Does it feel like June’s election just happened? You’re not alone. But with the mayor’s race behind us, we’re already full-speed ahead to November. Today the Department of Elections chose the letters for each local proposition on the November ballot using their very high-tech mason jar technique, which means the “Yes on C,” “No on A” flyers will soon be clogging up your mailboxes. We don’t have as many local initiatives as last year, so these five should be pretty easy to memorize. Here’s our handy guide:
Proposition A: Embarcadero Seawall Earthquake Safety Bond
If you haven’t heard, the seawall along the eastern edge of S.F. is in dire need of repairs. The foundation is crumbling, and if a major earthquake hits, entire sections of it could collapse into the Bay. In addition, sea level rises are already threatening our infrastructure, with stretches of the Embarcadero regularly flooding during large winter storms. It’s a problem that’s easy to ignore while we all obsess over our housing crisis and number of people living on our streets, but it’s a pretty major issue — and will only get worse if it’s ignored. With the newly-christened Prop. A voters will decide whether or not to approve a $425 million bond measure for the first round of emergency repairs. As we’ve previously reported, the funds would increase property taxes by $13.23 per $100,000 of assessed value, per year, for 24 years. Sadly, property owners would be able to pass on 50 percent of those costs to renters, which is unfortunate. But also, Embarcadero is falling into the ocean. Can it garner two-thirds of the vote? We’ll see. The full legal text of Prop. A can be found here.
Proposition B: City Privacy Guidelines
Did you know that when you unlock a shared scooter in S.F., you’re giving the company permission to share your credit score with third-party advertisers? Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s office leads the charge with this measure, which would allow San Franciscans to access collected information about themselves, give informed consent to corporations first, and not have their whereabouts tracked in ways that violate their privacy. Peskin calls it “the first time a city has endeavored to protect its constituents from the misuse and misappropriation of their personal, private information by outside corporations for profit,” and its effects could be sweeping, changing the rules around everything from rewards cards to Uber. Full details are here.
Proposition C: Additional Business Taxes to Fund Homeless Services
Nicknamed “Our City Our Home” and the “Robin Hood Measure,” this measure was put on the ballot with a whopping 28,000 signatures, which bodes well for its potential on the ballot. If passed, the measure would create a half-percent tax on any business in San Francisco that makes more than $50 million annually. With President Donald Trump slashing taxes for large corporations left and right, this is not going to hurt them much, but could double our $300 million annual homelessness budget, providing vital funds for housing subsidies, on-the-streets outreach, harm-reduction services, and the construction of new affordable homes. It’s hard to find any reason not to support this, and even area lobbyists were quickly debunked over claims that it would destroy the city’s middle class. Learn more about exactly what the measure would do here.
Proposition D: Cannabis Tax
The legalization of recreational cannabis has drastically changed how the business operates, and this November, voters wield a hefty amount of power over large industry players. A cannabis tax put forth by Supervisor Malia Cohen could — starting Jan. 1, 2012 — impose a tax ranging between 1 and 5 percent of gross receipts on recreational marijuana, depending on how much money a company makes. After hearing comments from the public, Cohen edited the measure to phase in the tax over three years, make the first $500,000 of gross receipts from sales exempt, and lower the tax overall. The measure hasn’t garnered support from cannabis business owners, who say the industry has become difficult to navigate with so much new red tape. But, with City Hall projecting that cannabis is the “next tech,” instituting a tax early isn’t necessarily a bad idea. More details on the tax breakdown are here.
Proposition E: Partial Allocation of Hotel Tax for Arts and Cultural Purposes
Called the “hotel tax” for short, Prop. E sounds complicated but is fairly straightforward. At the moment, San Francisco allocates money from its 14 percent tax on hotel rooms to our hefty General Fund, which is used to pay for such important social infrastructure necessities like the Department of Public Health or the Recreation and Parks Department. This measure would edit this rule slightly, to ensure that 1.5 percentage of the 14 percent tax would go to the arts, which was the original plan when the tax was created in 1961. It needs a two-thirds majority to pass in November, but as it’s not an addition to a tax, just a small reallocation, it’s hard to imagine why it wouldn’t get that. More details here.
With only five local ballot measures to research, you may be thinking that November 2018 will be a breeze. Not so fast — there are a whopping 12 California ballot measures ranging from the repeal of Costa-Hawkins to overturning Daylight Savings. Study up!
As a reminder, you can register to vote all the way up to Election Day on Nov. 6, 2018.