Earthquake preparation bond for $652M headed to city voters

A $652 million bond to pay for public safety capital needs to prepare The City for the next big earthquake, and reducing city pension costs are among the seven possible ballot measures submitted Tuesday that could come before voters in June.

The $652 million earthquake and public safety bond is part of The City’s 10-year capital plan, a strategy on how San Francisco should address its aging infrastructure.

The bond was introduced Tuesday — the deadline for charter amendments to make it on to the June ballot — by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Mayor Gavin Newsom.

“We all know that over the next 30 years, there is a 60 percent chance of the big one, an earthquake that will significantly damage San Francisco, damage critical facilities and compromise the capacity of our first-responders,” Chiu said. If approved, the bond would “make our city safer,” he said.

The bond would allocate $166.4 million for seismic improvements to the Auxiliary Water Supply System, a nearly century-old, high-pressure fire hydrant system built following the 1906 earthquake. And the money would repair or seismically upgrade neighborhood fire stations and construct a fire station in Mission Bay.

Also, $236 million would go to relocating the Southern District Police Station and the Police Command Center from the “vulnerable and obsolete” Hall of Justice to a seismically safe building on city-owned land. And $238.6 million would pay for moving the Medical Examiner’s Office and crime lab from “unsafe facilities” to a new seismically safe building.

The bond is property tax-funded, but its issuance is timed to result in a small, if any, increase.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd introduced a charter amendment, with Newsom’s support, to overhaul The City’s pension system by implementing such changes as making newly hired public safety officials contribute 9 percent — up from 7.5 percent — of their paychecks to pension costs.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Headed for the June ballot

Charter amendments and bonds were introduced Tuesday for The City’s June 8 ballot. It takes at least six votes by the Board of Supervisors to place a charter amendment or bond on the ballot.

Mandate spending: Would allow the Board of Supervisors to designate certain appropriations as mandates to spend. Currently the mayor does not have to spend money the board appropriates. — Introduced by Supervisor John Avalos

52-hour work week for firefighters:</strong> Would eliminate the 48.7-hour limitation on the work week and establish a minimum of a 52-hour work week. It is meant to reduce overtime spending. — Introduced by Supervisor John Avalos

Zero tolerance for firefighters drinking on duty: Would make it unlawful in The City’s charter for any uniformed member of the Fire Department to consume or be under the influence of alcohol while on duty. — Introduced by Supervisor Chris Daly

Charter mandating a Film Commission: Would make the Film Commission a charter-mandated commission, take away mayor’s appointing power of all 11 members and allow the Board of Supervisors to appoint five of the 11 members. It would also grant the commission city permit powers. — Introduced by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier

Reducing employer retirement benefit costs: Would increase from 7.5 percent to 9 percent newly hired public safety workers’ contribution to pension costs, make the employee contribution rate no longer negotiable in labor contracts and establish a spending set-aside for pension or retiree health benefits. — Introduced by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd

Setting transit operator wages: Would eliminate a mandatory “floor” when setting the salaries of transit operators. — Introduced by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd

Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response bond: Would authorize The City to issue a $652 million bond to pay for capital needs of the Fire and Police departments. — Introduced by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Mayor Gavin Newsom

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