By Guardian Editorial -October 1, 2020 (sfbg.com)
Find our handy 2020 Clip-Out Guide to take to the polls (or use to vote from home) here.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
We were for Bernie. We think he would have won in 2016 and would win this year.
But it’s not time for arguing about that. The country is facing one of the deepest threats in its history, and Donald Trump must be defeated. The endorsement begins and ends there.
On the positive side, Biden has always put himself pretty much in the center of where the Democratic Party is. During the 1980s and 1990s, when the party went to the right, so did Biden.
Now the party is moving to the left, and over the next few cycles, more progressive challengers like AOC will take on more conservative Democrats in Congressional primaries and win. And as that happens, Biden, we believe and hope, will move to the left, too.
The tragic death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg only shows how high the stakes are here. We’re not sure that American democracy can survive another four years of Donald Trump.Sponsored link
Biden’s going to win California overwhelmingly, so if you have any extra time, spend it phone banking in swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida. Or work to defeat vulnerable Republicans in key Senate races.
This is the most important presidential race in most of our lifetimes. Vote Biden and Harris.
Congress, District 12
We have never been big fans of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who long ago abandoned any sign of representing the politics of her home district. Her constituents don’t live in San Francisco; she represents the Democrats in the House, who made her speaker, and since a fair number of them are conservative, she won’t push a Green New Deal or Medicare for All. Although, to her credit, Pelosi’s votes on the Democratic County Central Committee have moved significantly toward the progressives in the past two years.
Still, this is the wrong time to challenge Pelosi, which is one main reason we are not endorsing Shahid Buttar. (We don’t think he’s qualified for the job, either.) This challenge is just a diversion and a waste of everyone’s time. Pelosi has vowed to retire after this term, which means in 2022 there will be an epic battle to fill that seat.
It’s critical that a progressive who can win runs for that seat (and that the progressive community comes together on a candidate). Otherwise someone like State Sen. Scott Wiener will be our rep in Congress – and one of the most powerful people in San Francisco — for the next 30 years.
That’s what we should be working on and thinking about now.
State Senate, District 11
Incumbent Scott Wiener is, as we once described him, a political machine of his own: He is aggressive, persistent, and prolific in his legislation. At times, he shows courage and leadership: He lead the fight to allow San Francisco to open safe injection sites, and his recent (courageous) effort to remove ridiculous, homophobic language for the sex-offender laws showed he was willing to stand up to death threats, horrible anti-semitic and anti-gay attacks, and still get the bill through.
But when it comes to economic issues, particularly housing, Wiener has been on the wrong side. He is the darling of the Yimbys, someone who argues that allowing developers to build luxury housing anywhere they want will eventually bring down prices.
That’s untrue, and it’s a dangerous approach.
Wiener is on the side of Mayor Breed and the moderates and is working to shift the Board of Supes to a more real-estate friendly majority.
Fielder is more of a political newcomer than we usually support for this level of office. She’s never been elected to anything. But she has run a strong campaign, talking about taxing billionaires to provide money for affordable (non-market) housing, defunding the police, and aggressively addressing climate change. (Among other things, she wants indigenous people – who knew how to prevent massive fires for centuries before the Europeans came—to lead the way on forest management).
Vote for Fielder.
State Assembly, District 17
Incumbent David Chiu has done some positive things, like pushing for what turned out to be a limited, but still valuable, statewide rent-control bill. But he’s used his local clout to back all the conservative candidates; for example, he’s endorsed Marjan Philhour in D1. We aren’t endorsing him.
State Assembly District 19
Ting’s record hasn’t been perfect; he has backed Wiener’s housing bills. But he’s been backing progressive candidates; unlike Chiu, he’s with Connie Chan in D1. So we are willing to give him the nod this time.
BART BOARD District 7
BART BOARD District 9
BART’s in serious trouble, with ridership plummeting during COVID. It also faces long-term problems with everything from policing to the fare structure. Dufty and Simon, who are effectively unopposed, are progressive steady leaders and deserve another term.
State ballot measures
Stem Cell bonds
We have always been a bit nervous about the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, an unelected board that gives taxpayer money in grants for work on stem-cell research. This measure would add another $6.5 billion in state bond money to keep the work going.
We’re all for more research into stem cells. But many of the board members who oversee the grants are also in a position to benefit from them. And the $3 billion in tax money already given to this agency under a 2004 bond act hasn’t led to a single FDA-approved product. Sixteen years is a long time, even by medical-research standards.
The big pharma companies that are going to benefit from this type of research have plenty of money to fund it; taxing big pharma profits to pay for this research would make a lot more sense than taking money out of the state’s general fund.
The Center for Genetics and Society, a progressive forward-thinking group in Berkeley, opposes this measure. So do we.
Commercial real estate taxes
YES, YES, YES
Prop. 15 is the most important measure on the state ballot. By far. In fact, it’s one of the most important measures to face the voters in years.
The proposition would undo one of the worst, most unfair impacts of Prop. 13 – the huge tax windfall to commercial real estate.
At the time Prop. 13 passed, in 1978, commercial real estate paid by far the greatest proportion of the state’s property taxes. Now residential real estate pays the most. That’s because houses turn over (and thus get reassessed) more often than office buildings and theme parks and stadiums – but also because commercial property owners use all kinds of legal tricks to keep from getting reassessed. For example, if a building is owned by a corporation or a limited liability corporation, and instead of selling the building the owners sells shares in that corporation, they can argue that the ownership hasn’t changed – even though it clearly has.
So we have the likes of Donald Trump, who owns half of the Bank of America building, taking more than $10 million a year out from the city and the public schools in San Francisco thanks to an ancient assessment that pegs the value of the building at a fraction of what it would sell for today.
Just a tiny fraction of the commercial property owners in the state would pay the vast majority of the new taxes – and the result would be at least $7 billion or more a year for local government and schools.
Vote Yes on 15.
California – one of the most diverse state in the nation – is also one of only nine states that bans the use of race as a factor in considering public college admission, public contracting, and public employment.
That’s thanks to Prop. 209, a virulently racist measure that the voters approved in 1996, with the support of then-Gov. Pete Wilson.
Overturning that law is long overdue.
The data is very clear: The University of California admits Black and Latino students at levels far below their percentage of the population. A lack of diversity in public contracting hurts minority-owned businesses, and the current law prevents local government from making efforts to end historic patterns of discrimination in hiring against people of color.
It’s part of a much large public debate about equity.
Equity, as opposed to equality, recognizes that the United States today doesn’t offer a level playing field, that some people – entirely because of their race – have been historically set back, and that it’s necessary to actively promote policies that address that.
Prop. 16 could restore affirmative action to the public sector in California. Vote yes.
Right to vote
Thousands of Californians who have been convicted of crimes, served their time, and been released are currently ineligible to vote because they are still on parole. That makes no sense (in fact, depriving people in prison of the right to vote makes no sense in the first place). There’s a national movement toward restoring voting rights to ex-offenders, and this is one piece of that. Vote yes.
A small step toward expanding the voter rolls and getting more young people into the ballot box, Prop. 18 would allow a person who is 17 at the time of a primary election but will be 18 by the time of the general election to vote in the primary. Vote yes.
This is entirely the creation of the real-estate industry. The measure would allow seniors and disabled people a lifetime exemption from property-tax reassessment if they sell their original home and move anywhere in the state. They could move up to three times and never pay fair property taxes if their original home or farm was exempt.
There’s no need for this, no reason for except to help real-estate agents – and it would cost the state a lot of money.
Restrictions on parole
In an era when most sane people are working to limit the prison population, Prop. 20 is an effort to move backward. The measure would prevent parole for people who have, for example, multiple shoplifting offenses.
It’s astonishing that this even made it on the ballot. Vote no.
YES, YES, YES
Prop. 21 is up there with Prop. 15 as one of the most important measures on the ballot. It would allow cities to pass effective rent controls and prevent thousands of unwarranted evictions. It would, in essence, repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, which is one of the worst laws passed by the state Legislature in the last 50 years.
That law, passed in 1995, prohibits cities from imposing rent controls on vacant apartments. That means all over the state, even in cities with otherwise strong rent control, when an apartment becomes vacant, the landlord can raise the rent to whatever the market will bear.
This means, of course, that landlords will go to great lengths to get rid of long-term tenants who pay less than market rate because of rent control.
Prop. 21 wouldn’t impose new rules on cities; it would just allow local government, at its own discretion, to pass stronger tenant-protection laws.
Uber and Lyft bailout
NO, NO, NO
Two companies that have made a fortune by exploiting drivers and breaking the law now want a special exemption from state labor regulations. They have spent more than $130 million pushing Prop. 22, and the voters need to reject it.
A landmark state law passed last year limits the ability of “gig work” companies like Uber and Lyft from treating people who are properly employees as “independent contractors.” That means drivers who work for the two multi-billion-dollar operations get no health insurance, no workers compensation, no paid vacation or sick days … nothing. During the pandemic, drivers have been forced to work or have no income. Under most circumstances (excluding the early days of the pandemic) they have no right to unemployment checks.
Meanwhile, the founders and investors in these companies (which developed their market niche entirely illegally,violating city laws regulating taxis) are getting fabulously rich.
Now they want to overturn a reasonable state labor law. That’s why this is on the ballot. It’s a special-interest proposal that would endorse the illegal practices of a pair of tech companies that care nothing for their workers.
Vote no on 22.
This is on the ballot entirely because of a battle between a health-care workers union and the companies that run most of the kidney dialysis centers in the state. We’re on the side of the union when it comes to organizing these companies – but we’re not on the side of this ballot measure.
Prop. 23 doesn’t do anything to help unionized the clinics. It just requires a doctor on site – which will drive up the cost of care.
But more than that, we are very nervous about ballot measures that seek to regulate the operations of medical clinics. If there’s an issue with safety, the state Legislature ought to address it in a way that balances the needs of all parties. We are all too aware of states that try to shut down abortion clinics with laws mandating doctors have admitting privileges at hospitals; that’s not what this is about, at all, but again: This kind of regulation of medical clinics by ballot measure makes us very uncomfortable.
Consumer Privacy Laws
Prop. 24 sounds good – until you take a minute to look into it. The measure claims to promote consumer privacy, but it actually give the tech industry tremendous latitude to collect and sell your personal information. It would, for example, allow companies to block you from certain apps unless you opt in and give up your privacy.
Worse, this would give the illusion that the state has taken action and needs no more consumer protections laws for electronic data.
The ACLU of California opposes this measure. So does Consumer Action. So do we.
Prop. 25 is a referendum on a measure passed by the state Legislature to reform the cash-bail system. This is on the ballot because the bail-bonds industry, which makes money by posting bonds for people too poor to bail out on their own (and taking a large cut in the process) wants to block the progressive changes.
California is moving slowly to end the system that allows rich people to get out of jail and forces poor people to wait as long as a year or more behind bars (losing jobs and homes in the process) just because they can’t post a bond. The new move is to base pre-trial release on the likelihood that someone will flee or engage in future violent behavior – not on the size of their bank account.
To preserve the reforms, vote yes.
San Francisco elections
In the past weeks, both state Sen. Scott Wiener and Mayor London Breed have launched attacks on the Board of Supervisors. Neither of them had any evidence to back up their claims that the board isn’t working well or is blocking needed housing or that “it’s all politics.”
In fact, this progressive board majority has done more, in this pandemic, to attempt to get homeless people off the street, to raise taxes on the rich, to protect tenants, to (start) defunding the police, to go after corruption, and to make sure that commission appointees are qualified (among other things) than any board in recent memory.
That’s why Breed and Wiener are really upset and want to elect a different majority; they don’t agree with the board’s policies. They want a more moderate, economically neo-liberal, board to go along with their own agendas.
That’s what defines this fall’s election.
We are looking for candidates who will support the current progressive leadership on the board – and will vote to elect one of the progressive supes (say, Hillary Ronen, Matt Haney, Dean Preston, or Shamann Walton) as board president. We are not looking to endorse candidates who will say that the next board president has to be more moderate and willing to work closely with the mayor and her agenda.
Fact: The current board has worked quite well with the mayor on the emergency measures taken to protect residents from the COVID pandemic. But on policy issues, including budget issues and taxation issues and housing issues, there are real, important policy disagreements. Too often, “working with the mayor” or “reaching consensus” means siding with the tech and real-estate industries.
That’s not what the city needs in this period of recovery. As we try to rebuild the local economy, we need to start with the concept of economic equity – those who have the most (and the billionaires in the city have fared quite well over the past six months) need to pay their fair share, and future development needs to meet the needs of all San Franciscans, not just the rich.
Our endorsements take place in this context.
This district, which includes most of the Richmond, has voted for progressive supervisors since the return to district elections: Jake McGoldrick, Eric Mar, and now Sandra Lee Fewer, who is retiring. It’s s swing district, and some of those races have been very close.
This time around, the consensus progressive candidate is Connie Chan, who has a long history of working at City Hall. She was an aide to Sup. Sophie Maxwell, then worked for District Attorney Kamala Harris, then for Sup. Aaron Peskin. She has the experience to hit the ground running (other former board aides, like Hillary Ronen and John Avalos, were able to move quickly and effectively into the job of supervisor). She is a supporter of tenants as well as small businesses; her agenda fits this district perfectly. All of the progressive supes and community leaders are with her (as is Harris). She has the support of the Milk Club, the Tenants Union, San Francisco Rising Action Fund, the Labor Council, and the Democratic Party.
Her main opponent is Marjan Philhour, who has run in the past (and will be formidable). Philhour has the mayor and Wiener, and she’s a fan of reducing regulations and taxes and of building more market-rate housing. She is running in part on a plan of keeping homeless tents out of the district (including opposing any safe-sleeping space in Golden Gate Park.) She says that the root cause of homelessness is a failure to allow more private-sector housing. She would be a major regressive force on the board.
We are with Connie Chan, with no reservations.
What can you say: Peskin has been one of the most effective supervisors in what is now 12 years on the board. We don’t always agree, and at times his votes and endorsements can drive us crazy – he wouldn’t support the public advocate measure, and he’s backing Ahsha Safai over John Avalos in D11 — but in the end, he’s part of the progressive majority.
He has always been a leader in seeking to regulate the tech industry, from Uber to Airbnb. He has forced major developers to change their projects to protect, for example, the Flower Market. He was a leader in the fight against the Wall on the Waterfront.
There is nobody on the board who understands the law and politics of land use as well as Aaron Peskin.
He’s also among the best politicians we’ve ever seen at holding local government accountable.
He politely, but firmly, questions administration officials at every turn. His hearings on the disaster of the Millenium Tower were exactly what we would hope a board of supes can do.
He will win another term, and he deserves it.
This one is easy – and important.
Preston won this seat over Breed’s appointee, Vallie Brown, last fall. But since he was just running to fill out her term, he now needs to run for a full four-year stint.
Brown is back on the ballot, with the mayor’s support, to knock off someone who has been a strong leader in protecting tenant rights and promoting economic equity.
Preston fully deserves re-election.
Just look at his record:
Preston helped craft the law the using public money to keep tenants in their homes by funding the right to legal counsel. His legislation banned evictions for nonpayment of rent during the pandemic. He fought to stop Muni fare increases. He was a leader in the effort to move 8,000 homeless people off the streets and into hotels (something the mayor defied). He is working to bring rent control to Midtown, a largely Black community in the Western Addition.
It’s safe to say that hundreds, maybe thousands of San Francisco tenants are still in their homes thanks to Preston’s efforts.
Brown’s record in her time on the board was mediocre at best. She would be nothing but a call-up vote for the mayor. We have no hesitation in endorsing Dean Preston.
For the past eight years, one of the most conservative districts in the city (with 6,000 registered Republicans) has been represented by Norman Yee, who typically votes with the progressives. That’s an anomaly – the previous district supes, Tony Hall and Sean Elsbernd, were reliable moderate-to-conservative votes.
It’s entirely possible that this district could shift back in that direction – one of the leading candidates is Joel Engardio, who would be one of the most conservative members of the board. He is running on a platform of “law and order,” demanding more police and arrests and jail time for crimes like car break-ins.
We think the best candidate to defeat Engardio and keep this district at least modestly in the progressive camp is Vilaska Nguyen. A public defender, Nguyen has the backing of some of the progressives on the board, including Hillary Ronen, Matt Haney and Dean Preston, as well as Tom Ammiano and David Campos.
He’s a newcomer to local electoral politics, and has only lived in the district for a year or so, although he’s been involved much longer at St. Thomas More School in the district, where he coaches girls basketball.
Myrna Melgar, a longtime community activist and former Planning Commission president, is also a serious candidate. We disagreed with Melgar’s role in choosing Rich Hillis for planning director; he was the wrong candidate for the job and she was the commission president. But in one sense she had no choice – the mayor was going to make the final decision.
There’s a good argument to make for people to vote for Vilaska as their first choice, and Melgar as their second (or vice-versa) to keep this seat from going to a conservative. Sups. Gordon Mar, Norman Yee, and Sandra Lee Fewer are backing her. Our concern is simple: We aren’t convinced that Melgar would vote to put Ronen, Haney, Preston, or Walton in as board president.
So we are going with Nguyen, but we would much prefer Melgar to Engardio. (Ronen has endorsed them both) In an RCV vote, follow your own best judgment.
Hillary Ronen is the conscience of the Board of Supervisors. She is one of the best people elected to that position, and has shown both legislative effectiveness and an ability to stand up for the working people of her district. From addressing homelessness (through compassion but also building a new navigation center) to pushing for more affordable housing to refusing to go along with bad compromises on bills (and doing outstanding constituent service), she has had an impressive four years. She has no opposition and will serve four more. She would be an excellent board president.
Avalos represented this district for eight years, and after a four-year break, he is running again. (The City Charter only bars supes from serving more than two consecutive terms.) The incumbent, Ahsha Safai, has worked with progressives on some legislation. He’s collegial (unlike, say, Scott Wiener, who was a very divisive supervisor) and has the endorsement of Peskin, who says he can always work with Safai.
But in the end, Safai is a moderate who supports the mayor’s agenda, defends the interests of the real-estate industry, and would vote for a board president acceptable to the mayor.
Avalos was one of the most left-leaning supes, and sees his political agenda as driven by equity. He supports stronger rent control, taxes on the rich, and regulations on the tech industry. He has the backing of the Tenants Union and SF Rising. We’re happy to support him too.
San Francisco School Board
The San Francisco public schools are in crisis, as are public schools all over the country. Nobody knows how best to handle distance learning, particularly for younger kids. There’s nowhere near enough money for what the district needs to do. There are still serious issues of educational equity.
But COVID aside, the San Francisco Unified School District has made a lot of progress in the past decade. The public schools aren’t perfect, but they are among the best big-city schools in California.
Now the School Board is going to have to deal with both a financial calamity and the new reality of COVID – at a time when there is increased pressure to change the enrollment system. A lot of parents who live in the wealthier areas want “neighborhood schools.” And charter and private schools are threatening to take more students out of the system – costing the district money it doesn’t have.
Let us state: In a city with segregated neighborhoods, there is no perfect system for deciding which students go to which schools. The lottery system would be fair if every family had equal access to it and to the appeal process; many monolingual and low-income families get left behind. Neighborhood schools sound great, but tend to create more segregation – and schools in wealthy neighborhoods will raise more private money.
We’re looking for School Board members who understand the difficulty of this situation and avoid simplistic “neighborhood schools” solutions. We’re also looking for board members who understand the proper (limited) role of charter schools, the importance of adequate teacher pay, and the mandates of educational equity.
Our four best choices for this election:
City College Board
City College is one of San Francisco’s most important institutions, and it’s in the middle of an existential crisis – brought on not just by CODIV and budget cuts but by looming state policies that seek to undermine its fundamental mission.
For decades, City College has been a school for everyone, a place where high school students could take extra classes, graduates could obtain a two-year degree and potentially transfer to a four-year college, immigrants could learn English and job skills, and adults could continue with lifelong learning.
Now, the state wants to transform community colleges into junior colleges, focused largely on getting high-school grads their AA degree and a transfer to a four-year school. Funding rules are increasingly geared toward eliminating non-credit and certificate classes.
The last chancellor of City College, Mark Rocha, largely went along with this approach. The next chancellor, who will be chosen by the next board, needs to fight back.
We are looking for a mix of board members who have the experience to understand the issues – and the political will to resist cuts that devastate the school’s mission.
We are endorsing two incumbents – Tom Temprano and Shanell Williams – but we do so with concerns. The existing board approved the cuts that are now threatening the school’s future mission. On the other hand, the existing board also fired Rocha, and is looking for a new chancellor.
Temprano and Williams need to show – immediately – that they are not going to accept any more of this slow-death-by-cuts and that they will work with the faculty and staff unions to hire a chancellor who understands and accepts the school’s historic mission. They also have to stand up at the state level – both have “dual endorsed” Jackie Fielder and Scott Wiener.
Both board members have future political ambitions; how they handle the next four years will determine whether they deserve higher office.
There are a number of qualified candidates. We are backing newcomers Anita Martinez (who worked at the school for years and knows its finances inside and out) and Alan Wong, who is an aide to Sup. Gordon Mar. Another choice, Han Zou, who has worked for the local Democratic Party and now works for Sup. Matt Haney, is also an excellent candidate.
We only have four slots, but there are five qualified candidates; vote accordingly.
San Francisco propositions
Homeless and Parks Bond
There is pretty much unanimous agreement at City Hall (and that’s rare) in support of this $500 million bond to buy property for facilities to house homeless people facing mental-health issues and for parks and open space. We are never happy with the law that allows landlords to pass half of the cost of the property-tax hikes from local bonds onto their tenants, but we’ll go along with Prop. A.
Sanitation and Streets Commission
If you liked the way Mohammed Nuru ran the Department of Public Works, and you are happy with the condition of the city’s streets, then you should vote no.
But we are not in either camp – and we are not – then this measure to split up DPW and create a commission with split appointments between the mayor and the supes makes perfect sense. Vote yes.
Removing citizenship requirement for local commissions
San Francisco has a large population of people who are engaged in civic affairs, work and live in neighborhoods that are impacted by public policy – but have no right to participate even as commission members. Prop. C is a charter amendment that would allow people who are not US citizens to serve on local commissions. It’s a long-overdue idea. Vote yes.
San Francisco has a civilian oversight agency for the Police Department, but complaints against sheriffs are still entirely in the control of the Sheriff’s Department Internal Affairs Unit. That didn’t work for SFPD, and in an era when almost everyone agrees on the need for more law-enforcement oversight, it doesn’t work for the Sheriff’s Office. Prop. D, sponsored by Sup. Shamann Walton, would set up a civilian board and an inspector general to look into misconduct in San Francisco’s second law-enforcement agency. Yote Yes.
Another obvious change that the city should have made years ago. Since 1994, the City Charter has mandated that San Francisco have 1,971 sworn police officers. That’s a random number that didn’t make sense 26 years ago and makes less sense now. SFPD handles at least 20,000 calls a year that are entirely about homeless people; a team of mental-health and social workers is much better trained to handle those calls. Overall, the national movement to defund the police is pushing away from armed law-enforcement response to nonviolent situations – and San Francisco should be in the forefront. But first we need to get rid of this pointless provision. Vote yes on E.
Business tax overhaul
Everyone at City Hall has agreed for some time that the current business-tax system needed reform. In particularly, the tech industry has been getting a break at the expense of everyone else. Mayor Breed’s proposal was to shift around the burden but not bring any new revenue; the supes pushed back, and this non-consensus plan would add $100 million a year to the city treasury. It’s not a perfect tax system, but it’s a little better than what we have now, so we will support Prop. F.
Youth voting in local elections
Voting, the data shows, is a learned experience. The sooner people start getting registered and going to the polls, the longer and more frequently they vote. Prop. G would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections. Vote yes.
Neighborhood Commercial Districts
This is a 90-page amendment to the Planning Code that affects more than two dozen neighborhood commercial shopping streets. It was put on the ballot directly by the mayor and there has never been a public hearing on its contents, either before the supervisors or the Planning Commission. Among many bizarre provisions, it allows commercial uses on the second and third floor in mixed-use shopping districts, allowing for the displacement of residential.
But the key is that it allows these changes to occur without any public hearing. Mayor Breed’s passion for deregulation of land uses, giving full power to bureaucrats and developers. It needs to be defeated then subjected to public hearing before the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission and amended.
Real-estate transfer tax
YES, YES, YES
There aren’t a lot of ways that San Francisco can legally tax the rich; state law, for example, bars a city income tax. But taxing high-end real-state sales is one step in that direction. Prop. I would increases taxes on properties that sell for more than $10 million. It would impact almost no residential property (and anyone who sells a house for $10 million can afford to pay a few thousand more in taxes). Vote yes.
Parcel Tax for SF Schools
We don’t love parcel taxes; everyone pays the same amount, whether the property in question is worth $100 million or $600,000. But it’s a tax the city can legally levy, and the schools are in desperate need of money, particularly today. Prop. J doesn’t raise anyone’s taxes; it just continues an existing 2018 tax that would have expired. Vote yes.
YES, YES, YES
Prop. K addresses an old, racist element of the state Constitution which requires a public vote before any city can build public housing. It was written by segregationist who wanted to keep poor people, especially Black people, out of wealth, white neighborhoods. It’s impact – and it’s still on the books today – is to stymie cities who want to create municipally owned and managed affordable housing.
Sponsored by Sup. Dean Preston, Prop. K would authorize 10,000 units of affordable housing in the city, and leave it to city officials and community activists to decide where that housing will go. Every affordable housing and tenant group in town supports this measure.
By all means, vote Yes.
Business tax on CEO compensation
YES, YES, YES
Another smart move, by Sup Matt Haney, would address, a modest way, income inequality, Prop. L would increase city business taxes on any company that pays its CEO more than 100 times what its lowest-paid worker makes. If it passes, not only will it bring in revenue, it could start a national trend that could lead to higher worker pay or lower CEO compensation – both excellent ideas. Vote Yes.
Caltrain sales tax
Caltrain is a crucial link from SF to the Peninsula. It could be part of a future high-speed rail project to LA. The state needs to invest more in the system, electrify it, and expand it.
But it’s run by a joint-powers agency that gives San Mateo full control while SF residents pay for it. It’s a service route for commuters from SF to exceptionally rich tech companies on the Peninsula.
And now that it’s out of money, the agency wants a regional sales tax to bail it out.
We are not fans of sales taxes, which are horribly regressive. We are not sure why low-income San Franciscans should pay higher taxes to help tech workers commute to their jobs – when the tech industry is paying essentially nothing to help out.
A tax to fund Caltrain should focus on the big industries that benefit from it.
Still, in the long term, this is an essential link that should not be allowed to die. Vote your conscience.