Please Vote Nov. 8
It is important that westside residents read their voter’s handbook before casting votes in the Nov. 8 election.
A lot of issues on the ballot are being driven by political ideologues and organizations that have a narrow point of view. There is betrayal, the violation of ethical and moral standards, public giveaways and poison pills.
In today’s San Francisco, truth is stranger than fiction. The handbook is a must read.
Proposition M would tax vacant units in apartment buildings with three or more units in an effort to drive more units onto the rental market.
If passed, the City will hire a cadre of workers to examine and document the utility bills of every apartment building in the City. The workers will keep detailed records. When they suspect a unit is empty for six months for whatever reason, they will move in and start an aggressive taxing scheme. The stick starts whacking right away, with taxes initially ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 in the first year, depending on unit size, and climbing to $20,000 per unit in later years.
Proposition M was put on the ballot via a petition drive led by progressive District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston.
There are about 40,000 empty units in the City at any given time, about 10% of the City’s housing stock. The vast majority of them are units for sale, units in escrow or probate and those in the process of being remodeled.
The city controller’s office examined Prop. M and determined only 4,000 apartments would be subject to the tax, and only 250 would be put back on the market.
This new law smacks of Big Brotherism and is unnecessary. It creates more bureaucracy and re-enforces the City’s already punitive reputation.
Creepy. Vote “no” on Prop. M.
Union Shows True Colors
I’m glad the teachers’ union, United Educators of San Francisco, sent me a mailer with its two favored candidates for the San Francisco School Board.
Now I know whom not to vote for.
During the pandemic, the union showed its true colors, insisting its members ignore the experience of school districts across the country and the plan of its own superintendent to safely reopen our schools.
The union was a roadblock – supporting the isolation of students and teachers via Zoom feeds. It then required ridiculous, if not impossible, demands to get kids back into classrooms.
Because city voters look to the union for guidance, the organization has an outsized influence on who gets elected to our school board.
The School Board has led our school district to become the worst in the entire country at doing what’s best for our children, many of whom will pay the price for years to come.
According to an Oct. 21 report in The Standard, 28% of public school children are “chronically absent,” and our test scores are dismal almost three years since the COVID emergency was declared.
Earlier this year, three school board members were recalled for trying to rename 44 city schools and for destroying the City’s only elite public high school.
At the time of the recall, six of the seven school board members had the endorsement of United Educators, including all three who were recalled in February.
I support the three candidates who were appointed by the mayor to clean up the School Board’s mess – Ann Hsu, Lainie Motamedi and Lisa Weissman-Ward. And I will look with a jaundiced eye upon any future recommendations from United Educators.
“Yes” on Proposition I
This proposition would restore vehicle traffic to the Upper Great Highway and the roads closed in Golden Gate Park due to the pandemic.
It’s a shame that San Francisco residents had to sign a petition to get this measure on the ballot. To properly close major traffic arteries environmental studies would have to be prepared, numerous city departments would provide feedback, and the public would have a say in the outcome.
But SF Mayor London Breed and seven members of the Board of Supervisors conspired with the SF Bicycle Coalition and Walk SF to exploit the people during a pandemic by circumventing all public processes to achieve their narrow aims. It didn’t matter what the Conservatory of Flowers, de Young Museum or California Academy of Sciences had to say. It didn’t matter what the disabled and senior communities had to say either, even though they will suffer the brunt of a lack of access to the park’s cultural institutions.
It has been a sordid tale from the start. But it gets better.
“No” on Proposition J
Prop. J is a “poison-pill” ballot measure that four members of the Board of Supervisors, including Myrna Melgar, put on the ballot to negate Prop. I.
The proposition would codify the mayor’s and seven supervisors’ action to use the pandemic to ban vehicles on some Golden Gate Park roads and to leave the fate of the Upper Great Highway in limbo – including the closing of the gate at noon on Fridays!
Prop. J is written so that if it gets more votes than Prop. I, then it wins – even if a majority of San Franciscans are outraged by the lack of moral compass at City Hall.
Prop. J would establish new San Francisco values – but not the kind we should be proud to be associated with.
“No” on Proposition L
The SF County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) is asking for a 30-year extension of a half-cent sales tax measure to raise $2.6 billion for transportation projects.
The current sales tax is not due to expire until 2034, but the SFCTA wants to implement a new long-term transportation plan as part of the measure.
One of the agencies the SFCTA would use is the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), a city agency that has proven inept at every undertaking it has attempted.
Prop. L would also allow the SFCTA to sell up to $1.9 billion in bonds to finance construction projects, which could end up costing taxpayers close to $4 billion after interest is added in. The $2 billion in interest being paid to bond holders would be guaranteed by the sales tax everyone pays on most purchases.
We can wait a couple of years to decide whether or not to extend the regressive half-cent sales tax and continue foolishly financing transportation projects on the backs of those who can’t afford it.
“No” on Proposition H
The proposition would cram two years of elections into one year, guaranteeing a ballot so long you’d have to be retired to read the voters’ handbook.
Prop. H would move the election to select San Francisco’s mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney and treasurer to even calendar years. Those races would then compete with our California Assembly and Senate and other statewide contests, as well as national contests, including presidential races.
Prop. H was put on the ballot July 19 by seven members of the SF Board of Supervisors. District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan and District 7 Supervisor Melgar supported for the measure, while District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar did not.
The rationale for going to the voters with this measure is to increase voter turnout. This thinking is short sighted and will probably turn San Franciscans off to a lot of important causes.
It is already difficult enough for worthwhile candidates and organizations to get the word out. This proposition does nothing to promote an educated and well-informed populace, a hallmark of our democracy. It is a terrible idea and should be rejected.
Paul Kozakiewicz is an editor, and former publisher, with the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon newspapers.