September 18, 2008

San Francisco Voter Propositions for November ’08

By Greg M. Schwartz, Newsdesk.org/The Public Press

Editor’s Note
This overview of the twenty-two propositions on San Francisco’s Nov. 4 ballot includes regularly updated contextual links, as well as reader comments.

Truthiness Update
San Francisco Election Ad Annotations
Prop D: Eyeing a Revitalized Pier 70 (Nov. 3)
Prop. V and JROTC: Lessons in How Not to Listen (Oct. 31)
Prop. A: The Specter of a City Without a Lifeline (Oct. 31)
Prop M: The Latest Battle in San Francisco’s Rent Wars (Oct. 28)
Prop L: Political Maneuvering on Community Justice Center (Oct. 28)
Prop. B: ‘Chump Change’ or ‘Massive Budget Hole’? (Oct. 24)
Props. N&Q: Brass Tax on Businesses, Property (Oct. 22)
Prop. K: Untested Theories Drive Prostitution Debate (Oct. 20)
Prop. H: A clean-energy measure pushes public power (Oct. 16)

Ask an Expert
Tune in to Crosscurrents on KALW 91.7 FM at 5:00 p.m., Oct. 28, for a live call-in show about the ballot.


Click on a proposition title for more detaill.

* truthiness coverage

Official ballot resources and third-party coverage
A*: SF General Hospital and Trauma Center Earthquake Safety Bond
B*: Establishing of Affordable Housing Fund (Charter Amendment)
C: Prohibiting City Employees from Serving on Charter Boards and Commissions
D*: Financing Pier 70 Waterfront District Development Plan Upon Board of Supervisors’ Approval
E: Changing the Number of Signatures Required to Recall City Officials
F: Holding All Scheduled City Elections Only in Even-Numbered Years
G: Allowing Retirement System Credit for Unpaid Parental Leave
H*: Setting Clean Energy Deadlines; Studying Options for Providing Energy; Changing Revenue Bond Authority to Pay for Public Utility Facilities
I: Creating the Office of an Independent Rate Payer Advocate
J: Creating a Historic Preservation Commission
K*: Changing the Enforcement of Laws Related to Prostitution and Sex Workers
L*: Funding the Community Justice Center
M*: Changing the Residential Rent Ordinance to Prohibit Specific Acts of Harassment of Tenants by Landlords
( N: Changing Real Property Transfer Tax Rates
O: Replacing the Emergency Response Fee With an Access Line Tax and Revising the Telephone User Tax
P: Changing the Composition of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board
Q*: Modifying the Payroll Expense Tax
R: Renaming the Oceanside Water Treatment Plant
S: Policy Regarding Budget Set-Asides and Identification of Replacement Funds
T: Free and Low-Cost Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
U: Policy Against Funding the Deployment of Armed Forces in Iraq
V*: Policy Against Terminating Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Programs in Public High Schools



A: SF General Hospital and Trauma Center Earthquake Safety Bond

Truthiness: “Prop. A: The Specter of a City Without a Lifeline” (10/31)

State law requires that all acute-care hospitals meet the highest seismic safety standards or face closure in 2013. If passed, Proposition A would rebuild San Francisco General Hospital through an $887 million general obligation bond, with construction running from 2010 to 2015. Proponents argue that this is the safest, most cost-efficient way to comply with state law — but opponents argue that the proposal is badly planned, doesn’t add enough new beds and needs more financial scrutiny. They also note that property owners will be annually taxed $59 for every $100,000 of property assessments over the next 23 years, and that a 50 percent pass-through clause could lead to renters facing $100 to $300 rent increases.

For more information:

Text of Proposition A

Yes on A

San Francisco Department of Public Health: “Why rebuild”

“S.F. General Hospital’s life on line,” San Francisco Business Journal, Sept. 8, 2008

“Prop. A would pay to build new S.F. hospital,” San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 6, 2008



B: Establishing of Affordable Housing Fund (Charter Amendment)

Truthiness: “Proposition B: ‘Chump Change’ or ‘Massive Budget Hole’?” (10/16)

Mandates a regular source of funding for building, maintaining and promoting new and existing housing developments priced for lower-income renters and some would-be homeowners, derived from a 2.5 cent set-aside for each local property tax dollar. The measure mandates tenant diversity, support of low-income residence construction, and a “baseline” city budget for housing and related services that could not be cut, estimated at $88 million by B’s main proponent, Supervisor Chris Daly. Programs also include housing for people with HIV and homeless youth, and repairs to Housing Authority property. Proponents say the city is losing diversity, with many San Francisco families unable to afford housing, and that Proposition B would enable some low-income residents to stay. Opponents say Proposition B would constrain the budget and hinder the city’s ability to respond to emerging critical needs, and that mandating $2.7 billion for affordable housing over the next 15 years would lead to lost jobs and cuts in vital city services.

For more information:

Text of Proposition B

Supervisor Chris Daly

San Francisco Housing Justice Coalition



C: Prohibiting City Employees from Serving on Charter Boards and Commissions

Eliminates potential conflict-of-interest issues by banning city employees from serving city-sponsored charter boards and commissions. Proponents argue that good government requires these votes to be as objective as possible. Opponents argue the measure overreaches. For example, forbidding a San Francisco firefighter from serving on the Environment Commission might not necessarily improve city government.

For more information:

Text of Proposition C



D: Financing Pier 70 Waterfront District Development Plan Upon Board of Supervisors’ Approval

Truthiness: “Prop D: Eyeing a Revitalized Pier 70” (10/16)

This measure will promote public improvements for Pier 70 — located on the eastern side of the city near Illinois and 22nd streets — including waterfront parks, environmental remediation, historic rehabilitation of pier buildings, solar panels, rainwater recycling and maritime terminals. The improvements will be paid for by existing city revenues and offset by future tax receipts generated by development of the pier. Proponents say the popularity of the waterfront from Fishermans Wharf to the San Francisco Giants baseball stadium could extend all the way to the Bayview district. Also, some of the pier structures, such as the Union Iron Works Building, are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places with proper rehabilitation.

For more information:

Text of Proposition D

“Prop. D could put life into historic Pier 70,” San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 14, 2008



E: Changing the Number of Signatures Required to Recall City Officials

Currently, recall of city officials can be placed on the ballot with the signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters in a jurisdiction. Proposition E would change this to match the state formula, which relies on the population of each jurisdiction to determine the number of signatures needed. For example, under the state system, districts of 50,000 voters or less require 15 percent to 30 percent of registered voters to put a recall on the ballot. Proponents contend that the current city requirement of 10 percent is too low and encourages abuse of the system by what they describe as small special-interest groups motivated by mere policy disagreements. Opponents say raising the recall threshold is unnecessary because the current law is adequate, and that all three recall attempts of the past eight years have failed.

For more information:

Text of Proposition E



F: Holding All Scheduled City Elections Only in Even-Numbered Years

This measure proposes to hold city elections only in even-numbered years, to combat voter fatigue. Proponents say that over the past 40 years, only 40 percent of registered voters have participated in municipal elections in odd-numbered years, compared with 70 percent in presidential elections. Combining elections, they say, would ensure a larger turnout and a more diverse body of voters, and would also save the city more than $3 million every two years. Opponents argue that local issues get less attention when mixed with huge federal elections; that mayoral candidate forums would be fewer and less well attended; and that grassroots campaigns would suffer as local candidates fought for media coverage amid presidential and state contests.

For more information:

Text of Proposition F

“Should San Francisco Abolish Elections in Odd-Numbered Years?” BeyondChron.com, June 28, 2007



G: Allowing Retirement System Credit for Unpaid Parental Leave

The city’s charter was amended in 2003 to provide paid parental leave for city employees — but those who went on leave before the amendment’s passage were ineligible to earn retirement credits for unpaid time off. Proposition G would give these employees the opportunity to buy back unpaid parental leave time and earn retirement credits for that period. Proponents argue that the measure has no cost to taxpayers. What’s more, they say, since city employees who go on military leave are allowed to purchase time back toward retirement, it’s only fair and equitable that pregnant women have the same chance. Opponents say that it’s inappropriate to provide retroactive pension entitlements that did not exist before passage of improved parental leave benefits. They also say that the city retirement board cannot guarantee that Proposition G will not cost the taxpayers money over the long term.

For more information:

Text of Proposition G



H: Setting Clean Energy Deadlines; Studying Options for Providing Energy; Changing Revenue Bond Authority to Pay for Public Utility Facilities

Truthiness: “Prop. H: Energy Measure Spurs Conflicting Claims” (10/16)

Proposition H mandates that the city switch to 100 percent clean, renewable and sustainable electricity by 2040. The measure empowers the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to study the best way to achieve this at a reasonable price, and would authorize the city purchase of PG&E facilities through bonds issued by the Board of Supervisors that would be repaid through consumer electric bills.

Proponents contend that Proposition H itself won’t cost the city a penny, but would create green-energy jobs, and that publicly owned utilities across the state are more accountable and produce cheaper electricity. Opponents argue that Prop H would give supervisors a “blank check” to issue billions of dollars in revenue bonds to take over utilities without a popular vote. Opponents also say the city controller’s report shows the plan could cost billions; that a takeover of just the city electric utility could cost taxpayers nearly $20 million in lost taxes and fees; and that advocates exempt themselves from enforceable state renewable-energy standards and define “renewable” as excluding nuclear power.

For more information:

Text of Proposition H

“S.F. girds for its biggest public power fight yet,” San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 2, 2008

No on H campaign

“PG&E’s blank check:Who is the utility buying off? Start with Newsom, Feinstein, and Willie Brown,” San Francisco Bay Guardian, Aug. 27, 2008



I: Creating the Office of an Independent Rate Payer Advocate

The Public Utilities Commission is the city’s largest and wealthiest commission, overseeing an annual budget of $677 million and a 10-year capital plan program of more than $7 billion. Proposition I creates an office of the Independent Ratepayer Advocate to work for the lowest utility rates possible for consumers. To insulate the position from political influence, the job would be filled by the city administrator, not an elected official. Proponents say that an advocate would help ensure that costs are shared fairly among all and guarantee a voice for consumers. Prop H opponents such as Supervisors Alioto-Pier, Chu and Elsbernd have signed the ballot argument for Prop I.

For more information:

Text of Proposition I



J: Creating a Historic Preservation Commission

This proposition would follow New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia by giving more authority to a local historic preservation commission. It would streamline the review process for changes to historic buildings and help prevent demolition of landmark buildings and neighborhood characteristics. Proponents say that the city’s current preservation apparatus is outdated and must be reformed, and that saving historic buildings would help the city meet environmental goals by preventing demolition debris from winding up in state landfills.

For more information:

Text of Proposition J



K: Changing the Enforcement of Laws Related to Prostitution and Sex Workers

Truthiness: “Proposition K: Untested Theories Drive Prostitution Debate” (10/22)

Proposition K would prohibit the police department from using resources to investigate and prosecute prostitution, and require the police and district attorney to enforce existing laws that prohibit coercion, extortion, battery, rape or sexual assault against prostitutes. Proposition K would further prohibit the city from funding or supporting its First Offender Prostitution Program, which provides education and diversion programs to get women and their clients out of the business. Proponents argue that Proposition K would enable sex workers and their clients to work more effectively with authorities to report and prevent human trafficking or other abuses. Opponents argue that the measure will empower pimps and human traffickers to exploit their victims without repercussions. They say Proposition K is bad policy because it is decriminalization without any accompanying regulation.

For more information:

Text of Proposition K

Yes on K

No on K: Committee Against Trafficking & Sexual Exploitation

“Should Prostitution Be Legalized? The pros and cons of decriminalization and legalization,” Alternet, July 30, 2008



L: Funding the Community Justice Center

Truthiness: “Prop L: Political Maneuvering on Community Justice Center” (10/28)

This measure authorizes funding for the creation of a San Francisco Community Justice Center in collaboration with the City’s Superior Court. The center would hear misdemeanors, nonviolent felonies and other suitable cases in the Tenderloin, SoMa, Civic Center and Union Square neighborhoods, where more than one-quarter of all crimes in the city occur. Proponents say the center would be a collaborative, problem-solving service center with a court on site, enabling misdemeanor and nonviolent felony defendants to choose treatment instead of incarceration. A judge would work with social services staff to create individual treatment plans for defendants. Opponents, including six supervisors, say the center has already been funded by the Board of Supervisors and that Proposition L is therefore a wasteful and unnecessary gimmick. Proponents counter that it would ensure the continued existence of the initiative despite a preference by some supervisors to terminate the project.

For more information:

Text of Proposition L

Community Justice Court Coalition – Yes on L



M: Changing the Residential Rent Ordinance to Prohibit Specific Acts of Harassment of Tenants by Landlords

Truthiness: “Proposition M: The Latest Battle in San Francisco’s Rent Wars” (10/30)

This proposition would add a section to the city’s rent-control law to prevent landlords who want to raise rents from pressuring tenants to leave. It would offer tenants a rent reduction when victimized by harassment, as well as attorney fees to fight bogus eviction attempts. Proponents contend that landlord harassment has become epidemic in the city because there is no local law prohibiting it. Opponents argue that Proposition M should be called the “Full Employment Act for Greedy Lawyers,” saying that state and local law already protects tenants. Opponents also say that the proposition would violate the First Amendment.

For more information:

Text of Proposition M

San Francisco Tenants Union — Yes on Prop M campaign



N: Changing Real Property Transfer Tax Rates

Truthiness: “Brass Tax: Propositions N & Q Levy Businesses, Property” (10/22)

Proposition N would close a tax-code loophole that, critics say, allows some corporations to avoid paying their share of real-estate transfer taxes. It would raise that tax on any properties sold for $5 million or more. Proponents say that this loophole is causing the city to lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue, and that their proposition also contains tax incentives for property owners to make solar and seismic improvements. Opponents say that taxing more for property sales would discourage economic activity and hurt the city’s economy.

For more information:

Text of Proposition N



O: Replacing the Emergency Response Fee With an Access Line Tax and Revising the Telephone User Tax

This measure would fund 911 phone services by repealing the Emergency Response Fee and replacing it with an Access Line Tax. Proponents say a recent court ruling jeopardizes the funding source for the city’s 911 call services and that it must be replaced with this tax. Opponents contend that there is no limitation on future tax increases, and that a provision in Proposition O would allow the city to tax Internet-based telephone services.

For more information:

Text of Proposition O



P: Changing the Composition of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board

This proposition would require agencies and departments of the city to perform some County Transportation Authority staff functions, bring in “expert” financial review and require the county to adopt the city’s ethics and public records laws. Proponents say doing so would increase efficiency and accountability — but opponents argue that the proposition is a takeover of the Transportation Authority that eliminates voter-mandated checks and balances, hands over control of billions of dollars to political appointees, and would let Muni spend more freely, leading to cost overruns.

For more information:

Text of Proposition P



Q: Modifying the Payroll Expense Tax

Truthiness: “Brass Tax: Propositions N & Q Levy Businesses, Property” (10/22)

Proposition Q increases the number of small businesses exempt from local payroll taxes by raising the total payroll threshold from $166,000 per year to $250,000. It also closes what critics call a loophole for large downtown firms that they say costs the city up to $19 million each year. Proponents say the measure would help more than 1,600 firms to stay in business and earn the city new revenue by closing the loophole. Many proponents of Prop N also support Prop Q. There are no known opponent arguments.

For more information:

Text of Proposition Q



R: Renaming the Oceanside Water Treatment Plant

Proposition R would change the name of the Oceanside Water Treatment Plant to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. Proponents claim that the world’s first presidential sewage plant would increase tourist traffic in southwest San Francisco and create opportunities to educate the public about the good work and talent of the facility’s staff. Opponents say that such name-calling is primitive and would disrespect America’s armed forces, because it disrespects the commander in chief.

For more information:

Text of Proposition R

Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco blog



S: Policy Regarding Budget Set-Asides and Identification of Replacement Funds

This measure would ban future budget set-asides that have no identified funding source. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom says it’s a commonsense reform for fiscal responsibility to ensure that voters know how their decisions will affect other programs or increase their tax burdens. No opposing argument was filed.

For more information:

Text of Proposition S



T: Free and Low-Cost Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

Proposition T would offer substance abuse treatment programs on demand. Proponents say medical studies indicate that every dollar spent on treatment saves $7 to $13 in public costs and that Proposition T would make the city a better place to live. The SF Chamber of Commerce opposes, saying that T prohibits the reduction of funding, staffing or the number of substance-abuse treatment slots so long as there is excess demand for the slots. No funding source is identified for the additional cost of the program.

For more information:

Text of Proposition T



U: Policy Against Funding the Deployment of Armed Forces in Iraq

Proposition U is a nonbinding resolution urging the city’s elected representatives in Congress to vote against any further funding for deployment of armed forces in Iraq, except for funds specifically earmarked to provide for the safe and orderly withdrawal of troops. Proponents say that in a democracy, citizens are must be able to change policies they oppose. They say federal spending on the war in Iraq has cost California $68 billion and San Francisco $1.8 billion. Opponents argue that such a nonbinding declaration of policy is merely symbolic and therefore a futile, time-wasting and costly attempt to influence national policy.

For more information:

Text of Proposition U

Yes on Proposition U

“Proposition U: Moral narcissism by city progs,” District 5 Diary blog



V: Policy Against Terminating Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Programs in Public High Schools

Truthiness: “Proposition V and JROTC: Lessons in How Not to Listen” (10/31)

This is a nonbinding resolution in support of JROTC programs in the city’s public high schools, which are set to be phased out by June 2009. Proponents say the measure supports giving students and their families the choice to participate in JROTC, which they say is a successful high school leadership program. Opponents argue that the Pentagon-sponsored program costs the San Francisco school district nearly $1 million per year, and that there are better ways to spend the money.

For more information:

Text of Proposition V

No on V: No Military Recruitment in Our Schools



ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Newsdesk.org’s provision of these links is for informational purposes only, and does not intend or imply any endorsement of the opinions found therein.

• SF Elections Department ballot initiative PDFs.

• San Planning & Urban Research Association voter guide

• San Francisco Chronicle ballot initiative coverage and editorials

• BeyondChron.org ballot initiative analysis and edtorials


The San Francisco 2008 Election Truthiness Report is co-produced by Newsdesk.org and The Public Press, and funded through small donations using the Spot.Us “crowdfunding” Web site.

15 thoughts on “San Francisco Voter Propositions for November ’08

  1. The Truthiness Report

    The San Francisco 2008 Election Truthiness Report is co-produced by Newsdesk.org and The Public Press, and funded through small donations…

  2. Anyone who tries to lucidly summarized this year’s bloated ballot deserves some praise. Unfortunately, your presentation carries a tinge of bias because you fail to link to many well published opposing views. This article ends up being spoon-fed pablum for people who want to appear unbaised but really don’t want to challenge their own views. Unfortunate.

    I’ll be screenshooting this post in case you decide to delete it. Cheers.

  3. I have to totally disagree with the last comment. I think the linking here was made in a very conscientious manner. If you read them all – the author made sure to give a pro-con view towards almost all of the propositions.

    Seems as even-handed as possible.

    Of course – I am bias in reading this, as I helped to fundraise money to pay for this reporting. It should also be noted that this is the 2nd in a series of articles. So this one is still setting the scene. We will be diving deeper into issues in future reporting.

  4. Well, for starters:

    Yes on V: http://www.choicesf.org

    Yes on Tax measures: http://www.sfhsn.org/YesonNYesonQ-Closetheloopholes.htm

    Some commentary against Prop H and in favor of Prop I can be found in the Coalition on SF Neighborhood’s current newsletter:

    http://csfn.net/Newsletters/CSFN-NL-2008-09.pdf

    As far as mainstream news sources and edits, you could easily list the Garcia and Nevius columns that have come out thus far. If fact I highly suggest that you do, given that you treat BeyondChron as real news. It isn’t. BeyondChron is a lobbying organ of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, not a news source.

    Finally, I strongly suggest linking to SPUR’s ballot analysis when it comes out. In the meantime, the City Democratic Club’s is at citydemo.org (disclaimer: I’m an officer of that club).

  5. Hi Able,

    If you reread the introduction to this article, you’ll notice that it is our intent that this will be constantly updated with additional pro and con links.

    So I would propose that your assertion about this work being “spoon fed pablum” is both intemperate and premature.

    Regarding comment deletions, please re-read our posting policy, below, for more details on what qualifies … and with that in mind, we welcome your constructive criticisms throughout this process.

    Josh Wilson
    Editor, Newsdesk.org

  6. Josh: while I may be a bit gunshy due to the overbearing presence of propaganda on behalf of the Establishment Left in our local marketplace of ideas, I disagree that my observations are intemperate. Even your previous article on the voter handbook and lobbying efforts gives multiple examples of use of this institutional abuse by moderate and pro-business groups, yet only one by the establishment left. In San Francisco, the political establishment comes from the Left. Like any establishment, it has adopted a “don’t rock the boat”, reactionary stance. It’s become as corrupt and oppressive as the old business-at-all-cost urban regimes that it used to fight. Turning a blind eye to the depredations of its various components, such as the THC, the civil service unions, the Milk Club, the Coalition on Homelessness and other “Poverty Industry” fronts, various Left oriented criminal justice NGOs, etc, will not help matters. I hope my fears that you are doing this are indeed premature. “Public Advocacy” with Astroturf instead of real people is our local equivalent of, forgive me for coining a phrase, Lipstick on a Pig. It’s just as crass and disengenous as much of what we deal with from the more selfish quarters of Downtown and the various NIMBY groups. This ballot is full of poison pills from all these groups. If it weren’t for maintaining certain vital services (and even much of that is the unavoidable feeding of the Beasts), this would be an ideal season for a “NO on Everything” Campaign. And that’s the problem. The fact that we have 22 measures on this ballot stands on its own as a testament of abuse of the electoral system by these groups.

  7. I agree with your summation of my argument against Proposition R (renaming the Oceanside Water Treatment Plant after George W. Bush), except that you didn’t include that, given the fiscal legacy of the Bush/Cheney Administration, naming the local bankruptcy court or a consumer credit counseling center after Bush would be a more appropriate way to commemorate the 43rd President. My argument had been submitted in advance of the Administration’s request for $700 billion from the U.S. taxpayers to bail out insolvent American and foreign financial institutions. Believe me, this suggestion was not a joke.

  8. There is a viable “No on Prop A” presence.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/24/BAJF133JQU.DTL

    and

    http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2008/09/22/daily36.html

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Also please see the series of articles by George Wooding in the “West of Twin Peaks Observer.” There does not seem to be a web presence for the Observer, so there are no links to the series.

    Also there is an article in the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods’ monthly newsletter reprinted here for your convenience:

    SFGH PLAN DOES NOT HOLD UP UNDER SCRUTINY

    Yes, San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) does save lives. But, the question is, because they save lives should they be given a free ride, or should their project actually hold up under scrutiny? The Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors seem to think SFGH should be given a free ride, and have moved forward a plan that does not hold up under scrutiny.

    The state mandate for seismic safety in hospitals (SB1953) was passed 14 years ago. SB1953 specifies the process for creating seismic safety categories. It also specifies the process for creating deadlines for plan submission, starting construction, and completing construction. These are artificial deadlines that have been pushed back several times and could be pushed back again.

    Unlike San Francisco, San Mateo County was proactive and completed its rebuild in 2002, which is just when SFGH started planning in earnest with its Blue Ribbon Committee. In 2002 that the Blue Ribbon Committee recommended a comprehensive needs assessment for SFGH, but the Department of Public Health (DPH) did not actually commission the Lewin Group study until 2007.

    The SFGH planning process appeared to look at a number of alternatives, such as retrofitting the existing hospital or co-locating with UCSF at Mission Bay. But rebuilding at the Potrero Campus appears to have been the pre-determined outcome, even though pre-determined outcomes are prohibited by CEQA. Locating at the Potrero Campus would maintain the status quo. This option was chosen even though the Potrero Campus is already overbuilt and the rebuild project would bring more than 1,000 additional persons to the campus daily.

    Once the decision to rebuild at the Potrero Campus was made, the SFGH planning process was still all over the map. In 2005, their proposal was to tear down part of the existing hospital and rebuild it. In 2007, the proposal was to rebuild on the open space facing Potrero Avenue with a rectangular building. In 2008, the rectangular building became a more costly oval building with a floor-to-ceiling glass façade. SFGH costs would be $3.1 million per hospital bed, compared with $2.0 million for the St Luke’s project.

    The proposed project adds only 32 beds above the present amount, even though DPH’s own study conducted by the Lewin Group shows that there will a 24% (533 bed) shortage of hospital beds in San Francisco by 2030. This study was issued in 2007 and SFGH ignored the results. In response to community groups inquiring about the study, SFGH has stated that they hope “others” will make up the difference.

    The proposed project would be wedged between two historic structures that have not been seismically retrofitted. The new hospital would be in the fall zone of these historic buildings. In an earthquake, the hospital would remain standing but might not be operational due to damage from these adjacent buildings. SFGH has admitted that it has no funds currently to retrofit these buildings.

    The site contains soil with naturally occurring asbestos, which poses challenges in construction. The soil sampling for the EIR was done to a depth of only 11 feet even though the excavation for the foundation would need to go down 45 feet.

    The proposed project would result in a permanent net loss of between 387 and 400 parking spaces, increased traffic congestion, and back-ups from the Potrero on-ramp onto Route 101. Although SFGH says it intends to encourage bus ridership, the Transportation Effectiveness Project (TEP) will eliminate the 33-Potrero and the 27-Bryant lines and reduce the #9 route. This will make it much more difficult to reach the hospital by public transportation.

    The project cost of over $887 million is just the tip of the iceberg. There would be an additional $639 million in interest costs. SFGH has also stated that they would use Certificates of Participation to cover other project costs. This would bring SF’s General Obligation Bond debt to the $2 billion mark and would increase property taxes by $59 per $100,000 of assessed value for the next 20 years. The Bond also stipulates that tenants shall pay 50% of the proposed property tax increase.

    To trace the roots of this failure of planning and fiscal responsibility, the best source is the Civil Grand Jury report of 2002. The Civil Grand Jury expressed concerns about the planning process and outcome for the SFGH rebuild. The response they received from DPH was that “DPH staff is sanguine about obtaining voter approval of a bond measure for the SFGH rebuilding project; they have indicated that they cannot envision possible voter rejection of what may be the largest bond measure yet presented to citizens of San Francisco.”

    This demonstrates not only the Department’s arrogance, but also their contempt for the voters of San Francisco.

    Each and every project should stand on its own merit. Voters should hold SFGH’s feet to the fire and insist that they develop a cost-effective plan that meets the needs of San Franciscans both now and in the future. Voters need only look at the past and current fiascos at the Laguna Honda Hospital rebuild to be reminded of what could happen at SFGH.

    Vote NO on the current plan to rebuild SFGH and its bonds.

    …Eileen Boken
    http://www.csfn.net/Newsletters/CSFN-NL-2008-08.pdf

    Thank you,
    Andy Ferguson

  9. The Business of Ballot Booklet Brokering

    Campaigner and ex-City Hall aide David Noyola illustrates how insiders spin local elections By Matthew Hirsch, Newsdesk.org/The Public Press Like…

  10. Prop. H: Energy Measure Spurs Conflicting Claims

    By L.A. Chung, Newsdesk.org/The Public Press Proposition H is described as a clean energy measure by its proponents, and a…

  11. San Francisco Voter Propositions for November ’08

    By Greg M. Schwartz, Newsdesk.org/The Public Press Editor’s Note This overview of the twenty-two propositions on San Francisco’s Nov. 4…

  12. Brass Tax: Propositions N and Q Levy Businesses, Property

    By Tim Kingston The Truthiness Report: No. 6 in a series on election advertising. Propositions N and Q, which would…

  13. Proposition B: ‘Chump Change’ or ‘Massive Budget Hole’?

    By Tim Kingston The Truthiness Report: No. 7 in a series on election advertising. The battle over public power and…

  14. Prop M: The Latest Battle in San Francisco’s Rent Wars

    By Tim Kingston, Newsdesk.org/The Public Press The Truthiness Report: No. 9 in a series on election advertising. Rancorous is always…

  15. Proposition V and JROTC: Lessons in How Not to Listen

    By Tim Kingston The Truthiness Report: No. 11 in a series on election advertising. • Sidebar: “Moderate vs. Progressive?” For…