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Examiner Endorsements: City measures

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San Francisco City Hall. (Rachael Garner/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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Proposition A: School Bonds

The San Francisco Board of Education is asking voters to approve this $744 million facilities bond to refurbish property, build at least one new school and construct an arts institute. This funding is a vital investment to maintain and grow a healthy school district in a city that struggles to welcome and care for families and children.

If passed, $409 million of Proposition A funds would be used to modernize and fix dozens of school facilities. It must pass by 55 percent of the vote.

“We don’t have the resources anywhere close to this scale within our operating fund or other facilities fund,” Interim Superintendent Myong Leigh told the San Francisco Examiner. Of the district’s 140 facilities, about 40 sites need “a broad scope of work” done, he said.

With development booming, student enrollment is expected to overflow classrooms within the next decade unless the district builds new schools. The SFUSD hopes to use $100 million of the bond to build two schools in Mission Bay and the Bayview, as well another $100 million to move Ruth Asawa School of the Arts to the Civic Center neighborhood.

The planned districtwide arts institute would include moving the Ruth Asawa to a former high school building on Van Ness Avenue, between Hayes and Fell streets, which damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake made unsuitable for students. Prop. A money would help the district to fix seismic issues as well as refurbish two adjacent buildings — the historic Nourse Theater and an abandoned building at the corner of Franklin and Fell streets — to create the arts center.

The bond money would also improve environmental sustainability, increase technology and help implement improve school meals as well as transform cafeterias into start-up style dining halls.

This bond measure is a smart move to improve life and learning in San Francisco.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. A

Proposition B: City College Parcel Tax

Proposition B asks San Francisco voters to increase and extend a parcel tax for the college that voters first approved in 2012 and is set to expire in 2020. The increase — from $79 to $99 per parcel per year — is meant to ensure the college can pay faculty the raises it recently agreed to, as well as wage hikes for staff.

The $19 million per year that the Controller’s Office estimates the parcel tax will generate will also help the college keep its libraries open and maintain its class schedules. None of it would be used to pay administrators.

While the existing parcel tax won’t expire for four years, this early renewal is vital for the continued rebuilding of the school — one of The City’s best resources — as it is set to lose more than $35 million in state funding next year.

In addition, the extended parcel tax will help bolster long-term plans for financial stability at a time when CCSF’s accreditor is expected to determine by early next year whether the college retains its accreditation.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. B

Proposition C: Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing

Proposition C would fund the acquisition and preservation of multi-unit buildings in San Francisco that need seismic, fire, health and other safety upgrades from the more than $250 million left over from the 1992 voter-approved earthquake safety bond for the seismic strengthening of unreinforced brick buildings.

It is a smart use of money San Francisco already has, making The City safer and protecting affordability. Prop. C would expand the permitted uses of the bond money to allow for upgrades of our affordable housing stock.

“In San Francisco, we have all sorts of buildings that have tremendous life and safety issues,” Fernando Marti, co-director of San Francisco’s Council of Community Housing Organizations, told the Examiner. “What Prop. C does is it simply expands the uses of that money to bring [buildings] up to code on all sorts of issues.”

Prop. C, which requires two-thirds voter approval to pass, is supported by numerous housing advocates, as well as Mayor Ed Lee, state Sen. Mark Leno, supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim, Eric Mar, Aaron Peskin and Norman Yee and other local politicians. We add our support to this worthy measure.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. C

Proposition D: Vacancy Appointments

Under Proposition D, when a supervisor exits their term early, the mayor would appoint a person to temporarily serve as district supervisor. But unlike the existing rules, the temporary supervisor wouldn’t be able to run in the election for the seat. An election would also have to be held within months after a vacancy occurs.

The measure was introduced by Supervisor John Avalos, who said that board members shouldn’t be selected by “the mayor and a handful of insiders.” The measure would make clearer the separation between the legislative and executive branches of government, supporters argue, noting that a mayoral appointee to the board is a “rubber stamp” for the mayor’s agenda. Proponents also argue that the power of incumbency thwarts the democratic process, giving an upper hand to the temporary supervisor in an election.

Former mayor Mayor Willie Brown submitted a ballot argument against Prop. D along with former mayors U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Frank Jordan and former Board of Supervisors President Angela Alioto. Opponents called the measure “unnecessary, wasteful and un-democratic,” citing city estimates that the special elections to fill vacancies would cost $340,000 apiece. The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods called that expense “a wise investment in true democracy.” We agree — it is a small price to pay to ensure true and direct district representation.

If approved, Prop. D will have an immediate impact since the the District 11 state Senate race between Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents District 6, and Supervisor Scott Wiener in District 8, will leave a vacancy. Under the current rules, the mayor’s appointee to either seat would serve for a full 18 months before the next scheduled election occurs. The new supervisor should enter City Hall with the backing of their constituents, not a hand out from the mayor.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. D

Proposition E: Maintenance of Street Trees and Sidewalks

Proposition E would amend the charter and require San Francisco to properly care for its urban forest. The City’s Department of Public Works will be responsible for the upkeep and care of the more than 100,000 street trees.

The measure would reverse a 2012 decision that put responsibility of The City’s 105,000 street trees into the hands of property owners, a terrible move that left property owners footing the bill and bearing the responsibility for neighborhood assets.

The City needs to take back care of the trees and promote growing our tree canopy, which now ranks among the nation’s smallest for an urban area. The system, as it stands, has meant neglect and death for many of The City’s street trees.

The measure will be funded with an annual $19 million set-aside that will grow with The City’s General Fund. The fund will be set and adjusted annually depending on discretionary funds in city coffers. A portion — $500,000 — will go toward maintaining trees on SFUSD property.

The measure, which would go into effect July 1, has no recorded opponents. It requires more than 50 percent voter approval to pass.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. E

Proposition F: Youth Voting in Local Elections

Proposition F would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections as a way to encourage good citizenship.

Opponents of Prop. F have questioned whether those as young as 16 are ready to vote, and some have called it a power grab by progressive politicians looking for support. Both fears are overstated.

If San Francisco teenagers registered to vote at the same rate as the general population — about 57 percent of registered voters cast their ballots in June, according to the Department of Elections — voter registration would increase by just 1 percent in San Francisco, according to the city controller.

“It’s not going to make a difference in an election, but what it’s really about is you try to drive up participation rates and informed voting,” said Avalos, who sponsored the measure. Rather than being concerned with “defining when someone is smart enough,” he said the measure was a way to correct the trend of low voter turnout among millennials.

Oliver Sanghvi York, a 17-year-old senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School in Balboa Park and a proponent of Prop. F, said the measure is aimed at creating informed voting habits for the future.

“One of the big misconceptions is that this is entirely about 16 year olds,” York told the Examiner. “For me, it’s actually not about 16 and 17 year olds, it’s about creating a culture of informed, habitual voting that will last.”

We hope it encourages political engagement among young voters and helps establish lifelong habits of participating in the political process.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. F

Proposition G: Police Oversight and Accountability

Proposition G not only seeks to expand the powers of the Office of Citizen Complaints, but will also change its name to the Department of Police Accountability to better reflect the new level of independence the measure seeks to give it.

The nearly four-decade-old OCC, which investigates citizen complaints of police misconduct, was in June also empowered by voters to investigate all fatal police shootings in The City.

Supervisor Malia Cohen, who authored the measure, said it was important for the newly enlarged department to have auditing powers and a budget not controlled by the San Francisco Police Department to ensure independence, as the new measure stipulates.

In the last several years, The City has grappled with a series of police scandals, from racist text messages and convictions for illegal searches, to a number of high profile police shootings. All of this helped prompt the launch of a federal police review and a troubling report from a three-judge panel on the Police Department’s culture and practice around race, oversight and transparency. As The City searches for a new chief to lead the department, it is a good time to instill this new level of expectations for police work in the SFPD.

Prop. G is a step in the right direction for stronger citizen oversight and better police accountability.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. G

Proposition H: Independent Public Advocate

It’s true that each supervisor is a public advocate for their district, as opponents of Proposition H say. But that’s no argument that the creation of a citywide public advocate is unnecessary. If approved, this measure would create a new watchdog whose responsibility would be to protect the people of The City, to address issues that might exceed the narrow limits of a single district and oversee the greater use of power and the potential abuse of power in city government.

If the measure passes, the elected public advocate would appoint the director of the Office of Citizen Complaints, which investigates allegations of police misconduct; have subpoena power; introduce legislation at the Board of Supervisors; contract with outside, independent experts; investigate contracts and city departments; and handle some whistleblower complaints.

Supporters say the public advocate position is the right check and balance for City Hall, where the mayor holds much of the power.

In crafting the measure, proponents followed the example of New York, which has long had a public advocate. “It’s been very successful in the cities that it operates in,” Tom Ammiano, former Assemblymember and supervisor, told the Examiner. However, unlike in New York, San Francisco’s public advocate would not be next in line for mayor.

The measure immediately requires a staffing of four people, including the public advocate, which would cost between $600,000 and $800,000 annually. The measure also recommends growing the department to a larger staff, which the City Controller has estimated would cost an additional $2.8 million to $3.5 million.

Should voters pass Prop. H, an election for the post would likely occur at the June 2018 election. The position is for two four-year terms.

Opponents, mostly allies of Mayor Ed Lee, contend the measure creates an unnecessary position that would be expensive and dilute the power of the mayor. We believe, however, a public advocate would improve good government practices, transparency and accountability in San Francisco. It is well worth the cost of establishing this independent office.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. H

Proposition I: Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities

Proposition I ­­— called the Dignity Fund — would fund care for seniors and seniors with disabilities. It is a worthwhile set-aside that aims to make sure The City’s growing elderly population is protected and cared for.

Administered through the Department of Aging and Adult Services, the money would fund home health care, food and caregiver programs as well as community centers and advocacy programs.

The fund, overseen by an 11-member panel, would begin at a $38 million baseline — what The City spent on such services in fiscal year 2016-17. It would grow by $6 million in the first year and then by $3 million each year until 2027, at which point it will cap at $72 million.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop I

Proposition J: Funding for Homelessness and Transportation Proposition K: General Sales Tax

A sales tax hike is not something to recommend lightly. In this case, though, the sales tax hike, Proposition K, and the spending mandate, Proposition J, which sets aside annually $100 million for transportation and $50 million for homelessness, is a worthy investment in two of the most pressing needs of our city.

The measures have their detractors. Opponents include the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce along with supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim. Peskin objected to the tax hike, saying it is “balancing our budget on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable in our city.”

San Francisco’s sales tax is set to decrease from 8.75 percent to 8.5 percent next year, but if the measure passes it would bring it to a total of 9.25 percent.

Supervisor Scott Wiener emphasized his support for Prop. J and Prop. K as a significant distinction between him and Kim, as the two compete for the state Senate. Kim said she opposed “flat regressive taxes,” while Wiener argued that “the whole regressive argument is dramatically overstated,” noting that nearly half the sales tax is paid by tourist and businesses. “To me,” Wiener said, “this sales tax is a core civic measure.”

We agree. A sales tax to raise $150 million for transit improvements and homelessness services is consistent with our most urgent needs and priorities in San Francisco.

Jeff Kositsky, head of the new department of homelessness, and Ed Reiskin, head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, which oversees Muni, both argue that such an investment is vital to address the basic mission of their respective departments.

Kositsky said that $30 million would go toward new housing units or temporary rent subsidies, $6.5 million would fund homeless outreach services by adding mental health service personnel to the Homeless Outreach Team, and $13.5 million would expand the shelter system to serve some 2,400 homeless a year.

For transportation, Reiskin said the money would flow into six areas: pedestrian safety; making Muni more equitable; continuation of free Muni for youth, seniors and disabled; capital improvements; BART and Caltrain; and road repaving.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. J and Prop. K

Proposition L: Balancing MTA Appointments

Proposition L would split the appointments on the SFMTA, which runs Muni, between the Mayor’s Office and the Board of Supervisors. It is a smart move to encourage more discussion, ideas and debate about vital decision involving transit in The City.

Currently the mayor makes all seven appointments. Under the new rules, three of those appointments would go to the supervisors. Also under Prop. L, the Board of Supervisors would need only a simple majority of six members to approve or not approve the SFMTA’s budget; now it needs seven.

Many controversial proposals have passed unanimously under the current SFMTA board — including changes to Taraval street to speed up the L-Taraval train — leading some critics to call the board a “rubber stamp.” This is not about diluting the mayor’s power or politicizing the SFMTA so much as it is about ensuring more accountability and diversity of opinions for San Francisco’s transit needs.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. L

Proposition M: Housing and Development Commission

The creation of a Housing and Development Commission, overseeing the existing Department of Economic and Workforce Development and the Department of Housing and Community Development, would improve how affordable housing is administered in The City.

The commission would be comprised of seven members: three appointed by the mayor, three by the Board of Supervisors and one by the City Controller.

Economic and Workforce Development monitors programs that coordinate with private workforce development, job training and other business projects, and Housing and Community Development provides financing for purchasing, rehabilitating and development affordable housing, as well as other below-market-rate housing efforts. Both departments would fall under the purview of the new commission.

Opponents contend the measure is a costly and needless increase in bureaucracy that dilutes the mayor’s power. We disagree. Proposition M would increase public oversight and transparency of how a sizable part of the budget is spent on our most pressing issues.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. M

Proposition N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections

Proposition N would allow non-citizen parents with children in San Francisco to participate in electing candidates to the Board of Education.

Sponsored by Supervisor Eric Mar, the measure is meant to increase voter participation and parental involvement in the SFUSD. It has the potential to also address the achievement gap for Latino students, among others, by getting more parents involved in their children’s education and in the school district.

Prop. N would cost a minimum $160,000 per election in voting materials, training for poll workers and voter registration, unless done by absentee ballot, in which case it would cost about $120,000, according to the City Controller. It’s a worthwhile investment to encourage engagement among families who might not otherwise feel like they have much of a stake in The City.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. N

Proposition O: Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point

Proposition O would amend the Planning Code to exclude new office space within the Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point development from an annual cap on new office space.

The redevelopment of the Shipyard and Candlestick Point by developer FivePoint is expected to bring online 330 acres of public parks and open space, up to 10,500 homes, up to 885,000 square feet of retail and entertainment and up to 5.15 million square feet of office space

Since 1986, San Francisco’s Planning Code has limited new office space in The City to 950,000 square feet each year. Through Prop. O, the developers are seeking an exemption from that annual limit in this specific area. It makes sense to remove the Shipyard and Candlestick Point from this annual cap because it could otherwise delay community benefits promised to residents of the Bayview from this long awaited project.

Supporters, who include former Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, said the planned office construction will help pay for public amenities like parks and affordable housing at the development site.

Opponents questioned the need for so much office space in The City and caution the measure might smooth the way for a tech campus and contribute to displacement in the area. Supporters dismissed this possibility, saying the added office and commercial space will create local jobs and give new impetus for added transit, housing and infrastructure to benefit the local community.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. O

Proposition P: Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property

Proposition P would require the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to receive at least three proposals for a new affordable housing project and accept the proposal with the “best value.”

It sounds good, after all, competitive bidding is one of the foundational tenets of good government. As Supervisor Mark Farrell told the Examiner: “We should be trying to get the best bang for our buck.”

But opponents of the measure say requiring three bids and the selection of the “best value” bid would hinder the production of affordable homes in San Francisco, encourage poor-quality housing development and benefit for-profit developers over those with a track record of serving residents in need of specialty housing.

Affordable housing advocates emphasize affordable housing projects could be indefinitely stalled while waiting for three bids, effectively preventing the creation of new homes. Often, there are only one or two providers that can deliver services required of projects that are tailored to house populations requiring special services, such as the formerly homeless, veterans, seniors and disabled residents.

Requiring multiple bidders for these projects could also mean the developer awarded the project might have less experience than more qualified bidders, said Gail Gilman, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Community Housing Partnership.

Endorsement: No on Prop. P

Proposition Q: Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks

Supervisor Mark Farrell is right — no one should be forced to sleep in tents. It is inhumane to have people in encampments on the streets for want of housing. No argument there.

But Proposition Q, proposed by Farrell and supervisors Scott Wiener, Malia Cohen and Katy Tang, is a mean-spirited policy that would undoubtedly make life even harder for many of The City’s most downtrodden citizens.

If Prop. Q passes, The City would officially ban tent encampments and have the authority to remove them 24 hours after offering some form of shelter — the number of days of housing is not specified in the proposal — and to offer to pay for transportation to reunite individuals with family or friends outside of San Francisco under The City’s Homeward Bound program.

Farrell acknowledged this would almost always mean a shelter bed rather than any more permanent form of housing. The City does not have enough supportive housing to provide adequate accommodations for people trying to get off the streets. Forcing people out of tents on sidewalks and in parks to cycling them through the already overburdened shelter system is an inadequate, band-aid response to dealing with the homeless. It might please businesses and tourists not to have to see such misery, but it does nothing to alleviate the real suffering or provide actual care for those in need.

We need a more robust shelter to housing pipeline. As of August, 875 people were on the waitlist for longer-term shelter beds in The City. There are 35 shelter beds for every 100 homeless people in San Francisco. Pushing even more people out of encampments will not help the backlog.

Homeless advocates warn the measure only encourages growing anti-homeless sentiment instead of working toward solutions. They argue Prop. Q is unnecessary since The City already has the power to remove tents when they wish.

The one bright spot in this dismal conversation, and perhaps the best reason to reject Prop. Q, is that San Francisco recently formed a Department of Homelessness under the leadership of Jeff Kositsky. If the tent ban is a policy he believes would help the homeless situation in The City, he should be the one proposing it. Kositsky should have the chance to lead and not be hamstrung by mandates that may complicate or confound his work.

Kositsky has kept quiet on the merits of Prop. Q. “Politics is a very bad way to make public policy on a complex issue like homelessness,” Kositsky told the Examiner.

Endorsement: No on Prop. Q

Proposition R: Neighborhood Crime Unit

Community policing — generally understood to mean assigning police officers to walk the streets of a neighborhood and get to know its citizens — is good practice that has proven to make streets and neighborhoods safer. Proposition R echoes these laudable goals in creating a neighborhood crime fighting unit within the SFPD.

With a search underway for a new police chief, it may be tempting to reframe department priorities. But we think it is better to allow The City’s new top cop to be able to chart their own agenda — one which hopefully comprises some elements of community policing — but which isn’t hamstrung by staffing mandates.

Prop. R would require 3 percent of the department be assigned to such the unit, which wouldn’t be housed in local stations but rather be operated out of central command.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who sponsored the measure, took exception to the idea that the new chief should have ultimate say over allocating department resources and priorities. “With all respect to the police department, they don’t get to make all the decisions on public safety in San Francisco,” he told the Examiner.

Echoing our objections to Prop. Q in this election, which seeks to establish a timeline to remove tents from sidewalks, The City has a department of dedicated professionals to make these kind of decisions and establish the best practices for dealing with issues, be it the new department on homelessness or the police department. As much as possible, the leadership of these departments should be responsible and held accountable for what they do or do not accomplish. If their leadership is lacking, they should be replaced. That is, after all, why The City is now searching for a new chief of police. To undercut their authority by injecting politics into making public policy in this fashion is counterproductive and ill-advised.

Endorsement: No on Prop. R

Proposition S: Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds

Proposition S would dedicate a part of The City’s hotel room tax to arts and family homeless services.

San Francisco’s 14 percent base hotel room rental tax generates an average of $380 million a year. Under Prop. S, $69 million of that (16 percent) would go toward specific arts and homeless family programs starting in fiscal year 2017-18 and would grow to $103 (21 percent) by 2020-2021.

If approved, Prop. S would ensure the Arts Commission receive 2.9 percent; the War Memorial 5.8 percent; the Grants for the Arts Program 7.5 percent by 2020; the Cultural Equity Endowment Fund 7.5 percent by 2020. The Moscone Center would receive up to 50 percent, or about $50 million.

The measure’s Ending Family Homelessness Fund would receive 6.3 percent, and be used for subsidies and case management programs for homeless families. It would also provide services to low-income families that are at risk of becoming homeless, and develop, rehabilitate and acquire new housing for homeless families.

This measure would also establish the Neighborhood Arts Program Fund, which each year would receive 6 percent of those funds.

For more than five decades, starting in 1961, The City’s hotel taxes helped pay for arts funding, but in 2013 that dedicated link was severed. Prop. S would restore that connection and give arts funding a stable revenue source.

The measure, proposed by Supervisor Eric Mar, has no organized opposition. To pass, it requires 66 percent of the vote.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. S

Proposition T: Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists

Proposition T aims to reduce the power of lobbyists over City Hall by barring them from giving gifts, including for travel, to city officers they had contact with within 90 days of that activity.

Prop. T would also ban lobbyists from “bundling,” which is the practice of collecting checks from various clients to then donate as a group to a politician they wish to influence.

Under the measure, nonprofits would be allowed to provide gifts of food or refreshment up to $25 for attendees at a public event. Lobbyists could still donate to independent expenditure committees, though it does bar them from donating to ballot committees held by specific candidates.

Reducing lobbyist influence on government is crucial for democracy. We should strive to preserve as much power as possible in the vote of ordinary citizens. Prop. T helps do just that.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. T

Proposition U: Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Development Projects

Proposition U seeks to expand affordable housing to middle-income renters, a worthy goal in a city that needs to find ways to keep these residents amid the affordability crisis. But it does so by siphoning off affordable housing from low-income residents, who need the help even more. So rather than making The City more welcoming to the large array of people not able to afford market-rate rentals, this measure makes it less so.

Prop. U would increase the income eligibility limit for on-site rental units in all new and existing below-market-rate housing. The rent for an on-site affordable unit would be capped at 30 percent of the household’s total income, provided the household earns no more than 110 percent of the area median income, which is $78,500 for one person and $112,100 for a family of four.

Supervisor Farrell, who supports Prop. U, said the measure would affect just 2 percent of new homes built in San Francisco. “As with the rest of our country, San Francisco is seeing a declining population of middle-income individuals,” he said. This, however, is the wrong way to do so.

Gail Gilman of the Community Housing Partnership noted that, per Prop. U, landlords would be free to raise the rent of a unit that was once offered at 50 percent of the AMI to 110 percent once a resident moves out. It would, in effect, be a boon to landlords, reducing the affordability of existing units.

Endorsement: No on U

Proposition V: Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

The tax, dubbed the “soda tax” by supporters, is meant to slow the unhealthy consumption of sugary beverages. Opponents, led by the deep pockets of the soda industry, term it a “grocery tax,” a label some said is misleading and has come under fire at the Ethics Commission.

“The reality is this is a classic David and Goliath [battle],” said Supervisor Cohen, who placed the measure on the ballot. “We’re going after a major multinational industry that will disrupt the way they’ll do business for years.”

The American Beverage Association — made up of Pepsico and the Coca-Cola Company, among others — drowned a 2014 sugary beverage tax in San Francisco with a $10 million opposition campaign.

That first proposed tax directed funds from a 2 cent soda tax into specific health and wellness programs, which required it by law to attain a two-thirds vote to pass.

While the measure failed, it still garnered 55 percent of the vote. Proposition V would raise the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages by 1 cent and does not specifically direct how the funds are spent.

Some have criticized the measure for trying to police public health with what they have called a regressive tax. Cohen countered that the health risks associated with drinking soda, like type II diabetes and heart disease, disproportionately affect low-income residents.

A similar measure in Berkeley passed in 2014. Researchers from UC Berkeley found that after the tax was passed, consumption of soda in Berkeley was reduced in low-income populations by more than 20 percent.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. V

Proposition W: Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million

Making City College of San Francisco free for all city residents — a real step toward a more equitable and affordable city — is a thrilling notion that would become reality with the passage of Proposition W, which would increase the transfer tax rate for real estate sold for more than $5 million.

The measure, proposed by Supervisor Jane Kim, would increase the transfer tax for residential and commercial real estate sales between $5 million and $10 million by a quarter of a percent, to 2.25 percent. For sales between $10 million and $25 million, the rate would also increase a quarter of a percent to 2.75 percent. For sales higher than $25 million, the rate would jump half of a percent to 3 percent.

Prop. W would not change the rate of transfer tax for sales under $5 million. (The current tax rate on homes between $1 million and $2 million would remain 0.75 percent.)

The money raised, which The City estimates at $45 million a year, would fund a program to make City College tuition free for all city residents, regardless of units or educational status, and provide up to $1,000 for educational costs for students now on financial aid. Funds would also be used for affordable housing, homeless services and public infrastructure projects, Kim said.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. W

Proposition X: Preserving Space for Neighborhood Arts, Small Businesses and Community Services in Certain Neighborhoods

Proposition X would require developers to replace arts, community and light industrial and repairs operations that their projects impact. The measure only impacts developments in the Mission and parts of South of Market.

Supporters — including supervisors Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin, David Campos and Norman Yee — argue the measure will stave off the loss of affordable spaces for neighborhoods arts, small blue-collar businesses and community services in the area.

Prop. X will have a positive and profound impact on the southeast sector of San Francisco, preventing developers from eliminating crucial neighborhood services and resources from the area during a time of heavy building and rapid change.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. X

Proposition RR: BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief

Proposition RR is a $3.5 billion bond to save BART’s future. It will alleviate crammed trains, repair warped tracks, and fix crumbling tunnel walls.

The bond’s proponents run the gamut of Bay Area groups — from the policy thinktank SPUR to the business-inclusive Bay Area Council, a bevy of San Francisco politicians, and the UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center. The bond is so widely supported it even has the support of TransForm, one of BART’s most frequent and vocal critics.

The bond measure comes as BART experiences nearly constant delays: From broken tracks, power failures, smoking trains, and even at least one instance of electric sparks that enveloped a train.

The bond is meant to help address a decade-long, nearly $10 billion of infrastructure needs to meet a state of basic good repair. One of the biggest chunks of the bond, $625 million, would go toward renewing 90 miles out of 107 total miles of BART track — much of which was first laid when BART started in the early 1970s. The most expensive need is the $1 billion toward the systems’ power infrastructure, and $570 million toward repairing tunnels and other structures.

The vote requires two-thirds support in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, each, to pass.

Endorsement: Yes on Prop. RR

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