It would be almost impossible for any pedestrian, driver, and cyclist traveling through the city to avoid the multitude of billboards, pamphlets, flyers, and banners promoting a certain stance on the many ballot measures (also known as propositions) up for vote next month. With vague over-simplistic statements such as “No On Gridlock” or “Vote Yes On G” it can be difficult to ascertain the true purpose of the propositions and its affects on the city if approved. We visited the San Francisco’s ballot measure website to better understand each of the 12 propositions (A through L) and summarize the overall purpose. Below is the result of our findings.
C – Children’s Fund; Public Education Enrichment Fund; Children and Families Council; Rainy Day Reserve
The city’s Children Fund was created in 1991 to offer child care and after school programs to children 18 years or younger. The measure would extend the fund through 2041, broaden the benefits to include transitional aged youth ages 18 to 24, increase yearly funding allocation by 25%, and improve transparency, efficiency, and management of fund spending through a new advisory committee. Instead of increasing taxes, the new allocated money would be taken from other fund programs including the MTA, libraries, and the Public Education and Enrichment Fund (PEEF). If approved, the measure would increase funding from $49.1 million last year to roughly $65.4 million annually.
The measure will also make changes to the PEEF, a fund created in 2004 to increase sports, libraries, arts and music programs in public schools. Changes include extending the fund through 2041, increasing the scope of early education programs to children three to five years of age, removing in-kind services thereby increasing the city’s cash obligations, and holding annual funding steady even through budget deficits. The current annual city contribution to PEEF is $77.1 million.
During years where the city is flushed with cash from excess revenues, 50% of the excess money is funneled to a Rainy Day reserve. This measure splits the Rainy Day reserve into a City Rainy Day reserve and School Rainy Day reserve. To avoid layoffs and program cuts during years of economic downturn, the San Francisco School District can tap into the School Rainy Day reserve.
At the end of the document there is an unrelated section that dissolves the taxi commission.
H – Requiring Certain Golden Gate Park Athletic Fields To Be Kept As Grass With No Artificial Lighting
We found reading the ballot measures an arduous endeavor as many are hard to understand due to their length, ambiguous verbiage, and complicated technical terms that average voters will more than likely not understand. Examples include Proposition G’s stating a 24% tax increase as a $120 surtax for each $500 and Proposition C’s long 52 page document containing too much detail for voters to read and comprehend. Additionally, the propositions are presented as poorly scanned PDF documents that are not text searchable with many containing already approved text from previously signed charters and ordinances.
Despite obstacles comprehending each ballot measure, we felt the effort a worthy endeavor and recommend city residents to endure a similar experience to fully understand the meaning behind each of the propositions. Since many of the measures will have significant effects on the city’s affordability, livability, and accessibility, it is not only important to vote, but to understand what exactly is being voted upon.