Hi All. The deadline has now passed for the Board of Supervisors to submit ballot measures for the upcoming election, so we can assess which ballot measures we want to submit arguments to the Department of Elections. The BOS still has the upcoming week to submit one additional measure, but one only, so when I see any further changes, I will advise. The Ballot Simplification Committee is meeting over the next 3 days to do their part. I did not see the Surtax on Transfers of Residential Property Within Five Years of Prior Transfer on their agenda, so I'm a bit perplexed on why this one is not included, since if ever a ballot measure had a misleading title, this one does. However, it is listed on the DOE's list of measures that is set to go, so I see no reason to ignore this proposed ordinance. I will follow up with the DOE and advise. Here's a short recap on the ballot measures as I see them:
1. Children & Youth Fund/Public Education Enrichment Fund/Our Children, Our Families Council--charter amendment by Yee. Extends these funds as set asides for the next 25 and 26 years respectively. New definition of "youth" is "Disconnected Transitional-Aged Youth" goes from ages 18-24 and includes young adults "homeless or in danger of homelessness; have dropped out of high school; have a disability or other special needs, including substance abuse; are low-income parents (!); are undocumented; are new immigrants and/or English learners; are LGBTQQ," etc. Quite a broad definition of additional folks the government now needs to take of. Also more money for early childhood care going down to age 3 instead of the current 4. Mentions parent engagement and education too. Oy! Everyone but the kitchen sink included in this one.
2. Population-Based Adjustment to General Fund Appropriations to Transportation Fund--charter amendment by Weiner. This one is intended to get more money to public transportation until "the voters enact a new general tax on vehicles registered to a SF address." Apparently the much anticipated DMV tax increase from .65% to 2% is not going to happen in SF for this election, so they have concocted this one in the meantime. "It is the policy of the City and County of SF to use parking-related revenues to support public transit." Very clear about who's paying for public transit--not those who use it. Redistribution for transportation.
3. Retiree Health Benefits for Former Development Agency & Successor Agency Employee--charter amendment by Cohen. Looks like pork to me. Why suddenly when redevelopment is kind of a thing of the past they would decide that these folks need a Retiree Health Care Trust Fund is beyond me. Perhaps the passage of Prop A a year ago for another trust fund emboldened their connections at City Hall to push for this measure.
4. Build Housing Now--ordinance by Lee. I call this one Housing Trust Fund II. Gets The City more involved in the housing mess. Mentions "review all potential revenue sources" for new and middle income housing. Includes a "Re-Envisioning Plan" for the SF Public Housing Authority. Also "acquisition and rehabilitation of existing rent controlled units in at-risk neighborhoods." The City as landlord?
5. City Housing Balance Requirement--ordinance by 5 Supervisors--more housing manipulation: 30% of all new housing will have to be "affordable" (whatever that means). "The City should identify and make available for development adequate sites to meet the City's housing needs, especially permanently affordable housing." What is "make available" and what is "adequate"?
6. Surtax on Transfers of Residential Real Property Within 5 Years of Prior Transfer--ordinance by Mar. Contains 2 taxes--one on all sales and a second tax if you "flip" your property within 5 years. "Intended to discourage short-term real estate speculation," "in addition to generating revenues for the City's general fund." A two-for-one special!
7. Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages--ordinance by Mar. There was much speculation that the BOS would submit this measure. Surprisingly supervisors Kim and Breed voted no on this (and I sent them both emails thanking them for being on the right side of the issue) because they felt it would be a regressive tax.
8. Transportation & Road Improvement--$500 million bond from the BOS. This is a 102-page conglomeration of projects. Don't count on much improvement to the roads, since the voters already approved a $248 bond two years. This has a lot of Plan Bay Area in it--much more for public transit and the bikers and less for motorists. More parklets, wider sidewalks, more bicycle lanes.
I am not saying much on the two measures regarding the athletic fields in Golden Gate Park--one for allowing turf and the other for keeping it natural grass. I don't see these as strong issues for the LPSF, though at our last meeting Starchild felt the measure allowing turf put forth by the BOS was an extension of government and thus an argument against it by the LPSF would be warranted. Starchild, if you can write a good argument presenting your case (and if anyone can, you can), then probably the LPSF will go along. However, at this point, the 8 measures listed above warrant our more urgent attention, so I am encouraging everyone to pick a measure that interests you and write an argument and bring it to the meeting on August 9.
The procedure for submitting ballot measure arguments this time has changed due to the new ordinance that goes in effect on Friday--only one argument from bona fide organizations for each ballot measure, rather than the multiple arguments we used to submit. This will definitely cut down on our chances of getting our arguments selected, but there's no reason not to try and get our viewpoint in. To keep things simple, we will stick with a "first come, first served" basis, so whoever first picks a ballot measure to write an argument for will be the one with the official stamp from us. If others feel inspired to write an argument for the same measure, those can still be submitted without our official stamp but from the individual. There is no limit on the number of individuals who can submit arguments for the same measure, but since there are 8 pretty meaty ones above, I recommend that we spread ourselves out and try to cover as many as possible by
August 14, the deadline for submission. Jawj picked the Surtax on Transfers of Property and Marcy picked the City Housing Balance ballot measures at our last meeting, so their arguments (once posted/approved by the LPSF) will get our "blessing." (Marcy has since bowed out of argument writing for the time being due to family obligations, so that one is open now.)
To keep Les out of stripes, from now on all arguments submitted by the LPSF will be from the San Francisco Libertarian Campaign Committee, not the LPSF, so that we can officially campaign for or against ballot measures. While I prefer the LPSF name since it's so familiar, since there aren't too many Libertarian organizations in town, most folks will know the arguments are from us, but this time we won't be hampered by the legal limit. Once the lottery is done and we know which ballot measures we won (and hopefully we'll win a few), then we can solicit donations for our campaign committee and plan our strategy for the fall election.
Please decide which measure(s) interest you and let me know so we can spread out the work. Myself, I plan to do 2 arguments for sure, maybe 3, depending on what's left over after other folks take their pick. For further details on the measures above the link is: http://sfgov2.org/index.aspx?page=2969. I will bring the control sheet to the meeting on August 9 for those who want to submit individual arguments to the Department of Elections. Since we have about 18 days left and there will be no more submitting 25-40 arguments per ballot measure, I expect this will be a more planned out and a lot less last minute frenzy than in the past, which I am grateful for. Please plan to do your "homework" and bring it (at least a good draft of it) to the August meeting so it can be blessed by the LPSF.