Commentary: Nancy DeStefanis

A Progressive Voice

By Nancy DeStefanis

After reading the October issues of the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon newspapers and seeing multiple columnists sharing their voting recommendations that seem to skew to the right, I asked the editor if I could submit a progressive’s point of view of the issues. Thankfully, he was open to sharing my perspective.

I am a member of the Richmond District Democratic Club, although I am not writing on its behalf; these recommendations are my own. I have lived in the Richmond and Sunset districts for 28 years and in San Francisco for more than 40 years. I have an institutional memory for San Francisco politics and helped pass the SF Rent Stabilization law on June 13, 1979 (in the wake of Prop. 13) to protect renters from unaffordable rent increases and to provide just cause eviction protections. Despite what was written by one of the papers’ columnists, SF does not have rent control. Rent control means vacant units would also be subject to limited rent increases. 

Here are my recommendations:

City Propositions 

• Prop. A: Cost of living adjustment for city retirees. Vote “yes.” 

• Prop. B: Reorganization of sanitation and streets. Vote “yes.”

• Prop. C: Homeless Oversight Commission. Vote “yes.”

Requires audit of services by city controller and approved by all 11 supervisors.

• Prop. D: Affordable housing. Vote “no.” 

• Prop. E: Homes for families and workers. Vote “yes.”

Chan, Peskin and five other supervisors have joined Building Trades and SF Labor Council in support. 

• Prop. F: Preservation of library fund. Vote “yes.”

• Prop. G: Student success fund. Vote “yes.”

The entire Board of Supervisors supports this proposition. Our schools need these funds to improve student achievement. Many students face academic and socio-economic challenges, as well as limited access to well-funded arts programs. This measure provides funding for arts education above the current constitutionally required amount and provides funding to school districts based on enrollment and share of low-income students. 

• Prop. H: City elections would be held in even numbered years. Vote “yes.”

In a democracy, we need everyone voting! Prop. H moves the election of city officials to even-numbered years – so one election every four years, not two. Our priority should be to make it easier for folks to vote and not assume that San Franciscans can’t handle a longer ballot.

• Prop. I: Open Golden Gate Park and Great Highway: Vote “no.”

As a former New Yorker, I should point out the mayor of New York City closed Central Park to cars north and south of 72nd street in 2018, but transverse roads are still open to cars and buses. If they can do it in New York, surely, we can do it in San Francisco! For too long, JFK Drive has been a speedway to the freeway.

Prop. I prioritizes the free flow of private vehicle traffic along the eastern half of JFK Drive, regardless of the availability of the Concourse Garage’s 800 parking spaces, and while advocating for accessibility for some, also ignores that over 70% of private vehicle traffic in the park before the pandemic closure was of the cut-through to the freeway variety. This was one of the reasons JFK Drive was on the city’s High Injury Network and one of the top 13% of SF’s most dangerous streets. 

Prop. I also reopens the stretch of the Upper Great Highway from Sloat to Skyline Boulevard for private vehicle traffic, ending the current compromise forever. 

• Prop. J: Keep JFK Drive open. Vote “yes.”

Prop. J formalizes the car-free configuration of JFK Drive between Kezar Drive and Transverse Drive. While part of JFK Drive would be closed for cut-through traffic and private vehicle parking, thousands of parking spaces remain throughout most of the park and along bordering streets, as well as the 800-space Concourse Parking Garage. The key to success is supporting Prop. N which would expand garage access to all visitors. The bottom line is that one small section of San Francisco’s paved surface streets is now a safe, open space for any resident or visitor. 

• Prop. L: Renew half-cent sales tax for transit. Vote “yes.”

Prop. L proposes the continuation of an existing one-half-cent sales tax with no new taxes and reallocates funding from the sales tax revenue in a new 30-year spending plan across transit maintenance, street safety improvements, large-scale projects for Muni, BART and Caltrain, including new stations. It will help our transit agencies qualify for federal matching funds on large projects and will provide a stable source of revenue for pedestrian and bike-rider safety and traffic management programs. 

• Prop. M: Empty home tax. Vote “yes.” 

Our residents lose when owners keep their residential units vacant for more than six months every year.

• Prop. N: City Funding for GG Park parking garage. Vote “yes.”

The key here is to expand parking for people with disabilities and all visitors by lowering the prices for parking in the garage. When I visited the de Young Museum for the Frida Kahlo show, I spent $24 for less than four hours – and the garage was 2/3 empty!

• Prop. O: City College parcel tax, Vote “yes.”

The tax would not apply to seniors over age 65 and properties not required to pay standard taxes, such as parcels used by non-profits. It’s time to provide City College the funds it needs to get back to what it does right – educating our local high school grads.

State Propositions

• Prop. 1: Protect the right to choose abortion. Vote “yes.”

The California Constitution would be changed to expressly include existing rights to reproductive choice. 

• Props.  26 and 27: Vote “no.” 

These gaming propositions should be vetted by the legislature. That’s their job. 

• Prop. 29: Dialysis clinic regulation. Vote “no.”

This is the third time around for the proponents- vote “no” again! 

• Prop. 30: Tax the ultra-wealthy for climate change. Vote “yes.”

If your personal income exceeds $2 million a year, you can afford to support wildfire response and prevention programs. 

• Prop. 31: Ban flavored tobacco. Vote “yes.”

Protect our kids by banning the sale of candy-flavored tobacco including e-cigarettes.

District Attorney

District Attorney: Vote for John Hamasaki.

We need an independent DA, not one appointed by the mayor.

Since Mayor London Breed was elected, she has appointed the city attorney and now the district attorney. The DA appointee – Brooke Jenkins – failed to disclose her paid employment by the Committee to recall Chesa Boudin until after she was appointed DA. Hamasaki is independent and experienced. Let’s give him a chance.

Around Town

Don’t miss “Town Destroyer.” It is an amazing one-hour documentary about the debate over painting/covering over the George Washington High School murals. The film presents all the points of view involved, so you can decide for yourself!  At the Roxie Cinema from Nov. 4-10 with special guests. 

Lastly, Save the Castro Theatre! This beautiful state-of-the-art movie theatre, now leased by Another Planet Entertainment (Outside Lands, etc.), is in danger of having its slanted floor and cushioned seats removed so that folks can dance. Do you really want to sit on a folding chair to watch a movie there? Send an email to the Historic Preservation Committee before its Dec. 7 hearing. For more information, visit

Nancy DeStefanis is a member of the Richmond District Democratic Club, has been politically active in the Richmond and Sunset districts for 28 years and in San Francisco for more than 40 years. 

1 reply »

  1. Since when is it “progressive” to ignore the thousands of people with disabilities, the elderly, and the multigenerational families from throughout the city who are now unable to access the amenities along JFK Drive because they need a car in order to be able to drive right up to the Conservatory of Flowers, or the Rose Garden, or the Dahlia Garden or the Rhododendron Dell? It is very presumptuous to label oneself as progressive when one is willing to turn a deaf ear to the cries of those children whose parents are no longer able to bring them to the park because they live a long bus ride away, or because the bus line that used to run near their house has been discontinued with no plan in sight to restore it. Proposition J closes JFK Drive to everyone except the able-bodied who live near the park or who drive their cars to near the park then bike in. PROPOSITION J expects the elderly and those with disabilities and families with children and all of the gear that they need for a park outing to PARK WHEREVER THEY CAN near the park, WALK TO THE NEAREST SHUTTLE STOP, WAIT IN ALL THE ELEMENTS AT A NON-ADA COMPLIANT BUS STOP, BOARD A SHUTTLE BUS WITH THREE STEEP STEPS (MOST DISABLED AND ELDERLY PERSONS CANNOT CLIMB STEPS), RIDE IN A SHUTTLE BUS WITH NON-ADA COMPLIANT SEATING TO THE SHUTTLE STOP NEAREST THEIR DESTINATION, PAINFULLY EXIT THE THREE STEPS, THEN WALK TO ONE’S DESTINATION IN THE PARK, THEN REPEAT THAT PROCESS IN REVERSE TO GET BACK TO THEIR ORIGINAL STARTING POINT. PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE ELDERLY AND THE DISABLED. The shuttle program is a sham. It does not provide equal access for the elderly, the disabled, or multi-generational families from the distant neighborhoods. PROPOSITION J CLOSES JFK DRIVE TO CARS 24/7 FOREVER. This deprives the above mentioned constituencies access to the winter light shows every night at the Conservatory of Flowers as well as the Winter Enchanted Garden neon light installation right next to the Conservatory of Flowers. Proposition I returns us back to how things were before Mayor Breed used the excuse of Covid 19 to close the road 24/7, with the promise that the closure was only temporary. She has broken that promise. PROPOSITION I RETURNS US TO THE COMPROMISE AGREEMENT OF 2007, which kept the road as a SHARED SPACE all of the time except from 6 am – 6 p.m. every Sunday and holiday of the year, with added 6 a.m. – 6 p.m partial closure from April 1 – September 30. JFK Drive was designed with elevated sidewalks for pedestrians and joggers; protected bicycle lanes in both directions; and driving and parking lanes for cars in the middle. Let us return to sharing the road with everyone. Have compassion. Please Vote Yes on I and No on J. Yes on Include Everyone. No on Just Elites.


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