San Francisco Tomorrow’s 2016 Holiday Party is coming up Wednesday, December 14. As always, we’ll have lots of local politicians and journalists to socialize with, as well as folks from many of your favorite NGOs and city departments.
To RSVP, mail a check to SFT, 351 Guerrero SF 94103, or call (415) 585-9489. Please include your name, telephone number, and email, as well as your sponsorship level (if any), and the names of any guests, if available. All party reservations also pay your 2017 membership dues.
SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 1: Sandra Lee Fewer
SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 3: Aaron Peskin
SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 5: Dean Preston
SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 7: Norman Yee
SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 9: Hillary Ronen
SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 11: Kimberly Alvarenga
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 11: Jane Kim
BART BOARD DISTRICT 9: Bevan Dufty
Prop S – YES. Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds – Ordinance
San Francisco’s Hotel Tax was originally created in 1961 to support the city’s arts industries and the construction & operation of convention facilities. In the 1970s, funds from the Tax were also allocated to low-income housing. In early 2000s, the city started reducing arts funding gradually, ultimately repealing specific allocations altogether. Money that went towards low-income housing from the fund was eliminated.
Currently, the hotel tax consists of an 8% base tax and an additional 6% tax surcharge on the rental of hotel rooms. Half the base tax money is spent on upkeep & operation of Moscone Center. The BOS may appropriate any portion of the remaining money raised by the base tax, less admin costs and refunds, for advertising of San Francisco. The City deposits any remaining amount into the General Fund. Surcharge money is also deposited in the General Fund, and may be allocated for any public purpose.
Prop O – NO. Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point – Ordinance
Prop O would remove Hunters Point Shipyard from the 1986 Proposition M citywide limitations on office development. The proponent (the developer) argues that progress on the Hunters Point development, including creation of more than 10,000 affordable housing units (and over 5 million square feet of office and R&D space), is being held up by the Prop M limits, and that Prop M was intended to address downtown development and should not apply to this development.
According to the Planning Department, “…the Annual Limit Program aims to ensure a manageable rate of new development and to guard against typical ‘boom and bust’ cycles, among other goals.” A total of 950,000 gross square feet of new office development becomes allowable each year, with 75,000 gsf reserved for projects with between 25,000 and 49,999 gsf of office space and the remaining 875,000 gsf available projects with at least 50,000 gsf of office space. About 8 million square feet of office space is now awaiting approval, so there is a backlog – but Hunters Point Shipyard gets priority under that cap, second only to Transbay Transit Center and Mission Bay South, which were both approved as redevelopment areas before the shipyard. Approval of this measure would benefit downtown highrises in the pipeline – and encourage other projects to try to get a special exemption from Prop M through the ballot box.. The argument that it is not a downtown development is therefore not valid.
Prop H – YES. Public Advocate – Charter Amendment
The city does not currently have an entity that oversees how city departments interact with the public. The Controller’s office operates the whistleblower program, and the OCC investigates charges of police misconduct.
Proposition H would create an Office of Public Advocate to review city program administration, how effectively information is communicated to the public, and how responsive city agencies are to complaints and information requests. It would oversee management, employment, and contracting policies of the various departments in the public interest. The Public Advocate would work with the Ethics Commission and ensure that the agency receives sufficient funding. It would take over the Controller’s whistleblower function, and if the Department of Police Accountability measure does not pass, it would appoint the Director of the OCC.
The Public Advocate will be elected in the first city election after 1/1/2017, and will serve a four-year term. Salary will be set by the Civil Service Commission; cost of establishing the new Office is unclear. While the actual effectiveness of this new office will depend on who is elected to it, having a city functionary with no interests other than advocating for the public good seems a definite plus.
Prop B – YES. City College Parcel Tax
Raises the amount CCSF gets in annual parcel tax from $79 to $99. They’ve received lots of money already but they need more to ensure they pass the final do-or-die shutdown test with the corrupt-but-still-existing ACCJC. This tax involves, among other things, raising teachers’ salaries, which have languished and are not commensurate with other California CCs. Does not benefit administrators.
Prop C – YES. Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing – Bond
1992’s Proposition A provided $350 million for low-interest loans to encourage the seismic rehabilitation of unreinforced masonry buildings. $260,700,000 remains unused more than 20 years later. This measure amends Prop A to allow funding for the acquisition, rehabilitation, and conversion to permanent affordable housing of seismically at-risk multi-unit (more than three units) buildings in addition to its original purposes. It is hoped that this will speed up the introduction of more affordable housing to the market.
When I worked for the San Francisco Department of Social Services my boss suggested I go to a seminar on recycling. At the seminar, I mentioned to a man I was having coffee with that this kind of event would not be necessary if we did not have companies foisting on us all the stuff that needed to be recycled. Without comment, he subsequently mounted the stage and began to tall us the importance of recycling with hints on how to accomplish it. It turned out he was a spokesperson for manufacturers of plastic and other packaging material.
I still recycle. However, now I am wise enough to know that recycling is definitely not the whole answer. Recycling puts the burden on the purchaser to figure out how to dispose of the waste. It thus leaves the manufacturers of packaging free to come up with even more over packaging. For instance, at Senior Lunch Centers, Seniors were given cartons of milk. The cartons were compostable. Now the same Seniors are given miniature plastic bottles of milk. These require recycling and that adds to the cost of the milk, both to our pocketbooks and the environment.
Image source: Arise for Social Justice
Two major reasons for the destructive inflation besetting our City are being effectively ignored. First, San Francisco properties have become pawns in the global economy. We are a piggy bank for cheap, mostly offshore speculative money. Secondly, the city has pushed beyond its holding capacity for infrastructure and geotechnical risks. This raises costs and reduces sustainability.
How can the leadership of this City meaningfully address these problems?
So far, what’s been proposed are mostly palliatives and placebos: requiring a higher percentage of inclusionary housing (over 25% vs. 12%) and giving density (and height) bonuses for building additional affordable units. The gains from inclusionary housing targets are paltry, inflationary, & often not even being built. Increasing supply of primarily midrise to high-rise housing benefits mostly affluent tenants and buyers and furthers the inexorable upward push of inflation.
Planning policies also ignore, at peril to our population, fundamental seismic and climatic constraints to growth and the need to improve the safety of existing structures.
The city cannot continue to grant cheap paper rights to build in some politically promised future. We urgently need to go deeper and address both “bad” money and safety/sustainability issues:
First, the bad news.
In March, the petition drive to place the Voters Right to Know Act (VRTK) – intended to address systemic issues in California’s campaign finance and disclosure laws – on the November 2016 ballot was suspended. Jim Heerwagen, proponent/funder who was paying petition circulators to collect most of the signatures (700,000), was unable to secure the additional funds he had been counting on to match his own contribution. He had collected about 200,000 paid signatures, and volunteers like you and me had collected about 15,000.
Now, the good news.
Photo: Leah Millis, The Chronicle
Measure AA will provide desperately needed funds for the restoration of wetland habitat around San Francisco Bay.
Too often our votes seem to be making the best of not so great alternatives, either people or ballot measures. But Measure AA is all about doing something that will actually help preserve us, our Bay and the fish and wildlife that depend upon it.
The Bay has lost over 80% of its historic wetlands. These wetlands are the base of the aquatic food chain. 70% of our commercial fish depend upon wetlands at some time in their life cycle. Wetlands clean our water absorbing and even altering polluting chemicals. And wetlands help reduce the impact of floods because wetland vegetation absorbs a lot of the wave energy thus slowing water movement. You might remember that most of the damage Hurricane Katrina caused was the result of the loss of Gulf coast wetlands that would otherwise have reduced the flooding impacts.
Climate change is upon us, as is sea level rise. Tidal marshes are now seen as one of our best tools to address these threats and to keep our communities safe from the rising waters.
Wetland restoration is expensive; funding is hard to find. Your vote will make a difference. Your Yes vote on Measure AA delivers essential money for the restoration of our lost wetlands and will result in a healthier and safer Bay.
— Arthur Feinstein
Déjà vu all over again
Are you willing to give up all outside control on how the Department of Recreation and Park spends its money? You will, if you vote to support Proposition B on the June ballot.
Of course, Rec and Park needs funding, as does every other city department. But even though Proposition B provides a guaranteed flow of funds to Rec and Park, it comes at a high cost to the public — the City loses the ability to give that money to departments that may desperately need it and you lose the little say you have now in how Rec and Park spends its money.
How is Rec and Park funded now?
Rec and Park currently gets funding from various sources, including appropriations from the discretionary funds in the General Fund. The pool of discretionary funds is also used to fund non-enterprise departments such as the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. During the yearly budget process, the Board of Supervisors decides who gets what percent of those discretionary funds.