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The November 2020 BAS Voter Guide

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Primarily researched and written by Stephen Torres with help from Stuart Schuffman.

We stand at the precipice of one of the most polarizing federal elections that has ever occurred in this country. Each day brings another dash of chaos, and yet here we are, once again sifting through another labyrinthine ballot. There are quite a few huge propositions on the table which would be getting a ton of press if, well, we weren’t hurtling towards the abyss on this dumpster fire, Earth.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 but early voting starts on Monday, October 5th, 2020. Considering the Trump administration has jammed up the works over at the post office, the safest and most secure way to vote is do so early in person, or drop off your mail-in ballot at an early voting location. Learn more about how and where to vote right here.

So, here you are, fellow citizens. The Broke-Ass Stuart November 2020 Election guide.

The 2020 BAS Voter Guide

The Quick Guide (Longer explanations come after)

Federal Races 

President/Vice President of the United States: Joe Biden & Kamala Harris 

United States Representative, 12th District: No Endorsement 

United States Representative, 14th District: Jackie Speier

State Races 

California State Senate, 11th District: Jackie Fielder 

California State Assembly, 17th District: No Endorsement 

California State Assembly, 19th District: Phil Ting 

San Francisco City & County Races

SF Board of Supervisors, District 1: Connie Chan

SF Board of Supervisors, District 3: Aaron Peskin 

SF Board of Supervisors, District 5: Dean Preston 

SF Board of Supervisors, District 7: Myrna Melgar or Vilaska Nguyen

SF Board of Supervisors, District 9: Hillary Ronen

SF Board of Supervisors, District 11: John Avalos 

SF Board of Education: Matt Alexander, Kevine Boggess, Alida Fisher, Marc Sanchez

SF Community College Board: Anita Martinez, Tom Temprano, Shanell Williams, Alan Wong

BART Director, District 7: Lateefah Simon

BART Director, District 9: Bevan Dufty 

State Propositions 

Proposition 14– Authorizes Bonds Continuing Stem Cell Research. Initiative Statute: NO POSITION  

Proposition 15– Increases Funding Sources for Public Schools, Community Colleges, and Local Government Services by Changing Tax Assessment of Commercial and Industrial Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment: YES

Proposition 16  Allows Diversity as a Factor in Public Employment, Education, and Contracting Decisions. Legislative Constitutional Amendment:YES

Proposition 17– Restores Right to Vote After Completion of Prison Term. Legislative Constitutional Amendment: YES

Proposition 18– Amends California Constitution to Permit 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Primary and Special Elections if They Will Turn 18 by the Next General Election and be Otherwise Eligible to Vote. Legislative Constitutional Amendment: YES

Proposition 19 – Changes Certain Property Tax Rules. Legislative Constitutional Amendment: NO

Proposition 20 – Restricts Parole for Certain Offenses Currently Considered to be Non-Violent. Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain “Offenses Currently Treated Only as Misdemeanors. Initiative Statute: NO

Proposition 21 – Expands Local Governments’ Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property Initiative Statute: YES

Proposition 22 – Exempts App-Based Transportation and Delivery Companies from Providing Employee Benefits to Certain Drivers. Initiative Statute: NO

Proposition 23 – Establish State Requirements for Kidney Dialysis Clinics. Requires On-Site Medical Professional. Initiative Statute: YES

Proposition 24 – Amends Consumer Privacy Laws. Initiative Statute: NO

Proposition 25 – Referendum on Law That Replaced Money Bail with System Based on Public Safety and Flight Risk: NO

Local San Francisco Propositions 

Proposition A – Health & Homelessness Parks and Street Bond: Yes

Proposition B – Department of Sanitation & Streets, Sanitation & Streets Commission, & Public Work Commission: YES 

Proposition C – Removing Citizenship Requirements for Members of City Bodies: YES

Proposition D – Sheriff Oversight: Yes

Proposition E – Police Staffing: YES

Proposition F – Business Tax Overhaul: YES

Proposition G – Youth Voting in Local Elections: YES

Proposition H – Neighborhood Commercial Districts & City Permitting: NO

Proposition I – Real Estate Transfer Tax: YES

Proposition J – Parcel Tax for San Francisco Unified School District: YES

Proposition K – Affordable Housing Authorization: YES

Proposition L – Business Tax Based on Comparison to Top Executives’s Pay to Employee’s Pay: YES

Proposition RR – Caltrain Sales Tax: YES

Longer Explanations

 

President/Vice President of the United States: Joe Biden & Kamala Harris 

In San Francisco, numbers and history would lead us to think that a very small percentage will be voting for the incumbent candidate in this election.  That said, San Franciscan voters often claim the privilege to vote with “my conscience” because Democrats have carried the state in federal elections since 1992.  For this very reason, many of our readers will vote for a third party or not in the presidential category at all.  If this is the case, we would ask that you consider your privilege, and how many people’s privileges have been stripped away by this sitting president.  Voting with conscience is how one should vote, but that also means understanding how your vote affects how others vote and the potential to enfranchise or disenfranchise others.  Historically, there may be no real danger of Biden losing California, but if there is one thing we have learned this year, it is that nothing is for certain and another fresh hell takes less than 24 hours to reveal itself. Moreover, if you do, in fact, feel that you have the safety to not vote for Biden because of where you live, others in your life might take your lead in states that aren’t as surely not going to Trump.

Again, everything right now is changing almost hourly.  As of the writing of this voter guide, the Trumps have announced they have COVID-19. Is this true? Will it kill him? Will it simply pass through his jaundiced, corpulent viscera without a trace? Is it another dodge or hustle?  We don’t know. What we do know is that our future as a fully realised fascist state is a very real possibility.  We cannot leave even one vote to chance. Every vote counts. Even in California. Even in San Francisco. EVERY VOTE COUNTS.  

United States Representative, 12th District: No Endorsement 

Like we said, it’s hard to keep up in the minute-by-minute existence we live in and, for all we know, we could awake tomorrow to a four-month long Pelosi presidential administration. Anything is possible at this point. Our lack of endorsement doesn’t imply a complete lack of confidence in Congresswoman Pelosi’s leadership and the formidable past four years that she has faced, but whether serving as Representative or called to a duty with no precedent, we would like her to represent her district’s value’s in ways she falls significantly short and has sometimes opposed.

It was with great disappointment that we had to withdraw our March endorsement of Shahid Buttar. Although lacking in experience, he seemed to represent policy values we believed in, but misrepresented himself in ethics and values that are equally important.

United States Representative, 14th District: Jackie Speier 

One of our stalwart progressive faves who gets things done both at home and in the District of Columbia. Speier is the best and has our vote as always.

State Races 

California State Senate, 11th District: Jackie Fielder 

Change has to start somewhere and Senator Weiner has had his chance to prove that he has the best interest of his constituency at heart, and not special interests. And, well, that hasn’t really happened. Moreover the would-be/maybe hallmark of his career in Sacramento, his own personal Frankenstein, SB 50 has massive ramifications not just for San Franciscans, but all Californians.

Fielder, however, seems to view things from the same perspective that the rest of us do. Not from far away but at street level where we all live. Instead of advocating the same policies of demolish/evict and build anew, which benefits no one but real estate and developers, she approaches the housing crisis from the common sense approach of preserving and protecting our wholly underused housing stock and ensuring that new development is made attainable by current residents of San Francisco, not those looking for a new Pied-à-terre.

With a long history of being on the right side of things and having a multifold plan to approach our current crisis, what say ye to keeping the progressive momentum going and turn the machine on its head? We say yes.

California State Assembly, 17th District: No Endorsement 

California State Assembly, 19th District: Phil Ting 

Assemblymember Ting is usually on the progressive side of the spectrum and with his expungement bill last year, we feel he merits a nod this round.

San Francisco City & County Races

SF Board of Supervisors, District 1: Connie Chan

The Richmond is often written-off as a bastion of upper-middle class to wealthy conservatism, but in reality most of its residents are working class renters and small business owners and this has been reflected in their district-elected choice of progressive leadership going back to Lau and up to Fewer.

Chan grew up in SF from the age of 13 and has a strong pedigree in progressive politics. Her primary opponent, Marjan Philhour, is more of the “we can solve the housing crisis and homelessness with market-rate development” school of fantasy, that has garnered her support from both Breed and Wiener. Chan isn’t shy on urban density design, but knows that completely lifting regulations on infrastructurally and environmentally sensitive neighborhoods like those in District 1 isn’t the answer as well.

SF Board of Supervisors, District 3: Aaron Peskin 

Peskin is now clocking in at over a decade on the Board of Supervisors. Does this accrue him elder statesmen status? Hard to say, but “elder” isn’t quite the descriptor that comes to mind with someone who still handily plies the icy waves of San Francisco Bay in a speedo. And just as deftly has he navigated the murky waters of City Hall, leading to an enviable legislative success rate for his district and the city as a whole. Although you may not alway agree with him, Peskin does have conviction and his respect for his colleagues has allowed him to help steward some of the more collaborative boards while still ensuring protections for the city (like No Wall on the Waterfront).

SF Board of Supervisors, District 5: Dean Preston 

We endorsed Preston for his 2019 D5 special election and wholeheartedly do so again. In his very short time on the board, Preston has not wasted any of it, as one might be able to tell from his name’s frequent occurrence in recent legislation and even the propositions on this current ballot. District 5 is already benefiting from Preston’s experience and leadership. We see no reason to pull him out of the game now.

SF Board of Supervisors, District 7: Myrna Melgar or Vilaska Nguyen

Whereas people may think of places like D1 as conservative, District 7 is the actual stronghold, peppered with affluent districts like St. Francis Wood, Laguna Honda or Sherwood Forest. Outgoing Supervisor Yee was unusually progressive for this corner of the city, and frankly, it looks like it’s starting to list to the right again. For those of you that live in more progressive climes and have the “that would never happen in San Francisco” mentality, think again. The frontrunner to beat is Joel Engardio, an LGBT Democrat and filmmaker who is running on a “law and order” platform as the Vice-President of StopCrimeSF. Roll that one around for a minute. If anything, the contradictions at play would indicate it’s less a case of “never” and more “only could happen in San Francisco.”

Fascinating as Engardio may be, we’d prefer to place our bets on Nguyen or Melgar. Nguyen hails from Alaska originally where his parents fled following the fall of Saigon and is a public defender with huge progressive support. Although he and his family have less actual time living in the district, they’ve been involved in the community through their church for much longer.

Melgar has lived and raised her family in Ingleside Terrace for over decade and immigrated to San Francisco as a child from El Salvador during its decades-long U.S funded civil war. Melgar has a long history of activism in tenants rights and the SF Latinx communities as well as having considerable experience in the city’s housing and urban planning, having served as Planning Commission President.

Either one is a good choice and since it’s ranked, you can vote for them both!

SF Board of Supervisors, District 9: Hillary Ronen

There’s a reason that Ronen has no opposition in this election. She was elected to her seat on a campaign that centered on the long-standing, but disappearing working class constituency in her district and has effectively worked on their behalf in her years in office. When it comes to the desperate situation the homeless citizens in our city face, she was one of the few supervisors to actually successfully advocate for a navigation center in her district, despite significant opposition.  Ronen has proved herself to work diligently and compassionately on behalf of all the residents of D9, and serves another term to broaden the scope of her work.

SF Board of Supervisors, District 11: John Avalos 

Although he hasn’t quite proved to be the completely divisive shill D11 residents were dreading when he was elected in 2016, and has managed to work with his fellow board members to mild success, it’s prudent to remember that Asha Safaí is still no John Avalos and still a solid ally of developers, real estate, and Mayor Breed.

Avalos enjoyed longevity in his district because he consistently worked for renters and housing and held corporate interests accountable on a citywide level during his two consecutive terms on the board. We think his record speaks for itself and Avalos is the kind of community advocate D11 needs again with an uncertain future ahead of the traditionally working class neighborhoods on the verge and large swaths of speculated land that it covers.

SF Board of Education: Matt Alexander, Kevine Boggess, Alida Fisher, Mark Sanchez

Good god, what a time to be a kid. Our public educational system in California was already in a bad place before March, but if anything, the pandemic has already exacerbated or sped up the problems it was facing, namely that affluent kids will weather this much better than those with any challenges. The four candidates we recommend we do so because we feel that they each bring something to the table that will ensure that every student in SFUSD gets through this with the best we can offer.

Alexander has been teaching in SFUSD for over twenty years with a focus on equity and activism with groups like Immigrants Rising.

Boggess also comes from an equity background, specifically in his policy work with youth and community activism and as Education Policy Director at Coleman Advocates.

Fisher is a parent of students in SFUSD and serves as the Chair of the SFUSD Community Advisory Committee for Special Education. By her own accounting, she has attended hundreds of meetings through SFUSD and well understands what the district faces.

Sanchez brings experience and institutional knowledge, having sat on the board since 2000 and having taught and been in SFUSD administration before that. He has authored legislation on behalf of SFUSD students and is a strong advocate for transparency within the district.

SF Community College Board: Anita Martinez, Tom Temprano, Shanell Williams, Alan Wong

Every time it seems CCSF is making some headway it subsequently takes a tumble. After having been rescued from the brink, it is now facing budget cuts from every angle. As anyone who’s attended City College knows, the matriculation programs it has are only a small aspect of what it offers from certifications to licensing to continued education. CCSF offers resources that are impossible to find in other parts of the Bay Area, let alone the state.

Incumbents Temprano and Williams have navigated the latest debacles fairly well and still retain our confidence, but we’d be lying if we didn’t observe considerable frustration focused on them. To be fair, this is partly because they aren’t political youngins anymore and both have made it known that they have aspirations outside of being trustees, which understandably raises red flags for anyone voting on education seats in this town.  That said, they both got into this for the right reasons, both with formative community college backgrounds, and have maintained a strong commitment to preserving community college accessibility in San Francisco.

Wong is another candidate with a heavy political pedigree, but brings that skillset of navigating legislation to the job. He has an intimate familiarity with CCSF, his father and he having been graduates, as well as having co-authored “Free City College” while advisor to Supervisor Gordon Mar.

Martinez has them all beat, however, in terms of experience and institutional knowledge. With decades of activism as well having taught and worked as an administrator at City, she has been in the game a long time, knows all the players, and can probably cut through a lot of the bullshit. She is the kind of candidate one looks for in San Francisco, having long walked the walk as well as being able to talk the talk.

BART Director, District 7: Lateefah Simon

Simon had a pretty impressive background in civil rights activism and re-entry programming with then District Attorney Kamala Harris before she was elected as a BART director in 2016. She wants to stay in the system because she recognizes that all the small headways BART had been making before COVID hit, have definitely left the platform now.

BART Director, District 9: Bevan Dufty 

BART is a mess, but Dufty, also an incumbent, seems to be in it because he wants to see it cleaned up. Dufty made news for his camping out in the 16th Street Station to fully immerse himself in the mire and his subsequent focus on revamping sanitation/ cleaning protocols and getting maintenance and staffing upgrades at stations after he was elected.

State Propositions 

Proposition 14 – Authorizes Bonds Continuing Stem Cell Research. Initiative Statute: No Position

On first glance, Proposition 14 seems like one of those abstract propositions that one might default to vote in favor of. In a nutshell, the State of California would issue an additional bond of $5.5 billion to compensate for the loss of the exhausted $3 billion bond that voters authorized in 2004. The original bond created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which aside from some modest successes has not really delivered on its projected return (remember, bonds need to be paid back.) It can be argued, however, that exploratory research requires time, and it would seem that both sides more or less agree on that respect. Where they diverge is in the funding. Opponents feel that this is a high-risk investment during a time when funding is desperately needed elsewhere in our imperiled state and something that can be funded by the federal government since it reversed its position on stem cell research since 2004. Proponents rightly claim that little can be relied on from our current federal leadership and that more research is desperately needed. One wonders however, given the groundswell of support from celebrities and the wealthy, that funding can’t be easily obtained from that type of financial backing. That said, the board of the CIRM has already been criticized for conflicts of interest and lack of oversight when it comes to private interest and investment.

Proposition 15 – Increases Funding Sources for Public Schools, Community Colleges, and Local Government Services by Changing Tax Assessment of Commercial and Industrial Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment: YES

This is one of those high profile propositions that has come to define the state of California over the past few decades. What this prop would do is amend the California Constitution so that commercial and industrial properties could be taxed at market rate. Back in 1978 Proposition 13 fixed all California properties at 1976 rates.

A lot of what the opposition (real estate, corporate landlords, and chambers of commerce) have claimed is that this will in fact crush small businesses and “mom and pop” landlords. The former because they have insinuated that big time landlords (meaning them) will pass these costs on to tenants like small business and there won’t be anything they can do about it, which is reminiscent of a gangster film where some mob heavy threatens an elderly laundry with “protection or else”. The latter is based on the contention that small time landlords would be affected by this as well, which is not the case, as that the property would have to be valued over $3 million, which in effect, doesn’t make you a small time landlord even in San Francisco.

What’s more is that the bulk of these taxes (as much as $3.5 million per year) will go to public schools and community colleges that desperately need it.

Proposition 16  Allows Diversity as a Factor in Public Employment, Education, and Contracting Decisions. Legislative Constitutional Amendment:YES

Ah, Proposition 209…it seems like only yesterday. But, in fact, twenty-four years have passed since affirmative action was effectively banned in the State of California. Back then, the likes of Governor Pete Wilson touted Proposition 209 as a way of leveling the playing field and making jobs and opportunities available to all Californians regardless of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. A swell sentiment if you don’t factor in systemic racism, which finally, in the horror show that has become our daily existence, people seem to be coming around to accepting as an actual thing and not a figment in the mind of radical liberals in the heady “post-racial” utopia that was 1996. The numbers play it out, there are less black/poc folks in universities and well-paying jobs than there was almost thirty years ago. It’s time to overturn 209.

Proposition 17 – Restores Right to Vote After Completion of Prison Term. Legislative Constitutional Amendment: YES

In California, we are finally beginning to make cracks in the prison industrial complex that has strangled that state and the civil liberties of its citizens for decades.  At one time, the State of California was more focused on rehabilitation than punishment, and now that the success of restorative justice is finally getting traction, we are headed in that direction again.  Really,  this proposition is very simple, it contends if you’ve done your time, re-entered society and have started having obligations like taxes, you should have some say in that. That seems fair to us.

Proposition 18 – Amends California Constitution to Permit 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Primary and Special Elections if They Will Turn 18 by the Next General Election and be Otherwise Eligible to Vote. Legislative Constitutional Amendment: YES

In the same vein of the previous proposition, if folks coming of age are expected to pay taxes and about to be  subject to society’s laws applying to adults (which, it could be argued happens well before 18), they should have a say in how those laws come to be.  There is the argument that this slight age reduction will surge thousands of impressionable voters into elections who opponents contend are still children in the scant months leading up to their 18th birthday and can be swayed or pressured to vote how their parents or teachers vote.  It could also be argued that our current state of affairs demonstrate that being impressionable is not something relegated to teenagers, and if anything, at least on a national level, numbers would indicate teens feel more confident in their own assessment of politics over that of their parents.

Proposition 19 – Changes Certain Property Tax Rules. Legislative Constitutional Amendment: NO

This is another iteration of 2018’s  Proposition 5 which we also recommended a ‘no’ on.  It’s unnecessary and seeing that significant boostering and support coming from real estate strikes us as a red flag.  Enticing seniors and the disabled to move from properties which likely have more value by dangling tax savings in front of them and playing into the “newer=nicer” narrative seems a little gross as does the firefighting incentivizing.  The state needs more money to support fire fighting and programs to prevent massive conflagrations, but this isn’t the way to do it.

Proposition 20 – Restricts Parole for Certain Offenses Currently Considered to be Non-Violent. Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain “Offenses Currently Treated Only as Misdemeanors. Initiative Statute – NO

Like Proposition 17, this proposition addresses criminal justice reform. Unlike Prop 17, this aims at turning back some of those reforms at their infancy. Law enforcement associations and unions are spearheading this, acting as shills for the corporate incarceration interests that fund them. As we said before, California is back on track to rehabilitation and restorative justice. Among gutting propositions Californians overwhelmingly voted to approve, this goes further by making misdemeanors felonies and requiring DNA samples from misdemeanors. If, like us, you’re wary of law enforcement leadership padding their pockets off of the bodies of inmates, vote NO on 20.

Proposition 21 – Expands Local Governments’ Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property Initiative Statute: YES

If anything has brought the dire need for statewide rent control in sharp focus, it’s the current pandemic.  Real estate lobbyists have long simultaneously assuaged and stoked the fears of California renters by claiming that rent control will take away protections that the free market provides.  Simply put, wouldn’t you feel more confident about your housing going into one of the bleakest winters in recent memory with city and state mandated rent control?

Proposition 22 – Exempts App-Based Transportation and Delivery Companies from Providing Employee Benefits to Certain Drivers. Initiative Statute: NO

Speaking of unstable markets, if this one seems familiar, it’s because the State of California already made a law protecting people who work for app-based transportation companies. Proposition 22 is an attempt to reverse this by throwing in a few protections their employees already have under the law, but stopping short of the entitlements and protections enjoyed by hourly/ cooperative employees. 

Proponents of this proposition disingenuously suggest that this is going to take thousands of jobs away from gig workers, destroy the “gig economy” and that their drivers are not, in fact, their employees. From day laborers to handymen to street vendors, gig workers have existed since time immemorial. When those gigs start getting run by one central outfit, however, that is a company. Uber, Lyft and the like are companies and the true reason they don’t want protected employees is because it will widen the cracks already showing in their flawed business models. Like taxi drivers and other transpo operators, every one of these employees deserves the same protections as those working as hourly employees or in a cooperative.

Incidentally, if you want more proof on Lyft and Uber’s political maneuvering just have a look at the election over in Oakland.  Originally masquerading as a housing PAC, they heavily- funded a bid to unseat Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. She had the audacity to try and tax them but they evaded it, again because their drivers aren’t “employees”.

Another candidate trying to reign them in is AC Transit Board contender Jovanka Beckles.  So for our readers out in Oakland vote REBECCA KAPLAN for Oakland City Council  and JOVANKA BECKLES for Alameda County Transit Board.

Check out our deep dive on why you should vote NO on Prop 22 right here.

Proposition 23 – Establish State Requirements for Kidney Dialysis Clinics. Requires On-Site Medical Professional. Initiative Statute: YES

One would think that the last iteration of this would have passed, especially since it is requiring regulation on how people handle your kidneys.  But there are a lot of kidney dialysis clinics in this state, they make a lot of money,  and they used that money to defeat it last time.  Additionally, the kind of regulation that is being sought here, is the kind one would think would already be in place because, again, it has to do with one’s KIDNEYS.  Passage would require that a licensed physician be on site during treatments, quarterly oversight on dialysis-related infections, bar discrimination based on how bills are paid (like MediCal), and state approval on clinic closures.  And, if the world of kidney dialysis seems a little out of your orbit because you don’t have any preconditions, take a hard look at that box of wine or tub of ice cream that’s been keeping you company since March.

Proposition 24 – Amends Consumer Privacy Laws. Initiative Statute: NO

When Jerry Brown signed the California Consumer Privacy Act a couple of years ago it enabled the state to lead the nation in privacy protection. Unfortunately, technology moves at a much faster pace than legislation and it could use some work in terms of implementation. That said we have some qualms about this proposition. Funding from wealthy real estate interests has rarely boded well for our state and when the ACLU contends that this is a “fake privacy law” that will add hurdles to consumers and loopholes to corporations, we’re going to take their advice and hold out for something better.

Proposition 25 – Referendum on Law That Replaced Money Bail with System Based on Public Safety and Flight Risk: NO

Cash bail is bad, but this is not the way to fix it.  We’ll again follow the ACLU’s lead here.  In voicing concerns that risk assessment could easily be affected by racial bias, they stated this about this prop’s predecessor, “SB 10 is not the model for pretrial justice and racial equity that California should strive for.”

Local San Francisco Propositions 

Proposition A – Health & Homelessness Parks and Street Bond: Yes

If you spoke to the average San Franciscan about the pandemic right now, we’d wager that they would agree that conditions of our homeless population, public spaces and streets are pretty high on the priority list.  This measure would allocate $207 million for housing, mental health and substance use/abuse services specifically for homeless residents; $239 million for parks, community gardens and playgrounds; and $41.5 million to other open spaces like plazas for pedestrian use.  The bond will be paid back through property taxes next year, some of which can be passed on to renters, but that is why rental protections and caps are important as well.  Libertarians argue that this is nothing more than a band-aid.  We would argue this falls more under the category of triage, which seems appropriate since this is funding to combat a pandemic which shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Proposition B – Department of Sanitation & Streets, Sanitation & Streets Commission, & Public Work Commission: YES 

It may not come as a surprise to our readers that there is no current Department of Sanitation & Streets. Although street cleaning and sanitation have become an increasing high-profile issue in the past few decades, this was under the auspices of the Department of Public Works. The Department of Public Works is actually in charge of a lot from building and infrastructural improvements to the sewer system to street lighting to urban forestry. This would create a new city department purely devoted to street sanitation, public bathroom cleaning and upkeep, and trash detail by amending the City Charter.

Supervisor Haney, whose district knows something of filthy streets, helped author this one and has pretty much unanimous support, save the San Francisco Republican Party.

Proposition C – Removing Citizenship Requirements for Members of City Bodies: YES

This would allow any resident of the City and County of San Francisco to become a member of a city body (board, commission, advisory board, etc.)  Another measure with broad support, it was written due to the fact that diversity on city bodies has decreased dramatically annually in the past four years alone and these boards, etc. do not represent their constituents.  During a time when the rights and protections of non-U.S. citizens have been dramatically decreased, we feel this is an important change.  Unsurprisingly the major opponent is the San Francisco Republican Party.

Proposition D – Sheriff Oversight: Yes

As we’ve pointed out before, San Francisco’s Sheriff’s Department has a troubling history to date and could benefit from additional oversight. This measure would create a new Oversight Board and Office of Inspector General to review uses of force within the department with an inspector for every hundred Sheriff’s officers. This will require significant funding  from the city (400K for the board and $2-$2.5 million for the Inspector General’s Office, respectively), but that seems a small price to ensure the safety of the citizens the Sheriff serves to protect. Critics cite that the Sheriff already has an Internal Affairs Unit for this exact purpose, but history would lead us to believe that law enforcement holding law enforcement accountable has had minimal success.

Proposition E – Police Staffing: YES

This is where you get to help make the changes to law enforcement that people across the country are asking for.  At present, the San Francisco Police Department must maintain a static quota of 1,971 officers annually.  This number was decided upon in the early 1990s.  Both the private citizens of San Francisco and the SFPD’s active patrol officers have long contended that officers are often dispatched to attend to situations for which they have neither the training and/or  can actually effectively resolve.

This measure allows the city to adjust the amount of police on staff and accordingly allocate any leftover funding from reductions to social workers, mental health and/or substance abuse professionals that may be more appropriate to a situation than law enforcement could be alone or at all.  

Proposition F – Business Tax Overhaul: YES

This is another measure written in response to the pandemic to alleviate some of the taxes small businesses pay annually, while raising them on tech and real estate. There is also a safety net written in to help allocate taxes already gathered by the city on voter-approved measures currently being challenged to the areas that voters designated.

Proposition G – Youth Voting in Local Elections: YES

Going a step further than the state proposition, this lowers municipal voting to the age of 16. Voters under 18 would not receive ballots with state or federal candidates or initiatives.

Another local measure that may seem like déjà vu, it lost by an extremely narrow margin in 2016. Again, especially on local initiatives and candidates, youth should have a say in elections that directly affect them. Despite SF Republican Ritchie Greenberg’s assertion otherwise, teenagers do work and pay taxes and have strong feelings on local issues,  especially education, criminal justice reform, and transportation. Enfranchising our youth leads to higher voter turnout in the future.

Proposition H – Neighborhood Commercial Districts & City Permitting: NO

We really wanted to like this one but it’s too poorly written. Prop H is another measure aimed at helping San Francisco small businesses bounce back, but we have some concerns over relaxing permitting completely with little input from the community around said businesses. The measure would expedite permitting processes and expand outdoor spaces, restaurants and venues would be able to use for dining and activities, but eliminate the public notice part among other things. If you’ve had some concerns over the density and capacity issues some outdoor experiments and street closures have experienced during the pandemic and you’d like some say over future implementation, you’ll probably want to pass on this one.

Another provision to consider is the one allowing commercial use on the second and third floors of mixed-use buildings, especially if you’re one of the many San Franciscans that lives above a business, and how this could change our housing stock.

Obviously there is way too much red tape in getting a business started or applying for permitting and it’s consistently stood in the way of grassroots entrepreneurship in this city. But given the potential ramifications of handing complete control over to bureaucrats and special interests, we think we can definitely do better.

Proposition I – Real Estate Transfer Tax: YES

This measure, authored by Supervisor Preston, raises taxes on property transfers over $10 million. Revenues would be sizable and will help the city come back after the pandemic. Understandably big real estate and corporate landlords oppose this and argue it will hurt “small business” and affordable housing. The Tenants Union and actual small businesses like City Lights, Sam’s Grill, Bi-Rite Market and Casa Sánchez seem to disagree.

Proposition J – Parcel Tax for San Francisco Unified School District: YES

Another measure where you’re being asked to rectify a court challenge. SF passed Prop G in 2018 which did the same thing by implementing a real estate tax to directly benefit SFUSD. Only thing is that the opponents are now holding that money up in court, so while that gets sorted out, Mayor Breed wrote this to get money to the district faster.

Proposition K – Affordable Housing Authorization: YES

In the unending dialogue around affordable housing in San Francisco, you might have found yourself wondering, “Why doesn’t the city just build more affordable housing?” Well, to quote The Los Angeles Times, “In 1950, Californians voted to put a provision in the state Constitution that makes it harder for poor people to find a place to live.” The Times was breaking down efforts last year to repeal Article 34 of the California Constitution which was the end result of that 1950 vote that declared that Californians had the right to vote to approve any “low-income housing built in a community”. Article 34 was the brainchild of white property owners and realtors stoking fear and racism and has long prevented cities who have the money (like us), but whose hands are tied by this benighted addition to our constitution.

Unfortunately, like several times before, this effort by Senators Scott Weiner (D-SF) and Ben Allen (D-Sta.Monica) stalled out in the Assembly last year, so Supervisor Preston authored Prop K as a municipal override to the crippling Article 34.  If Proposition K passes, SF will finally be able to freely and fully use funding from propositions like Prop I to develop, own and operate up to 10,000 affordable housing units for San Franciscans.

Proposition L – Business Tax Based on Comparison to Top Executives’s Pay to Employee’s Pay: YES

As Sally Struthers once queried, “Do you want to make more money? Sure! We all do!”.  Unfortunately, top executives seem to be able to make that wish come true a lot faster and easier than those below. If this passes, companies who garner over a million dollars in revenue  and have executives that make 100-600% more than their median worker will be subject to a city tax of 0.1-0.6%.  The SF Republican Party and Chamber of Commerce warn that this will spook such choice quarry as the Bank of America or Comcast-Xfinity who will move onto more accommodating feeding grounds, but we’re willing to take that risk.

Proposition RR – Caltrain Sales Tax: YES

At a recent local political club meeting, an oblivious and perennially loud “ally” opined that the club should not endorse this proposition because it was a irrelevant sales tax to “fund rich techies going to Silicon Valley and does not benefit poor people”, apparently unaware that Caltrain runs north and southbound, serves multiple communities and is a huge lifeline for low-income workers.  That Caltrain exists at all is no small miracle given the racist and classist summersaults some peninsular communities did to prevent BART or any transportation for that matter from running between San Francisco and San José.  Is passing this tax on to riders ideal? Absolutely not.  It should be on a fast track (get it?) to be free and subsidised,  but like most aspects of our world, the pandemic had other plans and decimated Caltrain which now has to perform its own gymnastic routine to get this passed in the multiple counties in transverses. Caltrain has a long way to go, but right now it’s on life support.  Let’s get her back on track (I can’t help it), before we do more tinkering.

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BAS Editorial Team

BAS Editorial Team

We're the editorial team who get together to do the Broke-Ass Stuart voter guides.

5 Comments

  1. Jackie
    October 5, 2020 at 11:32 am — Reply

    This is super helpful. Thanks BAS!

  2. David
    October 5, 2020 at 12:45 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the no on 25! If passed, it also threatens to eliminate San Francisco’s community-based, non-profit pretrial agency by moving it into law enforcement.

  3. Toneh
    October 8, 2020 at 12:56 pm — Reply

    Here’s the ACLU’s full statement on Prop 25 on bail: https://www.aclunc.org/news/aclu-northern-california-statement-prop-25

    It’s a fairly complicated issue and it seems unfair to imply that the ACLU fully opposes Prop 25, so I would encourage all voters read this in more detail! Still undecided myself but this quote from the link above stood out:

    “Due to legal and political reasons, the repeal of SB 10 could make it much more difficult to advance legislation in the future that would eliminate commercial bail and build an equitable statewide pretrial system that respects the rights and dignity of people accused of crimes. “

  4. Cynthia Papermaster
    October 15, 2020 at 12:16 pm — Reply

    Shahid Buttar is the victim of a smear campaign. He’s a righteous person and has great ethics and values, so I’m sorry you took the bait and withdrew your endorsement. Nancy Pelosi is bad for the working class, healthcare, the environment/climate catastrophe and ending our endless wars and war profiteering. Vote her out!

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