Happy October, District 3! If you’re an absentee voter, you should have received your vote-by-mail ballot already. Here’s my roundup of some particularly important state and local measures with my personal recommendations:
Proposition 1: $4B Affordable housing bond for veterans — yes.
Proposition 2: Close state loophole to allow mental health housing for homeless — yes.
Proposition 3: $9 billion bond for critical water projects — yes.
Proposition 5: Expand Proposition 13 for property owners — no.
Proposition 6: Repeal gas tax and require two-thirds vote for future gas tax — no.
Proposition 10: Repeal Costa Hawkins to expand rent control — yes.
Proposition A: $425 million stronger, safer seawall bond — yes. As your representative on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and a longtime waterfront district supervisor, I have been engaged with the Port of San Francisco and the multiagency Seawall Resiliency Committee about a long-term rehabilitation and seismic strengthening of our 100-year-old, three-mile seawall, which underpins and protects an estimated $100 billion in property, public infrastructure, and utilities. We know it’s not a question of if we have another big seismic event, it’s a question of when. The seawall bond is one crucial step we can take now to safeguard our city. I’ve been working with the port to ensure that these funds have effective oversight, and include preservation of historic assets and construction mitigation.
Proposition B: Privacy-first policy for San Francisco — yes. Last month’s Marina Times column was dedicated to discussing this charter amendment, which would make it city policy to protect the personal private information of our residents. Join me in voting to put San Franciscans’ privacy first.
Proposition C: Our city, our home gross receipts tax to fund solutions to homelessness — yes. This measure was put on the ballot by a citizen petition and frankly was not an immediate yes for me. But in the end, I believe that housing and mental health services are absolutely critical to solving our homeless crisis. The reality is we are drowning in a crisis that requires bold leadership.
I have advocated for more supportive housing, medical respite beds, and eviction protections to keep people in their homes — but at the end of the day, all of these things require deep investments. State and federal funds continue to dry up, while massive tax breaks for corporations have further deteriorated public coffers. Every day I meet with constituents living on the brink of displacement. My office can often spend an entire workday on the phone with various agencies, trying to help one person.
For the past three years, I have scoured District 3 for a public site to place a temporary homeless resources center with centralized services that would mitigate the out-of-control situation on our streets. It can be extremely frustrating, though we are not giving up. If our values dictate that housing and health care are public priorities and prevailing analysis continues to affirm that we must invest in these priorities to begin to address the crisis raging on our streets, then levying a higher business tax for a handful of the wealthiest corporations to secure $300 million seems a necessary way to tackle the crisis head-on.
Proposition D: Commercial cannabis tax — yes. Supervisor Cohen sponsored this measure to recapture a modicum of revenue from the booming cannabis industry. It would tax retail cannabis shops at 2.5 percent on the first $1 million in revenue and 5 percent on revenues above $1 million. Nonretail cannabis businesses would be taxed 1 percent on revenues up to $1 million and 1.5 percent on gross receipts above $1 million. After I pulled my private transportation tax off the November ballot, I asked Supervisor Cohen to amend one of the critical revenue-generating provisions from my tax into her measure: a simple fix based on the Wayfair v. South Dakota ruling, that would allow San Francisco to tax nonphysically quartered businesses that make over $500,000 of profit in San Francisco a year. This provision would directly recapture some of the profit that out-of-town online companies competing with our struggling small businesses make off the San Francisco market.
Proposition E: Arts for everyone allocation — yes. This was another wonderful opportunity to work with my colleague, Supervisor Katy Tang. Both of us have consistently taken strong positions against so called budget “set-asides” as a matter of responsible fiscal policy. The failed 2016 Proposition S arts and homeless set-aside tax measure was problematic because it tied the city’s hands as to how to administer General Fund dollars to competing needs. Supervisor Tang, Controller Ben Rosenfield, and I reconvened the arts stakeholders and worked to craft a measure that would enable a true restoration of preexisting arts funding within the city’s hotel tax. Proposition E allocates about $32 million of the existing hotel tax to arts and cultural organizations, individual artist grants, and SFUSD arts education programs. It is an example of what we can accomplish when we work together in a fiscally responsible manner. Proposition E is supported by a broad coalition of city leaders and arts stakeholders.
Finally, please look for upcoming meetings to continue our ongoing discussions with city department heads and SFPD on quality of life issues throughout the district. I’ll have more updates in next month’s column.