June 2018: Vote for Rafael Mandelman for District 8 Supervisor

Rafael Mandelman is a long time local leader who we are proud to support this June. In over a decade of serving on the San Francisco Democratic Central Committee (DCCC), he has consistently backed pro-transit, pro-housing, and pro-environmental policies and revenue measures that are critical for keeping San Francisco a livable, sustainable, equitable city. We are counting on him to be a strong voice and a hard worker on the Board of Supervisors to fight for these issues. We also trust that he has the broad political base and skill to balance hyper-local neighborhood concerns with the voices of other stakeholders that are pushing for more housing, safer streets, and more reliable transit.

As a member of the City College Board of Trustees, Mandelman has championed affordable, walkable, transit-oriented development on the Balboa Reservoir in Ingleside. There, he also pushed for the implementation of the College’s Sustainability Plan, supported LEED (green building) standards, and supported a smoke-free campus.

Mandelman is a supporter of safe streets for biking and walking, and of getting Vision Zero projects (to reduce all traffic deaths to zero) implemented quickly. He is committed to raising the significant amounts of money the city needs to have a high-quality public transit system that supports our growing population. He supports divesting from fossil fuels as well. He is a SuperGreen customer of CleanPowerSF, and (to be fair, like his opponent) supports making SuperGreen the default for all users, so that users would have to opt out of clean power rather than opting in, which should dramatically increase the use of clean power in the city, and reduce pollution and carbon emissions. He tells us he “will be the Board’s strongest advocate for green energy and improved public transportation” — we can’t wait!

For District 8 Supervisor, vote for Rafael Mandelman.

June 2018: Vote YES on Prop G to Fund Public Teacher Salaries

Many families currently leave San Francisco—heading to the suburbs where they drive far more and use more resources—because they are concerned about the quality of education in the city. Here, teacher turnover is high; many teachers leave their schools each year, and many new recruits are teaching without a credential, as credentialed and experienced teachers are hard to recruit in a city of low salaries and high costs. Prop G is one good step toward addressing this.

Proposition G would establish an annual parcel tax to fund San Francisco schools, specifically to increase teacher salaries. Currently, despite San Francisco’s high cost of living, teacher salaries here are lower than in most other Bay Area school districts. Prop G’s salary increase will help teachers afford to live in San Francisco, reducing teacher turnover and improving the quality of education in the city’s public schools.

Prop G will help keep teachers and families in San Francisco, reducing the pressure to move to less dense and more car-dependent parts of the Bay Area. The SFLCV encourages a Yes vote on Prop G.

Prop G would work by authorizing the city to collect an annual parcel tax of $298 (on real estate) in San Francisco over 20 years, beginning July 1, 2018. The amount of the tax would be adjusted annually to account for inflation. This is a flat parcel tax on all private land, shops, and homes. There are two exemptions to the tax: 1) senior citizens 65 and over who own and live in the property, and 2) a parking space attached to an exempted residence owned by the same senior citizen.

A small amount of the tax would also go to provide funding for charter schools in San Francisco. In June of 2008, San Francisco voters approved a similar tax to benefit SFUSD (San Francisco Unified School District) at the rate of $198 per parcel for a period of 20 years, expiring in July 2028.

Vote YES on G.

June 2018: Vote YES on Prop F to Provide Legal Representation for People Facing Eviction

San Francisco has seen steeply rising rates of evictions ever since the economic downturn; the numbers roughly doubled from 2007 to 2015, peaking at 2,400 eviction notices served in 2015, with somewhat lower numbers in 2016 and 2017. In a city where almost two-thirds of residents are renters, the threat of eviction is stressful and real. Plus, in a city like San Francisco, there are few other comparable options nearby; in San Francisco, people evicted from a rent-controlled apartment could have to move many miles away, or even out of the region, to find rent that they can afford. Despite this threat, fighting eviction is out of reach for many tenants, as attorneys who deal with evictions can cost $400/hour.

Proposition F would help. Prop F would require San Francisco to create and run a program that would provide (and pay for) legal representation for tenants facing eviction. This is similar to something we already do, providing a public defender for people facing trial. The SFLCV endorses Proportion F for several reasons:

  • Keeping residents in their homes in a safe environment, not on the streets, is critical to a thriving urban center, and a livable, sustainable city. In addition, rent-controlled buildings, which are often targeted for evictions, are some of the best affordable housing our city has, allowing lower-income people and older people to stay in a city that is pricing many people out.

  • Displacement pushes people to the fringes of the Bay Area, creating long commutes and increasing driving and pollution.

  • Evictions contribute to our homelessness crisis.

  • Legal representation gives people a tool to fight unfair evictions; it does not prevent people from being evicted for cause (for example, not paying rent, breaking the lease, etc.).

Unlike many ballot initiatives, Prop F leaves the implementation details to the city and simply outlines the required outcome. It also allows the Board of Supervisors to amend the initiative, while most ballot initiatives can only be amended via additional ballot measures. The program must be implemented within 12 months of becoming effective. Legal representation continues until the eviction proceeding is withdrawn, the case is dismissed, or judgment is made. All residents of the city are eligible, except those who reside in the same dwelling unit as the landlord or master tenant.

Some believe this program should have an income eligibility requirement. But people who can afford legal representation are likely to seek their own (just as people who can afford a lawyer in other matters get their own, while people who cannot are represented by public defenders). Nationally, only 10% of evicted tenants go into an eviction proceeding with legal representation, so clearly most tenants would benefit from representation.

A right to counsel will protect thousands of tenants from being unfairly evicted from their homes.

YES on F!

June 2018: Vote Yes on Prop D to Fund Affordable Housing in San Francisco

San Francisco is experiencing an affordable housing and homelessness crisis. This is a sustainability issue as well. Urban living uses fewer resources, especially in terms of transportation, water, and energy. As people are unable to afford homes in San Francisco, they move to less densely built and often distant suburbs, putting them farther from job centers. Transit options are limited, so driving increases, and that hurts air quality, water quality, and the climate.

What’s more, homelessness is a fundamental failure of sustainable urban livability. A sustainable city takes care of the people who live there. People need homes for their health, safety, and basic well-being. Homelessness impacts everyone, and all San Franciscans benefit from a just transition to a more sustainable city.

Proposition D would raise funds to help more San Franciscans find homes they can afford, particularly homeless people and others most in need. It would do so by raising the tax on commercial landlords from 0.3% to 1.7% of gross receipts, generating an estimated $70 million per year. Small businesses and non-profits are exempted from the tax.

Prop D funds programs that include: rent subsidies for low-income seniors; rehabilitation of single-room-occupancy units; supportive housing for people with severe mental illness or substance abuse; and navigation centers, including one for homeless youth. It also includes some funds for middle-income housing.

Prop D and Prop C

The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters supports good government as well as sustainability, and we are concerned that Prop D competes with Prop C, which would increase commercial landlord taxes to fund early childhood education in San Francisco. The League has endorsed Prop C.

Prop D contains a “poison pill” stipulating that only one measure can pass: if Prop D passes, Prop C will not. We are disappointed that our elected leaders did not work together on these measures and iron out this conflict before they went to voters.

However, we feel that both Prop C and Prop D are important enough to support. We realize they cannot both win, but we are endorsing both because we endorse the goals of both.

We support Prop D in particular because it addresses what is possibly our city’s toughest problem. We do not feel we can refuse any opportunity to address San Francisco’s crisis of homelessness and unaffordable housing.

For that reason, we urge you to vote Yes on Prop D.

June 2018: Vote YES on Prop A - Allow the SFPUC to Issue Bonds for Clean Energy Infrastructure

Summary of the Measure:

The SF Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) can currently issue revenue bonds for water projects; Prop A would expand the types of projects its charter allows to include clean power as well.

Water bonds are subject to the following requirements, and the new clean power bonds would be as well: First, the bonds must be approved by a 2/3 vote of the Board of Supervisors and majority votes of the SFPUC and the Public Revenue Bond Oversight Committee. Second, an independent engineer must also certify that proposed bond projects will meet cost and schedule requirements. Third, the SF Planning Department must certify that these projects comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.

SFLCV’s Position:

Prop A will help San Francisco increase the infrastructure needed to meet our clean energy goals, reduce our carbon footprint, and reduce particulate emissions by allowing the SFPUC to seek funding for clean power infrastructure and projects. The SFPUC has historically done a good job managing its revenue bonds, and we feel confident about expanding its charter for clean power.

In addition to funding projects directly related to clean power infrastructure such as rooftop solar, the charter amendment allows funding of other clean energy technologies that help stabilize energy demand and supply. These include vehicle charging stations, energy storage, distributed energy, and smart grid innovations. The measure specifically disallows projects that generate electricity using fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

The energy provided by the SFPUC currently saves the city approximately $40 million per year over what it would spend on electricity from PG&E. Allowing the city to build more clean power infrastructure that in turn will generate more electricity will save the city more money (the difference between SFPUC- and PG&E-generated electricity, multiplied by the increased amount of electricity generated). It will also provide more revenue, from SFPUC’s private energy customers such as Salesforce and Digital Realty, that will be reinvested in San Francisco's clean and renewable energy facilities. Federal law now requires San Francisco to own more of the equipment used to deliver electricity to customers, and amending the charter allows the SFPUC to finance such facilities efficiently.

Vote YES on Proposition A!

June 2018: Vote YES on Prop C to Fund Early Education & Childcare

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 8.46.57 PM.png

Early education and care for children in San Francisco is expensive. On average, daycare and preschool here cost $20,000 a year. There is some public early care and education in San Francisco, but the demand for it far outstrips the supply. Today, 2,400 children are on the waitlist, and many more families do not qualify for the waitlist but struggle to afford public early education and care for their young children. This is also a gender equity issue, as high costs often push mothers, especially those with lower incomes, to set aside careers to care for children themselves.

The city’s successful Preschool for All program, passed in 2004, already helps families with 4-year-olds. As a result, preschool enrollment has increased significantly, as has San Francisco children’s school readiness. But families with younger children still struggle.

Much of the work of the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters is about making urban living—already arguably the most sustainable way of life for the planet—sustainable for more people. This means that urban living should be affordable. If families cannot afford to live in San Francisco (already a problem for many) because they cannot afford childcare, they will likely move to a place that is more suburban. There, they will have a far larger ecological footprint, losing all of the efficiencies of urban living, driving more and consuming far more resources.

Prop C would help families, especially those with lower incomes
Proposition C proposes to fund early childhood education and care—daycare and preschool, for children up to age 3—to help families making up to 200% of Area Median Income (AMI); 200% AMI for a family of three is $207,500. It would get all the families off the current waitlist; these families earn up to 85% of the state median income (SMI); 85% of SMI for a family of three is $63,240. Prop C would also increase services for children up to the age of six.

In addition, Prop C would increase wages for early care and education providers; these are often women of color, doing some of the most important work in our society for some of the very lowest pay.

Prop C would do all this by increasing the tax on commercial landlords in San Francisco. It would increase the tax rate from the current very low level of 0.3% to 3.8%, to raise an estimated $130 million per year. It exempts small businesses that make less than $1 million in gross receipts per year, and allows deductions for small businesses that rent to nonprofits, and non-formula (non-chain) retailers.

The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters believes it is important to make San Francisco an affordable place to live for families, especially those with lower incomes, as well as for teachers and childcare workers, and to support women’s ability to work outside the home. Prop C will help do all of this.

We urge you to vote YES on Prop C.

June 2018: Vote YES on Prop E to Ban the Sale of Flavored Tobacco in San Francisco


For decades, we have known that tobacco products are dangerous and addicting, causing serious health problems from emphysema to cancer. Smoking is also terrible for the environment: it pollutes the air, creates litter throughout our streets and our cities, endangers children and wildlife, and puts trash and toxic chemicals into the Bay and the ocean.
Legislation on tobacco use has reduced smoking and has done much for public health and the environment. However, tobacco companies are constantly seeking new ways to sell their products, including vaping/e-cigarettes and cigars. In what appears to be a thinly disguised effort to create a new generation of users, these companies are now selling flavored tobacco in bright, fun packaging that looks like candy.
A federal study found that 81% of kids who ever used tobacco products started with a flavored product. The risk is not only to the older children who are lured into smoking these products; nationally, on average, four young children a day drink e-cig liquid nicotine and are poisoned.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco
In 2017, to protect children from this potentially deadly marketing, the Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the Health Code in 2017 to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in San Francisco.
Tobacco companies reacted by launching a well-funded signature-gathering attempt to put the legislation on the ballot, hoping for a no vote to overturn the ban and keep their candy-colored products on the shelves.

The flavored tobacco ban is now being brought to the voters for approval as Proposition E. If it passes, it will take effect in 2018 to prevent the sale of flavored tobacco products in San Francisco.
Tobacco companies are throwing a lot of money into this election to fight Prop E. They are claiming that this ban would affect local mom and pop stores; there is no research to support this. What research does show is that more tobacco retailers exist in areas with larger black, Latino, and low-income populations, putting the children in communities of color most at risk from these toxic flavored products.

Vote Yes on E
The SF League of Conservation Voters supports Yes on E to protect public health and support a clean city, Bay, and ocean. This referendum has strong support from a significant number of health, youth, social service and political organizations, medical providers, and city leaders.  

We urge you to vote Yes on Prop E.

June 2018: Vote YES on Prop B - Charter Amendment

Proposition B - Charter Amendment: Appointed Board and Commission Members Seeking Elected Office

Summary of the Measure:

Proposition B will amend the San Francisco City Charter to provide that appointed members of City boards and commissions forfeit their offices upon filing a declaration of candidacy for state or local elected office. There are three exceptions to the forfeiture requirement. First, it does not apply to appointed members of a citizen advisory committee. Second, an official that is appointed to an otherwise elected position is not subject to the forfeiture requirement if they choose to run for the office to which they were appointed. And, third, the requirement does not apply to elected officials in general. Additional information can be found on the Department of Elections website

The measure is sponsored by Supervisors Peskin, Kim, Safai, and Yee.

SFLCV’s Position:

Prop B is meant to eliminate any possible conflicts of interest created when an appointed board or commission member runs for elected office. It has been a long-standing practice in San Francisco for appointed members of City boards or commissions to step down from their appointed position upon announcing their candidacy for an elected office. Prop B memorializes this tradition in the City Charter and advances good government.

Vote YES on Proposition B! 

June 2018: Vote YES on Regional Measure 3


Voters in each of the nine Bay Area counties will consider Regional Measure 3 (RM3) on June 5, 2018.  If approved by a majority of voters in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties, toll revenues would be used to finance a $4.45 billion slate of highway and transit improvements with the primary goal of reducing traffic congestion and improve transportation options throughout the San Francisco Bay Area’s state-owned toll bridge corridors. Voter approval of RM3 would raise tolls on the region's state-owned toll bridges by $1 beginning Jan. 1, 2019. Tolls would rise by another $1 in January 2022 with another $1 increase in January 2025.  Key Benefits:

  • RM3 plans ahead and will make vital transportation improvements to address the impact of growth before it makes traffic worse.

  • It will relieve traffic congestion by bringing the region’s public transit system into the 21st century - modernizing, connecting and expanding their existing rail, buses, and ferries.

  • It will connect BART and other commuter rail services; increase ferry service; and improve connections between buses, trains, and bikes so that many can get to work, school and home more quickly.

  • Emphasis on transit, bike and ped investments will help improve the region’s air quality.

Previous RM1 and RM2 helped fund major regional transit projects including eBART, Warm Spring Extension, Transbay Terminal, regional ferry vessels, and SMART Rail Extension.  This time, RM3 will allocate 75% of funding toward transportation/bike/ped projects, including:

  • Purchasing new BART cars to run more frequent trains and reduce crowding.

  • Improve transbay bus service and carpool access to improve commute times across bridges.

  • Purchasing new San Francisco MUNI trains and buses to expand service, reduce crowding, and improve reliability.

  • Developing and transitioning to the next generation of the Clipper transit card to support a universal, seamless public transit fare payment system.

  • Planning and designing a second transbay rail crossing to provide additional capacity for BART and other rail service.

  • Extending Caltrain to the Transbay Transit Center in downtown San Francisco.

  • Building new ferry terminals, upgrading ferry facilities and buying more boats.

  • Generate approx. $150M for regional bike/ped improvements.

RM3 will continue to mandate strong taxpayer safeguards, including independent financial audits with citizen oversight and setting performance standards that every transit agency must meet to ensure they get funding. It even creates a Transportation Inspector General to oversee audits and conduct investigations of how the money is spent. This will hold elected leaders accountable to spend funds as promised in the categories explicitly described in the measure.

Many of the projects in the RM3 program will serve EJ communities throughout the region. Opportunities for community input will be available at the regional level as part of the citizen’s oversight committee, and at the local level as part of each project as it goes from planning to implementation.

Finally, there is a strong nexus that increasing the cost of driving will shift more people to public and active transportation.  The toll increase will do just that, and the RM3 investments in transit, biking and walking will help accommodate this shift. As the region continues to grow, ongoing investments to transit, biking and walking are critical to keeping the region moving and thriving for everyone at all income levels.  For these reasons, the SFLCV endorses RM3.

June 2018 Mayoral Endorsement: #1 Mark Leno #2 Jane Kim #3 London Breed

As environmentalists, we at the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters are appalled by the Trump administration’s continued assault on the environment. However, California's leading role in confronting and countering disastrous federal policies is a bright spot in dark times.

At the local level, in the fast-approaching mayoral election, we find San Francisco in a strong position, as all three front-runners in the race have real environmental credentials. We can honestly say we would look forward to working with any of their administrations to advance the causes of climate protection, sustainable transportation, dense and affordable housing, clean energy, water conservation, and natural resource protection.

In that light, the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters is pleased to endorse, in ranked-choice order, 1. Mark Leno, 2. Jane Kim, and 3. London Breed.

#1 Mark Leno

We are proud to endorse Senator Mark Leno as our first choice for mayor of San Francisco. He is the strongest environmental leader on the ballot as well as the most proven administrator and politician, excelling in each office he has held, from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, to the State Assembly, and most recently, the State Senate.

The sheer breadth of Leno’s environmental work over the past decades has been remarkable, from sponsoring the 2001 resolution for the first permanent bike lane on Valencia Street and authoring San Francisco’s first inclusionary housing ordinance in 2002, to getting SB350 passed in 2015. SB 350 set the nation’s highest standards for fighting climate change with state  goals to increase electricity production from renewables to 50% by 2050 and to double energy efficiency in buildings by 2030. He also co-authored the Complete Streets Act in 2007 to build streets for walking and biking as well as driving. He has a nuanced understanding of sustainable transportation policy and a commitment to freedom from fossil fuels. His work on a wide range of environmental issues including toxic flame-retardant chemical reform, pesticide ingredient disclosure, fracking moratoriums, clean water, renewable energy, methane gas emission reduction, community-choice power, and combating ocean acidification have been exemplary.

While other Sacramento stalwarts have returned home and been capable mayors (whether we agreed with them or not), our greatest questions regarding a Leno administration are whether he is prepared for the changes in San Francisco politics since his tenure on the Board of Supervisors and for the contentious melee of City Hall. We are counting on his experience and his energy, and we believe he is up to the challenge.

#2 Jane Kim

Supervisor Jane Kim, our second choice, has championed a number of important environmental causes and is notable as the only candidate in the race (so far) who has shared a detailed transportation plan. Her leadership on Vision Zero, the ongoing effort to reduce vehicle-related deaths on city streets to zero, has been critical. She is the only candidate who has publicly backed congestion pricing for San Francisco, demonstrating her ability for authoring bold new initiatives. This type of innovative transportation policy is perhaps the most important area where San Francisco can lead the nation in cutting-edge environmental action. Additionally, Kim has been a tireless champion for building affordable housing, a cornerstone in maintaining thriving, dense urban centers as a primary means to combat suburban sprawl and climate change.

While Kim brings a keen intelligence and a passion for progressive causes, she remains unproven in managing a bureaucracy as large and cumbersome as San Francisco’s. Because Kim has proven herself in every office she’s held to date, we believe she can do the job as mayor.

#3 London Breed

Board of Supervisors President London Breed, our third choice, has impressed us most with her championing CleanPowerSF*, San Francisco’s clean energy program. After the program languished for 12 years, Breed took it upon herself to get CleanPowerSF off the ground, despite a significant effort by PG&E to prevent it, and she has continued to defend and advance this critical clean-energy program. President Breed has also worked on a pharmaceutical take-back program, which helps our wildlife and waterways, and she passed the most far-reaching styrofoam ban in the country, an important step to protect San Francisco Bay and oceans from plastic pollution. We appreciate that she intends to build more homes, including much-needed affordable homes, and is raising funds to do it with initiatives like Proposition D, though we are unhappy about the “poison pill” in that measure. She also passed legislation to purchase new Muni trains and helped establish the popular 5 Rapid line.

We are concerned that President Breed’s coalition remains cozy with many of the businesses interests that have slowed environmental progress over the past three administrations. That said, her track record is strong enough to earn an endorsement.

With these three candidates leading the race for mayor of San Francisco, the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters is optimistic for the next mayoral administration and for our city.

The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters is  proud to endorse Senator Mark Leno #1 for Mayor of San Francisco, and endorse Supervisor Jane Kim as #2, and Board of Supervisors President London Breed as #3.





*We regret failing to recognize her environmental leadership on this issue in particular during her 2015 Board of Supervisors campaign when we instead endorsed her opponent.


Thank you for a great Earth Day Celebration!

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our 2018 Earth Day Celebration on Wednesday, April 18. It was great fun, and we are thrilled to build on this momentum. Do you feel good about having done something for the environment? We hope so!

For photos from the event, go to this Google album or this album on our SFLCV Facebook page.

We are working on our June election endorsements right now, so stay tuned for the formal announcement. Our research and interviews are designed to help you in the voting booth.

And yes, voting is right around the corner. Please make sure you are registered to vote. Mark your calendar for Election Day on on June 5!

We're working hard on voter education by that deadline — and here's how you can help:

  1. Make a donation to support our advocacy and voter education
  2. Like us on Facebook and share our posts when they matter to you
  3. Join our email list — we promise our emails will be infrequent and important! (Signup is at the bottom of the page)

Thank you again for supporting the all-volunteer efforts of the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters. We support champions of sustainability and smart, effective environmental policy — for everything from the climate, to transportation, housing, energy, waste, public health, and biodiversity.

Thank you to our sponsors:
Amandeep Jawa
BART Board Director Nick Josefowitz
Yin L. Yin & Wilbert Sequeira Sandoval
Tim Chan
Eliet Henderson
Tony Kelly
Lawyers for Clean Water, Inc.
Kristina Pappas & Phillip Davis
Leah Pimentel for School Board
Supervisor Ahsha Safai
Assemblymember Phil Ting
Senator Scott Wiener


Earth Day Celebration April 18

SFLCV April 18 invitation.png

You’re Invited

Join the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters
for a reception to celebrate Earth Day 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 6:00-8:30pm

Remarks by California State Senator Scott Wiener

Covo, 981 Mission Street, between 5th and 6th, near Powell
Refreshments by La Cocina

Click HERE to Purchase Tickets ($35)

Thank you to our sponsors:
Amandeep Jawa
BART Board Director Nick Josefowitz
Yin L. Yin & Wilbert Sequeira Sandoval
Tim Chan
Eliet Henderson
Tony Kelly
Lawyers for Clean Water, Inc.
Kristina Pappas & Phillip Davis
Leah Pimentel for School Board
Supervisor Ahsha Safai
Assemblymember Phil Ting
Senator Scott Wiener


Support the SF League of Conservation Voters at El Rio, 7/21

Hi friends -

We hope you can join us at El Rio for early Happy Hour drinks this Friday July 21st, 2017!  El Rio will donate the proceeds to the SFLCV & we’ll use it to keep fighting the good fight - outreach, our next endorsement slate, and voter education!

Hope to see you then!


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/649629675230262

Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sf-league-of-conservation-voters-bar-night-fundraiser-tickets-36017040939

Can’t come? Show your support by sending $5, $10, or $20
via PayPal to sfconvo@gmail.com or by just clicking this link:  http://paypal.me/sflcv

Nov 2016: YES on Prop J and K - Funding to Fix Transit and Fight Homelessness

The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters urges you to vote YES on Propositions J & K.  Proposition K will increase our sales tax* to 9.25% & Proposition J would allocate those funds to go to a Homeless Housing and Services Fund and a Transportation Improvement Fund.

Under these proposals, of the 0.75 cent sales tax increase, a quarter-cent will go toward homeless services and a half-cent will go toward transportation system improvements. In the first full year, those amounts are expected to be $47.75 million and $95.5 million, respectively.

In addition to needed homeless services improvements, these measures represent an important investment in our transportation services including MUNI fleet and facilities repair, new BART cars, more complete (pedestrian & bike friendly) streets, and programs like Free Muni for youth.

That said, these measures are far from perfect. Our biggest criticism is that, as this is a sales tax, Prop K is inherently regressive: poorer San Franciscans are impacted more than more affluent ones by raising the cost of everything. A far better way to fund transportation improvements is with a Vehicle License Fee (VLF) which much more fairly taxes the heaviest users of our streets and roadways with their repair and upkeep, especially because the largest portion of these measures' increased funding will go to street repair. The SFLCV will continue to advocate for a VLF.

Housing and transit are two of the most serious issues our community faces. The SFLCV urges you to vote YES on Propositions J & K.

* Proposition K would increase San Francisco’s sales tax by three-quarters of a cent. Because a quarter-cent of the state sales tax will expire January 1, 2017 the actual sales tax rate would change from 8.75 percent currently to 9.25 percent under this proposal – on par with Oakland.

Nov 2016: YES on Prop V: Tax Sugary Soda to Reduce Plastic Pollution, to Reduce GHG Emissions and to Save Water

In 2014, 56% of San Franciscans voted in favor of Prop E, a tax on sugary-sweetened beverages. Although the tax did not meet the 2/3 threshold to pass that was required at that time, garnering the support of 56% of the voting population was a significant achievement, considering the opposition spent over $10 million to defeat it.

Then as now, the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters endorsed the tax on sugary beverages because in addition to the dramatic benefits for human health*, there are also significant benefits for the environment:

  1. The manufacture of plastic bottles, glass bottles, and aluminum cans consumes resources, produces pollution, and the containers often enter the waste stream instead of being recycled. According to the EPA, only about 55% of aluminum cans and 34% of glass bottles are recycled.
  2. A reduction in the consumption of these beverages, combined with a switch to refillable water bottles, can lower the greenhouse gas emissions that result from the production and distribution of these beverages.
  3. A reduction in the consumption of these beverages would also reduce the demand for numerous sugar and sweetening crops, including corn, sugar cane and beet sugar. This has the potential to preserve natural habitat, reduce fertilizer and pesticide use, and to reduce transportation related impacts.
  4. In addition, the proponents of this measure intend that the funds raised by this tax also be used to encourage more public water fountains. Public water fountains are a significant way to address the water mining / equity problems that are created by shipping water-based products such as soda and bottled water from one part of the world to another.

Taken together, these reasons are enough to convince us that the Soda Tax is not just good for health, but also good for the environment. Please vote YES on Proposition V.

*A recent study of Berkeley’s soda tax found that consumption of sugary beverages fell 26% (soda) and 36% (sports drinks) while consumption of tap or bottled water rose 63% since the tax took effect in March 2015.

Nov 2016: NO on Prop X - Replacement Space Requirement for Development Projects

If you’re wondering why is the ballot so long this year, you could blame propositions such as this, which considers a planning ordinance that could have passed through the legislative process, but was instead punted to the voters by the Board of Supervisors. We support the intent of Prop X, which aims to protect industrial and arts spaces in the most rapidly changing parts of the City, but would prefer a legislative fix, along with the requisite outreach to impacted groups.

This proposed ordinance would impose requirements for certain developments in the Mission and SOMA, through use of conditional use authorizations from the Planning Commission. Within these areas, developers would be required to replace certain uses (e.g. light industrial and crafts, arts activities or non-profit community space), based on the size of the proposed development and the current zoning designation.

This measure does not consider whether the replacement effort would actually achieve the desired effect of retaining well paying jobs for lower skilled residents or keeping non-profits operating in the City. For instance, would the closure of a refrigerator repair shop in the Mission be replaced by a similar business or something like a drone prototyping facility able to pay market-rate rent? More likely the latter under this one-size fits all scheme. Similarly, there are few guarantees the displaced non-profits and arts centers would be able to return.

Sponsors of this proposition seemed to recognize some issues with this proposed measure and allow changes by a super-majority of the Board of Supervisors. We would prefer they make this call in the first instance, after gauging effectiveness, feasibility and desires of the local communities most affected.

The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters recommends NO on Prop X.

Nov 2016: Vote NO on O: No Fast-Tracking Bayview Office Project with Insufficient Housing & Transportation Plans

Proposition O is a response to a measure limiting office development, Prop M, passed by San Francisco voters in 1986. Prop O would grant a waiver to development projects in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point, exempting them from the current citywide limit on office development (950,000 square feet per year). Prop O has been put on the ballot by Lennar, the company leading the redevelopment of the Hunters Point Shipyard. In the current economic climate, citywide, the number of office development proposals far exceeds the Prop M limit, and this would allow more development at the Shipyard, which is currently slated for 5 million square feet of office space.

Some advocates for investment in the Bayview support the measure, and we generally support investment in this under-served neighborhood that benefits existing residents.

However, part of the goal of Prop M in 1986, and a continuing goal for the city, is to make sure new development is supported with sustainable transportation infrastructure, as well as affordable homes for the people who do the jobs it generates. Prop O would fast-track office development in a place where public transit is woefully inadequate.

New jobs -- and homes -- should be built close to public transit in order to reduce car use and ensure the city grows sustainably. But Prop O takes limits off development with no good plan for improving transportation services for the thousands of new workers and residents in the area. There are also additional concerns around delays in community benefit payments and affordable housing development on the site, important components of sustainable development. Prop O is ballot-box planning, not a good government practice, and could set a precedent for more of the same.

The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters urges you to vote NO on Measure O.

Nov 2016: YES on Prop T: Ban Gifts from Lobbyists Seeking to Influence Elections

Proposition T would restrict contributions from lobbyists to decision-makers. It bans three things:

  1. Lobbyist contributions to those they lobby, modeled on California state law;
  2. Lobbyist bundling contributions for those they lobby ("bundling" is the practice of collecting contributions from others & passing them along to a decision-maker); and
  3. Gifts, including (to close a loophole) paying for travel through a third party.

Lobbyists would also have to disclose which agency, commission, or official they’re targeting.

The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters supports good governance, and this is a measure that will help create a more transparent and democratic process for our city. Vote YES on Measure T.

Nov 2016: NO on Prop U - Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Projects

The City’s Charter generally requires developers of market-rate housing to provide affordable housing. A developer can meet this requirement in one of three ways:  

  1. Pay a fee equal to 17% - 20% of the total units being developed;
  2. Make at least 12% of the on-site housing units affordable; or
  3. Build new affordable units off-site, equal to 17% - 20% of the total units.

A unit for sale counts toward the on-site requirement if it is affordable to households earning up to 90% of the area median income. A rental unit counts toward the on-site requirement if it is affordable to households earning up to 55% of the area median income.

The City uses federal income standards to determine the maximum allowable rent levels for the affordable units. Generally, a household living in an affordable housing unit pays no more than 30% of its total income on rent. Currently, the monthly rent for a one-bedroom affordable housing unit is $1,121, and the monthly rent for a two-bedroom affordable housing unit is $1,261.

Under Proposition U, a rental unit would count toward the affordable housing requirement if it is affordable to households earning up to 110% of the area median income, double the current cutoff. This means, a household could pay up to $2,241 for a one-bedroom affordable rental unit and up to $2,521 for a two-bedroom affordable rental unit.

As a result, developers would be tempted to rent only to households approaching 110% of the area median income to maximize their income, leaving out lower income households who need affordable housing the most.

The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters suggests NO on Prop U.

Nov 2016: NO on Prop P - Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property

The City provides financing to developers to build new affordable housing and rehabilitate existing affordable housing on City-owned property. The Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) administers most of these programs. MOHCD posts a description of the proposed project on its website and invites developers to submit proposals. Because building and managing affordable housing projects offer lower potential profits than market-rate projects, these projects attract proposals from fewer developers.

MOHCD describes the criteria they will use to select a proposal, which generally include the anticipated cost to the City, how much experience the developer has with similar projects, the feasibility of the developer’s proposal, the quality of the developer’s design, and the extent to which the proposal meets community needs. After the deadline for submissions, MOHCD applies the evaluation criteria to select a proposal.

Proposition P would require MOHCD to receive at least three proposals for the project and accept the proposal with the “best value.” Currently, MOHCD may select a qualified developer to proceed with an affordable housing project, even if it receives fewer than three proposals. If Prop P passes, the City could not proceed with an affordable housing project if MOHCD receives fewer than three proposals.

The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters believes that this requirement would reduce the development of affordable housing and make the city’s housing crisis worse. Please vote NO on Prop P.