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GrowSF San Francisco Voter Guide for the November 8, 2022 General Election

The November 8, 2022 general election in San Francisco has over 40 contests to vote on. Read GrowSF's voter guide to learn more about the candidates and ballot measures to make an informed decision.

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Explaining our endorsements

San Francisco

Board of Education

Vote Ann Hsu, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward

GrowSF public education slate supporting Ann Hsu, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward

GrowSF stands with Ann Hsu, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward for San Francisco School Board.

Even if you don't have kids in the public school system, you should still vote for these three highly competent women. A society must decide, together, that education is important and ensure that we are not failing our neighbors' children.

Mayor London Breed first appointed these three candidates after an overwhelming recall of Alison Collins, Gabriela López, and Faauuga Moliga. We must defend our victory in this recall by standing with Ann, Lainie, and Lisa.

Not only do Ann, Lainie, and Lisa bring competence to the School Board, they also bring a strong focus on academic achievement and fiscal responsibility. And, importantly, they are not career politicians. They care about our kids getting a good education, not their own political careers.

We must prevent recalled commissioner Gabriela López from returning to the School Board. She is running for her old seat, which she was removed from by 72% of San Franciscans. It may seem like she has no chance of winning, but due to how this position is elected, candidates don't need to win over 50% — they just need to be one of the top three vote-getters. In her first election in 2018, Gabriela López only obtained 13% of the vote.

We can't reward Gabriela López's hubris and delusion. We MUST stand with our students. We MUST vote for Ann Hsu, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Ann HsuDemocraticAppointed Member, Board of EducationRead it
Lainie MotamediDemocraticAppointed Member, Board of EducationRead it
Lisa Weissman-WardDemocraticAppointed Member, Board of EducationRead it
Alida FisherDemocraticSpecial Education AdvocateRead it
Karen FleshmanDemocraticDiversity Inclusion EducatorRead it
Gabriela LópezDemocraticTeacher Educator, Recalled Board of Education CommissionerDid not return questionnaire

BART Director, District 8

Vote Janice Li

Janice Li is running unopposed to retain her seat on the BART Board. She's done a fine job over the last few years and, notably, was a force in reopening the Powell St BART bathrooms, which had been closed for nearly twenty years due to terrorism concerns after 9/11 (yes, really, twenty years!).

Since Li has no challengers, we did not send a questionnaire in this race, and your vote doesn't actually matter. But she's shown that she's pretty good at her job, so cast that vote anyway!

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Janice LiDemocraticBART Board DirectorNo questionnaire sent

Community College Board (4 year term)

No Endorsement

GrowSF was unable to reach consensus on who to endorse in this race. There are several candidates with good qualifications, but we were not able to definitively make a recommendation.

In order to help you figure out who to vote for, read our short descriptions of the candidates and figure out what is most important to you. Here's what we think about the four candidates we think have the best credentials: Jill Yee, Marie Hurabiell, John Rizzo, and Thea Selby. You can vote for up to three people.

Jill Yee brings a strong focus on fiscal responsibility to an institution that desperately lacks it, and a long tenure working as a professor, department chair, and academic dean at City College. We're glad to see Yee agree with the obvious, but often taboo statement, that it's too hard to fire bad teachers. Among her suggestions to help City College deal with its financial crisis, she recommends consolidating some classes (she says she "counted 163 classes available to satisfy a 3 unit general education requirement") and to stop deficit spending. If you value someone with teaching and management experience, and who's willing to make hard choices around budget cuts, you may want to vote for Jill Yee. Read her full questionnaire here.

Marie Hurabiell is an attorney and entrepreneur who brings a strong background in fiscal responsibility as well as the experience of serving on the Georgetown Board of Regents. She served as President of the Presidio Trust, and she was a well-qualified choice to serve on that important public body (the Presidio Trust manages federal land, and all appointments are done by the presidential administration in charge at the time). On the Presidio Trust, Hurabiell chaired the Finance and Audit Committee where she ensured issues flagged in audits were fixed. We think she would bring that fiscal experience to bear on the City College Board of Trustees. We also appreciate her no-nonsense responses about the issues the new enrollment system has caused. If you think that experience on successful academic boards and a strong fiscal management background are important, you may want to vote for Marie Hurabiell. Read her full questionnaire here.

John Rizzo has been serving on the City College Board of Trustees for 15 years, and given that long tenure he believes that the current board has finally made an impact and gotten City College back on track. We value experience, and we especially appreciate that Rizzo is not using this important role as a stepping stone for higher political office. But we are also left asking: given that Rizzo has overseen a growing fiscal mismanagement crisis and an accreditation crisis... is Rizzo's tenure actually the problem? He is smart, though, and does seem serious about fixing City College's problems — even if he oversaw the creation of them in the first place. So, if you value a long track record by someone who isn't trying to get promoted to higher office, you may want to vote for John Rizzo. Read his full questionnaire here.

Thea Selby is an incumbent City College Trustee, where she has worked to help City College recover from its accreditation crisis and its financial crisis. In fact, she was president of the Board of Trustees in 2017 when City College escaped its first accreditation crisis. She has helped guide City College toward a path of fiscal sustainability, but we don't think City College has actually arrived there yet. And this is why we can't make an unabashed endorsement: Selby now says that City College no longer faces a financial crisis, but there's every indication that that's not true. So, if you value the real-world experience of helping get City College back on its feet and don't want to change horses midstream, you may want to vote for Thea Selby. Read her full questionnaire here.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Jill YeeDemocraticAcademic DeanRead it
Marie HurabiellDemocraticUniversity Regent / EntrepreneurRead it
Jason ZengDemocraticData EngineerRead it
John RizzoDemocraticVice President, Community College BoardRead it
Brigitte DavilaDemocraticPresident, City College BoardRead it
Thea SelbyDemocraticTrustee, City College of San FranciscoRead it
Susan SolomonDemocraticRetired TeacherDeclined to fill out the questionnaire
Anita MartinezDemocraticRetired Teacher / AdministratorDid not return questionnaire
William WalkerDemocraticPublic School TeacherRead it
Vickie Van ChungDemocraticCommunity OrganizerDid not return questionnaire

Community College Board (2 year term)

Vote Murrell Green

Unfortunately, no candidate in this contest returned the GrowSF questionnaire, so we can only make a tepid recommendation to vote for Murrell Green. Mayor Breed appointed Green to this seat and this is his first time running to maintain the position. We want to give him the chance to prove his chops and we believe that, as a Mayoral appointee, he will be aligned with the Mayor's broader goals of fiscal responsibility and educational outcomes.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Murrell GreenDemocraticAppointed Trustee, Community College BoardDid not return questionnaire
Adolfo VelasquezDemocraticRetired Chair / CounselorDid not return questionnaire
Daniel LandryDemocraticDirector, Arts NonprofitDid not return questionnaire

Assessor-Recorder

Vote Joaquín Torres

There’s just one candidate running, and he’s the incumbent: Joaquín Torres. He was appointed by Mayor London Breed in 2021 to replace Carmen Chu, who was herself appointed to City Administrator after Naomi Kelley resigned amid a corruption probe. He won the special election to fill Chu's seat in February 2022 and is now running for a full term.

Since Torres is not running against a challenger, we did not go through a formal endorsement process which includes a questionnaire. While it doesn't matter if you vote in this race, we still think you should vote for Joaquín. He's qualified and we have no reason to think he'll do a bad job.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Joaquín TorresDemocraticAssessor-Recorder, City and County of San FranciscoNo questionnaire sent

District Attorney

Vote Brooke Jenkins

Whether or not you voted for the recall of Chesa Boudin, we think you should vote for Brooke Jenkins.

Since taking office as San Francisco's appointed District Attorney, Jenkins has followed through on her promises to prioritize the prosecution of anti-Asian hate crimes and dealers of deadly drugs.

Nearly two people are dying every day of drug overdoses, and this impact falls disproportionately on the poor and homeless. Regardless of your position on personal drug use, it's clear that what's happening on our streets right now is inhumane. We want people who are addicted to get the help they need, whether that be safe injection sites with on-site medical care, or even drug addiction recovery programs that require full abstinence. Everyone's journey to recovery is different and San Francisco needs to help. But part of helping is getting the deadliest drugs off the streets and arresting and charging dealers who clearly don't care that their product is killing people.

nearly two people die of drug overdose every day in San Francisco

We don't want addicts to go to jail, and neither does Brooke Jenkins. Since assuming office, she has filed felony drug sale charges against 125 alleged dealers — not users. And she has repeatedly said that users need supportive services:

Helping substance users access treatment and services through the Community Justice Center will save lives,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “When someone reaches five citations for public drug use, that is a clear signal that they are in a crisis and need support.
[...]
The Community Justice Center is a unique court that works to connect the community to the criminal justice system and addresses issues that have led to a participant’s criminal justice involvement. The court prioritizes the use of restorative justice and treatment services for substance use, mental health, and other primary health issues and adjudicates criminal cases from the Tenderloin, Civic Center, Union Square, and South of Market neighborhoods.

The District Attorney's Office

Jenkins is also taking anti-Asian hate crimes more seriously than her predecessor. Mary Jung, the former chairwoman of the San Francisco Democratic Party and a Chinese-American woman, highlighted the Asian-American community's real concerns with hate crimes under Boudin:

[Boudin’s] failure has directly resulted in increased crime against Asian Americans. The number of anti-Asian crimes has increased six-fold, but [Boudin] is refusing to prosecute violent attacks as hate crimes and has allowed perpetrators to get away with only misdemeanor charges.

City Journal

GrowSF admires Jenkins' dedication to the Asian-American community and her efforts to treat anti-Asian hate crimes with the serious attention they deserve.

You’ve been struggling with feeling unheard and unseen ... by the San Francisco D.A.’s Office.

You are now seen, and you are now heard.

— District Attorney Brooke Jenkins in the SF Chronicle

GrowSF heartily endorses Jenkins for District Attorney based on her policies alone. But it is also worth highlighting that her main opponent, John Hamasaki, holds views that are anathema to a safe city.

Among positions like supporting "defund the police", Hamasaki has also repeatedly advocated for young men to carry concealed weapons in dangerous neighborhoods:

This opinion resulted in many of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to call for Hamasaki's resignation from the Police Commission (yes, someone who wants to defund the police was overseeing police...). Hamasaki did eventually step down from the Police Commission, but what isn't mentioned is that his appointment term expired and no one in City Hall showed any interest in renewing it.

Shortly before announcing his run for office, Hamasaki deleted over 8,000 tweets in an attempt to cover up his prior statements and beliefs. These tweets include rampant bullying, making fun of the victims of crime, and at least one where he called Ukrainians defending their country "neo-nazis".

But beyond all of these bad opinions, John Hamasaki also wants to defund the prosecutors in the District Attorney's office. We don't think someone who wants to shut down the DA's office should be in charge of running it.

Brooke Jenkins is the only candidate with a plan to both make San Francisco safer, but to treat victims with respect, and to hold criminals accountable for their actions.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Brooke JenkinsDemocraticAppointed District AttorneyRead it
Maurice ChenierDemocraticAttorney at LawRead it
Joe Alioto VeroneseDemocraticCivil Rights AttorneyRead it
John HamasakiDemocraticCivil Rights AttorneyDid not return questionnaire

Public Defender

Vote Manohar (Mano) Raju

We are generally happy with the job that Mano Raju is doing as the incumbent Public Defender. We think he does a good job defending the accused, avoiding drumming up needless political controversy. However, we don't think he's perfect: he thinks we spend too much money on Police and public safety, and wants the Public Defender to expand its scope to enact broad policy reforms. But his opponent, Rebecca Young, quit the Public Defender's office to go work for recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

We think the Public Defender should focus on defense, not activism. And Mano Raju is the better choice among two imperfect candidates.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Manohar (Mano) RajuDemocraticIncumbentRead it
Rebecca YoungDemocraticCriminal Justice AttorneyRead it

Supervisor, District 2

Vote Catherine Stefani

Catherine Stefani has been a consistent champion for women’s rights, public safety, and competent government.

Stefani supported the School Board recall and was the first Supervisor to support the recall of Chesa Boudin. GrowSF thanks her for her bold leadership.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Catherine StefaniDemocraticDistrict 2 SupervisorRead it

Supervisor, District 4

Vote Joel Engardio

Joel Engardio knows our West side families need to feel safe and their kids deserve a great education. That’s why Joel was a leader in both the School Board recall and the Chesa Boudin recall. Joel is the only candidate in the District 4 Supervisor race who supported both recalls.

Joel will bring a focus on public safety, education, and fiscal responsibility to City Hall.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Joel EngardioDemocraticNonprofit Director / JournalistRead it
Gordon MarDemocraticMember, Board of SupervisorsDeclined to fill out the questionnaire

Supervisor, District 6

Vote Matt Dorsey

Matt Dorsey is a strong voice for public safety, personal responsibility, and for holding drug dealers accountable. Since taking office earlier this year, Dorsey has put forward sweeping new legislation to clean up the district and to arrest the dealers of deadly fentanyl.

Dorsey is the only candidate in the District 6 race who supported both the School Board and Chesa Boudin recalls.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Matt DorseyDemocraticAppointed Member, Board of SupervisorsRead it
Honey MahoganyDemocraticSocial WorkerRead it
Billie CooperDemocraticPeer Educator OrganizerDid not return questionnaire
Cherelle JacksonDemocraticDirector of CommunicationsDid not return questionnaire

Supervisor, District 8

Vote Rafael Mandelman

Rafael Mandelman has been a strong supporter of small businesses and pushed forward important social services for the homeless and the addicted.

Mandelman introduced legislation to ensure the homeless, mentally disturbed, and drug addicted get the help they need to get off the streets and into shelter and treatment. GrowSF was proud to support these new programs, and there’s a lot more to do!

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Rafael MandelmanDemocraticDistrict 8 SupervisorRead it
Kate StoiaDemocraticLawyerRead it

Supervisor, District 10

No Endorsement

We are not endorsing either candidate in District 10. The incumbent, Shamann Walton, holds positions on the critical issues facing our city which we don’t agree with. He opposes housing and business growth and doesn’t support car-free spaces for families.

Unfortunately Supervisor Walton’s challenger, Brian Sam Adam, doesn’t align on most of our policies, either. District 10 deserves better options.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Shamann WaltonDemocraticPresident, San Francisco County SupervisorsDid not return questionnaire
Brian Sam AdamDemocraticPublic Information OfficerRead it

✅ Yes on Proposition A

Retiree cost of living adjustment

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition A is a Charter Amendment introduced by the Board of Supervisors which will allow city employees who retired before November 6, 1996 to receive supplemental cost of living adjustments to their retirement benefits. This will be accomplished by eliminating the "full funding" requirement and instituting a monthly monetary cap on payments. This brings pre-1996 retiree benefits in line with current benefits.

Fiscal impacts

Proposition A will increase the yearly expenses from the City budget by approximately $8 million per year for the next ten years, $5 million of which will come from the General Fund.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

This is a City Charter amendment. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% + 1 majority.

  • Sponsor: Ahsha Safaí
  • Co-Sponsors: Supervisors Myrna Melgar, Aaron Peskin, Rafael Mandelman, Shamann Walton, Gordon Mar, Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston, and Matt Dorsey
  • Placed on ballot by: Unanimously by all Supervisors

View vote details on legistar

Why vote yes?

The short version is: this changes the law to treat all civil servants the same, and grants them a supplemental cost of living adjustment on top of their basic cost of living adjustment.

The long version is much more confusing, and is explained in greater detail of page 2 of the Legislative Digest. Prop A eliminates the full-funding requirement for the SF Employee Retirement System (SFERS) for people who retired before November 6, 1996 but also imposes a supplemental cost-of-living adjustment cap of $200 per month when the retirement system is not fully funded. The full-funding requirement was created in November 2011, but due to a legal challenge and ruling, it was not imposed on anyone who retired after November 6, 1996. So the intent of the voters in 2011 was never fully realized and, instead, it only penalized retirees who retired a little too early.

✅ Yes on Proposition B

Reunify Public Works & Street Sanitation departments

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition B is a Charter Amendment introduced by the Board of Supervisors which will partially repeal a ballot measure from 2020 which split the Department of Public Works into two departments: Department of Public Works and the Department of Sanitation and Streets.

Fiscal impacts

Prop B will save taxpayers between $2.5 million and $3.5 million per year for the next two years, and likely more in future years.

Why is this on the ballot?

This is a City Charter amendment. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% + 1 majority.

  • Sponsor: Supervisor Aaron Peskin
  • Co-sponsors: Supervisors Connie Chan and Rafael Mandelman
  • Placed on the ballot by: Supervisors Connie Chan, Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman, Myrna Melgar, Aaron Peskin, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen, and Catherine Stefani

View vote details on legistar

Why vote yes?

Proposition B is a partial repeal of November 2020's Prop B, which GrowSF opposed. The 2020 Prop B broke apart the Department of Public Works (DPW) into two departments: DPW and the Department of Sanitation and Streets (DSS), and created a new commission to oversee DSS, called the Sanitation and Streets commission.

As we said in 2020, cracking apart one department into two would not guarantee better outcomes or accountability, but would instead create more bureaucracy and expense for the city.

Two years later and the implementation of 2020's Prop B is still underway. Now we have a chance to undo the mistake of Prop B, at least partially, by passing the new Prop B which will cancel the divorce and keep the responsibility for street cleanliness and maintenance under the same roof: DPW.

But it's not all roses and puppy dogs — this will keep the new Sanitation and Streets commission while stripping it of any actual authority. So while keeping DPW whole is definitely a win, getting a new commission that can be staffed with political cronies that have no real power or accountability is... not great.

So, while this year's Prop B isn't perfect and we'll still end up with an extra, totally unnecessary commission, we at least end up slightly better off than before, so you should vote Yes.

❌ No on Proposition C

More red tape around homeless services

Vote No

What is it?

Proposition C is a Charter Amendment introduced by the Board of Supervisors which will create a new Homelessness Oversight Commission that would be tasked with overseeing the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

Fiscal impacts

There would be little to no fiscal impact because commissions are largely unpaid and take little active investment from the City. The total cost to taxpayers would be around $350,000 per year in direct costs.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

This is a City Charter amendment. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% + 1 majority.

  • Sponsor: Supervisor Ahsha Safaí
  • Co-Sponsors: Supervisors Shamann Walton, Aaron Peskin, Rafael Mandelman, Gordon Mar, and Catherine Stefani
  • Placed on ballot by: Unanimously by all Supervisors

View vote details on legistar

Why vote No?

There are two simple reasons to vote no:

  1. Commissions let elected officials escape accountability by passing crucial oversight responsibility to unelected people (who are almost always politically connected via donations or other means) who lack the authority or expertise to actually fix anything.
  2. This commission has every seat but one set aside for people who work in the homelessness industry. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (DHSH) is now spending $1 billion per year on homelessness services and desperately needs an audit, and the least qualified people to do it are the ones getting paid those massive sums for poor outcomes.

If you want a longer explanation, keep reading:

There are already several agencies, nonprofits, and boards & commissions covering homelessness. Will having yet another commission somehow yield better results? GrowSF believes that critical city departments need a single executive who can be held accountable for poor performance, and passing the buck to a bunch of different unelected bodies means that voters have no one to fire when we aren't getting the services we deserve.

A huge red flag is that the requirements for Commissioners aren't largely focused on experience with overseeing agencies, managing budgets, or running audits. In fact only 1 of 7 Commissioners is required to have that kind of experience.

None of the other mandatory requirements will result in good governance, fiscal responsibility, or good outcomes for our homeless residents. What will happen, instead, is that the existing nonprofits who get paid by the city to run our poor services will get appointed to the commission and guarantee that their nonprofits keep getting paid, regardless of the quality of service. This is regulatory capture, pure and simple.

In politics, regulatory capture is a form of corruption of authority that occurs when a political entity, policymaker, or regulator is co-opted to serve the commercial, ideological, or political interests of a minor constituency, such as a particular geographic area, industry, profession, or ideological group.

When regulatory capture occurs, a special interest is prioritized over the general interests of the public, leading to a net loss for society.

✅ Yes on Proposition D

Make it easier to build homes

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition D is a Charter Amendment introduced by citizens which will make it easier, faster, and cheaper to build three types of housing:

  • Multi-family housing where 100% of the residential units are subsidized at below-market rates
  • Multi-family housing with at least 10 units which provides at least 15% more on-site subsidized affordable housing units than currently required
  • Multi-family housing for teachers

This is accomplished by streamlining the approvals that home builders must obtain from the City, and which are usually blocked by the anti-housing Board of Supervisors. Prop D allows homes which meet all relevant safety and development standards to bypass the political interference from the Board of Supervisors.

Fiscal impacts

Prop D will not cost the city any money, and in fact is likely to save the city substantial sums because it reduces the bureaucratic overhead and red tape preventing new housing from being built.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

A coalition of advocacy groups including GrowSF, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, the NorCal Carpenters Union, SPUR, the Housing Action Coalition, SF YIMBY, and the Greenbelt Alliance gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot. We collected signatures from roughly 80,000 San Francisco residents.

This is a City Charter amendment. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% + 1 majority.

Why vote Yes?

Prop D, which is supported by pro-housing State Senator Scott Wiener and Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, will make it easier, faster, and cheaper to build housing.

Currently, nothing in San Francisco is guaranteed by the rule of law: all housing is subject to meddling by the Board of Supervisors, open to lawsuits on spurious environmental grounds, and subject to years-long delays over minor shadows. In other words, San Francisco makes it "insanely hard to build housing."

Prop D will start fixing some of these broken laws that prevent housing construction. Under Prop D, if you comply with the law then you will get your building permit. No more bribes to public officials, no more extortive lawsuits from NIMBY groups, no more uncertainty. This will dramatically decrease the cost of new housing and unblock thousands of homes for middle and low income families.

Prop D isn't perfect (we wish it applied to all housing, not just subsidized housing, and that it allowed demolition and redevelopment of existing housing), but it's a step in the right direction. It sets a precedent that housing is more important than NIMBY concerns about the character of the neighborhood. It enshrines in law the ability for low and middle income home builders to build. And, extremely importantly and undiscussed, it provides a legal mechanism to enact rule-of-law over all housing over time.

Once Prop D is enacted, three kinds of housing will be streamlined:

  • Multi-family housing where 100% of the residential units are subsidized at below-market rates
  • Multi-family housing with at least 10 units which provides at least 15% more on-site subsidized affordable housing units than currently required
  • Multi-family housing for teachers

This is fantastic! This, alone, is reason enough to be a strong Yes on Prop D.

But equally important, and for some reason not discussed in other voter guides or the press, is provision 16.126(d)(2), which states:

[...] the city may enact ordinances applying the [streamlining] controls of [this law...] to additional forms of housing or housing projects

This means that the Board of Supervisors is granted the authority to apply Prop D to more kinds of housing construction in the future. This technocratic change is revolutionary and will actually allow San Francisco to dig itself out of the hole we've dug.

❌ No on Proposition E

Board of Supervisors anti-housing measure

Vote No

What is it?

Proposition E is a Charter Amendment introduced by the Board of Supervisors which will maintain much of the status quo around housing permits. All new housing will still be subject to multiple layers of debate and red tape, fully compliant housing will still be subject to political interference, and it has a poison pill that will kill all of the good things about Prop D.

Fiscal impacts

Like Prop D, Prop E will not cost the city any extra money. However, by maintaining the status quo of bureaucratic delays, the existing costs to taxpayers will remain.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

This is a City Charter amendment. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% + 1 majority. Supervisor Connie Chan introduced this measure in order to kill Prop D.

  • Sponsor: Supervisor Connie Chan
  • Co-Sponsors: Supervisors Shamann Walton, Aaron Peskin, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen, and Gordon Mar
  • Placed on ballot by: Supervisors Connie Chan, Shamann Walton, Aaron Peskin, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen, Gordon Mar, and Ahsha Safaí

View vote details on legistar

Why vote No?

Prop E seems similar to Prop D on the surface, but digging deeper reveals that it doesn't achieve its stated goals and contains a poison pill which will kill Prop D. In short: if you want more homes in San Francisco, vote No on E and Yes on D.

Prop E maintains the existing sclerotic bureaucratic processes which the Board of Supervisors and NIMBY groups across the city use to block housing.

Prop E keeps in place "discretionary" permits, which means that nothing is guaranteed by law — instead, elected officials decide who can build what and where; a process ripe with corruption.

These discretionary permits don’t just introduce institutional corruption into the home building process, they also open up home builders to frivolous lawsuits on ridiculous grounds. For example, under Prop E the builders who wanted to turn a valet parking lot into homes for nearly 500 people would still have been stopped by the Board of Supervisors. Even though denying this project was illegal (and the city is now being sued for it), the Board knew they had the power and the chance to get away with it.

The most common weapon of choice for anyone trying to stop a project is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a state law that requires most housing projects to undergo an environmental review. “Environmental impacts” can be interpreted broadly, and the Board of Supervisors has been accused of using CEQA as cover to tank projects for political reasons. That was the case in the much-publicized delay of 469 Stevenson, a proposed 500-unit development on a downtown parking lot, which led to a state investigation of SF’s housing policies.

-How San Francisco Makes It Insanely Hard to Build Housing in the SF Standard

Prop E is being put forward by the Board of Supervisors in response to Prop D. Their goal is to stop all housing growth in San Francisco, and that's exactly what Prop E will do.

✅ Yes on Proposition F

Library Preservation Fund

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition F is a Charter Amendment introduced by the Board of Supervisors which will renew the Library Preservation Fund for an additional 25 years. The Library Preservation Fund is currently set to expire in June 2023.

Fiscal impacts

There will be no change in the cost to taxpayers or in administrative overhead. This is a simple reauthorization of an existing property tax set-aside.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

This is a City Charter amendment. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% + 1 majority.

  • Sponsor: Mayor London Breed
  • Co-Sponsors: All Supervisors
  • Placed on ballot by: Mayor Breed and unanimously by all members of the Board of Supervisors

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

Prop F is a simple ballot measure that reauthorizes an existing 0.025% property tax (that's 2.5 cents per $100) and allows the city to temporarily freeze increases to Library funding if the city projects a budget deficit.

Libraries are cornerstones of our society. Not only do they provide access to a wide array of books and research materials for students, they also provide computer and internet access for people who don't have them at home. This helps low-income people find and apply for jobs, helps people connect with city services like job training and low-income housing, and even provides respite from heat waves.

Prop F does not raise taxes — it just continues an existing tax.

✅ Yes on Proposition G

Student Success Fund

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition G is a Charter Amendment introduced by the Board of Supervisors which will create a new fund (initially $11 million, growing to $60 million by 2037) that will be used for grants intended to support academic achievement and social & emotional wellness of students. This will be funded by appropriating money from the Educational Revenue Augmentation Funds (ERAF) account, which contains extra money raised from property taxes that is not directly allocated to school funding.

Fiscal impacts

Prop G will have a relatively large impact on the cost of government in San Francisco, but only because it will reallocate money away from the General Fund and toward schools. Notably, this is not a new tax, it is just redirecting existing funds.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

This is a City Charter amendment. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% + 1 majority.

  • Sponsor: Hillary Ronen
  • Co-Sponsors: Supervisors Myrna Melgar, Shamann Walton, Ahsha Safaí, Gordon Mar, Dean Preston, Rafael Mandelman, Matt Dorsey, and Catherine Stefani
  • Placed on ballot by: Unanimously by the Board of Supervisors

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

Prop G is imperfect because of the extra bureaucratic overhead it introduces, but it is in service of good outcomes: rather than continuing the status quo where politicians fight over how to spend ERAF funds, Prop G mandates that at least some of that money be reinvested back into schools.

Educational Revenue Augmentation Funds (ERAF) are extra money raised from property taxes which is not directly allocated to school funding. This law was created in the 1990s to give cities some flexibility over school budget spending, but which has led to yearly political fights about sending extra money to schools or to other local city departments. GrowSF knows that funding isn't the only thing that matters for school performance, but more money certainly helps!

Prop G money may be used to pay for grants from the City to eligible schools in SFUSD. These grants will primarily be focused on academic achievement and the emotional wellness of students — including nurses, tutors, math specialists, and school psychologists. Students can only achieve to the best of their ability when they are safe, healthy, and receive the academic support they need. GrowSF believes in treating students as whole people, and especially in assisting students that come from disadvantaged or unstable homes.

We believe that Prop G will, on net, improve student academic performance.

✅ Yes on Proposition H

Move off-year elections to presidential election years

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition H is a Charter Amendment introduced by the Board of Supervisors which will change the election for Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney, City Attorney, and Treasurer to be elected in the same election as President of the United States and Supervisor districts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.

It also makes a minor technical change to the number of signatures citizens need to collect to qualify a ballot measure. The change sets the threshold of valid signatures at roughly 10,000, which is roughly the same as it is now.

Fiscal impacts

Prop H will save the city nearly $7 million in 2023 and in each subsequent year when those off-cycle elections would have otherwise taken place.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

This is a City Charter amendment. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% + 1 majority.

  • Sponsor: Supervisor Dean Preston
  • Co-Sponsors: Supervisor Aaron Peskin
  • Placed on ballot by: Supervisors Connie Chan, Myrna Melgar, Aaron Peskin, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen, Ahsha Safaí, and Catherine Stefani.

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

This is a simple good-governance ballot measure. San Francisco has too many elections, and consolidating the Mayor and District Attorney elections to presidential election years will not only increase turnout in those elections, but it will give voters a chance to enjoy the city instead of participating in yet another election.

The research shows that higher-turnout elections tend to result in moderate candidates getting elected because they must appeal to a larger electorate rather than cater to small special interests. Given that over 70% of San Franciscans are unhappy with the direction of the city, we think higher turnout elections will result in the unhappy majority gaining the ability to fix the city.

❌ No on Proposition I

Close JFK Promenade, spend $80 million to move sand

Vote No

What is it?

Proposition I is a citizen signature initiative ordinance which will require the City to allow car traffic on the pedestrian-only JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park and end the popular Great Highway "weekend compromise", instead mandating vehicle traffic 24/7.

It will also require the City abandon its preferred implementation of the Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project. Prop I will make it impossible for the City to pursue its preferred approach and force the City to use an alternate plan which could add as much as $80 million to the project. The City's preferred project shuts down the Great Highway south of Sloat due to beach erosion, improves public access and recreation at Ocean Beach, and constructs a low-profile seawall to protect a wastewater treatment plant and homes near the beach. Prop I puts all of this in jeopardy.

Fiscal impacts

The City Controller estimates a substantial increase in the cost of government should Prop I pass. Not only will allowing vehicle traffic on JFK require undoing lots of infrastructure built during Covid-19, it will require the city spend as much as $80 million to implement an alternative to the long-planned Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

Donors spent over $200,000 to get the 10,000 signatures necessary to get this measure on the ballot. The measure must be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

  • Placed on ballot by: Signature collection

Why vote No?

Proposition I will shut down the extremely popular JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park, which is enjoyed by thousands of families, seniors, and children every day.

Rather than being a place for children and families to enjoy Golden Gate Park safely, Prop I will require cars use this pedestrian space. Children will no longer be able to learn how to ride bikes safely, young couples won't be able to have peaceful and safe dates, adults and the elderly will no longer have a safe place to enjoy the sun or get some exercise, and people with mobility impairments or other disabilities will lose a unique, safe, and peaceful space for outdoor recreation.

Prop I will also force the city to spend up to $80 million because it mandates that the Great Highway south of Sloat remain operational, despite the city's long-existing plans to close this stretch of road due to beach erosion and rising sea levels. In 2012 City planners acknowledged mounting evidence of sustained coastal erosion over the next several decades and the risk it posed to a critical wastewater treatment plant. In response to this, the City created a plan — the Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project — to shore up the beach and protect vital infrastructure, which necessitated the closure of Great Highway south of Sloat. Prop I throws these plans out the window and orders the city to figure something else out — spending up to $80 million over twenty years in the process, according to the City controller.

Prop I is the worst of all possible worlds: it shuts down a popular new park space, it denies the reality of climate change, puts water treatment infrastructure at risk, and it may force the city to spend $80 million it otherwise wouldn't.

✅ Yes on Proposition J

Keep JFK Promenade open

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition J is a Board of Supervisors initiative ordinance which will affirm the Board of Supervisors' ordinance which created the popular JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park.

Fiscal impacts

Because this ordinance merely reaffirms an existing program permanent, it does not raise the cost of government. There may be small one-time costs for implementation.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

Prop J exists to affirm a prior Board of Supervisors ordinance that made JFK Drive a safe recreational area during the Covid-19 pandemic. The measure must be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

  • Sponsor: Supervisor Rafael Mandelman
  • Co-Sponsors: Supervisors Myrna Melgar, Matt Dorsey, and Hillary Ronen
  • Placed on ballot by: Supervisors Rafael Mandelman, Myrna Melgar, Matt Dorsey, and Hillary Ronen

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

Prop J will reaffirm the extremely popular JFK Promenade and turn it into a permanent park.

The reason for this ballot measure is a little obscure. It's not passing anything new, rather it lets the voters put their full support behind an existing ordinance, passed by the Board of Supervisors and supported by the Mayor, and provides a counter to Prop I which will shut down JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park.

The Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Program, initiated during the Covid-19 pandemic alongside the JFK Promenade, not only created a world-class recreational space but also created more ADA-accessible parking in Golden Gate Park, a new park shuttle, and more pickup and dropoff options to help people with mobility impairments access the park.

If Prop J passes, and gets more votes than Prop I, the following things will remain in place:

Don't put the future of our clean water and safe outdoor parks in jeopardy. Vote Yes on Proposition J.

✅ Yes on Proposition L

Reauthorize existing tax for transportation improvements

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition L is a Board of Supervisors initiative ordinance which will continue an existing sales tax that funds Muni and other transit projects, maintenance, paratransit services, among others.

Fiscal impacts

Because this is continuing an existing tax, there will be no impact on the cost of government. This tax generates around $100 million in tax revenue per year.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

Prop 13 mandates that all new taxes be subjected to a vote of the public. Taxes that are reserved for a specific purpose, rather than the General Fund require a 66 2/3% supermajority.

Note: Even though this is a continuation of an existing tax, it technically counts as a new tax under the law, which is why the Prop 13 requirement to vote on it and obtain a supermajority applies.

  • Sponsor: Supervisor Rafael Mandelman
  • Co-Sponsors: Supervisors Shamann Walton, Aaron Peskin, Hillary Ronen, Myrna Melgar, Catherine Stefani, Dean Preston, Gordon Mar, Ahsha Safaí, and Matt Dorsey
  • Placed on ballot by: Unanimously by all Supervisors

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

A world-class city deserves world-class public transit. And world-class transit needs to be funded well enough to do necessary maintenance, invest in long-term projects, and improve the level of existing service.

We're sympathetic to the argument that Muni should be doing better with the budget it has, but since Prop L is just a renewal of an existing revenue stream, voting No on Prop L would mean you expect Muni to do more with less.

Maintaining Muni's budget may not magically improve Muni's reliability or cleanliness, but shrinking the budget is sure to have much worse results.

❌ No on Proposition M

New property tax on unoccupied housing

Vote No

What is it?

Proposition M is a citizen signature initiative ordinance which will impose a new tax on apartments which are vacant for longer than 6 months.

Fiscal impacts

This tax has the possibility of raising $20 million in tax revenue, but that is only if the tax is ineffective at changing the behavior of large landlords. If the tax does what the proponents want it to do, then the actual tax revenue will be much smaller because landlords will either exit the market, find alternative uses for long-term vacant units, or find someone to rent the unit. If this happens, the tax will generate no revenue.

The penalties for keeping a unit vacant are steep — climbing to $20,000 per unit by 2026.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

The San Francisco Democratic Socialists and Supervisor Dean Preston collected the requisite number of signatures to place this new tax on the ballot.

  • Sponsor: Maya Chupkov and Shanti Singh
  • Placed on ballot by: Signature collection

Why vote No?

There are many reasons to vote No on Prop M.

In short: our vacancy rate is already too low, and this tax will not just drive up rents, but will also make it harder to build new housing.

Based on bad economics

Proponents of Prop M believe that San Francisco should have a 0% vacancy rate. This might sound good (all homes occupied! nobody is homeless!), but it means that no one can ever move because all of the homes are taken. Low vacancy rates drive up the cost of rent because renters are competing against fewer units.

Here's a simple thought experiment: Say there are ten people who want to move to San Francisco and there are 20 empty homes available for them. This means that for every one renter there are two good choices, and they don't need to outbid anyone in order to find a place to live.

Now imagine if there were just 10 empty homes for those ten people — some people will want the same units and will be willing to pay more for a particular unit. Every person ends up housed, but they all end up paying more because they're competing with each other.

Now imagine there are only 5 empty homes for those 10 people. Not only will five people fail to find a place to live, but the five who succeed will have to pay dramatically more for their home. 10 people bidding on five homes always drives prices up and results in some people not having a place to live.

The only way to get everyone a good home at a good price is to have a lot of homes, which means accepting that some will sit vacant.

Economists estimate that a healthy vacancy rate for a well-functioning city is between 5% and 8% (and some estimate as much as 10%!). At our current vacancy rate of around 3%, we should, instead, be trying to drive vacancy rates UP, not down.

Campaign based on a lie about the number of vacant homes

The Democratic Socialists have been repeating the debunked lie that there are over 40,000 vacant homes in San Francisco. In reality, the US Census shows that the vast majority of these homes are vacant temporarily because:

  • Someone just moved out and it's actively listed for rent
  • Undergoing maintenance or renovation
  • Listed for sale
  • Sold, but not yet occupied
  • Held by families for seasonal use, and never intended to be rented either as an apartment or AirBnB

If you trust the US Census (which you should), that leaves about 11,000 homes held vacant for longer than six months.

Vacancy reason# of homes
For rent9040
Rented, not occupied2123
For sale only1072
Sold, not occupied5589
For seasonal, recreational, or occasional use7188
For migrant workers13
Other vacant11447

Data source: US Census ACS 5-year 2020

So while the 40,000 vacant unit number is a deliberate misrepresentation of the US Census data, there are still some homes that stay vacant for a relatively long time.

But this tax won't apply to the vast majority of these vacant homes, because most units held vacant are single-family homes which this tax exempts! Large apartment owners simply do not intentionally hold rentable units off the market — that costs them a lot of money!

Ineffective tax

This tax will be ineffective at achieving its stated goals: bringing long-time vacant apartments onto the market.

Land owners who are already holding vacant homes off the market presumably have a reason to do so. They lose money every month by not offering a unit for rent. A new tax on their vacant unit doesn't change these economics — they're still losing money on the unit (albeit, slightly more money).

If landlords can't be taxed into offering their vacant unit for rent, then this new tax will raise some revenue until those owners figure out how to either offload their asset (sell their home) or restructure it into a different legal fiction that insulates them from the tax.

So this tax won't raise considerable funds, nor will it incentivize landlords to rent vacant units. But it will introduce new, costly bureaucracy and a new surveillance tool for City Hall.

America is at a historically low vacancy rate

The US Census bureau reported earlier this year that America is at a historically low vacancy rate — just 5.8% nationwide. San Francisco's vacancy rate is lower, still, at around 3%.

Attempting to shrink an already historically low vacancy rate will only result in higher prices as slack is removed from the rental market.

Marginal disincentive to building housing

Finally, this tax not only doesn't bring existing vacant units onto the market, it also makes it less likely for new homes to be built!

In economics, this is called a marginal disincentive — the tax presents new risk and a new cost on home builders that need to finance their project. The added uncertainty and cost will be passed on to the bank, which will demand higher interest rates to account for the risk, which may make an entire new apartment building impossible to finance.

Proposition M will cause homes to not get built. Vote No on Prop M.

✅ Yes on Proposition N

Golden Gate Park underground parking garage

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition N is a Board of Supervisors initiative ordinance which will dissolve the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority (a public entity created via a 1998 ballot measure) and transfer ownership and operational duties of the underground parking garage to the City.

Fiscal impacts

Prop N may save taxpayers money by allowing the city to refinance the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority debt.

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

This amends a previous ballot measure from 1998. By law, all amendments to ballot measures must also go to a vote of the full electorate and achieve a 50% + 1 majority.

  • Sponsor: Mayor London Breed
  • Placed on ballot by: Mayor London Breed

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

This is a relatively straightforward bureaucratic fix to allow the City to operate the underground parking facility near the museums in Golden Gate Park, rather than subcontract operation to another entity (the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority).

This is necessary to implement certain safety and access improvements arising from turning JFK Drive into a public promenade. It also gives the city the ability to set reduced parking costs for low-income, elderly, or disabled visitors.

❌ No on Proposition O

New parcel tax for City College

Vote No

What is it?

Proposition O is a citizen signature initiative ordinance which will create a new parcel tax on real estate in order to send additional funds to City College.

Fiscal impacts

Controller's report (PDF)

Why is this on the ballot?

The American Federation of Teachers local 2121 (the City College faculty union) collected enough signatures to put this on the ballot.

Additionally, Prop 13 mandates that all new taxes be subjected to a vote of the public. Taxes introduced via signature collection must then be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

Why vote No?

City College is in bad financial shape, but it's not due to lack of revenue. It's due to mismanagement, a lack of spending discipline, and declining enrollment. City College's crisis won't be solved by yet another property tax — it will only be fixed by competent leaders.

Don't throw good money after bad. First, let's fix the governance that threatens the very existence of City College, then let's consider increasing their funding for a job well done.

State

Governor

Vote Gavin Newsom

Governor Newsom has disappointed us (many, many times), but there's still no one better with the experience necessary to govern the planet's fifth largest economy.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Gavin NewsomDemocraticGovernor Of CaliforniaNo questionnaire sent
Brian DahleRepublicanSenator / FarmerNo questionnaire sent

Lieutenant Governor

Vote Eleni Kounalakis

Eleni Kounalakis has served as Lieutenant Governor for four years and has done nothing to lose our trust or respect. Her opponent lacks the background and experience to do the job better.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Eleni KounalakisDemocraticLieutenant GovernorNo questionnaire sent
Angela E. Underwood JacobsRepublicanBusinesswoman / Deputy MayorNo questionnaire sent

Secretary of State

Vote Shirley N. Weber

Shirley Weber is the incumbent Secretary of State, having been appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to replace Alex Padilla. She has done a good job in office, and GrowSF believes she will continue to do the job well.

We admire her career and personal history. Weber is the daughter of a semiliterate father who fled the Jim Crow south when his life was in danger, she brings incredible dedication and grit to everything she does. She graduated from UCLA with a Ph.D when she was only 26 years old, and taught for four decades at San Diego State. She is one of the few California Democrats who have stood up to powerful Teachers Unions, most notably in 2015 when she proposed a bill that would require teachers to be evaluated based on their students' performance.

And we admire her efforts to restore the right to vote to people on parole for a felony conviction — all citizens deserve the right to vote.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Shirley N. WeberDemocraticAppointed California Secretary Of StateNo questionnaire sent
Rob BernoskyRepublicanChief Financial OfficerNo questionnaire sent

Controller

Vote Malia M. Cohen

Unlike the other contests on this ballot, the Controller's race has two highly qualified candidates. Ultimately, Cohen edged out her competitor for our endorsement, but you might come to a different conclusion than we did.

The two candidates are:

  • Malia Cohen (D), a Lowell High School grad, former SF Supervisor, and current member of California's Board of Equalization
  • Lanhee Chen (R), a Harvard grad, former Social Security Advisory Board member under Obama, and professor of public policy at Stanford

Malia Cohen (D) currently serves as the chair of the California Board of Equalization and is a former San Francisco Supervisor for District 10. If elected, she would be California's first Black controller. She holds a BA in political science from Fisk University, and a Masters of Science in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. In her role on the Board of Equalization, she is involved in limited oversight of California's finances, though the office has been largely stripped of its former duties:

After being reduced to its constitutional responsibilities in 2017, the Board retained almost none of its tax and fee responsibilities. The only property taxes it actively administers in its entirety are state-assessed properties and the Private Railroad Car Tax; the Board acts only in an appellate role in collecting the Alcoholic Beverage Tax and Insurance Tax, reviewing appeals of denials of claims for refund.

However, the Board does continue to appraise and audit public utilities, railroad companies and properties owned by counties outside of their own jurisdictions, known as 'state-assessed properties', and hear appeals from its own staff appraisals.

Wikipedia

Cohen is endorsed by the current controller, Betty Yee and has secured the endorsements of labor unions and other top Democratic figures like Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Lee. So, if you make your decisions based on a combination of endorsements, experience, and education, you'll probably want to vote for Malia Cohen.

Lanhee Chen (R) would bring a political outsider's perspective to a vital government oversight office. Chen graduated with degrees in law and political science from Harvard, served on the Social Security Advisory Board under President Obama, and currently teaches public policy at Stanford. Chen was endorsed by the LA Times, which described him as a fiscal watchdog that is "independent from the party in power." So, if you value an outsider's tenacity and eagerness to investigate the party in power, then you'll probably want to vote for Lanhee Chen.

Again, we landed on Malia Cohen, but we hope we've given you enough information to make an informed decision for yourself.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Malia M. CohenDemocraticCalifornia State Board Of Equalization MemberRead it
Lanhee ChenRepublicanFiscal Advisor / EducatorRead it

Treasurer

Vote Fiona Ma

Fiona Ma is the incumbent, and during her tenure California has achieved record budget surpluses. Of course, we can't attribute that to just her, but hey it helps! Both Fiona Ma and her main opponent are licensed CPAs (certified public accountants). Fiona Ma is the safe and stable choice for guaranteed performance.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Fiona MaDemocraticState Treasurer / CpaNo questionnaire sent
Jack M. GuerreroRepublicanCouncilmember / Cpa / EconomistNo questionnaire sent

Attorney General

Vote Rob Bonta

As Attorney General, Rob Bonta has worked hard to hold cities accountable for their anti-housing policies. Under Bonta's leadership, California has rejected illegal "housing element" plans from cities that seek to exclude new residents by keeping the supply of housing artificially small. Rob Bonta must continue this vital work to ensure cities follow the law for fair and abundant housing.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Rob BontaDemocraticAppointed Attorney General Of The State Of CaliforniaNo questionnaire sent
Nathan HochmanRepublicanGeneral CounselNo questionnaire sent

Insurance Commissioner

Vote Ricardo Lara

While we haven't been thrilled with Ricardo Lara's performance, we don't think his opponent, Robert Howell, would do a better job.

Howell's website is devoid of any policy proposals. He, instead, makes vague statements about being "concerned" or how he "deeply cares" about fire insurance. Nice sounding words don't cut it for us, we need policy details.

At least Ricardo Lara's website outlines both what he has done and what he will do if elected to another term.

Unfortunately, we do disagree with Lara's policy to force insurance companies to cover structures at high risk of wildfires. This good-sounding policy just ensures that people continue to live and work in disaster-prone areas and will lead to more death and destruction.

But in a race between two flawed candidates, we're obligated to pick the least-bad, and that's Ricardo Lara.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Ricardo LaraDemocraticInsurance CommissionerDid not return questionnaire
Robert HowellRepublicanCybersecurity Equipment ManufacturerDid not return questionnaire

Board of Equalization, District 2

No Endorsement

GrowSF is not thrilled with either candidate in this race. Unfortunately, neither candidate returned our questionnaire so we can't make an informed decision on the least-bad option.

Luckily, this elected office has no actual power. Here's a revealing excerpt from Wikipedia:

In March 2017, an audit by the California Department of Finance revealed missing funds and signs of nepotism, leading to calls for the governor to put the Board under a public trustee. In June 2017, the California Department of Justice began a criminal investigation into the members of the Board.

On June 27, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation stripping the Board of many of its powers. The legislation created two new departments controlled by the governor responsible for the Board’s statutory duties, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and the California Office of Tax Appeals.

The Board still has its constitutional powers to review property tax assessments and insurer tax assessments, and its role in the collection of alcohol excise and pipeline taxes. It retained 400 employees, with the rest of its 4,800 workers being shifted to the new departments.

Honestly, it barely matters who you vote for. The office has such limited powers that either candidate would probably do a fine job.

Sally Lieber (D) says that she "will fight to ensure that everyday people are heard; that our tax system is fair and equitable for homeowners, renters, people living with disabilities, small businesses, and communities of color; that utilities and other big money interests pay their fair share; and that every state agency works to combat climate change". But Lieber put zero information about her actual policies or relevant experience on her website. This doesn't inspire much confidence.

Lieber is endorsed by the Democratic establishment, including Governor Gavin Newson, and the California Democratic Party, among many others.

Peter Coe Verbica (R), a Certified Financial Planner, actually spells out some goals, unlike Lieber:

  • Help the California County Tax Assessors get through their thousands of backlogs and relieve taxpayers of the burden of uncertainty

  • Ensure that California Taxpayers receive due process in their appeals — whether the appeal is remotely heard via videoconference or in person

  • Help California County Tax Assessors properly interpret and apply Proposition 19 in the most taxpayer-friendly way possible — within the letter of the law

  • Encourage other tax-gathering arms under the control of the Governor to develop and enhance their own Taxpayers' Rights Advocate offices, where the obligation is to the taxpayer rather than garnering revenues for the sovereign

Verbica is endorsed by the Republican establishment.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Sally J. LieberDemocraticCouncilwoman / Environmental AdvocateDid not return questionnaire
Peter Coe VerbicaRepublicanInvestment AdvisorDid not return questionnaire

Assembly, District 17

Vote Matt Haney

This is the fourth time you'll be voting in an election between Matt Haney and David Campos this year. There was a special election in February, the special runoff in April, the Primary in June, and now finally the General in November. We know... it's a bit much.

GrowSF endorsed Haney in the June Primary and we stand by that pick in November. He's already doing great work pushing housing bills forward and we're excited to see what else he can accomplish over the next two years.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Matt HaneyDemocraticAssemblymemberRead it
David CamposDemocraticCriminal Justice AdministratorDid not return questionnaire

Assembly, District 19

No Endorsement

GrowSF declined to make an endorsement in this contest. While Phil Ting is qualified for the job, his behavior disqualifies him from our endorsement. Karsten Weide is a feisty underdog, but we were not satisfied with his answers on our endorsement questionnaire.

Read both questionnaires and vote your conscience.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Phil TingDemocraticAssembly Budget ChairRead it
Karsten WeideRepublicanIndustry AnalystRead it

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Vote Tony K. Thurmond

GrowSF did not make an endorsement in this race in the June primary, but in the general we think that Tony Thurmond is your best choice.

Both candidates are flawed, but Thurmond easily comes out on top when considering his competitor. In particular, we found his competitor's answers to our questionnaire both troubling and frustratingly vague. He focuses on throwing out decades of institutional knowledge in favor of his ill-defined platform without stating what that actually means or what, in particular, he wants to change. This sounds like a recipe for revolution, not reform.

Thurmond may not be perfect, but he doesn't want to burn the system down. Education in California needs a lot of improvement, but we won't get there by tearing it apart.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Tony K. ThurmondNon-partisanSuperintendent Of Public InstructionDid not return questionnaire
Lance Ray ChristensenNon-partisanEducation Policy ExecutiveRead it

✅ Yes on Proposition 1

Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition 1 is a Legislative Constitutional Amendment which will enshrine the right to privacy of reproductive choice into the California constitution. California State law already protects the right to privacy of reproductive choice. Proposition 1 will change the California Constitution to say that the state cannot deny or interfere with a person’s reproductive freedom and that people have the fundamental right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, and whether or not to use contraceptives.

In June 2022, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution does not protect the right to privacy of reproductive choices and does not protect the right to seek and obtain abortions, regardless of the health impacts to the mother.

Why is this on the ballot?

According to Article XVIII of the California Constitution, amendments to the California Constitution initiated by the State Legislature must first be approved by a supermajority of both houses and the amendment must then be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

Fiscal impacts

No fiscal impacts because these rights already exist in California, and nothing needs to be implemented other than updating the text of the Constitution.

Why vote Yes?

If you believe people have a fundamental right to reproductive freedom “which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives,” vote YES on Prop 1.

If passed, Prop 1 would guarantee that right at the highest level for California. No person, no state law and no local legislation may violate that right. Prop 1 aligns with existing state rights to privacy and equal protection and would ensure that regardless of who or what party controls the government or the courts in California, the right to an abortion is protected.

More importantly this constitutional amendment would act as a critical legal shield against any conflicting federal law. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has introduced a federal ban on abortion. If this or another similar national abortion ban passes in the future, California can challenge the applicability of that federal law within our state borders. Having a state constitutional guarantee is the strongest defense against a nationwide abortion ban.

Proposition 1 proponents Senator Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President and CEO Jodi Hicks issued the following statement:

News of Senator Graham’s federal abortion ban, while despicable, comes as no surprise. This is nothing other than a desperate power grab to outlaw abortion in states like California, that stand strong in our convictions to offer safe and reproductive health care to those who need it most. California will not be bullied by right wing extremists looking to chip away at our fundamental rights. That’s why we’ve joined together to enshrine abortion rights into the California Constitution with Proposition 1 this fall. Now more than ever, we must show the rest of the country that we cannot go backward, that we must affirm abortion rights and we must protect the most vulnerable among us.

❌ No on Proposition 26

Allow sports gambling, but only by Native American tribes

Vote No

What is it?

Proposition 26 is an Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute which would legalize sports gambling, roulette, and dice games on Native American tribal land.

Why is this on the ballot?

According to Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution, amendments to the California Constitution may be introduced by collecting signatures (8% of the votes cast in the most recent Governor's race). The amendment must then be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

The campaign, initiated by four Tribes (Pechanga Indian Reservation, Barona Band of Mission Indians, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians) paid signature gatherers nearly $11 million to get this on the ballot. The campaign has raised nearly $80 million in favor, largely from other Native American tribes.

Fiscal impacts

Increased state revenues, possibly reaching tens of millions of dollars annually. Some of these revenues would support increased state regulatory and enforcement costs that could reach the low tens of millions of dollars annually.

Why vote No?

GrowSF opposes Proposition 26 because it is clear regulatory capture by a state-granted monopoly.

Simply put: organizations should not write their own regulations. Especially when those organizations already have a sweetheart deal granting them a total monopoly on a particular activity.

In this case, Native American tribes currently have a monopoly on gambling, granted and enforced by the State of California. They are now trying to expand the scope of that monopoly to more types of gambling and are writing the regulations that govern themselves at the same time. The fact that the tribes have spent nearly $80 million for this initiative shows just how interested they are in writing their own rules.

This is an abuse of the California initiative system. These regulations should be set by the State Legislature, not the organizations subject to the regulations.

❌ No on Proposition 27

Online gambling, but only with a $100 million licensing fee

Vote No

What is it?

Proposition 27 is an Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute which would legalize online sports gambling for organizations which partner with a Native American tribe and pay a $100 million license fee. Some of the revenue raised would be used for homeless services.

Why is this on the ballot?

According to Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution, amendments to the California Constitution may be introduced by collecting signatures (8% of the votes cast in the most recent Governor's race). The amendment must then be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

The campaign, paid signature gatherers nearly $18 million to get this on the ballot.

The campaign has raised nearly $100 million in favor, mostly from large online sports betting companies like BetMGM (of MGM Resorts & Casinos), DraftKings, and FanDuel.

Fiscal impacts

Increased state revenues, possibly reaching hundreds of millions of dollars annually, up to an estimated $500 million. Some of these revenues would support increased state regulatory and enforcement costs that could reach the mid-tens of millions of dollars annually.

Why vote No?

While both Prop 26 and Prop 27 do some good things (legalize and regulate more types of gambling, raising taxes for public services including homelessness, mental healthcare, and gambling addiction treatments, etc), they are transparent attempts at regulatory capture.

Prop 27 legalizes online sports betting in California, but prevents new entrants into the market with its obscenely high license fees ($100 million dollars per license for the first five years). Prop 27 also institutes over sixty pages of new rules around tax collection, spending, and social programs that can only be amended by the legislature with a five-sixths supermajority!

This blatant attempt for tribes and corporations to write their own laws that give them a permanent advantage over their competitors while handcuffing Californians with laws that are nearly impossible to alter should be opposed.

✅ Yes on Proposition 28

Additional funding for arts & music education in public schools

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition 28 is an Initiative Statute which will require the state to fund arts education programs equal to 1% of the constitutionally mandated state and local funding that public schools received in the prior year. At schools with more than 500 students, 80% of these funds will be used for teacher salaries, and the remainder used for training and materials.

Why is this on the ballot?

According to Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution, citizens may introduce statutes (laws) by collecting signatures (5% of the votes cast in the most recent Governor's race). The statute must then be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

The former Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District, Austin Beutner, personally donated nearly $4 million to help get this on the ballot. Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, donated $1.5 million. The campaign spent roughly $6.4 million to collect enough signatures.

Fiscal impacts

The state will spend approximately $1 billion more money on schools. The current California State budget is around $300 billion in total, of which approximately $196 billion is in the general fund. This amount is less than one-half of one percent of the state general fund budget.

Why vote Yes?

Arts and music education is important for children. Studies have shown that arts and music education increases academic aptitude and achievement, as well as fosters skills that are important for developing brains.

Prop 28 doesn't raise taxes while ensuring the state spends nearly $1 billion annually to fund arts and music education in public schools. Because of the General Fund's current surplus, supporters don't anticipate the funding to result in cuts from other places in the state budget.

70% of the funds will be distributed according to a formula that accounts for enrollment in preschool and K-12 education. The remaining 30% will be distributed to school based on their share of low-income students. We recognize that students from wealthier families will typically have easier access to arts and music education, so we think this distribution formula that spends a little more on students from low-income families makes a lot of sense.

Overall, Prop 28 will help California students have a well-rounded education, foster important skills, and provide better instruction and materials to students across the state.

❌ No on Proposition 29

Require expensive doctors in kidney dialysis clinics

Vote No

What is it?

Proposition 29 is an Initiative Statute which would require that kidney dialysis clinics enact staffing requirements that force clinics to have at least one physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant with "at least six months of experience providing care to end-stage renal disease" onsite during patient treatments. It also adds some mandatory disclosure requirements to the clinics.

Why is this on the ballot?

According to Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution, citizens may introduce statutes (laws) by collecting signatures (5% of the votes cast in the most recent Governor's race). The statute must then be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

The SEIU union is behind this measure, along with the previous attempts in 2020 and 2018 which both failed.

Fiscal impacts

Prop 29 will increase the costs for dialysis clinics. This may result in higher costs to patients, closure of clinics who serve clients in low-income areas, and fewer dialysis clinics opening.

Prop 29 will also increase the cost to taxpayers by requiring higher payments via Medi-Cal.

Why vote No?

The powerful SEIU union is abusing the California initiative process in service of their labor dispute. Rather than negotiate in good faith with the clinics, they are raising and spending tens of millions of dollars to try to force the outcome they want.

Prop 29 will not improve treatment at kidney dialysis clinics. Instead, Prop 29 will mandate that expensive doctors be required to be on-site during all patient treatments. This will immediately create a staffing crisis across the state's kidney dialysis clinics, possibly causing some of them to shut down temporarily so they don't break this new law. This would mean patients would miss appointments. "Physicians warn that patients missing even one treatment increase their risk of death by 30%," according to the Mercury News.

Like Prop 26 and Prop 27, Prop 29 is another example of regulatory capture — the regulated industry writing its own rules. This duty belongs to the State Legislature and the Federal government. In fact, the Federal government already requires that kidney dialysis clinics have a medical director who is a board-certified physician that oversees the clinic and is responsible for ensuring high-quality medical care and staff are adequately trained to handle all aspects of dialysis treatment.

Don't let a powerful union make dialysis treatment more expensive and less available because they want to hire more doctors. The specialized care that this law mandates is not necessary at dialysis clinics — patients have their own regular doctors to see for end-stage renal disease.

Reject Prop 29, and let's pray we don't have to go through this for the fourth time in two years.

✅ Yes on Proposition 30

Investments in fighting and preventing wildfires, and reducing carbon emissions and air pollution from vehicles

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition 30 is an Initiative Statute which would fund investments in fighting and preventing wildfires and reduce climate emissions and air pollution from vehicles by subsidizing installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, hydrogen fueling infrastructure, and purchases of electric and other zero-emissions vehicles. This will be funded by a new 1.75% income tax on people earning more than $2 million per year.

Why is this on the ballot?

According to Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution, citizens may introduce statutes (laws) by collecting signatures (5% of the votes cast in the most recent Governor's race). The statute must then be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

The campaign, primarily funded by Lyft, spent $8.5 million to collect enough signatures to get this on the ballot.

Fiscal impacts

Prop 30 will raise between $3.5 billion and $5 billion per year (growing over time) from the wealthiest Californians. Only incomes above $2 million per year will be taxed to fund this initiative. $2.8 billion to $4 billion of that would go toward zero emission vehicle programs, including electric vehicle charging stations. $700 million to $1 billion would go toward wildfire response and prevention — doubling the state budget for these programs.

Why vote Yes?

Proposition 30 will help California prepare for the reality of climate change by funding wildfire response and prevention, and helping California move away from fossil fuel.

On wildfires, Prop 30 doubles the budget for wildfire response and prevention. This will allow the state to hire, train, and retain firefighters across the state as well as perform wildfire prevention activities like prescribed burns.

On electic vehicles, Prop 30 helps fund the absolutely vital work to build and improve electric infrastructure so we can charge the fleet of the future. Electric vehicles are absolutely crucial for mitigating climate change, and that means we need to plan 30 years ahead to make sure the grid can handle it. In the past few years we've seen what happens when we let the grid stagnate, so let's learn from those mistakes and start fixing what needs fixing and building what needs building.

Prop 30 also gives subsidies to families to help them switch from gas cars to electric cars! California recently introduced a mandate that all cars sold in California must be electric by 2035 (that's only 13 years away!), and Prop 30 will help ensure even low-income families can switch without breaking the bank. Prop 30 will also make it more affordable for large organizations like school districts and transit agencies to replace their diesel vehicles with zero-emission trucks, buses, even tractors!

Some critics oppose Prop 30 because Lyft is the main funder and it will help Lyft transition its fleet from gas to electric cars. We think that's horribly cynical and irresponsible. If we save the Earth and a company saves a little money, that sounds like a win-win!

✅ Yes on Proposition 31

Uphold flavored tobacco ban

Vote Yes

What is it?

Proposition 31 is a referendum on Senate Bill 793 of 2020, which banned sales of flavored tobacco vaping products except for hookah tobacco, loose-leaf tobacco, and premium cigars.

A Yes vote maintains the ban on flavored tobacco products (the original law stays in effect).

A No vote legalizes flavored tobacco products (repeals the law).

Why is this on the ballot?

According to Article II, Section 9 of the California Constitution, citizens may introduce referendums to approve or reject previously enacted laws and ballot measures by collecting signatures (5% of the votes cast in the most recent Governor's race). The referendum must then be approved by voters with a simple majority of 50% + 1.

The campaign, primarily funded by big tobacco companies, spent $13.7 million to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company donated nearly $10 million, Philip Morris USA donated $9.1 million, and ITG Brands (maker of blu e-cigarettes) donated $500,000.

Fiscal impacts

Prop 31 would reduce tax revenue from tobacco sales by about $100 million per yer by maintaining the ban on flavored tobacco sales. Fewer people would start and continue smoking due to the absence of fruit-flavored tobacco.

However, spending on health care by the state and local governments would likely go down over time, though an estimate for this cost savings was not provided by the Legislative Analyst's Office.

Why vote Yes?

The California legislature enacted the ban on flavored tobacco products in 2020, but it has been held in legal limbo due to this referendum. A Yes vote will allow the law to be implemented and let the legislature do its job.

GrowSF fundamentally believes that the legislature ought to write and enact laws, and if the people are unhappy with those laws, then we should vote out those lawmakers.

Beyond our principled stand against referenda, we also find the evidence that flavored tobacco bans lower tobacco usage by children very compelling. Not only are flavors a "major driver" of youth e-cigarette usage, but a CDC study found that over 22% of children using tobacco said they first tried tobacco because "they are available in flavors, such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate".

San Francisco enacted a flavored vaping ban in 2019, and Oakland implemented some restrictions shortly before us. In Oakland, these restrictions caused both the vaping and smoking rates to decline in Oakland high schools. In San Francisco, the flavored vaping ban caused flavored vape sales of regular tobacco products to decline 25% — indicating that not only were people were not switching from flavored tobacco to regular, but they were no longer starting with flavors and then using regular tobacco.

A flavored tobacco ban is indisputably effective at reducing tobacco use by children. This leads to long-term public health improvements. While we agree that consenting adults ought to be free to do as they please, that freedom doesn't extend to behaviors that harm others. Availability of flavored tobacco has a clear causative effect on increasing tobacco use by children, and we're not willing to make that bargain.

Vote Yes on Prop 31 to uphold the flavored tobacco ban.

Federal

Senate (Partial Term)

 

Senate (Full Term)

 
Vote Alex Padilla

Alex Padilla is running against a suite of mostly unserious challengers. He is the only candidate with serious political experience. Alex Padilla was appointed by Governor Newsom to replace Kamala Harris after she vacated the seat to become Vice President. Padilla is a former engineer and former member of the governing board of MIT, so we know he values good education. His 25+ years of experience in government (LA City Council, State Senate, and Secretary of State) have prepared him well for the difficulties of the US Senate.

The lack of any serious challenger does highlight a problem with California democracy — the Democratic party prevents qualified candidates from running against their top pick. In this case, Padilla is highly qualified and will do the job well, but the party should not be picking the winners.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Alex PadillaDemocraticAppointed United States SenatorNo questionnaire sent
Mark P. MeuserRepublicanConstitutional AttorneyNo questionnaire sent

Congress, District 11

Vote Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi is the only person qualified for this position who aligns with our values. We need her sober and competent leadership in the face of so much uncertainty.

Unfortunately, Pelosi did not return the GrowSF questionnaire, but her decades of service make it pretty clear how she legislates and holds her coalition together. We do think she should retire and pass the torch, but none of her challengers are qualified to take her place.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
Nancy PelosiDemocraticMember Of CongressDid not return questionnaire
John DennisRepublicanIndependent BusinessmanRead it

Congress, District 15

Vote Kevin Mullin

Longtime Congresswoman Jackie Speier retired this year after 14 years of service. We thank her for everything she has done. Kevin Mullin is a great successor, and has been endorsed both by our favorite State Senator, Scott Wiener, and the outgoing incumbent, Jackie Speier. Mullin will bring his years of experience as a South San Francisco City Council member & Mayor to Congress.

Kevin Mullin was a small business owner before entering politics, and knows how hard it is for small businesses to thrive in San Francisco and California. In his GrowSF questionnaire, Kevin Mullin said it was too hard to open a new business, run a business, hire staff at a living wage, and obtain the various licenses and permits necessary to run a business.

Equally important, Kevin Mullin knows that it's too hard to build housing and has the legislative chops to help solve our housing shortage. We agree with Kevin that it's too hard to expand or redevelop your own home, build subsidized and market-rate housing, and build homeless shelters. We also agree that we need state or federal intervention in San Francisco's too-strict zoning code, which makes it illegal to build things like a duplex or triplex in almost 80% of the city.

What is an "out there" change that you would make to state/local government policy, if you could? (For example: changing how elections work, creating a Bay Area regional government, etc.) To some representatives in state and local government, addressing the housing crisis by building more units of housing for all levels of income and making it easier to build affordable housing is one "out there" change I have been fighting for, but would take the opportunity to change more. We benefit as a community when everyone has a home. Our current housing crisis must be addressed by preserving and drastically increasing affordable and market-rate housing stock and expanding tenant protections. This can be achieved through changing zoning laws, supporting economically diverse neighborhoods through multifamily housing, streamlining housing approvals, stabilizing rents, and preventing displacement.

We'll leave you with his top three priorities, in his own words:

  1. Climate: I would like to address contributors to climate change and more climate resiliency programs.
  2. Housing: I'd like to address our housing crisis by increasing the supply of all types of housing for all income levels and making it easier to build and maintain affordable housing.
  3. Election reform: I would like to increase campaign contribution transparency and strengthen our democracy with mail in ballots and access to vote for every citizen.

Who's running?

CandidatePartyProfessionQuestionnaire
David CanepaDemocraticSan Mateo County SupervisorRead it
Kevin MullinDemocraticCalifornia State AssemblymemberRead it

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