California voters almost always say yes to bonds, but don’t always understand the trade-offs

By John Myers : latimes – excerpt

Perhaps more than any state, Californians govern themselves through the ballot. Most of the attention goes to the laws they write, but voters also spend taxpayer money — a lot of it.

They do so through bonds, instructing government officials to borrow money for specific projects. It’s the closest thing to a sure bet that exists in statewide campaigns, with an approval rate hovering around 90%. Less clear is whether voters fully comprehend the implications of their ballot choice.

State general obligation bond measures approved since 1986 total more than $167.7 billion. Lenders must be repaid with interest, averaging about 5% a year, over a span of several decades. Most general obligation bond payments come from the same bank account that provides cash for services such as education, healthcare and prisons.


A Return to the Ballot

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

June’s local election was expected to be a quiet one — but then the mayor died, the YIMBY party drafted a ballot measure, SFPD pushed for tasers, and an eviction law was introduced that could change the future for every renter in the city…

With only a couple weeks left to file for mayor and the Feb. 3 signature deadline looming for ballot measures, our hilly city is officially in election season. Here’s a quick guide to some of what’s coming…

Leading the pack is Mark Leno, who had already announced his intention to run in 2019… He pledges to fight for “regular San Franciscans — the immigrants, tenants, homeowners, and small businesses.”…

Currently, the other candidate of note is Sup. Jane Kim. As one of the progressives on the Board of Supervisors, Kim offers a stark contrast to Sup. London Breed — should the latter decide to run. Although she’s got less political experience than Leno, as a current supervisor and candidate for the state Senate in 2016, Kim arguably has more city name recognition…

Two other women of note who signed applications so far are Angela Allioto and Amy Farah Weiss. The link to watch for updates:

Potential Ballot initiatives for the June 2018 ballot:

No Eviction Without Representation Initiative: More information can be found at

Muni Department Split: Supes. Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai are behind this measure, which would split the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency into two separate agencies. One side would handle Muni, and the other would oversee San Francisco’s parking and streets. Added on would be the ability for supervisors to appoint the Board of Directors, a right that the mayor currently holds…

YIMBY Automatic City Housing Approval: The YIMBY — Yes in My Backyard — party launched its own ballot measure this year, cheerfully titled the “Affordable and Teacher Housing Now Initiative.” More information is at

Flavored Tobacco Repeal: Sup. Malia Cohen spearheaded a ban on flavored tobacco products earlier this year, citing statistics that 80 percent of Black smokers consume menthol cigarettes…

San Francisco Arts and Family Funding: A revival of 2016’s failed Proposition S, this ballot measure would retain part of the city’s hotel tax to fund the arts — particularly the Cultural Equity Endowment, granted to artists and organizations that cater to underserved populations...

Relocation of Professional Sports Teams Initiative: this measure would give San Franciscans a voice for future relocation of professional sports teams. More information can be found at

SFPD and Tasers: Last but not least is this controversial measure, which would bring the San Francisco Police Department’s desire for Tasers to the voters…(more)





New pages on the site

In case anyone missed our pages on legislative issues, there are 2 in the menu above, CA Bills 2017  and SF City Legislation where we will try to keep some links for people to use to refer to the various bills. There are so many going through Land Use and Transportation that we thought we should try to post a few of general interest. If you want to add one send the format you see on the appropriate page.


Why are we still pushing criminalization of homeless people?

By Tommi Avicolli Mecca : 48hills – excerpt

It’s a political strategy that was once used against LGBT people, and it’s still alive in San Francisco

More and more evidence keeps emerging that housing-first efforts, or the placing of homeless people into housing paid for by the city, not only works in getting people off the streets, but is also much cheaper.

Yet, despite this, politicians in San Francisco continue to exploit the homeless issue at election time and push for further criminalization of a group that has been criminalized to the max. I don’t know who’s worse the politicians who exploit the issue or the electorate that continues to vote for them.

It’s similar to how politicians exploited the vice issue in the 1960s and 1970s, pushing for more and more criminalization and law enforcement against gay men and prostitutes…

This November, two moderate SF supervisors are proposing to criminalize pitching a tent on the sidewalk (Props Q & R), which is already against the law. In one of these proposed ballot initiatives, a special unit would be created within the police department to patrol neighborhoods to look out for, among other things, encampments and other activities by the homeless…

The greatest shame in all this is that one of the politicians pushing the anti-homeless initiatives here in SF is a gay man running for State Senate who doesn’t get that, had he been around in the 60s or 70s, he would have been targeted in the same way he’s targeting the homeless.

I can only hope that, this time around, SF voters are too smart to fall for this cynical ploy…(more)


November 2016 Charter Amendments

introduced at roll call

Charter Amendments: Legislation Introduced at Roll Call May 24,2016

160581 Charter Amendment – [Homeless Housing and Services Fund; Transportation Improvement Fund – Budget Set-Asides]  Sponsors: Mayor; Avalos, Wiener and Farrell

160582 Charter Amendment – [City Responsibility for Maintaining Street Trees] to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to transfer responsibility for the maintenance of street trees from abutting property owners to the City;  Sponsor: Avalos

160583 [Charter Amendment – Public Advocate] Charter Amendment (First Draft) to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to create the office of Public Advocate. Sponsors: Campos; Avalos, Kim and Mar

160584 [Charter Amendment – Independent Investigations Bureau in the Office of the District Attorney] to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to designate an Independent Investigations Bureau in the Office of the District Attorney as the primary agency to investigate criminal conduct arising out of critical incidents in the City involving officer-involved use of force, upon the District Attorney’s establishment of the Bureau; Sponsor: Cohen

160585 [Charter Amendment – Dignity Fund] to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to: 1) establish the Dignity Fund to support Seniors and Adults with Disabilities; Sponsors: Cohen; Mar, Yee, Avalos and Campos

160586 [Charter Amendment – Independent Police Oversight Department and Budget Set-Aside] to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to: re-name the Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC) as the Independent Police Oversight Department (IPOD); Sponsor: Cohen

160587 [Charter Amendment – Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections] Draft Charter Amendment to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco by amending Section 8.100 and adding Section 13.111 to authorize San Francisco residents 18 years of age or older who are the parents, legal guardians, or caregivers of children in the San Francisco Unified School District to vote in elections for the Board of Education, Sponsor: Mar

160588 [Charter Amendment – Housing and Development Commission] to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco, to create the Housing and Development Commission to oversee the Department of Economic and Workforce Development, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Department of Real Estate; Sponsors: Peskin; Kim

160589 [Charter Amendment – Municipal Transportation Agency – Appointments to Board of Directors and Budget Process] to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to split the power to make appointments to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors between the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors, to lower the vote by which the Board of Supervisors may reject the SFMTA Budget from seven to six, Sponsors: Yee; Kim, Peskin and Campos