing to do with itCheck out this damning video.
  8. Safai is benefiting from at least $700,000 in independent expenditures from real estate and big tech companies. That is being funneled through the dubiously named Robert F. Kennedy Democratic club to pay for tons of TV commercials. TV commercials on CNN for a district supervisor election?? Why do LinkedIn, Facebook, and Airbnb care about District 11? They don’t. They care about electing Supervisors who will keep their taxes low and favor big business and developers over workers and tenants.
  9. Safai is an unregistered lobbyist for a real estate developer. Mayor Lee and the Chronicle recently trumpeted a press release about a new development that would be half rent controlled and half affordable housing, and they credited Safai as a “family friend” of the developer who came up with the idea and negotiated it with the Mayor’s office. But the thing is, the developer paid Safai as a consultant, which means his negotiations with the Mayor are lobbying. Safai has never registered as a lobbyist. And the developer’s promise of new rent control housing is hella catfish. There is nothing in writing to describe how it will work or to hold the developer to their sketchy campaign promise. Their announcement sounds awesome, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  


Whew. OK. Still with us? Take a drink of coffee and get ready for the props.

State Propositions

Prop 51: School Construction & Repair Bond - No Endorsement

Prop 51 is a $9 billion bond for construction and rehabilitation of educational facilities, divvied up like this:

* $3 billion for the construction of new school facilities;
* $3 billion for the modernization of school facilities;
* $2 billion for acquiring, constructing, renovating, and equipping community college facilities
* $500 million for providing school facilities for charter schools; and
* $500 million for providing facilities for career technical education programs

A bond means that California would be borrowing money to do all this building, which means we’ll be paying interest on the $9bn as we pay the bond back over the long term. SF Unified School District has 17 projects that could receive funding from this bond, and City College could receive money to rehab its downtown campus and childcare center.

A slab of backstory for ya: since 1914, the California legislature has put 42 education-related bonds on the ballot. Prop 51, however, is an initiative backed by developers of school facilities, the Coalition for Adequate School Housing, and the California Building Industry Association. These two groups also pushed for a $4.3 billion bond via the legislature in 2014 but it was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who stated that he believes school facility funding is better controlled at the local level. So CASH and CBIA returned - they’ve thrown over $8 million at this Prop so far, which is no surprise as it would largely benefit their members.

This was a tough one for us. Obviously we want to support schools! But this is a hefty chunk of change, and we had an array of doubts. When we looked at the breakdown we wondered at the lack of money for teacher housing. We’re skeptical of charter schools because they siphon away funds from public schools yet provide no proven benefit to students. We’re also receptive to arguments that too much of this money is allocated to new construction that will encourage sprawl. And if we’re spending $9 billion on schools, why pump it all into buildings and not give teachers the living wage they deserve?

League members voted three times on Prop 51, but could not reach consensus. No endorsement.

Prop 52: Wonky Hospital Medi-Cal Matching Fees - Yes

This is a state constitutional amendment that affects funding for Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid program. The way it is now, hospitals put up money to activate a Federal matching grant. This would basically make that arrangement permanent. It would also require voter approval to make future changes to the program.
Although most hospitals and unions support Prop 52, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers is against it because it would limit how funds could be spent and make it hard for them to be diverted in a budget crisis. That’s a good point. And Medi-Cal rules are arcane and labyrinthine - it would probably be better for the legislature to have some control over the money and not have this process locked into our constitution. Still, the hard truth is that Prop 52 is crucial for securing billions of federal dollars.
We’d rather have single payer healthcare. Since we’re stuck with the system we’ve got, let’s help the hospitals we have. We say yes.

Prop 53: Require Even More Bonds On the Ballot - No

Oh god, this thing. Okay, so normally, if the state needs to borrow money for a huge infrastructure project that will benefit all Californians, it puts a bond on the state ballot and voters either pass it or don’t. Specific ‘revenue’ bonds, though, are for projects that will make money once they’re finished (like a bridge that will charge tolls). Those don’t need to go to the ballot; the state legislature just passes the bond, and the money raised by the bridge or whatever pays back the bond in the long term.

A wealthy right-wing farmer from Stockton wants to change that, so he spent $4M to put this ornery prop on the ballot. It would require that those revenue bonds go to the statewide ballot too...even if they’re local projects. That’s ridiculous. Why should LA get to vote on SF building a bridge, if they’re never gonna have to pay the toll? This dude’s just cheesed about the Sacramento Delta twin tunnels water project that will charge his farms for water use, so he wants to make it harder for anyone in the state to accomplish anything. Let’s send this jagoff packing. No on 53!

Prop 54: Publish Bills 72 Hours Before a Vote - Yes

This is a clear-cut good government proposition. It requires the State Legislature to put bills online at least 72 hours before voting on them. That will give citizens, reporters, activists, and other government nerds an honest chance to observe the sausage-making process and rally around or against bills that affect them. It will also prevent last-minute shenanigans like legislators rushing through sketchy bills in the middle of the night or immediately before recess when they think no-one’s looking. Oh, and in case anyone’s worried that this will cripple us if our ninja-quick state government has to leap to respond to a crisis, don’t worry: if the Governor declares a state of emergency, the 72 hours requirement is temporarily suspended.

Prop 54 also requires that the Legislature record video of all proceedings and put those online too. While there’s some minor admin costs involved, this makes sense. Good on California for (at least trying) to keep up with the times. Vote Yes!

Prop 55: Extension of Income Tax on the 1% - Hell Yes  🤑

Awright, something to cheer for! Back in 2012 CA managed to pass a four-year increased income tax on the highest earners in the state, in a valiant attempt to partially redress the destruction visited on California schools by the property tax restriction known as Prop 13. We trumpeted it back in 2012, but regretted it was temporary. Well Prop 55 extends it out to 2030! Schools - and everyone who cares about education - are for it. Rich people and Republicans are against it. Guess whose side we’re on?

The details are surprisingly straightforward. The 2012 prop instituted a small sales tax (which isn’t included in this extension so it will expire at the end of this year, which is fine cause we weren’t hot on that part anyway). The income tax increase part is set to expire in 2018 but this prop pushes it out 12 more years. It applies to everyone who earns more than $250k ($340k if you’re a single parent or $500k for a married couple). If you fall in that category, dear reader, good for you and thanks for the taxes. It’ll pull in between $4 & $9 billion annually, of which almost all goes directly to schools (89% to K-12, 11% to community colleges, and in some years, a chunk gets diverted to health care for some reason). What’s not to like? Hell Yes on Prop 55!

Prop 56: Tax E-cigs & Bump Up Cigarette Tax - Yes

This prop taxes e-cigarettes of all sorts (which are currently not taxed at all) and bumps up CA’s tax on other tobacco products the equivalent of $2 a pack. The cash raised goes to health care programs, tobacco prevention/control, tobacco research and law enforcement, University of CA physician training, dental disease prevention, and administration. It’s estimated to net CA quite a pile, in fact: $1.1-$1.6 billion yearly!

It’s horrifying that e-cigs currently dodge taxes. And California’s tobacco tax is currently 35th in the nation, so it makes sense to raise it a bit - higher prices are proven to reduce smoking and to discourage people from starting. Yet we can’t get excited about this without cringing at the thought of further penalizing addicted folks who are already getting keelhauled by Big Tobacco. We wish the hike on other products wasn’t so large. Still, we can’t in good conscience miss this opportunity to fix the vaping loophole. We say yes.

Prop 57: Progressive Parole Reform - Hell Yes 

Prop 57 is a tiny push back against the four-decade-long tide of unjust ‘tough on crime’ policies which have decimated communities of color and made the US the incarceration capital of the world. It makes non-violent felons who have completed their base sentence eligible for parole, allows the awarding of credit for good behavior and rehabilitative or educational achievements,

It also makes judges responsible for deciding when juveniles should be tried as adults. Currently prosecutors (whose job is to put people in jail!) make that decision, which is messed up. It’s part of a succession of prison reforms aimed at reducing California’s prison population enacted after the state received a federal order to reduce prison overcrowding back in 2009. California currently has 127,000 prison inmates, including about 20,000 convicted for drug and property crimes who would be eligible for parole under this law.

This particular initiative, led by Gov. Jerry Brown, is Brown’s mea culpa for the mandatory sentencing law he signed during his first go around as governor in 1977. He even used $24 million that was left in his reelection fund to pay for signature gathering. While we’re not huge fans of Brown, we appreciate any progressive reform of the prison-industrial complex. We say yes.

Prop 58: Allow Multilingual Education in Public Schools - Yes

A no-brainer! This nixes a xenophobic proposition from 1998 that prohibits non-English languages from being used in our public schools. Diversity makes California stronger- and even if you believe immigrant students should learn English, it’s still counterproductive to forbid them from receiving any classroom instruction in their first language.

Side note: the creep who crusaded for this in ‘98 is still around. His name is Ron Unz, he’s a Republican Silicon Valley millionaire, and he’s challenging Barbara Boxer this year as a stunt to raise awareness for his racist English-only “cause”. Ugh, no gracias, Ron. Yes on 58!

Prop 59: Citizens United Sucks - Sure ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I know, right? It totally does! This prop is an advisory measure that gives California voters a chance to make a statement about the role of money in politics. It asks whether California’s elected officials should ‘use their authority to propose and ratify an amendment to the federal Constitution to overturn Citizens United’ (a terrible 2010 Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to make unlimited political donations).

Of course, this is a purely symbolic statement - it will have no legal effect whatsoever. On the bright side, that means it doesn’t cost anything, and it could encourage officials to take tackle Citizens United head-on! We say sure.

Prop 60: Moralizing Crusade to Require Condoms in Adult Films - No

This wacky prop was put on the ballot by a strangely opinionated healthcare nonprofit called the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. They and their CEO have a history of pumping out poorly written propositions and funding the campaigns to turn them into law.

Prop 60 extends to the whole state a rule that recently passed in Los Angeles. It would require adult film performers to use condoms for any vaginal or anal sex acts involving penises (sex toys like strap-ons could stay unsheathed). The ostensible purpose is to prevent HIV transmission...but currently, most adult film producers require their performers hew to a strict testing regime. Making that regime mandatory, or, if the law wanted to go further, requiring all active adult performers to take PrEP would actually be more effective than condoms. As it’s written, all this prop will do is push the adult film industry out of the state without actually making anyone safer.

One more note: the sex workers most at risk of acquiring HIV are not the performers in the highly visible above-ground adult film industry - they’re those engaged in survival sex work in illegal and therefore unregulated shadow industries. Decriminalizing prostitution would do *way* more to prevent HIV than Prop 60 would, so the focus on porn makes us suspect a puritanical ulterior motive. Vote no.

Prop 61: Wonky Prescription Drug Pricing Change - No

Another ballot measure funded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. AHF writes legislation designed to benefit their nonprofit pharmacies. They dropped $10 million on this half-baked BS! It would regulate drug prices by allowing state agencies to pay the same prices for Rx drugs as the US Department of Veterans Affairs does. That’s pretty cherry - the VA pays less than other government agencies, including Medicare Part D. Prop 61 would force drug companies to give that same discount to a few other government agencies...but not all of them, which is why we think it’s bizarre and not really beneficial for everyone. It would leave out huge swathes of Californians, including state employees, teachers, and everybody with private insurance.

The state’s legislative analyst tried to figure out the fiscal impact, but was uncertain. They gave a few possible scenarios -
1) the drug companies say okay but just raise the prices of drugs sold to everyone else,
2) the drug companies say fuck it and refuse to comply, since there’s not a strong enforcement mechanism (and then state programs change their list of covered drugs, or CA loses federal funding because the state stops providing all FDA-approved drugs to Medi-Cal patients, or the state just ignores *this* law in order to stay in compliance with other laws) or
3) the drug companies just raise the VA prices to offset everything. That’s right, this prop only dictates that certain agencies get the VA *rate*, not what the VA rate *is*, so they could just raise it! All three options sound pretty bad to us.

The legislation is supported by AHF. These people suck at writing legislation and usually do it in a vacuum, without engaging the groups that serve the patients they hope to protect. We’re not sure why the California Nurses Association and Bernie Sanders are endorsing this, but it was possibly an early endorsement before the details were analyzed. The opposition is pretty much a long list of drug companies, who are strange bedfellows for us. But more recently some grassroots opposition groups developed. They’re concerned about Medi-Cal impacts and how this legislation disproportionately affects communities of color. We say vote no.

UPDATE: We're getting a lot of questions about Prop 61 because Bernie Sanders and California Nurses Association are campaigning for it. We hella love them, but we are not aligned on Prop 61. We struggled with this because it is not easy for us to be on the same side as the pharmaceutical industry on an issue. We have not received any funding from any groups opposing Prop 61, and we won't accept any of their dirty money. The League of Pissed Off Voters researches every ballot measure independently, and do not rely on speakers or advertising to make our endorsements. We'd like to share a portion of that research.

Prop 62: Repeal the Death Penalty - Hell Yes ✊

This is pretty straightforward: Prop 62 ends the death penalty and replaces it with life without parole. It would apply retroactively to California’s 734 current death row inmates. An additional provision increases the percentage of prison work wages that go toward victim restitution. If you’re like us, you don’t think the state should be in the business of killing people, so this is a slam dunk - plus it saves a huge amount of money, since death row legal processes are so expensive and drawn-out. Unfortunately this Prop faces a poison pill in Prop 66, which we are calling the Kill Everyone Even Faster with the Death Penalty initiative.

Prop 63: Gavin Newsom’s Vanity Gun Control Prop - Ugh, fine  🙄

This is mostly a puff Prop for Gavin Newsom, SF’s former slimy-centrist mayor and California’s current Lt Governor. He knows that most Californians support gun control - we already have the strongest in the nation - so he paid signature gathers to get this on the ballot in order to raise his own profile ahead of his planned 2018 run for Governor. This despite the fact that in early July, six gun control bills passed the State Legislature and were signed by Governor Brown. Those six taken together do almost all of what this Prop does, including ban possession of large capacity magazines (their manufacture and sale were already banned).

The two sets of laws are, however, slightly different. For example, they have different rules about how to grandfather in or require collection of the high-capacity magazines that are already out there. Newsom’s rules are slightly stricter (it eliminates a few exemptions that allow people keep their existing high-capacity magazines), so because we support gun control, sure, we’ll vote yes. We’re just not looking forward to Gavin’s slick grin when this passes and he looks like a hero.

Prop 64: Marijuana Legalization - Hell Yes 

Prop 64 legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law. It reduces incarceration, generates massive tax income, saves the state millions in enforcement, incarceration, and court costs, depresses the black market, and will create strict environmental regulations. It even authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions, which is insanely important.

To let small independent growers get established, Prop 64 prohibits large scale cultivation for the first five years. It allows cities and other localities to create their own laws and regulations, including banning dispensaries, but they can’t outlaw transporting weed. It prohibits the sale of non-medical marijuana to those under 21 years old, as well as marketing and advertising of marijuana to minors. Much of the revenue generated would be spent on specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention, and treatment. All in all, it sounds solid.

Some opponents are concerned that marijuana legalization could cause prices to drop, leading to increases in use and marijuana-related disorders. On the other side, some pro-pot activists think this doesn’t go far enough. We respect their concern, but believe the benefits far outweigh the risks. Let’s dump the failed ‘war on drugs’!

UPDATE: We're getting a lot of questions after an article was published about Prop 64. We want everyone to weigh it out for themselves, but we still support Prop 64, and are happy to share some useful information:

(Thank you to Drug Policy Alliance for keeping us up to date on Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), aka Prop 64.)

Prop 65: Redirect Money from the Disposable Bag Fee - No

This prop affects any statewide charge for carryout bags at the grocery or corner store, including the one we’ll be voting on in Prop 67. It requires that the revenue from any statewide carryout bag law go to the state for environmental programs. While this sounds dandy, it’s actually not -- the problem is that the 10-cent charge is what grocers get out of the whole “plastic bag ban.” It’s what got them invested in that major law (which is now under threat by Prop 67). If both Prop 65 and Prop 67 pass, and this one gets more “yes” votes than Prop 67, then grocers would still have to charge but wouldn’t keep the money, so they’d lose money on every bag. Some might stop providing bags at all. Plus they’d have no incentive to sell pricier but truly reusable bags, since if they charged (for example) $1.00 for a nice bag, they have to give that whole dollar to the environmental fund. This prop is funded by plastics companies to the tune of millions of dollars, a clue that the real intention behind this bill isn’t the environment (see more details in 1a below). We say no.

Here’s a breakdown of the relationship between Prop 65 and Prop 67, another prop on this year’s ballot which protects CA’s recently passed plastic bag ban (and the charge of $0.10 for carryout bags). There are four possible scenarios:

  • 1. If Prop 65 and Prop 67 pass, then whichever receives more “yes” votes will determine where the revenue goes.
  • 1a. If Prop 65 has more votes, then the revenue goes to the state for environmental programs (see main paragraph above). But... <cue dramatic music> ...there’s a suspiciously worded section of Prop 65 which *might*, depending on the interpretation of the courts, prevent Prop 67 from going into effect. In other words, there’s a chance that Prop 65 could ‘poison pill’ Prop 67, which would suck! This is, we think, why plastics companies have been pushing the Yes on 65 campaign as well as the No on 67 campaign.
  • 2. If Prop 67 has more votes, it ‘wins’ and the revenue from carryout bags is kept by stores (good scenario!).
  • 2a. If Prop 65 passes and Prop 67 fails, then the bag ban/charge dies, and revenue from any future version would go to the state for environmental programs. This means that grocers would fight any future statewide carryout bag law because they wouldn’t keep any revenue from the bags.
  • 3. If Prop 65 fails and Prop 67 passes (our ideal scenario), then the statewide carryout bag law goes into effect and stores get to keep the charge.
  • 4. If both Prop 65 and 67 fail, then the bag ban poofs, but if another one is created in the future, revenues from it would not be automatically routed to the environmental fund.

Whew. Anyone still reading wins the plastic bag princess prize! Oh, and vote no on Prop 65.

Prop 66: Kill Everyone Even Faster with the Death Penalty - AYFKM? No! ⁉️

While Prop 62 would end the death penalty in California, replacing it with life without parole, Prop 66 would instead expedite the death penalty process. It dictates that death row appeals must be completed within 5 years. Given that California currently has over 700 prisoners on death row, that would turn us into an execution machine, killing one inmate every three days. (Texas, which has executed more prisoners than any other state since 1976, peaked at 40 executions in 2000.)

Prop 66 has some other disturbing provisions, among them allowing attorneys with no defense experience to represent death row inmates and barring observers such as the ACLU from witnessing executions. It even contains a “poison pill” for Prop 62, so that if both measures win, only this one could take effect. This is a hastily written law meant to fight off the death penalty repeal, with potentially disastrous results. Vote no!

Prop 67: Protect the Plastic Bag Ban - Yes

This one’s simple. Huge plastic-bag-manufacturing corporations didn’t like California’s pathbreaking ban on single-use plastic bags, so they put this on the ballot to challenge it. The law was due to come into effect on July 1st, but the fact that this challenge to it qualified for the ballot paused the law till after we vote. To save the ban, thereby protecting the environment and encouraging companies to switch to reusable bags, vote Yes. Voting No torpedoes the existing legislation.

Note that us San Franciscans would be less affected by this than others, since SF has its own bag ban and charge which wouldn’t be changed by this. Also, this bill would still allow single-use plastic bags for meat, bread, produce, bulk food and other non-wrapped food items. Customers using a payment card or voucher issued by the California Special Supplemental Food Program would be exempted from being charged for bags.

Overall, though, we think this is an obvious Yes. Companies with names like “Hilex Poly” and “Superbag Corp.” have already pumped $5M into the ‘No’ campaign! Let’s show them they can’t buy off CA’s environmental conscience.

San Francisco Propositions

So What’s a “Set-Aside” Anyway?

San Francisco has three ‘set-asides’ on the ballot this year. These are commitments to fund something at a certain level in the future. They don’t actually raise new cash and devote it to a cause - they just force the Board to always allocate a certain amount from the General Fund to that item. On the one hand, set-asides can be a useful way to ensure important things get money. And they can pass without the 66% of the vote required for any new taxes devoted to specific purposes (a nutty stricture passed by anti-government extremists).

On the other, set-asides are a way for politicians to pretend to support issues but not follow through by actually funding them. Plus, they tie the hands of the Board. If a recession strikes and we have to make hard choices about what to trim, whatever’s not protected by a set-aside will take the hit, so important social services are more likely to lose vital funds.

Right now, the Board has a pretty brutal process for divvying up the pennies that are left over after the Mayor submits his proposed budget. It’s a lot of lobbying by Supervisors for their districts and causes. This negotiation will be even harder if we institute a bunch of mandatory set-asides.

Prop A: School District Bond - Yes

This one was frustrating for us. It’s a bond - so if it gets 55% (a weird number, we know) the City will borrow $744M and spend it on the repair and construction of SFUSD schools.

Our schools are crucial, and brutally underfunded. We love schools. A few of us work at schools. But this prop is poorly written and potentially problematic. The main issue is that it’s a really broad request for money. There’s not enough specificity for our liking about where the cash can be spent. Historically in SFUSD, whiter and richer parent communities with more means to advocate secure the lion’s share of funding for their pet projects. Large chunks of the bond will probably end up paying for a new Mission Bay elementary campus and relocating the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts to the District Arts Center. Some of the cash looks like it’s going to green schoolyards, computers, and other stuff that should be paid for with normal operating budgets, not big new bonds. On the bright side, it throws a $5M bone to help fund teacher housing.

All that said, if the League had a number one funding priority, it would be schools. So we couldn’t bring ourselves to shoot this down. We’re gonna be gritting our teeth and voting yes.

Prop B: Renew the Parcel Tax for City College - Yes

Ugh, another feel-bad mess of a proposition. CCSF, our awesome but struggling local community college, is funded through property taxes - currently $79 a year per property parcel in SF. This would renew that tax early (it’s set to expire in 2020) and bump it up twenty bucks, to $99.

On the one hand, we love education, that’s not a huge increase, and the money can’t be spent on administrator salaries. On the other, we keep shovelling money at City College, and they still haven’t met the oversight and transparency conditions we mandated when we passed the tax for them back in 2012. There are no senior or low-income exemptions for taxes like this – so an elderly widow in the Excelsior pays the same amount as PG&E executives in Pac Heights. Even the faculty/teachers union was originally opposed to this measure, but the Trustees cut a deal with them at the end and basically bought their begrudging support in exchange for finally approving their contracts (a 1% raise!). This is also a “flat” parcel tax: every parcel pays the same rate. We wish it was progressive: charging more for larger downtown parcels.

Ultimately, though, because the increase was small, we came around. Note that this needs two-thirds! Vote yes.

Prop C: Bond to Make Loans to Buy and Fix Affordable Housing - Yes

This one is complex, but the short version is that it authorizes SF to borrow money with the long-term goal of protecting and creating housing - including lots of affordable housing - in the City. If you’d care to come with us into the weeds, keep reading :)

Prop C goes back and edits a proposition from 1992. That prop authorized the City to borrow a bunch of money, up to $261M, and then re-loan out that money, at rates that covered the city’s cost, to folks who wanted to seismically upgrade certain types of multi-unit buildings in San Francisco.

The problem was that the purposes for which loan applicants could use the money were extremely limited. Most building owners or property developers who wanted to borrow money ended up finding better and more flexible loan products elsewhere. So most of the “bonding capacity” was never used. This Prop edits that old 1992 one to change some of the terms of the loans, expand the purposes for which they can be used, and shift the focus to affordable housing. The idea is to upgrade and therefore protect older multi-unit buildings in the City which are currently at risk of burning or falling down, or of being converted to condos. If folks (including both private owners and nonprofit housing developers) have access to these special loans, they will hopefully take advantage of them to create new affordable housing and preserve existing rent-controlled buildings.

Overall, this would allow the City to borrow $269 million and re-loan it out. Because it’s a bond, it needs 66% to pass. We’re in support of anything that can ease the housing crisis in SF, so we say yes!

Prop D: Let’s Elect Our Elected Officials - Hell Yes 

Ever notice how sometimes a random person gets appointed to the Board of Supervisors when a seat is vacated, then the next thing you know they’re, like, running the show (see Gavin Newsom, Mark Leno, Carmen Chu, Ed Lee, Katy Tang)? That’s no accident! When the mayor appoints someone, they get the advantage of running as an incumbent in the next election. Which means they usually win. Which means a bunch of the mayor’s anointed ones get to skip the hard part, where you run for office and have to convince people to vote for you. Folks in District 4 haven’t had an open-seat election for Supervisor since 2002!!! This is how Mayor Willie Brown’s political machine (aka “the city family”) still maintains power over city government 12 years after leaving public office.

Of course Willie Brown opposes Prop D. When he was Mayor, he appointed a majority of the Board of Supervisors, and he called them “mistresses you have to service!”

This law changes the rules so Mayoral appointees would just warm the seat until a special election could be held - the appointee wouldn’t be allowed to run. We’ve been beating this drum with Supervisor Avalos since 2012 and we’re glad SF voters will finally get to vote on it, just in time for either Weiner or Kim’s seat to be vacated - oh snap!

Here’s what happens if Prop D doesn’t pass: the Mayor will appoint a successor for either Wiener or Kim who will serve for 18 months before the voters get to decide in June 2018 if that successor should serve the rest of the term...which only goes until November 2018, when they would vote once again! That’s a mess. Vote yes on D.

Prop E: Make the City Responsible for Street Trees - Yes

Back in the day, the City was responsible for taking care of the trees emerging from sidewalks throughout SF. Then hard times struck, so they started a relinquishment program in which they saved money by foisting responsibility for the trees onto property owners. This means pruning, watering, and - most costly if it comes up - repairing sidewalk damage caused by roots. For most homeowners and businesses, it’s a minor expense, but for some low-income families who bought their homes generations ago or who are now seniors on a fixed income, it can be a real burden. Nonprofits like Friends of the Urban Forest have done a great job helping out homeowners and trying to keep our cityscape green, but Prop E has finally arrived to shift the load back to where it belongs: with the City.

Sounds logical, right? Well, it is, but we really struggled with this one. See, this will cost around $19M a year. If it came packaged with a tax to cover those costs, we’d be all for it, but then it would require that damn 66% to pass. So instead it contains a set-aside for that amount, which worries us. If another recession strikes, do we really want to have pruning costs locked into our budget? What essential social service will be slashed because the street tree cash is untouchable? We almost wish there was no set-aside at all, which would mean money for this would always be part of annual budget negotiations.

Still, it’s hard to vote against such a common-sense proposal, especially when it lifts a weight off our poorest neighbors. We’ll be reluctantly voting yes on Prop E.

Prop F: Vote16! - Hell Yes 

This would lower the voting age to 16 for all municipal elections- that’s about 10,000 new SF voters! In addition to being better dressed and listening to cooler music, research has shown that young folks are just as knowledgeable about politics as the rest of us. Adolescents are connected with their communities and engaged in local issues, and they deserve to have more of a voice in what happens in our city. Plus, this would be a good thing for democracy in general - 1 in 3 SFUSD students has an immigrant parent that can’t vote, and some parts of SF with the highest youth populations currently have the lowest voter turnout. If young people vote at 16 or 17, they’re more likely to be regular voters from there on out. Yes on F!

Prop G: Rename the Office of Citizen Complaints - Sure :/

This is a charter amendment to make mostly cosmetic changes to the Office of Citizen Complaints. It would rename it the Department of Police Accountability (DPA); give it direct authority over its proposed budget; and require it to conduct an audit every two years of how the Police Department has handled claims of officer misconduct and use of force.

So what’s the deal here? Currently, the Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC) is a department under the Police Commission. Their purpose is to investigate complaints of police misconduct (which they technically do, but critics call the OCC toothless). “In 2014, for instance, of the 58 cases where allegations of police misconduct were sustained, only one was brought by the OCC to the Police Commission for punishment of more than 10 days' suspension.” (SF Examiner)

Their budget is part of the budget for the Police Department as a whole and is reviewed and approved by the Police Commission. This prop would move their budget from the SFPD budget to the Mayor’s general budget for the City. The freshly-renamed DPA would still be overseen by the Police Commission, and the Director would still be nominated by the Commission and appointed by the Mayor. (If Prop H passes, the director would be appointed by the Public Advocate.)

Malia Cohen (the Bayview’s rep on the Board of Supes) worked closely with OCC Director Joyce Hicks on this, but they didn’t include any of the community groups working on police reform and it doesn’t address any activist priorities. The Police Officer’s Association doesn’t have any objections to the legislation, and that tells us all we need to know - cause if it had any teeth, they’d be kicking and screaming about it. The OCC actually already has the authority to do audits of police misconduct if they wanted to. This would just require them to do so. We’re disappointed that, for the second election in a row, the Board hasn’t come up with meaningful police reform legislation. In fact, the more cynical among us think that this is ‘vanity prop’ to bolster Cohen’s credentials as a reformer. But it’s marginally better than nothing, so we’ll be voting Yes.

Prop H: Create a Public Advocate - Yes

At a time of epic distrust between the public-at-large and politicians that are bankrolled by corporate money, enter Prop H creating the office of the Public Advocate. The Public Advocate is essentially an elected official who is a government watchdog charged with ensuring that the City is working for the people and not special interests and is accordingly empowered to dig for dirt, ask tough questions and keep our elected officials and City departments honest.

The Public Advocate would be responsible for a broad range of key government oversight tasks such as administrative review of government services and city programs, safeguarding government transparency, and ensuring the responsiveness of City agencies to requests of the public. To that end, the Public Advocate would also work to investigate and attempt to resolve complaints from members of the public concerning City services and programs. The reach of the Public Advocate not only improves the way the government responds to the public, but also ensures that government itself is behaving itself by being able to review the management and employment practices of City officers and departments as well as have oversight of the City’s contracting procedures and practices, among other things.

While it would be AWESOME if we didn’t need a Public Advocate, the truth is: we do. The public is empowered to elect a variety of representation, but none of which is a watchdog that can assist every day residents with navigating through City resources and sifting through bureaucracy to help the City serve the public better.

Still not convinced? New York City’s Public Advocate handled the concerns of 8,000 constituents in the past year alone, and in 2015 secured an additional $4.6 million for rape crisis centers, nearly tripling the previous year’s funding. The Public Advocate also saved taxpayers $170 million after investigating a $1.25 billion information technology contract. And, New York City created its position in 1993!

Our people deserve a watchdog to keep government honest. The Public Advocate will have an office in City Hall and serve a four year term (with a two term limit). The City would set the budget, recommending 11 staff members (one for every district), a Chief Deputy Public Advocate and at least two Assistant Public Advocates. Bring on the watchdog!

Prop I: Set Aside Funding for Seniors & People w Disabilities - Yes

Prop I creates a set-aside (there's that term again) for San Francisco seniors and people with disabilities, who make up more than 20% of the City’s population. Called the Dignity Fund, it is a guarantee of financing for crucial services and future funding that provides an assurance of keeping up with cost-of-living increases.

The way it is now, city and nonprofit services can't catch up with inflation or needs. In 2015-2016, City spending on these services was $32 million. Beginning in 2017-2018, the Dignity Fund’s baseline would be $41 million, with annual increases. Services that could receive money from the Fund include home and community based care, food and nutrition programs, community centers, advocacy and legal services, health and wellness promotion, and services to targeted populations (veterans, LGBT, ethnic communities).

While we don’t love set-asides, the Dignity Fund is a stable funding source for services to some of SF’s most vulnerable populations. We say yes.

Prop J: Set Aside Funding for Homelessness & Transportation - Yes

This “sets aside” (see above) $150 million annually in the City budget: $100 million for transportation, mostly MUNI and buses, and $50 million for homeless services. That’s neat and everything, so we’ll vote yes, but why is this a set aside instead of a measure raising more new money for these issues?

Turns out there’s a trick to it. Remember the nutty stricture passed by anti-government extremists? It means that if this Prop raised money to cover its own promises, it would require 66% of votes to pass. As just a set aside, it only requires 51%. It’s therefore accompanied by another Prop, Prop K below, which is written as a tax that just raises unrestricted funds, and therefore also only needs 51% to pass. Conveniently, Prop K is predicted to raise just about $150 million. With their powers combined, they are effectively a tax dedicated to a specific purpose, but this way they can both sneak into law with a majority instead of two-thirds. In fact, Prop J has an escape clause so that if Prop K doesn’t pass, the Mayor can just nix it.

Yeah, it’s a sneaky ploy, but we don’t feel guilty about circumventing a rule designed to “shrink the state till [right-wingers] can drown it in a bathtub”. We need better transit and support for the most vulnerable. Vote yes!

Prop K: Sales Tax to Cover Prop J’s Set Aside - Yes

This is the second half of the end-run around the ⅔rds vote requirement for taxes that go to a specific purpose. It’s a City sales tax of ¾ of a cent on every dollar, and is predicted to raise about $150M a year (which lines up with Prop J).

We don’t love sales taxes, because they’re regressive (lower-income people spend proportionally more of their income on consumer goods, plus the tax is the same for everyone, instead of scaling up for richer folks like an income tax does). That said, the city needs more revenue, and if Prop J passes, the money will be going to services that benefit the least-well off. Plus there’s a state sales tax of a quarter-cent that’s expiring at the same time this would kick in, so we’re really only looking at a half-cent increase. We say yes.

Prop L: Shift 3 of 7 MTA Board Appointments from Mayor to the BoS - Yes

This would give the Board of Supervisors the power to appoint three members of the MTA Board of Directors. Currently the Mayor appoints all seven of them and there’s no way for members of the public to apply. While the Board of Supes technically has the power to reject the Mayor’s nominees, that hardly ever happens, because it’s much harder to argue against nominees we dislike as opposed to campaigning for applicants we like. The Board process would give bike, transit, and pedestrian advocates the ability to campaign for qualified applicants who share our values.

That’s important, because the current MTA Board votes like they’re Mayor Lee’s lapdogs:

* Metered Sunday Parking was a big success with little opposition. But the Mayor didn’t like it so he told the MTA Board to repeal it in order to build support for passing the Vehicle License Fee. After they dutifully repealed it, the Mayor dropped his support for the VLF!
* The MTA was working on a bike lane the full length of Polk Street...until the Mayor’s optometrist on Polk objected. Bye bye continuous bike lane!
* The MTA Board voted to legalize parking in the median on Dolores Street, saying the “traffic calming” effect of cars parked in the street made things safer.

When former Mayor Willie Brown was asked about his appointees, he said he instructed them, “You are free to vote any way you wish when you’re elected. But if I appoint you, you only have one constituent — and that’s me.”

We hope that having a mix of Mayoral and Board of Supervisors appointees will give the MTA Board some backbone. We need them to stand up to political pressure and make the tough decisions required to transform SF into a Transit First city.

Prop M: Create Commission to Oversee Two City Depts, & Kill Props P & U - Yes

Prop M would create a citizen commission to oversee two departments: the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). Currently these departments report directly to the Mayor and there is no commission that reviews or guides their work.

MOHCD is in charge of the City’s crucial affordable housing programs. OEWD is supposed to help out struggling San Franciscans through job training programs and revitalizing commercial corridors. They’re also kind of like the City’s own Chamber of Commerce: they try to recruit businesses to the City and they negotiate most of the Development Agreements for the massive real estate deals like the Giant’s Mission Rock project and the Chronicle’s 5M project.

The new “Housing and Development Commission” would have seven members: three appointed by the Mayor, three appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and one, with expertise in finance, appointed by the Controller.

The Commission would hire the Directors for these two departments and oversee their work. Specifically, the Commission would be responsible for:
* Adopting a five-year strategic plan for affordable housing and community development projects.
* Establishing rules for the competitive bidding process for affordable housing projects. The Board of Supervisors could reject these rules by a 2/3rds vote.
* Approve the Development Agreements that OEWD negotiates with developers of large projects. These agreements codify the community benefits the developers agree to provide.

This charter amendment also includes a “poison pill” to kill Props P and U, the realtors’ two sketchy propositions further down the ballot.

We think this is good policy by itself, but it’s doubly good that this will invalidate Props P/U, the realtors’ vindictive money grabs. In the long run, Prop M will help us move away from legislating affordable housing policies at the ballot box, by creating a Commission to provide more flexible and transparent oversight.

We do think it’s a little funky to have one commission overseeing these two departments, but we also think their work overlaps enough that it makes sense. MOHCD and OEWD do crucial work, but the public doesn’t know enough about them.

The massive Development Agreements that OEWD negotiates with developers are super important. They hold developers accountable to their commitments on affordable housing, open space, and other community benefits. Over and over, we’ve seen OEWD negotiate weak Development Agreements, so that it falls to the Board of Supervisors to renegotiate those deals at the last minute.

This commission will provide more opportunities for the public to weigh in earlier in the process.
Opponents say this will add bureaucracy and delay, but we’re not buying that. The Commission will look at the big picture and set the rules for the competitive bidding process for affordable housing—not micromanage individual projects. In fact, it could actually help these big projects move faster if the Commission is able to identify and resolve issues earlier in the process.

Considering how much the City is investing in affordable housing, it’s insane that there’s no commission overseeing that work. If citizen commissions are nothing but red tape, should we eliminate the PUC, the MTA, the Police Commission, and all the other City commissions? That’d be bonkers!

TL;DR: this is a wonky but valuable change. Vote yes!

Prop N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections - Hell Yes 

This would allow any non-citizen who has a kid in SFUSD to vote in elections for members of the SFUSD Board of Education. That’s badass. Tens of thousands of immigrant parents, guardians and caregivers pay taxes to fund our schools yet have no representation. If their families are affected by the School Board’s decisions then they should get a say, regardless of citizenship. This has been put up for a vote a couple times before, and has come close to passing. So tell your friends to vote Yes on N!

Prop O: Special Favor for Lennar Corp on Office Development - No

Back in 2008, Lennar and the Mayor’s Office dropped $3 million to pass Prop G, to authorize the massive redevelopment of 700+ acres covering Candlestick Point and the former Navy Shipyard at Hunters Point. We were told this mega-project would include:
* up to 10,500 homes,
* up to 885,000 square feet of retail and entertainment uses,
* approximately 330 acres of public parks and open space,
* up to 2.15 million square feet of office space,
* and a new stadium for the 49ers

But buried in the small print was a sneaky clause: when the 49ers skipped town, the allowed office space jumped up to 5.15 million square feet!

The housing was “encouraged” to be up to 25% affordable, but that wasn’t binding. The League helped gather signatures for the competing Prop F that would have required that 50% of the housing be affordable. But we were no match for that $3 million.

So eight years later, how is that mega-project coming along? Well, the Business Times says that so far only 200 units of housing have been built, with another 247 coming by the end of the year. That’s out of 10,000. <sad trombone>

Anyway, apparently when Lennar’s lawyers wrote that proposition back in ‘08 they didn’t take into account 1986’s Prop M, which establishes an annual limit of 950,000 square feet of new office space in the City.

Prop M came out of the “Manhattanization” battles of the 70s and 80s. The concern was that developers only wanted to build office space, because it was more profitable than housing. But building more offices brings more well-paid office workers to the City who bid up the cost of housing in the City. The goal of Prop M was to try to incentivize more housing construction.

The current construction boom has led to developers freaking out about the Prop M cap on new office construction. There’s been talk of a holistic approach to revisiting how we balance office and housing construction. But instead of that, we get this: a big fat french kiss for Lennar. This Prop effectively eliminates the office space limit...but for Lennar and Lennar alone.

* This measure will expedite a creakingly slow construction process in the City’s southeast corner.
* The residents of the Bayview and Hunters Point overwhelmingly supported Prop G back in the day, and we respect their desire for the project.
* Building the office space in this project will subsidize the construction of needed infrastructure for the area and the new open space.
* Creating more office space in the City could theoretically allow companies to move to the City who would otherwise locate down the Peninsula and shuttle employees back and forth.

* Lennar is hella shady.
* Giving one corporation in particular a profit-goosing boost at the ballot box reeks of corruption and pay-to-play politics.
* If we’re going to give a gift to Lennar that will increase the pressure on the housing market, we should require them to make real commitments to the level of affordability in their housing.
* This would set a sketchy precedent where each mega-project will now rush to ballot to get an exemption from Prop M.

Overall, we just couldn’t get behind such a blatant giveaway to a notoriously bad corporate ‘citizen’. No on O.

Prop P: Snarl Affordable Housing in Red Tape - Hell No 🖕

Smell that? It is the gag-worthy stench of Prop P, counterpart to Prop U, together known as P-U, because they stink.

Seriously though, realtors put both of these on the ballot, with the goal of sabotaging affordable housing and prioritizing luxury developments.

When the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) has funding to build affordable housing, it puts out a Request for Proposals for developers. The proposals are evaluated based on factors like the cost, quality of the design, the track record of the developer, and how the proposal meets community needs. MOHCD isn’t required to accept the cheapest bid if there is something sketchy about it or the developer. This bidding process isn’t written into law.

This proposition requires an arbitrary minimum of three bids in order for the city to follow through with building the affordable housing project. This means that if a project received less than three bids, MOHCD couldn’t accept any of them, even if they received two quality bids! They would have to re-bid the project, which would introduce additional delays in the project. As written, if prop P passes, the voters would have to pass a future proposition to overturn it.

It’s a good idea to create more oversight of MOHCD and its bidding process for affordable housing projects, but this isn’t the way to do it. The Housing and Development Commission is a better way to provide oversight and transparency in how the City builds affordable housing. VOTE NO!

Prop Q: Demonize Homelessness for Political Gain - Fuck No 😡

Dang, Mark Farrell sure does hate homeless people. Though apparently the District 2 Supervisor has no problem using them as fodder to propel his fetid political career. He authored this Prop amending the police code to make it illegal “to place an encampment on a public sidewalk.” SFPD would have the authority to remove an encampment after giving just a 24-hour notice and offering ‘shelter options’. As we know, though, the options are pretty limited. Authorities would either bus folks out of the City via the Homeward Bound program or give them housing for 24 hours in a temporary shelter if housing was not available at the Navigation Center. But, seriously, one night is not even 24 hours of housing. They could also could toss homeless people’s seized property after 90 days - but eep! right now there are reports of people's belongings being tossed right away.

San Francisco has approximately 7,500* homeless residents on any given day, and over 20,000 San Franciscans experience homelessness a year. About half of our homeless residents sleep on the streets every night. The City estimates there are 500-700 homeless residents in tents. There are only about 1,300* adult shelter beds - with a huge waiting list for 90-day beds (~1000* on the waitlist any given night). There simply aren’t enough resources. Even great efforts like the Navigation Centers suffer from a fundamental problem. To quote Street Sheet: “The problem with the Navigation Center model is that it is not particularly successful in linking homeless people with long-term permanent housing because there is no housing to be linked up with.”

Prop Q isn’t just cruel, it’s arguably unconstitutional. In August 2015, the Department of Justice announced that these types of ordinances criminalize the status of being homeless and violate the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

Ultimately, this isn’t about helping homeless people. It’s about getting Mark Farrell’s name out there as a “homeless advocate” so that he can run for Mayor, similar to how Gavin Newsom did with 2002’s “Care Not Cash”. We say fuck no.

What might be most frustrating about the fight over Prop Q is that it's distracting all of us from the measures that will actually fund housing for the homeless: Prop J, Prop K, and Prop S. Please vote yes on those three for real solutions to homelessness. 

* We updated this number after publishing the print guide to reflect more accurate information available from the City.

Prop R: Micromanage the Police Department - No

Prop R creates a ‘Neighborhood Crime Unit’ in the Police Department and staffs it with 60 cops. The crime unit will focus on “unlawful street behavior” - Scott Wiener’s favorite vaguely condescending term. That apparently includes robbery, auto burglary, residential/commercial burglary, theft of property including bicycles, vandalism, ‘aggressive pursuit’, obstructing the sidewalk, aggressive solicitation/panhandling, and promoting “civil sidewalks.” In other words, the kinds of crime that disturb rich people’s experience of SF as a pleasure-dome crafted just for them.

In addition to being elitist, this Prop adds a layer of bureaucracy we don’t need. It’s unclear how 60 centrally located cops can respond to 911 and 311, walk beats, investigate crimes and have a neighborhood presence. If a progressive had introduced this proposition, moderates would lambast it for micromanaging our brave law enforcement experts, but since it's from Supervisors Wiener, Tang, and Farrell -- or, as one Leaguer calls them, “Team WTF”, they’re all on board. Having read the recent Civil Grand Jury report on auto burglary and the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s report about how much the city spends enforcing quality of life violations, we think this is the wrong focus for our public safety efforts. Vote no.

Prop S: Reallocate Hotel Tax to Arts and Homeless Family Services - Yes

Prop S is part of this year’s set-aside-palooza. It requires 66% to pass. Right now, the City imposes a hotel tax on the operation of hotels in San Francisco. It consists of an 8% base tax and an additional 6% tax surcharge on hotel room rentals. Under the current allocation, the City spends half the money on the Moscone Center. Then the Board of Supes can spend the remainder on advertising for SF, and the rest goes into the General Fund where the Board can use it for anything. This prop basically takes $ away from the Moscone Center and advertising SF and puts it in the General Fund, but then it sets it aside, and allocates the 8% base tax on the rental of hotel rooms for these specific purposes: the Arts Commission would receive 2.9%; the War Memorial would receive 5.8%; the Grants for the Arts Program would receive 7.5% by 2020; the Cultural Equity Endowment Fund would receive 7.5% by 2020; and the Moscone Center would receive up to 50%. Big arts organizations are supporting this to help the smaller galleries - so they don’t have to fight over this every year in the budget process.

This measure would establish the Ending Family Homelessness Fund, which each year would receive 6.3% of the money raised by the base tax. The City would use this Fund to provide subsidies and case management programs to help homeless families find housing and stabilize in their current housing; provide services to low-income families that are at-risk of becoming homeless; and develop, rehabilitate, and acquire new housing for homeless families.

Prop S would also create the Neighborhood Arts Program Fund, which each year would receive 6% of the money raised by the base tax by 2020. The City would use this Fund to provide money and assistance to non-profit organizations that establish or improve affordable facilities for artists and arts organizations. The City would also provide money from this Fund to artists and non-profit organizations to create art experiences in San Francisco. The Arts Commission would administer this Fund.

San Francisco’s Hotel Tax was originally created in 1961 to support the city’s arts industries, and the construction and operation of convention facilities. In other words, the city’s 1961 hotel room tax had the original purpose to support the arts, and later, low-income housing. Starting in the 1970s, funds from the Hotel Tax were allocated to fund low-income housing. In early 2000s, the city amended the allocations for the arts as part of the annual budget process, reducing funding gradually, and ultimately repealing specific allocations altogether. Money that went towards low-income housing from the fund was eliminated. (The city offers funding for people in need of food and shelter through other channels, such as the Mayor’s Fund for the Homeless.)

Prop T: Restrict Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists - Yes

Let’s start with the basics. A ‘lobbyist’ is a paid professional whose job it is to influence elected officials and other policymakers. They’re sometimes employed entirely by one company or association of companies. Other times they’re hired guns for the highest bidder - but they often specialize in one industry or political perspective. They meet with and argue their case to decision makers. They wine and dine VIPs. Sometimes they author legislation to pass on to members of the Board of Supervisors. And of course, they’re part of the sleazy fundraising process as well.

Currently, lobbyists are prohibited from giving any gifts worth more than $25 to City officials or candidates….but they’re allowed to contribute to their election campaigns. Even worse, they’re allowed to engage in what’s referred to as ‘bundling’: a chummy fundraising process in which they hold a dinner or other event for a candidate (splashing out on fancy food & drink or other perks), then encourage attendees to donate the maximum $500 to a candidate. They collect all those donations (donations which wouldn’t have been made in the first place without their glad-handing) and deliver them to the candidate, thereby buying outsize influence.

Prop T bans bundling, which we think is great! It also forbids any gifts to City officials, even those worth less than $25. That’s a tad fanatical (refreshments count, so City employees would have to make sure to not eat any pretzels at events hosted by lobbyists), but there’s an exception for nonprofit lobbyists. It also requires that lobbyists report ahead of time which City agencies they intend to lobby. We say yes!

Prop U: Eliminate Affordable Housing - Hell No 🖕

If “Kill Everyone Even Faster with the Death Penalty” wasn’t on the ballot, this would be the most fucked up thing we’re voting on this election. That’s why it’s delicious ballot karma that the Realtors’ two shitty measures were randomly assigned the letters P and U (Get it? Because they stink! Get it? We’ll be here all week.)

Prop U was put on the ballot by the Realtors to ostensibly “increase affordable housing options for middle-income San Franciscans.” But it does that by taking that housing away from low-income residents!

Currently, new housing projects with more than 10 units have to ensure that between 12% and 15% of their units are affordable to low-income households (people earning up to 55% of the area median income). Prop U would convert all of this to “middle-income housing” for people earning up to 110% of area median income.

That means instead of offering an affordable one-bedroom for $1,185 a month, the developers would be able to charge $2,369. And because Prop U doesn’t increase the overall amount of affordable housing developers are required to provide, that doubled rent goes straight into the developers’ pockets!

But wait, it gets worse: Prop U is also retroactive. It would affect over 800 currently existing affordable rental units. The next time those units become vacant, instead of being made available to only low-income residents, both low- and middle-income folks could apply for those units.

That creates a *huge* incentive for the landlords of these units to find excuses to evict low-income tenants. And since the new rent would vary between $1,185 and $2,369 depending on who wins the lottery, it creates an incentive for them to rig the affordable housing lottery, too.

We agree that City needs to more housing for middle-income residents. Hell, most of us Leaguers probably fall into that category. But “creating” middle-income housing by stealing it from low-income people is the most fucked up way we could possibly do that. Screw the Realtors and their P-U propositions. Yes on M, no on P-U!

Prop V: One-Cent an Oz Soda Tax - Yes

This is a second attempt to pass the soda tax from the November 2014 ballot, which would have charged 2¢ per ounce on the distribution of sugary drinks. That initiative would have directed funds going to specific purposes, meaning it required 2/3 of votes to pass. This year’s version is almost word-for-word identical to Berkeley’s soda tax, which passed in 2014. It imposes a 1¢ per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, and sends the money to the general fund, so it only requires a simple majority. We wish this tax could earmark the funds raised for public health and other specific initiatives for low-income communities targeted by Big Soda...but we recognize that 2/3rds is a high bar to clear.

What we said about 2014’s Prop E: 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.

As recently as 2010, nearly a third of children and adolescents in San Francisco were obese or overweight; and in San Francisco, 46.4% of adults are obese or overweight, including 61.7% of Hispanics and 51.3% of African Americans. Seven percent of San Franciscans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and the City and County pays an estimated $87 million annually for direct and indirect diabetes care costs. While this stuff is complicated and one could argue that the best way to tackle these numbers would be to reduce stress, poverty, and food deserts across SF, research has shown that sugary drinks are the biggest source of excess calories in our diets.

Mexico enacted an excise tax on sugary drinks in 2014, with the result that the purchase of taxed sugar sweetened beverages declined by 12% generally and by 17% among low-income residents. UC Berkeley published a study in August showing that soda consumption in Berkeley’s low income neighborhoods had dropped by 21% since the tax passed, while water consumption increased by 63%. That's huge. We say yes on Prop V.

Prop W: Luxury Property Transfer Tax - Hell Yes! 🤑

Now here’s something to get excited about! The progressive bloc on the Board of Supervisors put this on the ballot to force downtown interests to contribute to the City as they make millions off real estate. It amends the Business and Tax Code to increase the Real Property Transfer Tax by either a half or quarter percent, depending on the value of the building (the new maximum rate would be 3% on each property transfer). It also tidies up some administrative rules so that the money can go into the General Fund.

San Franciscans are experiencing the most dramatic income inequality in the city’s history. This gap means that despite low unemployment rates, high paying jobs, a real estate boom, and an annual budget of over $9 billion dollars, San Francisco’s homeless population has grown, natives and long term residents are being displaced by speculator evictions and ever-rising costs, and tech-fueled gentrification is pushing out our communities of color.

This measure only affects properties valued at $5 million or more and would generate almost $27 million to fund crucial services. We say Hell Yes!

Prop X: Preserve Industrial and Arts Spaces - Yes

The City is hemorrhaging industrial and art space because developers can make a fortune of converting it into more lucrative residential or office space. It’s good policy for the City to capture a portion of that windfall to replace that industrial and art space. That is essentially what Prop X does. This measure deals with new developments that would convert or demolish spaces zoned for Production, Distribution, and Repair (PDR), Institutional Community, or Arts Activity.

Prop X preserves art and community spaces by requiring new owners that want to take over the PDR space obtain conditional use authorization from the Planning Commission (for the new prospective use of the space) and requires the new user to provide replacement space for the community group displaced, if that is of consequence.

Unfortunately, Prop X leaves zoning to the voters which is the role of legislators. However, in this context, it is important to note that if voters approve Prop X, it can be amended later by the Board of Supes without going back to the voters. It’s limited to a small part of the City that is at threat of losing a lot of PDR and art space (certain parts of Mission and SOMA that are part of the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan). It also provides flexibility for projects to pay a fee instead of providing onsite PDR/art space. So, while it isn’t a perfect measure, it’s not bad. In a time where displacement is at all time high with a disproportionate impact on our artist community and PDR spaces, we support this measure.

Regional Proposition

Prop RR: $3.5 Billion Bond to Repair & Upgrade BART - Yes

This is a regional prop. That means that it needs to hit 66% in all three BART counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, and SF. If it gets it, the BART District will borrow $3.5 billion (wow) to replace, upgrade, and earthquake-proof BART’s deteriorating infrastructure.

Look, we don’t love the sprawl BART created. It’s not the system we would have picked for the Bay, but it’s transit, it’s what we’ve got, and it’s silly to let it fall to pieces now. Vote yes.

Um, didn't you guys forget something? 🤔

We’re not talking about the Presidential race because you don’t need us to tell you who to vote for for President. This year’s bruising primary season hoovered up everyone’s energy and sparked endless toxic infighting. Enough already.

This year’s down-ballot races are hella important. And nobody’s paying any attention to them. While state-level politics seems corrupt and distant to us, cities are laboratories for democracy - an arena where we can effect real change on a local level.

Think of this voter guide as your secret decoder ring to the Byzantine jumble of this November’s ballot.

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Meet the League of Pissed Off Voters

We're a bunch of political geeks in a torrid but troubled love affair with San Francisco. We’re blessed to live in America’s most progressive city, but we’re cursed to live in a city where most of the youth who grow up here can’t afford to live here. Frisco has its own dark history of injustice: redevelopment, environmental racism, the "old boys" network. All of us lucky enough to enjoy the San Francisco magic owe it to our City to fight to keep it diverse, just, and healthy. What are you doing to make a difference?

This voter guide (our 21st in SF!) is how we educate our friends and peers on the issues, excite pissed off progressive voters, and remind sellout politicians that we’re paying attention.

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