Voters will take to the polls Nov. 4 with a host of issues and candidates to decide on in the general election. Plenty is as stake statewide and locally. In San Francisco alone, the ballot is stuffed with multiple races and a dozen propositions. And remember that The City uses ranked-choice voting, which means voters can choose their top three candidates in each race. Here are The San Francisco Examiner's endorsements for local races and propositions:
Assembly District 17
The California Assembly District 17 race features two San Francisco supervisors, David Campos and David Chiu — both good candidates to replace termed-out Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.
The candidates share many similarities but have gone to great lengths to point out their differences.
Chiu, president of the Board of Supervisors, boasts he has had three times as many pieces of legislation passed at the board as Campos, a testament to his ability to build consensus on divisive issues (legalizing short-term rentals, helping attract tech companies to The City, building housing and banning plastic bags, among others).
Campos has said it is not the quantity of laws passed but the quality. Campos said he has fought for the issues he feels are most significant for San Francisco and his district, and he has been content to leave the low-hanging fruit, as he has called it, to colleagues like Chiu.
Campos, who came to the U.S. as an undocumented child from Guatemala, has worked to close the affordability gap in San Francisco by pushing for equity in transit and education, and protections for renters.
In Sacramento, Campos said he would like to work with the Latino and LGBT caucuses to raise The City's stature in state politics. Chiu, in contrast, said his own consensus-building approach will play better in Sacramento.
The City has been fortunate to have had their leadership for the past six years. One will go on to represent San Francisco on the state level and one will continue to serve The City. For many voters, it could be a matter of who they would rather have left in local politics.
Endorsement: David Campos
Board of Supervisors: District 10
Malia Cohen has been leading District 10 for the past four years, and the results have been lackluster. It's time for new leadership of The City's fastest-changing district. Challenger Tony Kelly describes this part of San Francisco as the most unequal district in the most unequal city in the country. He has the right priorities to try to better the lives of those who live in the southeast corridor, which includes Bayview-Hunters Point.
Kelly's agenda includes increasing transportation options, overseeing the heavy development planned in the district, regulating the commuter parking that takes over neighborhood streets, improving how health and environmental issues are managed, and promising more involvement in the community with daily neighborhood office hours.
Sticking with the status quo, in this case a supervisor who has sided with City Hall more than she has fought it, is the wrong approach for one of the most dynamic sectors of San Francisco's future.
Endorsement: Tony Kelly
Districts 2, 4, 6, 8
Supervisors Mark Farrell, Katy Tang, Jane Kim and Scott Wiener face a light field of challengers. We support second terms for all of them.
BART board of directors
Nicholas Josefowitz, a clean-energy entrepreneur, moved to San Francisco three years ago and now is looking to unseat 24-year incumbent James Fang as one of San Francisco's BART directors.
Despite revenue surpluses and ridership increases throughout the Great Recession and its aftermath, BART appears unable to maintain its decrepit fleet, acquire new train cars, keep its stations and vehicles clean, keep escalators running, and transport riders in a comfortable and dignified way. Re-electing old leadership is not the answer.
The two labor strikes last year revealed just how dysfunctional the BART board is. Josefowitz promises to be an advocate for cleaner and well-functioning stations, aiding disabled riders, easing crowding and championing dense transit-based developments over extending lines into the suburbs.
Endorsement: Nicholas Josefowitz
Getting around The City by bike, walking or transit should be far safer, quicker and more comfortable than it currently is. Proposition A is one of two transit funding measures on the ballot, and it will help address these concerns. The bond measure would give $500 million to address needed improvements for vehicle repairs, pedestrian and cyclist upgrades, and road improvements. The money would help chip away at $10 billion in identified needs for city transit. This also needs a two-thirds majority vote to pass.
Prop. B is a tougher sell, but one that city voters should accept. It logically argues that Muni funding should rise with population growth, amounting to $22 million in the first year.
As the measure would tie a greater portion of the general fund to transit spending, the money must be taken away from other potential services, which has advocates for other service sectors understandably agitated. Backers of the measure say this is a stop-gap until the vehicle license fee can come to the ballot and provide the transportation funding The City needs.
The Children's Fund and Public Education Enrichment Fund should be extended for the next 25 years. The money will benefit citywide youth programs, arts in schools, music, sports and library programs, along with preschool services, teen job training and child heath care, among others. For a city that has gained the undesirable reputation for driving families away, keeping theses funds is essential.
Proposition D is a charter amendment that would give certain former employees of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and its successor agency the same health benefits as city employees hired during the same period. This is only fair to these workers and deserves voter support.
Any disincentive for people to drink soda and sugary beverages should be encouraged. As with alcohol and tobacco, you should have to pay a bit more for a privilege that can have serious health costs.
Imposing a tax of 2 cents per ounce on such beverages, which would amount to 24 cents for a can of soda, would fund “nutrition, physical activity and health programs.” This measure requires a two-thirds vote.
The tax could bring in $31 million a year. It would be better if it brought in less because that would mean people were wisely opting to pass on the soda for healthier drinks. San Francisco and Berkeley, which has a similar proposition on the ballot, have a great opportunity to be the first cities in the country to stand up to Big Soda, which is spending millions to defeat the measures.
The mixed-use development project that Forest City proposes at Pier 70 seems grand. The site is stunning and the plans call for artist workspaces, waterfront parks, tastefully apportioned residential development with an impressive goal of 30 percent below-market-rate units (approximately 600 of the 2,000 new units it would bring). It promises to open up a portion of the waterfront that has long been closed off to the public, feeding into the burgeoning Dogpatch.
On top of that, the project is coming to voters as the first test of June's Prop. B, the No Wall on the Waterfront initiative, which required voter approval for any future Port of San Francisco property development proposing to extend current height limits.
So many supporters have lined up behind this one that it's a struggle to find detractors. Some urge a hint of caution, though, reminding us that the proof is always in the pudding. If these plans bear out, they would bring to life a new portion of The City and the waterfront.
This measure addresses the crucial question on everyone's minds this election season: Who gets to live in San Francisco?
Proposition G seeks to help restore balance to San Francisco's expensive housing market by instituting a steep rate on so-called real estate speculators. These are property owners who sell multiunit dwellings within five years of purchase, and sometimes as quickly as six months to a year.
Supporters of the measure say this law is needed right now because evictions are rising in great numbers and San Francisco is so expensive that many people cannot afford to relocate within The City. Thousands of those displacements were from rent-controlled units, shrinking a pool that has no chance to refill.
Opponents argue that Prop. G will drive middle-class landlords from The City and reduce the availability of in-law units.
Prop. G will undeniably dampen the incentive to speculate on the housing market and drive down evictions.
Real grass is ideal in the best circumstances for any playing field, but artificial turf and lights replacing the four battered fields at the western end of Golden Gate Park near the Beach Chalet will mean an enhanced and safer place for youth leagues and pickup games.
The opposite of Proposition H, this measure seeks to allow The City to renovate sports fields and playgrounds to double public use, and to do so without being hindered by public appeals or review. This proposition would invalidate Prop. H if it garners more votes. The goal of promoting playgrounds and playing fields in The City is laudable, but the manner in which this measure seeks to squelch community input and any site-specific considerations is distasteful.
San Franciscans need a $15 minimum wage, and they need it now. Unfortunately, if this measure passes, it will not come until July 1, 2018. But we will take it anyway.
This is a nonbinding policy statement affirming Mayor Ed Lee's plan to build or rehabilitate 30,000 homes by 2020, with half being geared at middle-class homeowners and a third for low- or moderate-income families. We agree with this, but regret that Supervisor Jane Kim's measure was downgraded to a policy statement with no funding mechanism.
Proposition L is the other transit measure on the ballot, and it is a nonbinding resolution borne out of the terrible experience of being a driver in San Francisco.
This measure would encourage limiting days and times for parking meters and building more parking garages. It requires that motorists be given equal consideration in decisions affecting The City's streets and sidewalks, which seems like a misguided stance given the high instances of pedestrian deaths.