Along with the 17 statewide propositions, San Francisco voters will see 25 local measures on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. The San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council made recommendations for 23 of the 25. Following are the SFBCTC recommendations:
Prop A: San Francisco Unified School District Bond – YES
The San Francisco Unified School District’s proposed $744.25 million bond measure would fund the completion of seismic safety and modernization projects and new school construction. It builds on the bonds passed in 2003, 2006, and 2011 that have funded modernization of over 150 school sites. Funds will be used to continue to improve information technology systems, build new schools, support the development of a new Arts Center, maintain and expand the Green Schoolyards program, and explore methods for building or developing affordable housing for SFUSD teachers. Work done for the 2006 and 2011 bonds has been done under a project labor agreement. San Francisco Building Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Michal Theriault said the District is pleased with the work done under the PLA and is supportive of extending it. He noted that the Building Trades supported the earlier bonds that funded school modernization before PLAs were in place.
Prop B: City College of San Francisco Parcel Tax – YES
Prop B would increase the $79 parcel tax passed in 2012 to $99 per parcel, and extend it beyond the 2020 expiration date to 2031. By renewing the existing tax, Prop B would provide stable funding for the City Colleges that can’t be used for other purposes by the state. The tax revenue would offset State budget cuts and maintain essential courses at CCSF campuses. Passage of the parcel tax will help prevent layoffs and continue to prepare students for four-year universities and provide vocational training. Building Trades delegates agreed that the parcel tax is needed to fund programs and projects. The Building Trades have had a PLA with CCSF for several projects, one of which awaits construction. A two-thirds supermajority vote is required for approval.
Prop C: Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing – YES
Prop C amends a bond measure passed in 1992 that provided loans for seismic safety upgrades and retrofitting of non-reinforced concrete multi-unit residential properties. It expands the permitted use of the funds to include the acquisition, improvement and rehabilitation of “at-risk” multi-unit residential properties, and to convert such properties to permanent affordable housing, and to finance the cost of needed seismic, fire, health and safety upgrades or other major rehabilitation for habitability on such structures. The original bond set aside $150 million for affordable housing, of which $104 million remains to be loaned out. Prop C allows the City to create more affordable housing with existing loans in an inadequate housing market.
Prop D: Vacancy Appointments – NO
Prop H: Public Advocate – NO
Prop L: SFMTA Appointments and Budget – NO
Prop M: Housing and Development Commission – NO
Building Trades delegates voted to oppose Props D, H, L and M. Theriault said they are all efforts to undermine the mayor.
Prop D amends the Charter to require a special election when there is a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors unless a regularly scheduled election will be held within 180 days of the vacancy. It provides that the Mayor shall appoint an interim Supervisor, who would be ineligible to run for election, and requires the Mayor to fill vacancies in all local elective offices within 28 days of the vacancy. The measure would make it impossible for the Mayor to appoint a Supervisor who could serve more than an interim term and makes the interim Supervisor slot unappealing to the best candidates.
Prop H creates a new office of Public Advocate with authority to review the administration of City programs – including those for transmitting information to the public, and to receive, investigate and attempt to resolve complaints regarding services and programs. It would remove the mayor’s direct oversight of the city’s housing and economic development departments and reduce a mayor’s ability to manage city government.
Prop L would split the power to appoint SFMTA directors between the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors. Currently, the Mayor makes appointments subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors. It would also reduce the number of votes needed for the Board to reject an MTA budget from seven votes to six.
Prop M would create the Housing and Development Commission to oversee the newly proposed Department of Economic and Workforce Development, and the Department of Housing and Community Development, which would replace the current Mayor’s Office of Housing and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Both new departments would replace two offices currently under the Mayor and would require that the Board either name or approve all members of the commission.
Prop E: Responsibility for Maintaining Street Trees and Surrounding Sidewalks – YES
Prop E transfers responsibility for the maintenance of street trees from homeowners back to the City and establishes a tree maintenance fund, requiring the City to contribute $19 million annually, adjusted for changes in aggregate discretionary City revenues. The Board of Supervisors recognized that the City is best equipped to handle tree trimming and voted unanimously to put the measure on the ballot.
Prop F: Youth Voting in Local Elections – NO
Prop F lowers the voting age to 16 for municipal elections, including for Community College and Board of Education members.
Prop G: Police Oversight – YES
The Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC) only investigates police misconduct when there is a complaint. Sponsored by Supervisor Malia Cohen, Prop G renames the OCC as the Department of Police Accountability, gives it direct authority over its budget that now is overseen by the Police Commission, and requires the Department to perform an audit every two years of how the police has handled claims of misconduct and use of force.
Prop I: Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities – YES
This Charter amendment creates a $38 million fund set-aside for seniors and adults with disabilities, increasing to $44 million after the first year, then up to $62 million over the following nine years with annual adjustments over the next 10 years. While it taps into the General Fund and could impact funding for other services and public sector jobs, Building Trades delegates voted to support it.
Prop J: Funding for Homelessness and Transportation – YES
Prop J is another Charter amendment that establishes a Homeless Housing and Services Fund that would appropriate $12.5 million in fiscal year 2016-2017 and $50 million annually for the next 24 years, and a Transportation Improvement Fund with $24.5 million this fiscal year and $101.6 million for the next 24 years.
Prop K: General Sales Tax – YES
Prop K Increases local sales tax by .75 percent. The City Controller estimates it would generate $37.5 million in revenue in its first year and $155 million the next year.
Prop N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections – YES
Prop N would authorize voting-aged parents, caregivers and legal guardians who have children in SFUSD and who are not U.S. citizens to vote in Board of Education elections.
Supporters note that residents who pay taxes and whose children’s education is impacted by decisions made by school boards should have a say in who makes those decisions.
Prop O: Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point – YES
This initiative would exempt the Candlestick/Hunters Point project area from the 950,000 square feet of office space limit set by Prop. M in 1986. It would shorten development time and accelerate job creation in construction and businesses that would serve the project area under development by Lennar Corporation.
Prop P: Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Projects – NO
Prop U: Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Projects – NO
Building Trades delegates voted to oppose the two measures put on the ballot by the real estate industry, Props P and U. Michael Theriault said the three bid requirement could delay construction of affordable housing and Prop U does not add affordable housing and could make things worse.
Prop P requires the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH), which funds developments on City-owned property, to publish their solicitations and bids, to review at least three bids before granting a project. The new requirements would just delay building these desperately needed projects.
Prop U doubles the income limit for participation in a Below Market Rate lottery for rental units, from 55 percent Area Median Income to 110 percent AMI. By setting the income level higher than the median income Prop U expands BMR eligibility to the point where it no longer serves low income residents.
Prop Q: Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks – YES
Current law prohibits willful obstruction of sidewalks, including sitting or lying on sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. but does not explicitly prohibit placing tents on public sidewalks. Prop Q would require a permit for a tent to be placed on a sidewalk and allow for non-compliant tents to be confiscated. It requires the City to offer shelter to tent residents and provide 24-hour advance written notice. Proponents say it deals with issues of sanitation, security, crime prevention, and promoting tourism in a humane way.
Prop R: Neighborhood Crime Unit – YES
Prop R creates the Neighborhood Crime Unit in the SFPD once the Department is at full staffing as mandated by the Charter.
Prop S: Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds – NO
This measure would require the Board to allocate the money raised by the 8 percent hotel tax to the Arts Commission, other arts funding, the Moscone Center and a newly established Ending Family Homelessness Fund. It could reduce funding for other city programs.
Prop T: Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists; Lobbyist Contributions and Bundling – Neutral
Prop V: Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages – YES
Prop V creates a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, levied on distributors rather than at point of sale.
Prop W: Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million – YES
This measure would increase the real property transfer tax rate from 2 percent to 2.25 percent on properties valued at between $5 million and $10 million; from 2.5 percent to 2.75 percent on properties between $10M and $25M and from 2.5 percent to 3 percent on properties valued over $25M. The tax revenues would go to the General Fund.
Prop X: Preserving Space for Neighborhood Arts, Small Businesses and Community Services in Certain Neighborhoods – NEUTRAL
Prop RR: BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief – YES
Prop RR is a region-wide $3.5 billion bond measure placed on the ballot by BART Board of Directors. It would fund improvements to the BART system, including seismic safety upgrades, new control systems and infrastructure projects. The Building Trades and BART have a project labor agreement in place for the BART system projects.
Election 2016: Board of Supervisors Endorsements
The San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council has endorsed candidates for the Board of Supervisors who support building trades unions and issues. This Nov. 8, three Board members will be termed out, and three incumbents are running for re-election. The Building Trades Council has backed incumbents Aaron Peskin in District 3 and London Breed in District 5, and in District 7 endorsed incumbent Norman Yee as the number one choice and challenger Ben Matranga as ranked choice number 2. In District 1, where Eric Mar is termed out, Marjan Philhour and David Lee are ranked first or second and Sandra Lee Fewer ranked third. In District 9, Josh Arce is endorsed to succeed David Campos and in District 11, the Building Trades recommends Ahsha Safai to succeed John Avalos.
District 1 – Ranked Choice Nos. 1 or 2: David Lee or Marjan Philhour
Ranked Choice No. 3: Sandra Lee Fewer
David Lee is a Political Science instructor at San Francisco State University and Executive Director of a non-profit focused on registering voters and educating them about the political process. He worked to educate Asian American voters on their voting rights and organized hundreds of voter registration drives throughout the Bay Area. Lee was endorsed for Supervisor by the SFBCTC in 2012. Marjan Philhour is a small business owner and former Congressional Legislative Aide. Sandra Lee Fewer has served on the San Francisco Unified School District Board since 2008. All three candidates want to see more affordable housing built in the Richmond District, improved public safety and transportation infrastructure, and support for local businesses.
District 3 – Aaron Peskin
Supervisor Aaron Peskin was re-elected in District 3 last year, defeating appointed Supervisor Julie Christensen. Building Trades delegates voted in May to endorse Peskin for re-election after he attended the delegates meeting and answered questions. Peskin reminded delegates that many projects were approved and built when he was a Supervisor between 2001 and 2009, despite his reputation as an opponent of development. Peskin addressed the issue of increasing the requirements for inclusionary affordable housing: “Our job is to make sure the city remains affordable,” he said. “We are trying to build more affordable housing and find the ‘sweet spot,’ but it should be above 12 percent.” Peskin said the compromise reached on the Board to pass training legislation for Prop C on the June ballot was “an exercise in trust” and that he wants to build a strong relationship with the building trades unions. Peskin said he does support extending the Central Subway to Fisherman’s Wharf and only had issues with the extension in the past “because there was no public input.” He said he would absolutely oppose modular construction, that it takes away jobs and “shouldn’t be the way we solve the affordable housing crisis.” He said he has always been a proponent of project labor agreements, supported the PLA for the San Francisco airport, and would support a citywide PLA.
District 5 – London Breed
Supervisor London Breed was elected in 2012 with the backing of the Building Trades. She had served on the Redevelopment Commission, where she worked on the development of the Transbay Terminal Project and Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment. The Building Trades Council endorsed her earlier this year for re-election, based on her continued support for building trades unions. She spoke to delegates in January and answered questions. Breed is concerned about the high cost of housing and policies that push out the middle class. She said she wanted to change some affordable housing policies so that people earning more than 55 percent of the Area Median Income could qualify for affordable housing, “so middle class people who live here have priority.” Breed said she supports a city-wide PLA, and said she would look into the issue of requiring prevailing wages on all affordable housing construction. She said she appreciated the efforts of the building trades unions to bring more local residents into apprenticeship programs and construction careers.
District 7 – Norman Yee, No. 1 choice; Ben Matranga, No. 2
Norman Yee and Ben Matranga each spoke to building trades delegates at a May 5 meeting and answered questions. Yee won the endorsement as the first ranked choice and Matranga the second. Yee was elected in 2012 after serving on the San Francisco School Board. He reminded delegates that he voted for the project labor agreement for the 2006 bond-funded projects and said “my track record speaks for itself.” Yee supports a city-wide PLA. He said he would oppose modular construction of affordable housing because the units would not be built locally. Yee supported the measure that increased the percentage of inclusionary affordable housing and said he wants to see at least 15 percent affordable units in housing developments. He said his criteria for lowering the percentage would be based on, “how to get as much as possible without causing a developer to back out of the project.” Matranga also said he wants to see more affordable housing construction and a city-wide prevailing wage policy as well as enforcement of labor standards. He said he would oppose modular construction that is not built locally and that is substandard and not seismically safe. Matranga said he worked with entrepreneurs building major infrastructure projects in war-torn countries in Africa and Latin America. He said he wants to use that experience to benefit his hometown, and that he has respect for skilled workers.
District 9 – Joshua Arce
Joshua Arce is the Community Liaison for Laborers Union Local 261 and President of the San Francisco Commission on the Environment. He has been active in the community for 15 years. In 2005, Arce founded the civil rights and environmental justice nonprofit Brightline Defense and organized campaigns to shut down dirty power plants, to create solar incentive programs, and to provide much needed support for low-income tenants across San Francisco. With Brightline, he was an advocate for local hiring policies for construction. A graduate of the University of California Hastings College of the Law, he provides pro bono legal support to low-income San Francisco residents. His priorities include building more affordable housing, delivering higher wages for workers, improving environmental protections, working to improve safety and quality of living in San Francisco, and defending the rights of immigrant families. As a board member of the Mission Housing Development Corporation, he spearheaded the effort to build 165 units of affordable housing at 1950 Mission St. As a member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, he wrote and co-sponsored resolutions to promote sustainable communities through fair-wage union jobs, local hiring, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, and transit-oriented development, among others.
District 11 – Ahsha Safai
Ahsha Safai is the former Deputy Director for the Mayor’s Office of Community Development. He worked under mayors Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom with the San Francisco Housing Authority, the Mayor’s Office of Community Development, and the Department of Public Works. Safai ran for Supervisor in 2008. Since 2008, he has been the Political Director for the San Francisco Janitors Union (SEIU Local 87) and the head of a political consulting firm working with non-profit, community-based, and political organizations throughout the Bay Area. He holds a Master’s Degree in City Planning from MIT and a dual Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University in Political Science and African-American Studies. His priorities include creating more affordable housing options, keeping neighborhoods safe and clean, supporting local businesses, and revitalizing commercial corridors in the District. He is endorsed by several unions, including Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, Firefighters Local 798, IBEW Local 6, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 38, Sign & Display Local 510, Service Employees International Union Local 87, and Teamsters Locals 665, 856, 2010 and 2785.
Statewide Ballot Initiatives
There are 17 statewide initiatives on this November’s ballot covering an array of issues. Propositions 51 and 53 will have the greatest impact the on building trades.
YES on Proposition 51: State School Bond Measure Will Fund Upgrades and Improvements for K-12 Schools and Community Colleges
Proposition 51, the California Public Education Facilities Bond, will help fund much needed upgrades and improvements for K-12 schools and community colleges. The $9 billion bond measure is supported by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, California Labor Federation, and the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council as well as several unions and public officials.
“California has a multi-billion dollar backlog in school construction projects that have applied for and are waiting on state matching funds,” said Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. “This bond will help ease school over-crowding and bring hundreds of schools up to the state’s most basic health and safety requirements.”
The Office of Public School Construction estimated that California needs up to $16 billion to build and modernize new and existing schools, keep up with technological demands and manage anticipated rising student enrollment. In addition to the backlog of K-12 school district projects awaiting funding, there are nearly $500 million in high priority Community College projects awaiting state funding support. Prop 51 will provide for career technical education facilities to provide job training for many Californians and veterans who face challenges in completing their education and re-entering the workforce.
“For nearly two decades, California has built and modernized schools for students throughout the state through a successful partnership between the state, the development community, and local school districts,” said Augie Beltran, Director of Public and Governmental Relations for the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. “This program has been a great asset for California communities, creating jobs, and giving students access to well equipped schools.”
NO on Proposition 53: Measure will undermine local control and vital infrastructure projects
The California Building and Construction Trades Council and California Labor Federation oppose Proposition 53 and urge members to vote NO on the measure. Opponents point out that by requiring a statewide vote for some local infrastructure projects funded through bonds, the measure would add new layers of bureaucracy and red tape that will delay or derail needed improvements to critical infrastructure, including after emergencies and natural disasters. If passed, it will undermine local control of how infrastructure projects are funded and developed.
“Prop 53 would erode local communities’ ability to invest in critical infrastructure priorities by giving voters in faraway regions veto authority over projects they may never use and play no role in funding,” said Robbie Hunter, President of the California State Building and Construction Trades Council. “It’s a classic badly drafted proposition with the potential for massive unintended consequences, none of them good.”
Prop 53 is opposed by a broad coalition of organizations including the California Professional Firefighters, California Chamber of Commerce, firefighters, paramedics, family farmers, environmentalists, law enforcement, and local governments.
Supervisor Scott Wiener Endorsed for Election to the State Senate
The San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council has endorsed Supervisor Scott Wiener for State Senate in the November 8 General Election. Wiener was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2010, and re-elected in 2014. He faces fellow Democrat and Supervisor Jane Kim.
Earlier this year, San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Michael Theriault said, “Supervisor Weiner has made an honest effort to look at the City’s problems and try to solve them in a way that goes beyond politics. It is important to honor that. He has tried to put forth pragmatic solutions to the housing crisis – like addressing the issue of secondary housing units, which has been a third rail in San Francisco politics, but is an important way to retain the middle class in the city. He is always looking for pragmatic solutions.”