Editorial: San Francisco
Prop A: City College Parcel Tax. YES
Prop A authorizes a $79 tax on each parcel of residential and commercial property in San Francisco for eight years. It anticipates raising an additional $15 million annually for City College of San Francisco. According to the city's Department of Elections Ballot Simplification Committee, the funds would be used by City College to maintain core academic courses, including English, math and science; provide workforce training, including nursing, engineering, business, and technology; provide an education that prepares students for four-year universities; keep City College libraries and student support services open; keep technology and instructional support up to date; and offset state budget cuts.
The entire structure of public education in California, from city colleges to state universities, has been severely and negatively impacted by state and local budget cuts and declining revenues. Not only is this the case for City College of San Francisco, but CCSF has also been plagued by scandal, administrative inefficiencies, and even the threat of losing its accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Without accreditation, schools are prohibited by law from offering financial aid.
In spite of its difficulties, we support Prop A because City College is an integral part of the fabric of San Francisco. It is the most dependable option for educational opportunity, serving nearly 100,000 students of all incomes, ages, and ethnicities across the city. We are particularly mindful of the safe and positive educational environment it has provided for many thousands of San Francisco's LGBT residents and its programming focusing on LGBT issues. For thousands of students, it has provided a necessary foundation for moving on to four-year colleges and stable employment. Many of San Francisco's prominent leaders from all fields began at City College. And it is vital to the economy of San Francisco, being the largest provider of workforce training in the city, offering programs in engineering, nursing, and technology and re-training to teach workers new skills.
In the last budget year, City College saw its budget slashed by $20 million. The school cut 700 classes this semester. With this parcel tax and the backfill that will be provided by state Proposition 30 (which we also support), this will provide City College the resources to stabilize itself while it addresses its myriad other problems. City College is too precious a resource to lose for San Francisco and for its residents. That is why we recommend a YES vote on Prop A.
Prop B: Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond. YES
Prop B would authorize the city to borrow up to $195 million by issuing general obligation bonds to fund repairs and improvements to the city's parks and open spaces. The city maintains more than 200 parks, recreation facilities, playgrounds, and other open spaces throughout San Francisco. They are vital resources for residents and visitors alike. It does not take a study, although several have been conducted, the most recent in 2007, to reveal that many parks and recreational facilities are outdated and pose seismic and safety risks. This necessary infrastructure measure has broad community support. We recommend a YES vote for Prop B.
Prop C: Housing Trust Fund. YES
Prop C is a Charter amendment proposed by Mayor Ed Lee with support from the Board of Supervisors and many community organizations to create a Housing Trust Fund for much needed low income and affordable housing construction and improvement; provide a loan program for down payment assistance for moderate income homebuyers and emergency first responders, such as police and firefighters; and help eligible households avoid foreclosure or eviction or improve the safety, efficiency or accessibility of their homes. It is to be funded by an initial contribution by the city of $20 million in 2013 followed by annual contributions of $2.8 million until the fund reaches $50.8 million.
San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Maintaining our diversity with affordable and low-income housing is a city priority and a San Francisco value. Vote YES on C.
Prop D: Consolidating Odd-year Municipal Elections. YES
Currently the mayor, sheriff, and district attorney are elected in November of one year, and the city attorney and treasurer are elected in November of a different year. This measure proposes to consolidate off-year municipal elections with all the above-mentioned positions running in the same election. It will save the city's general fund $4.2 million each time we don't hold a separate election for city attorney and treasurer. This is a good-government, efficiency proposition and should be adopted. Vote YES on Prop D.
Prop E: Gross Receipts Tax. YES
San Francisco is the only city in California that imposes a tax on payrolls. This is a job killer and a deterrent in efforts to get businesses, particularly start-ups and high tech businesses with large payrolls and meager income, to locate in San Francisco. Prop E would replace the payroll tax with a graduated business tax based on gross receipts. This is a much more equitable manner to tax businesses and will bring San Francisco in line with other similar cities in California. Vote YES on E.
Prop F: Water and Environment Plan. NO
Leave Hetch Hetchy alone! Vote No on F. (See previous B.A.R. editorial: http://tinyurl.com/8dl7kxx.)
Prop G: Policy Opposing Corporate Personhood. YES
We're not big fans of local policy measures on matters completely out of the control of municipalities. It just gives our detractors another example to hold up to try to prove their point that San Francisco is out of touch with the rest of America. Nevertheless, we find GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's statement that "corporations are people too," coupled with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United , so odious that we have no difficulty supporting Super John Avalos's measure. Vote YES on G.
To view the complete list of B.A.R. endorsements, click here: www.ebar.com/downloads/2012_endorsements.pdf.