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SF ballot measure has ‘poison pill’ to protect sanctuary city policy

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Supervisor Hillary Ronen has introduced a measure intended to block changes to the city’s sanctuary city policy proposed by former Supervisor Angela Alioto. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supervisor Hillary Ronen placed a measure on the November ballot Tuesday intended to protect San Francisco’s sanctuary city law from another measure being proposed to scale back protections for some undocumented immigrants.

Former Supervisor Angela Alioto, who made an unsuccessful run for mayor in the June election, announced in May a proposed ballot measure that would lift certain restrictions on when city law enforcement can report undocumented immigrants to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation.

Alioto told the San Francisco Examiner Tuesday she remains committed to placing the measure on the November ballot and has collected “a couple thousand” signatures to date. The measure needs about 9,500 signatures by July 9 to make the November ballot. “I don’t have an exact number,” she said.

To counter Alioto’s measure, Ronen placed her measure on the ballot with the signatures of three other supervisors — Norman Yee, Sandra Fewer and Katy Tang — that would enact policies around not using city funds to assist in “enforcement or implementation of discriminatory federal laws or policies.” But it also includes a poison pill clause that states if there are other measures related to using city resources to assist in enforcement of federal laws, the one with the most votes becomes law.

Alioto suggested the “poison pill” was disingenuous and voters may not understand what one measure’s impact on the other would be. “I’m so sick and tired of the games,” Alioto said. “It’s like playing games with the voters.”

Alioto’s measure would allow The City to report undocumented immigrants to ICE if they are convicted of a violent felony or if the person was previously convicted of a violent or serious felony and ordered to stand trial for a new violent or serious felony charge. She argues that sanctuary policy, which she helped pass into law in 1989, was never meant to protect felons.

Ronen said her measure would “place checks and balances to ensure that we don’t use our local funds to … discriminate against historically marginalized groups.” And she noted, “The measure would also serve as a counter to any measure on the ballot that seeks to weaken our strong sanctuary laws in San Francisco.”

Alioto’s measure has been largely denounced by immigrant advocates and San Francisco’s elected officials, who argued the existing protections are needed to assure undocumented immigrants that they will not be reported if they cooperate with law enforcement or city officials. Supporters argue sanctuary city policies make places safer, not more dangerous by encouraging undocumented people to report crimes or come forward as witnesses.

Ronen’s measure requires the City Administrator to submit annual reports identifying federal laws or policies that in their “judgement” are discriminatory and determine if any city funds were used to assist in implementing. The policy would also encourage The City to fund efforts on its own if federal cuts impact services.

Jon Golinger, a campaign manager and neighborhood activist, had planned to gather signatures to place on the November ballot a policy calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence but for now he’s put that on hold to galvanize support around Ronen’s Trump-related measure, he said.

Tuesday was the deadline for board members to place measures on the November ballot with four signatures.

Also heading to the November ballot is a $425 million bond as part of a multi-billion dollar project project to repair San Francisco’s seawall and protect against sea level rise.

Last week, the board amended the bond proposal to add protections for historic resources and community outreach for construction impacts. On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to place it on the November ballot. It requires a two-thirds vote to pass.

The seawall runs under the Embarcadero along the northern waterfront, roughly from Fisherman’s Wharf to AT&T Park. The City has planned a larger 30-year, multi-billion dollar seawall project that would address both the risks of the seawallcrumbling during a major earthquake and flooding from projected sea level rise. The San Francisco Bay could rise by as much as 66 inches by 2100, according to city officials.

The City still needs to come up with $5 billion for the next phases in seawall work.

The Port of San Francisco is hosting the first in a series of community meetings around the Embarcadero Seawall project Thursday between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm at the Ferry Building in the Port Commission Meeting Room.

Repayment of the bonds would cost $730.4 million with interest over 25 years, according to the budget analyst’s report. For property owners that means it would “require a property tax increase of approximately $13.23 per $100,000 of assessedvalue, per year, for 24 years,” according to the City Controller’s Office. Under the City’s Rent Ordinance, landlords can pass 50 percent of the property tax on to tenants.

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