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City Hall Watch: Earthquake bond makes June ballot

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A $412 million bond to upgrade public safety buildings comes before voters in June, but Mayor Gavin Newsom said he would have preferred November.

The Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 on Tuesday to place the bond measure on the June 8 ballot. City officials say it’s necessary to pay for various public safety needs to better prepare San Francisco for a major earthquake.

If approved by voters, $104 million would pay for seismically retrofitting the aging water supply system for firefighters, which includes hydrants, reservoirs, water cisterns, pumps and an underground pipe system built after the 1906 earthquake. Another $65 million would go toward upgrades to 10 to 12 of the 42 neighborhood fire stations, and $243 million would pay for a seismically safe police command center in Mission Bay.

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The bond, paid for through property taxes, is expected to be timed in such a way to prevent an increase to property taxes.

“We know what happened in San Francisco in 1906, we know what happened in 1989, we saw what happened in Haiti recently, and I ask that we support this measure … and get this critical work done before the next big one happens,” Supervisor David Chiu said.

Supervisor Chris Daly cast the one vote against the bond and said it was not fair to leave out jails, which are located at the Hall of Justice along with the police facilities.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he would have preferred to see the bond on the November ballot, with polls showing it would have a better chance then. Nevertheless, Newsom said, “We’re going to get this bond passed.”

Newsom said Chiu and his allies on the board wanted the bond on the June ballot to avoid conflict with tax measures they are considering for the fall ballot. The board is considering tax measures.

Chiu disagreed with Newsom’s assessment.

“I have been apprised of the fact that the polling is actually identical between November and June,” Chiu said.

The November ballot will be crowded, and “we wanted to be able to focus all of our efforts on getting this done in June,” Chiu said.

It would take a two-thirds vote by residents to approve the bond.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com



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