Ballots in the midterm elections will be cast this Tuesday (November 6th) and amongst the haze of federal, local, and state issues, San Francisco will be voting on Proposition C.
First of all, get off your ass and vote. It’s easy. Most of life is just about showing up, and if you show up tomorrow, you get a sticker.
Second of all, whatever you do, vote NO on Proposition C.
TL;DR scroll down to see how you should vote.
Homelessness in SF is appalling and abhorrent. Human feces and needles litter the streets. Misery is everywhere. I know, because I live downtown San Francisco.
Prop. C purports to address homelessness by levying a gross receipts tax of half a percent on all corporate revenue above $50 million dollars (for SF companies). This would add another $300 million dollars to the approximately $350 million dollars per year San Francisco already spends on homeless programs.
Keep in mind that since 2015, we’ve more than doubled our budget to address homelessness, with zero discernible results. I wrote about it at length (shameless self-promotion).
I want to address the problem as much as anyone, but are we just supposed to add $300 million dollars to the current budget when we can’t tell how or why the current policies are failing, or where the money is being spent?
I often hear that the majority of the money is spent on housing the chronically ill who would otherwise be homeless. OK — but rent for subsidized city housing didn’t double in the last 3 or 4 years, we can agree on that, right?
I looked through https://www.ourcityourhomesf.org/ and was surprised at the lack of any concrete plan of action, and I quote:
The funding in Prop C will allow the city to acquire property and construct new housing as opportunities avail themselves, whether that be closed gas stations, empty lots or tear downs. New government property that becomes available will also be ideal. Vacant or potential development sites have been identified by San Francisco, and there are about 300 sites to choose from, while others are yet to be discovered.
The housing component of Prop C is based on the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing’s strategic framework. The Department has done a lot of work in identifying sites, looking at data driven outcomes, and modeling successful interventions.
Does that sound like a concrete plan?
OK — But it’s complicated. How much research have you done? You can’t put all the details on the ballot guide, have you read the full text?
You are right. That’s a fair point. I didn’t expect to find all the fine print on https://www.ourcityourhomesf.org/ or the ballot guide. I’ve briefly skimmed the full text. There is a lot I don’t like. For example, how the allocated fund percentages are locked in for specific programs. What if in some years things change? But that’s not the point.
It’s not my job to read the full text of the proposition. I didn’t run for mayor. I have a day job and I try to make it in the office by noon, all while not getting sawed in half on BART.
Which brings me to my next point. Let me be clear on this. I am not against raising taxes. London Breed (who I voted for) and the SF Board of Supervisors have all the power they need to place their own proposition on the ballot. They are elected to govern. And if that’s what they feel is needed, then they should do just that! After all, who do you think will be responsible for implementing Prop. C if it passes? The fairly new Department of Homelessness works at the mayor’s behest.
Ballot propositions (that are backed by outside interests) should be measures of last result. All they do is allow our government to exercise plausible deniability when they fail.
London Breed is against it!
Let’s pause on that for a moment….The mayor, whose government would be responsible for implementing Prop. C if it passes, does not want it to pass.
In her October 5th statement opposing Prop. C she explains that it lacks accountability because:
Proposition C does not audit the [300+ million dollars] the City already spends. It does not include a detailed spending plan for the $300M in taxes it seeks to add.
And could actually make the homeless problem worse because it:
Dramatically increasing our homelessness spending without working with neighboring counties…[which] could put us in the untenable and expensive position of funding services for residents from other counties.
Scott Wiener is against it!
My boy, State Senator Scott Weiner, who has authored and co-authored more bills to fight homelessness (for example: SB 1045, which strengthens conservatorship laws so that severely mentally ill and addicted San Franciscans can receive the care they need) than any politician I know, is against it.
In his October 5th statement he joined London Breed in opposing Prop. C, explaining that it was hard for him to oppose a measure target towards the homeless — but:
Prop. C was placed on the ballot by outside groups without any meaningful stakeholder engagement or any public process, for example, without the participation of our Mayor or the leadership of the Board of Supervisors.
[W]hen people are proposing the largest tax increase in the history of our city, one would expect them to convene a stakeholder process to discuss the size, source, and uses for the tax. That did not happen. One would expect them to engage with our Mayor. That didn’t happen either. If Prop C passes, tax policy will have effectively moved out of City Hall and into the hands of outside groups.
This alone should make you question whether Prop. C is an appropriate measure for the ballot, even if you strongly believe that more investment is needed to address homelessness in San Francisco.
Gavin Newsom: SF won’t solve homelessness with more money alone!
Gavin Newsom, who as of late has no solutions to the State’s most compelling problems, but will most certainly become our next Governor come this Tuesday, is against it.
In a rare moment of clarity Newsom explained that boosting the amount of money San Francisco spends on homeless programs by hundreds of millions of dollars may just exacerbate the problem:
Put another $400 million in the homeless problem and I promise you this: Your problem is going to get a lot worse.
In fairness Newsom has not proposed a particularly convincing regional plan to tackle homelessness, or even read the full text of Prop. C.
What about Marc Benioff?
What began as the now famous Twitter spat between tech moguls Marc Benioff (founder and CEO of Salesforce) and Jack Dorsey (founder and CEO of Twitter and Square) has turned into a full-blown campaign to get Prop. C passed.
After jumping into the fray just a month ago, Benioff has spent his own money advocating for Prop. C, published a passionate New York Times Op-ed explaining that the richest businesses in San Francisco can afford the tax and have a responsibility to the communities in which they operate, and even tried to convince the SF Chronicle to withdraw its opposition of Prop. C.
Benioff’s philanthropy and activism are well known. I don’t doubt his motives. I read his NYT opinion piece carefully, and sifted through his other commentaries on the topic.
Again — what’s missing in Benioff’s commentaries is any resemblances of a concrete plan that would make me think the money from Prop. C would be used wisely and someone would be held accountable if it failed.
Would Marc Benioff invest $300 million dollars in a startup whose plan included “acquir[ing] property and construct[ing] new housing as opportunities avail themselves”?
Benioff wields enormous political, financial, and corporate power. Perhaps he should add a new endeavor to his plate and start a non-profit which can tackle San Francisco’s homelessness problem head on. An endeavor which he would be responsible for.
After all, when Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway), Jamie Dimon (J.P. Morgan), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) didn’t like the state of healthcare for their employees, they announced that they will form their own company “free from profit-making incentives and constraints” to address the problem.
P.S. If I ever interview for Salesforce — I didn’t write any of this — my online personality has different opinions than my real life self, who works in tech, and thinks the appearance of the Eye of Sauron on the Salesforce tower this Halloween was amazeballs!
Alright, fine, how should I vote on other propositions (selected measures)?
First, read Michael Levinson’s Why I vote “no” on (almost) all California ballot propositions, even if I agree with them. It should be required reading before casting a ballot in CA.
SF — Proposition A (SF Seawall Safety Bond): vote Yes. Needs two-thirds majority to pass.
I am a bit reluctant, but city leaders seem to be onboard, and a bond is a good way to pay for this. SF Chronicle and YIMBY support this. Keep in mind more money will be needed, this is more like a down payment.
SF-Proposition B (Personal-Data-Protection protocols that companies will be required to follow): vote NO!
This is insane! If you want GDPR go to Europe. Kthnxbye.
SF-Proposition C: vote NO!
Scroll up and read what I wrote.
SF-Proposition D (More taxes on cannabis): vote No.
Taxing marijuana is a good way to collect tax revenue. But it is already taxed. We don’t need it to tax it more.
SF-Proposition E (Distribute up to 1.5% of the current base hotel tax for arts and cultural purposes): vote No.
I am generally against locking in taxes for specific purposes. Also, despite my appreciation for the arts, we have more pressing issues to solve. Money has to come from somewhere, and hopefully it won’t come from Prop. C.
CA-Proposition 1 (Bonds to fund housing programs for low income, residents, veterans, etc): vote Yes.
Reluctantly! Unless I change my mind by tomorrow. I am hesitant to vote for new funding of any kind to build specialized housing, unless we have a comprehensive plan to address the housing deficit in California.
CA-Proposition 2 (Bonds to fund existing housing programs for individuals with mental illness): vote Yes.
The key here is that it doesn’t create new bonds. This proposition uses revenue already raised. It would authorize $2 billion in bonds from the Mental Health Services Act (as Prop. 63 is known) to build supportive housing for people with severe mental illness who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
CA-Proposition 3 (An $8.9 billion bond to pay for dam repairs, restoration of watersheds, desalination plants, etc.): vote No.
Just this June we approved Prop. 68 — a $4 billion dollar bond to address these issues. Proposition 3 is being spearheaded by special interests. It’s just an end run around the legislative process.
CA-Proposition 4 (A $1.5 billion bond measure to fund expansion and renovation projects at qualifying hospitals which treat children’s diseases): I don’t know.
This sounds good. It really does. But authorizing construction grants for specific hospitals seems wrong. Anyone know more about this than I do?
CA-Proposition 5 (Lets homeowners 55 and older and all disabled homeowners move anywhere in California and keep their property taxes): vote NO!
This is an egregious proposition. It’s a constitutional amendment that panders to realtors and senior citizens that basically allows homeowners 55 and older (who pay next to no property tax by today’s standards) to upsize and keep their current property taxes.
This further entrenches Proposition 13 — a horrid piece of legislation and one of the major contributors to the current housing crisis.
CA-Proposition 6 (Repeals the recently enacted increase in the state gas tax and an increase in the vehicle license fee, proceeds of which are earmarked for road, bridge and public transit improvements): vote No.
Last year, California lawmakers approved SB1, a badly needed gas tax increase of 12 cents per gallon (diesel would see an increase of 20 cents per gallon). California hadn’t raised the gas tax since 1990.
Good. That’s how I want our government to function. Not via ballot initiatives, but by passing laws.
What is this? I am certainly not going to repeal it via a ballot proposition a year later. Hopefully some potholes on 101 will get fixed.
CA-Proposition 7 (Asks the Legislature to take action to put California on year-round daylight saving time): vote Yes!
Let’s move the clock back an hour so it gets dark at 4:30pm said NO-ONE EVER.
CA-Proposition 8 (Sets maximums for charges at kidney dialysis clinics. It would limit a clinic’s revenue to 115 percent of the cost of dialysis in the state, plus any health care improvement costs): vote NO!
Price fixing via a ballot proposition? This is very, very dangerous. Whether or not we should have a single payer healthcare system is a topic for another glorious medium post. But today we don’t have a single payer system. We can’t just tell private businesses how to run.
Unintended consequences galore (like the clinics closing down).
Also impossible to understand. My doctor friends don’t understand either. Also doesn’t insurance pay for dialysis?
Upon doing more research, this is completely inappropriate for a ballot proposition. The measure was brought by a labor union that wants to organize the state’s two largest dialysis businesses, whose workers haven’t voted to unionize.
CA-Proposition 10 (Prop 10 repeals Costa-Hawkins and lets cities and counties enact more restrictive forms of rent control): vote NO!!!!!
Rent control is another major reason for today’s housing crisis. It is a terrible idea in the long term, and one of the worst ways to regulate housing.
Understand that the way we implement rent control is not merit based. I know dozens of people living in rent controlled apartments, paying 1/3 the market rate, while earning a 6 figure income.
And if you are thinking: Ok, but something must be done now to help teachers, and seniors, and single parent families. Why don’t you ask yourself who can afford to live in a market rate apartment in the Bay Area today? And then imagine those millennials paying the same rent 15 years from now as they sip their lattes in Google and Facebook cafeterias.
CA-Proposition 11 (Allows private ambulance providers to require that employees be on call during paid breaks): vote No!
There is some good in this proposition. Like providing for mental health benefits for emergency medical technicians and paramedics and various kinds of more training.
But on balance don’t be suckered into voting yes because you’ve seen one too many deceptive TV ads for this proposition. It’s not at all clear that there is a problem in the first place.
Here is the skinny: the funder of Prop. 11 is American Medical Response, an ambulance company involved in a labor-related lawsuit. If Prop. 11 passes the lawsuit will be moot.
This stems from a recent state Supreme Court ruling that said private security guards are subject to state labor rules and thus could be unreachable during breaks.
Now American Medical Response and other ambulance companies want this proposition to pass because they are worried that this legal precedent could extend to them.
Keep in mind that US Department of Health mandates that ambulance services reach 75% of life-threatening calls within eight minutes. So basically, it’s up to them to account for the fact that some EMTs may be on break.
This doesn’t seem to be a public safety issue.
CA-Proposition 12 (Requires egg-laying hens to be cage-free by the end of 2021. Calves raised for veal and breeding pigs would have to be given a minimum amount of space): vote No!
Needs two-thirds majority to pass.
Didn’t we already vote for this in 2008? I am confused, when confused vote No.