A participant holds a ballot at a rally to recall San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin at Portsmouth Square on Friday, May 28, 2021 in San Francisco, Calif. | Paul Kuroda for The Standard
Next week’s primary election is the third heat in our quadrathlon election year, and it’s going to be one of the bigger ones with contests for a wide range of state and federal offices, plus San Francisco City Attorney. (Recently appointed incumbent David Chiu is running unopposed.)
SF voters also face eight local ballot measures: a bond, two charter amendments, four ordinances and a recall. All pose significant policy choices, some more complicated than others. Apart from the District Attorney recall, which comes to voters by petition, all of these measures landed on the ballot by a majority of the Board of Supervisors.
$400 Million for Getting Around: The Bond Measure
Proposition A would drum up $400 Million to repair and upgrade Muni’s transit system and improve street safety and traffic signals.
It would change requirements for commission membership to better represent more stakeholders, and move the power to appoint the DBI director from the commission to the mayor, among other changes.
The measure is supported by SPUR, as well as political clubs on both sides of the city’s political divide, such as the Alice B. Toklas and Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Clubs. The San Francisco Republican Party opposes, and some groups like the SF Chamber of Commerce have opted not to take a position.
Proposition C adds time restraints on petitions to recall elected officials, shrinking the available window to eight-and-a-half months in the second year of office. Additionally, any appointed replacement for a recalled official would be barred from running for election.
When first pitched by Supervisor Aaron Peskin late last year, before getting whittled down to its current form, this measure included many more clauses aimed mainly at removing the power to appoint replacements for empty elected offices from the mayor to the Board of Supervisors.
Predictably, the positions of many organizations on this measure parallels with their stand on the recent school board recall, or the coming recall of the District Attorney (see below).Leaders of the recent Board of Education recall have reorganized as “SF Guardians” to fight the measure. It’s also opposed by the Chinese American Democratic Club and the Eastern Neighborhoods Democratic Club, and supported by the SF Democratic Party and the Milk Club.
A New Crime Agency, Fundraising Rules, Garbage Rates, Sick Leave: The Ordinances
This measure is supported by a number of groups, including the SF Democratic Party.
The Milk Club is opposed, possibly reflecting politics of the District Attorney recall. The measure’s primary sponsor, Supervisor Catherine Stefani, has been rumored to be a replacement should voters oust Chesa Boudin.
Proposition E is meant to crack down on corruption by tightening rules for when publicofficials solicit donations for a preferred charity.
The Board of Supervisorsrecently passed a ban on so-called “behested payments” by most public officials from city contractors. This measure, written by the Ethics Commission, would expand the ban to the supervisors.
Future amendments would require supermajority approval by the Board of Supes and the Ethics Commission.
Support for this item is roughly split among endorsing groups, reflecting perceived negative impacts on nonprofits. SPUR opposes, arguing that “the measure would make changing the law in the future unreasonably difficult.” Meanwhile, Kopp—another influencer on good-government issues and a former Ethics Commissioner—supports the proposal.
Proposition F would change how the city regulates trash-hauling costs. It would reorganize the Refuse Rate Board and move responsibility for monitoring and proposing rates from the Director of Public Works to the Controller. Future changes to this law could be enacted by the Board of Supervisors.
There was a more aggressive option sponsored by some supervisors to open up the process to competitive bidding, but that was tabled in exchange for Recology dropping a competing measure.
So far, Prop. F has garnered no influential opposition.
Proposition G would essentially make permanent an emergency ordinance adopted during the height of Covid which requires larger private employers to provide two weeks of paid public health emergency leave. Companies with less than 100 workers are exempt.
Part of the rationale for this measure is that climate change will make future pandemics, as well as poor air quality caused by wildfires, more frequent.
SPUR opposes the measure, arguing it “could place a significant financial burden on small businesses with a large employee base, such as restaurants.” The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce also opposes the measure. Most partisan endorsing groups such as the SF Democratic Party support the measure.
DA Recall: The Main Event
Proposition H would oust District Attorney Chesa Boudin, allowing Mayor London Breed to appoint his replacement.
Boudin, a former public defender, was elected in 2019 on a wave of public concern over police and prosecutorial abuse and bias. Since then, he has faced significant political opposition from law enforcement.