For those living in California (and San Francisco in particular), this year’s election ballot is a doozy. In addition to all the elected officials, there are up to 25 (!) propositions to vote on. This is a consequence of the love of “direct democracy” and local control that defines California politics. Instead of just trusting representative elected officials, some individual citizens or lobbying groups seem to enjoy creating their own ballot initiatives and can often gather the needed signatures to force a vote.
I really don’t know how the average voter can be expected to fully read through all the proposed legislation and make a truly informed decision with full knowledge of all the potential consequences. This is where voter guides come in – essential tools to help others cut through all the legalese. All you have to do is decide whether your values align with the guide author.
With that, here is my very first rudimentary voter guide for the California and SF propositions in the November 3, 2020 election.
|14||No||Research should be funded at the university level. Also not a high priority for limited state funds at this time.|
|15||Yes||Start the rollback of Prop 13, California’s original sin.|
|16||Yes||Asian-Americans will likely be impacted in college admissions for the most selective universities, but not in their long-term careers – so chill.|
|17||Yes||Why did we even take away voting rights for felons in the first place? They’re still people, not slaves.|
|18||Yes||Encourage more people to vote and start young!|
|19||Yes||Mixed bag here, but net result is hundreds of millions of dollars of property tax revenue for government (via limiting transfer of property tax assessments to children) so overall worth it.|
|20||No||We already incarcerate too many people and make it too difficult for reformed criminals to re-enter society. Previous reforms are fine to keep.|
|21||No||Tough one, since rent control can be an important piece of the sustainable housing strategy puzzle. In the end, the deference to local control seems ineffective compared to AB1482, a law already passed that effectively established state-wide rent control.|
|22||No||Sneaky initiative to deprive gig workers of real employment benefits. Also f*** Uber and the other companies trying to buy their way out of regulation.|
|23||No||No evidence that the current dialysis clinics are actually having problems, so this seems to be unnecessary meddling by labor unions. Things like this shouldn’t be on the ballot.|
|24||No||Although I’m an advocate for privacy and do believe that more regulation on this is needed for tech, this particular initiative goes a bit too far. It seems to be driven primarily by the person who caused the CCPA to happen but wants more, which seems premature given CCPA has only been in effect since January 2020.|
|25||Yes||A complex one, but ultimately the parties against this are bail bond companies who stand to lose their business – which seems just fine.|
|A||Yes||SF needs money, and the supportive housing component is a proven method for addressing chronic homelessness.|
|B||No||This is bloating an already bloated organization, in the name of preventing future corruption. There are far more effective ways to address the problems with the Department of Public Works, and the Board of Supervisors who sponsored this should know better.|
|C||Yes||Makes government more reflective of the actual community in San Francisco. No real downsides.|
|D||Yes||While I’m generally not a fan of adding more bureaucracy, this year we have all learned that police departments need more oversight – SF is no exception.|
|E||Yes||Simply allows reduction of the police force, which we know is likely excessive.|
|F||Yes||Move closer to a full gross receipts tax structure, in an equitable and progressive fashion. Tech companies are hurt the most, but the result is net better for employment levels and revenue for the city.|
|G||Yes||Encourage more people to vote and start young!|
|H||Yes||Streamline processes and make it easier for planners to get stuff done! Tell the Board of Supervisors and obstructionist neighbors to get out of the way.|
|I||No||This proposition sounds good at first read, but analysis has demonstrated that it would significantly suppress new housing development (by making large projects financially unfeasible).|
|J||Yes||It’s sad that this had to be on the ballot, since the 2018 Prop G was fine but is now tied up in litigation. While this tax raises less revenue than the previous proposition, at least it won’t be challenged in court.|
|K||Yes||Also sad that voters need to “authorize” the city to build every single unit of subsidized affordable housing, but here we are. More of a formality than anything else.|
|L||Yes||I admit this proposition is clumsily written (Board of Supervisors should really stop trying to write these things), but any effort to improve the state of inequality is worth supporting as long as there are no harmful side effects, of which I see no real serious ones.|
|RR||Yes||While a sales tax is not ideal (i.e. it’s regressive), this is a last-chance effort to save Caltrain, essential transportation infrastructure for SF and the entire peninsula!|
Here are some of the resources I used to put together my stances.