GrowSF Voter Guide for the March 2024 Primary Election

Last Updated: February 01, 2024
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The March 5, 2024 election is one of the most important San Francisco elections in years. We have the opportunity to change the direction of the city by electing new leadership to the Democratic Party that will emphasize public safety and housing affordability, elect new judges that will actually hold criminals accountable, and improve our public schools.

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Explaining Our Endorsements

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San Francisco

The most important election right now is for Democratic County Central Committee, or DCCC, which controls the San Francisco Democratic Party. The Party has a powerful voice in electing leaders who are focused on issues like taking opioid dealers off the streets, improving housing affordability, and cleaning up our streets. If you want to influence the future of San Francisco politics, this is the election to pay attention to.

East side residents will vote in the District 17 race, and West side in the District 19 race. If you're not sure which district you're in, use our District Lookup tool:

Democratic County Central Committee, District 17

We are proudly recommending these 14 candidates who will bring desperately needed change to the Democratic Party. These 14 candidates on the "SF Democrats for Change" slate are all hard-working, collaborative, and dedicated to making San Francisco the best place in America to live and raise a family. They all take public safety and our housing shortage seriously.

Vote for ALL FOURTEEN of these candidates

Candidates are listed in the order they appear on the ballot.
Emma Heiken
Emma HeikenPublic Policy Analyst
Lily Ho
Lily HoPublic Safety Director
Cedric G. Akbar
Cedric G. AkbarCommunity Advocate
Nancy Tung
Nancy TungChief Prosecutor (San Francisco District Attorney's Office)
Michael Lai
Michael LaiEarly Education Director
Laurance Lem Lee
Laurance Lem LeeSmall Business Owner
Peter Ho Lik Lee
Peter Ho Lik LeeBusiness Owner / Parent
Trevor Chandler
Trevor ChandlerPublic School Teacher; Candidate for Supervisor, District 9
Carrie Barnes
Carrie BarnesCommunity Organizer / Mom
Lyn Werbach
Lyn WerbachSchool Administrator / COO
Joe Sangirardi
Joe SangirardiHousing Policy Director
Luis A. Zamora
Luis A. ZamoraExecutive Affairs Director
Matt Dorsey
Matt DorseySupervisor, District 6
Bilal Mahmood
Bilal MahmoodClimate Nonprofit Director

Why we picked these 14 candidates

Our candidates include lifelong San Franciscans, experienced public sector and nonprofit leaders, immigrants, and children of immigrants. They share one thing in common: support for SF Democratic leaders who are focused on common-sense policies that will make San Francisco the best place in America to live, work, and raise a family.

We're proud to endorse candidates who don't agree with us 100% of the time, but who are willing to bring new ideas to the table and engage in open and honest dialogue about the issues facing San Francisco.

Take Trevor Chandler as an example. On his questionnaire, he lists his top issues as public safety, housing, and education:

What are the top three issues facing San Francisco, and what would you like to see change?

  1. Public Safety: We must support efforts to get to a fully staffed, accountable, and responsive SFPD.
  2. Housing: We must support efforts to expedite the construction of affordable and market rate housing to alleviate our housing cost crisis.
  3. Education: We must refocus our School Board from an ideological body to an outcome-based body. The use of the School Board as a political launching pad has had a direct negative impact on SFUSD.

Trevor Chandler

Public School Teacher; Candidate for DCCC and Supervisor, District 9

Trevor really shows that he understands what voters want and is prepared to deliver.

We encourage you to read the questionnaires from each of our endorsed candidates to get a full understanding of their views. We're proud to endorse them, and we hope you'll vote for them!

Who's running?

Democratic County Central Committee, District 19

We are proudly recommending these 10 candidates who will bring desperately needed change to the Democratic Party. These 10 candidates on the "SF Democrats for Change" slate are all hard-working, collaborative, and dedicated to making San Francisco the best place in America to live and raise a family. They all take public safety and our housing shortage seriously.

Vote for ALL TEN of these candidates

Candidates are listed in the order they appear on the ballot.
Parag Gupta
Parag GuptaAffordable Housing Executive
Michela Alioto-Pier
Michela Alioto-PierSmall Business Owner
Jade Tu
Jade TuCommunity Non-profit Director
Mike Chen
Mike ChenData Engineer
Dan Calamuci
Dan CalamuciLabor Union Representative, Nor Cal Carpenters
Lanier Coles
Lanier ColesHealthcare professional
Sara Barz
Sara Barz Transit Professional / Mother
Catherine Stefani
Catherine StefaniSupervisor, District 2
Marjan Philhour
Marjan PhilhourSmall Business Owner, Candidate for Supervisor, District 1
Brian Quan
Brian QuanCommunity Volunteer

Why we picked these 10 candidates

Our candidates include lifelong San Franciscans, experienced public sector and nonprofit leaders, immigrants, and children of immigrants. They share one thing in common: support for SF Democratic leaders who are focused on common-sense policies that will make San Francisco the best place in America to live, work, and raise a family.

We're proud to endorse candidates who don't agree with us 100% of the time, but who are willing to bring new ideas to the table and engage in open and honest dialogue about the issues facing San Francisco.

Take Marjan Philhour as an example. On her questionnaire, she makes it clear that public safety and housing availability are deeply intertwined issues when it comes to quality of life:

Public safety - and the deterioration of support for public safety over the past 10-15 years - is the number one issue facing us in San Francisco today. This deterioration touches on every issue in this questionnaire, including housing. [...]

We need more housing. The far left in this City has adopted a housing policy that may use the right buzz words, but in fact the policy is pushing out the very people they purport to be fighting for. Seventy percent of police officers do not live in San Francisco. Families and working people - the middle class - can’t afford to live in San Francisco anymore.

Marjan Philhour

Small Business Owner; Candidate for DCCC and Supervisor, District 1

Marjan understands that we need to both build a lot more homes and improve public safety. We can't have one without the other.

We encourage you to read the questionnaires from each of our endorsed candidates to get a full understanding of their views. We're proud to endorse them, and we hope you'll vote for them!

Who's running?

Judges

Normally, judges run without any competition and they sail to victory. But now more people are paying attention and noticed that some judges uphold their own ideologies instead of the law. It's time to change that.

We are looking for judges who will uphold the law and hold criminals accountable for their actions. They must issue judgments responsibly and fairly, and not let their personal ideologies take precedence over the law. The judge must neither be overly harsh or overly lenient. And they must ensure the judgments they issue

Judge, Seat 1

Vote Albert "Chip" Zecher

We recommend voting for Albert "Chip" Zecher for Superior Court, Seat 1.

This contest isn't a question of qualifications — it's a question of ideology. Both Chip Zecher and the incumbent Michael Begert are well qualified on paper. Zecher has spent a lifetime in civil litigation and has served the community across various nonprofits and boards for decades. Begert has spent a decade on the bench, presided over many civil and criminal cases, and has volunteered with many community organizations.

On a surface level, they both seem like great choices. But we have to choose one, so what's the difference?

Why Not Begert?

According to our September 2023 GrowSF Pulse Poll, voters want illegal drug dealers to go to jail, addicts connected with drug treatment programs, and for the rampant shoplifting that is destroying our small businesses to stop. On these metrics, incumbent Judge Begert has failed.

According to Stop Crime Action, a local nonprofit advocacy group that analyzes judicial performance, Judge Begert "repeatedly released a convicted sex offender with multiple subsequent arrests for robbery, grand theft, assault and battery, burglaries, possession of burglary tools, etc."

Begert has been campaigning alongside politicians like David Campos, Connie Chan, and Hillary Ronen, all of whom support defunding or even dismantling the police department.

Judge Michael Begert with politicians Hillary Ronen, David Campos, and Connie Chan

Judge Michael Begert with politicians Hillary Ronen, David Campos, and Connie Chan

And for what it's worth, Judge Begert lives in Piedmont, where he's isolated from the issues that regular San Franciscans face every day.

Why Zecher?

Zecher comes from a family with a long history of service in the courts: his mother was the first female judge appointed to the Santa Clara Superior Court in 1975 and she was even voted Trial Judge of the year in 1994! With his mother as his role model, Zecher said he "always knew [he] was going to go into law."

In his early career, Zecher was a Research Attorney for the San Francisco Superior Court's family law division where he "served families seeking adoptions, custody support and advocated for youth under the care of the state."

After spending two decades as a civil litigator, Chip began teaching Community Property, Constitutional Law, and Contracts at Lincoln Law School in San Jose. From 2010 to 2023 Zecher served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Harker School, which he chaired from 2018 to 2023. Then in 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Zecher to the Board of Directors of UC Law (formerly UC Hastings) in the Tenderloin.

It was that experience at UC Law in the Tenderloin that spurred Zecher to run for Judge. He saw firsthand the impact that crime and drug dealing had on the neighborhood, and recognized that so many of the problems were due to a few bad judges, like Begert, who refused to hold criminals accountable.

My experience serving on the board of UC Law (formerly UC Hastings) in the Tenderloin opened my eyes to the conditions on our streets and how they are impacted by open air drug markets and crime. I believe our criminal justice system should demand more accountability from these bad actors. [...]

Out of [my] experience working in the Tenderloin, I gained a greater appreciation for the complexity of the drug crisis. It inspired me to volunteer for a local organization researching the root causes of poverty, drug addiction, and homelessness. Understanding the crisis in the Tenderloin and becoming more deeply engaged in the bureaucratic and political barriers that stand in the way of change inspired me to deepen my public service and ultimately launch my campaign to serve as a Judge.

Albert "Chip" Zecher

Candidate for San Francisco Superior Court, Seat 1

We believe that Zecher will be a fair and impartial judge who will uphold the law, hold criminals accountable for their actions, and not be swayed by politicians, unlike Judge Begert.

Who's running?

Judge, Seat 13

Vote Jean Myungjin Roland

We recommend voting for Jean Myungjin Roland for Superior Court, Seat 13.

Like the contest for Seat 1, both candidates are well qualified to serve. The incumbent Judge, Patrick Thompson, is a graduate of Harvard Law, has worked at several major law firms, and has served as Superior Court Judge since his appointment in 2022. Jean Myungjin Roland, the challenger, has spent 22 years at the San Francisco District Attorney's office where she has prosecuted domestic violence, elder abuse, stalking, child abuse, sexual assault, and child abduction cases.

Again, this contest isn't a question of qualifications — it's a question of ideology. Both candidates are clearly well qualified on paper, but one candidate lets his personal political ideology get in the way of good judgment.

Why Not Thompson?

Thompson, more than any other judge on the bench, seems to believe in giving people unlimited chances and very little accountability. According to Stop Crime SF, "Judge Thompson released drug dealer defendants on their own recognizance in 17 different cases during the period studied. Ten of the defendants Judge Thompson released had been arrested for committing new felonies". People who are arrested for committing new felonies while out on bail are not good candidates for release, to put it plainly, yet Judge Thompson let his ideology guide him.

We believe in rehabilitation: few are beyond redemption. But criminals must be held accountable for their actions. The criminal justice system only works when there are consequences for breaking the law. If there are no consequences, then there is no justice.

"Judge Patrick Thompson released alleged drug dealer Joshua Vicente Lopez without bail on July 6, 2023 despite his 14 previous arrests for drug trafficking and other crimes. Before he could go to trial, Lopez was again arrested by SFPD on September 7 with nearly a kilo" of deadly drugs — enough to kill 500,000 San Franciscans. A federal judge then stepped in and "took the decision out of the hands of local judges on October 30, ordering Lopez held without bail."

Judge Thompson's no-consequences ideology helped San Francisco set a new record last year: 806 overdose deaths. And that's just the people who died. Thousands more are addicted to drugs and living on the streets.

We want people addicted to drugs to get help and treatment. We want dealers to go to jail. Judge Thompson wants to let them all go free.

Why Roland?

Jean Myungjin Roland has spent her entire career (22 years) working for victims at the San Francisco District Attorney's office. She has served as the Assistant Managing Attorney for the Misdemeanour Unit; the Managing Attorney for the Domestic Violence, Elder Abuse, and Stalking Units; the Managing Attorney for the Juvenile Division; the Managing Attorney for the Child Abuse, Sexual Assault and Child Abduction Unit and currently serves as the Managing Attorney of the General Felony Trial Unit.

When she was in college, her grandparents were the victims of a violent home invasion. As the only fluent English speaker in her family, she was the one who had to rush to their home to talk with the police, to ensure her grandparents got the right medical treatment, and to help her grandparents navigate the criminal justice system. The experience left a lasting impression on her, and she decided to dedicate her career to helping victims of crime.

She has seen firsthand the impact that crime has on victims and their families, and she has seen how the criminal justice system can help victims get justice. And she has seen how the criminal justice system can fail victims.

In her role at the SF District Attorney's office, she has personally reviewed thousands of criminal cases and made the tough calls. She knows when to prosecute and when to drop charges, when to offer a plea deal, and when to ask for bail or let someone go free. She will bring all of that experience to the bench.

We believe she won't let her personal ideology get in the way of good judgment. She will hold criminals accountable for their actions, ensure innocent people go free, hold defendants when necessary, and ensure that victims get justice.

My approach to my role as Judge will be based on upholding the letter of the law and above all on fairness and justice for all.

Jean Myungjin Roland

Candidate for San Francisco Superior Court, Seat 13

Who's running?

yes Yes on Proposition A

Affordable Housing Bond

What is it?

Proposition A is a general obligation bond measure for $300 million to fund construction or rehabilitation of senior and low income housing ($240 million), preserve existing low income housing ($30 million), and build or acquire new housing for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other trauma related to homelessness ($30 million).

Definitions
  • "Affordable housing" is the common term for taxpayer subsidized housing only available to people and households who meet certain income requirements.
  • "AMI" or "Area Median Income" is the median income for San Francisco, and is broken down by household size.
Household Size120% AMI100% AMI80% AMI50% AMI30% AMI
1$121,000$100,850$80,700$50,450$30,250
2$138,350$115,300$92,250$57,650$34,600
3$155,650$129,700$103,750$64,850$38,900
4$172,900$144,100$115,300$72,050$43,250

Note: The scale goes up to an 11 person household. See the 2023 AMI Income Limits (PDF) for full details.

  • "Extremely low income" is defined as 30% of AMI
  • "Very low income" is defined as 50% of AMI
  • "Lower income" is defined as 80% of AMI
  • "Moderate income" is defined as 120% of AMI
Construction

Up to $240 million will be used to "construct, develop, acquire, and/or rehabilitate new affordable rental housing." These homes will be for extremely low, very low, and lower income households (see definitions, above).

Preservation

Up to $30 million will be used to preserve existing rental housing affordable to lower and moderate income households.

Victims and Survivors

Up to $30 million will be used to "construct, develop, acquire, and/or rehabilitate housing" who both qualify financially (extremely low, very low, and lower income households) and are experiencing one of the following:

  1. "trauma-informed homelessness"
  2. "street violence"
  3. "domestic violence and abuse"
  4. "sexual abuse and assault"
  5. "human trafficking"

It is unclear what is meant by "experiencing trauma-informed homelessness."

Fiscal impacts

San Francisco structures bonds so as to never raise taxes. Instead, the City issues new bonds as old bonds are paid off. This bond will be paid for by a half-cent per $100 property tax ($0.0057 per $100), replacing an existing one, so there is no change in total taxes.

Controller's report (PDF)

Per the City Controller's report, the City will take on $300 million in bond debt, and pay an estimated total of $544.5 million to pay it off. San Francisco can borrow at very low interest rates relative to the overall interest rate market, which has risen considerably in the past two years and is now at at the point of roughly what was normal back in 2007.

In simple terms, it amounts to about a $55 tax per year for properties worth $700,000. Not that much money in the grand scheme of things!

When considering if debt is a good deal, we have to look at what we can do with it and what the upside is. Bonds are an excellent way to fund infrastructure that will last (think roads, bridges, buildings, and other physical things) and a terrible way to fund ongoing expenses (think salaries and other recurring costs). The great thing about building things with bond money is that we get to use the infrastructure immediately (and for decades to come!), and pay it off later with inflated dollars.

Why is this on the ballot?

This is a General Obligation Bond.

California Government Code section 53506 and Article XVI of the California Constitution mandate that general obligation bonds of this size be put to a vote. Bonds must be approved by the voters by a 66.66% + 1 majority.

  • Sponsor: Mayor Breed
  • Co-Sponsors: Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Connie Chan, Ahsha Safai, Rafael Mandelman, Hillary Ronen, Shamann Walton, Dean Preston, Catherine Stefani, Myrna Melgar, Joel Engardio
  • Placed on ballot by: Unanimously by all Supervisors and Mayor Breed

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

San Francisco actually isn't terrible at turning this kind of money into housing. Over the past five years, San Francisco has built several thousand homes for low income residents. And while that's not nearly enough new homes, we have been using almost all of the budget allocated to such projects. However, according to reporting from The Frisc, "Last year, the Planning Department projected that SF’s funding gap for affordable housing could grow to more than $2 billion annually by 2030."

That's important context when considering this bond. In the next few years, the city may be short by nearly $2 billion for low-income housing, and this bond will provide just $300 million. However, when the City builds low-income housing, it doesn't do it alone. San Francisco gets funding from both the State and the Federal governments, so we typically pay about 1/3 of the actual cost.

It's reasonable to be skeptical of local governments building housing, especially when new low-income housing costs about $1 million per unit to build. We'd like those costs to go down (and we have some ideas on how to do that), but in the meantime we need to take the world as it is, not as it should be.

Vote Yes.

no No on Proposition B

Cop Tax

What is it?

Proposition B is a Charter Amendment from Supervisor Ahsha Safaí that will allocate funding to hire and retain police officers, and set a new minimum staffing requirement, but only if voters approve a new tax, or repurpose an existing tax, in a future election.

If voters eventually approve a tax specifically to fund the "Police Full Staffing Fund," Prop B will set a minimum staffing level for ten years. It will automatically expire after that unless renewed by voters.

In short: If voters do not pass a tax to fund the minimum staffing level, Prop B will do literally nothing.

History of minimum staffing levels

San Francisco established a minimum staffing level for the Police Department in 1994. The City has never been in compliance with the minimum staffing level, and has never faced any consequences for being out of compliance.

Minimum police staffing levels were removed by Proposition E in 2020. GrowSF supported removing the minimum staffing level from the Charter, since the City had never been in compliance and it was a fixed number not indexed to crime or population levels.

Staffing levels

Prop B will initially set the minimum staffing level to 1,700 officers, increasing by 100 officers per year until reaching 2,074 officers in the fifth year:

YearMinimum staffing level
11,700
21,800
31,900
42,000
52,074

As of September, 2023, SFPD had 1,578 officers. By comparison, if San Francisco had the same number of officers per capita as the European Union average, we would have at least 2,800 officers.

After the first five years, the minimum staffing level shall be determined by the Chief of Police at least once every five years. However, the method that the Chief of Police uses to determine the minimum staffing level is set by the Police Commission. There is no requirement for the Police Commission to approve the requested minimum staffing levels, and in fact may decrease the levels by 5% per year, regardless of the Chief's report. (They can even exceed the 5% limit by a 2/3 vote of the Commission!)

Funding

These funding requirements will only be triggered if voters approve a tax to fund the "Police Full Staffing Fund" at a future election.

During the first five years after voters approve a tax, the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor will be required to appropriate funding for at least the number of officers the Department had as of February 1 of the prior fiscal year.

In the first year, the City will be required to place $16.8 million into the Fund to pay for new staffing, plus $75,000 per officer below the minimum staffing level, not to exceed $30 million. Various amounts will be required for the remaining four years, depending on staffing shortages.

All money remaining in the fund on June 30 of each year will be transferred to the City's general fund.

Expiration

Proposition B will expire and automatically be repealed ten years after voters approve a tax to fund the minimum staffing level.

Fiscal impacts

Controller's report (PDF)

If Prop B passes and the voters subsequently, at an election held at some point in the future, approve a tax to fund the minimum staffing level, the City will be required to appropriate money to the Police Full Staffing Fund.

The increased expenses to this fund would be partially offset by reductions in overtime pay, but the City Controller estimates that the City will need to spend an additional $70 million to obtain full SFPD staffing.

Why is this on the ballot?

Proposition B is a Charter Amendment placed on the ballot by Supervisor Ahsha Safaí. Since the Board of Supervisors cannot directly amend the Charter, if they want to change the Charter they must go directly to the voters. A vote of six or more Supervisors is required to place a Charter Amendment on the ballot, and voters must approve it by a 50% + 1 majority.

It had an unusual route to the ballot, having been originally introduced by Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who then pulled support after Ahsha Safaí introduced amendments that require a new tax for this measure to have any effect. Supervisor Safaí then took over as the sponsor and pushed it forward against the objections of Supervisor Dorsey.

  • Sponsor: Ahsha Safaí
  • Co-Sponsors: None
  • Placed on ballot by: Ahsha Safaí, Connie Chan, Myrna Melgar, Aaron Peskin, Catherine Stefani, and Shamann Walton

View vote details on legistar

Why vote No?

We believe that San Francisco needs more police officers. We believe that the City should be held accountable for staffing the Police Department at a level that is appropriate for a city of our size. But this measure is too flawed to support.

Prop B claims to give voters what they want (more police), but it doesn't actually do that. Instead, it requires that voters approve yet another ballot measure at some future election to make progress on getting the fully staffed police department they deserve.

The goals of Prop B are good. But with the way it's written, it will do nothing to help San Francisco.

Vote No.

yes Yes on Proposition C

Convert Vacant Offices to Homes

What is it?

Proposition C is an Initiative Ordinance from Mayor London Breed that is intended to incentivize the conversion of office space to residential use by exempting some of the square footage from the City's real estate transfer tax.

Under current law, all real estate sales are subject to a "transfer tax" on the purchase price. (See Prop I in 2020, which GrowSF opposed.)

Proposition C will exempt the first 5,000,000 square feet of office space that is converted to residential use from the transfer tax. A typical office building that is a candidate for redevelopment will probably fall between 5,000 and 50,000 square feet. The square footage which is converted will be added to the city's annual ~1,000,000 square foot office space development cap.

Additionally, any office space that was converted to residential use since January 1, 1986 will be added to the yearly office space cap. This will allow more office space to be built in the future.

Fiscal impacts

Controller's report (PDF)

Waiving a tax may have a positive or negative economic impact. For Prop C, the final benefit or cost to the city depends on a lot of factors that can't be reliably predicted. If Prop C helps convert a vacant office building into housing, then the City will make more tax revenue from the new residents than it would have from the office building. If Prop C helps convert a building that was already occupied, then the City could lose tax revenue.

Your view on the costs and benefits of Prop C will depend on your view of the housing and office markets. If you think work-from-home is here to stay, then the City should do everything it can to make it easier to build more housing where vacant office buildings are. If you think downtown will come back after some time, then maybe we should wait and see.

Ultimately, the lost tax revenues we're talking about aren't that large. In a city with a $14 billion budget, we may lose out on $150 million in tax revenue over the next three decades. That's not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.

Why is this on the ballot?

Proposition C is an Initiative Ordinance placed on the ballot by Mayor London Breed. Since the Mayor cannot pass laws, if the Mayor wants a law changed they must go directly to the voters.

  • Sponsor: Mayor Breed
  • Co-Sponsors: None
  • Placed on ballot by: Mayor Breed

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

San Francisco is currently facing an unprecedented office vacancy crisis, with roughly 35% of office space sitting vacant and the rest underutilized due to work-from-home adoption. Proposition C will help us convert this empty office space into housing, which will help us address our decades-long housing shortage.

We believe the lower tax revenue from real estate sales will be more than offset by the increased property tax revenue from the new homes, in addition to the new sales taxes & other taxes those residents will pay.

Proposition C will open up new opportunities for housing development in San Francisco, and we should take advantage of it.

yes Yes on Proposition D

Changes to Local Ethics Laws

What is it?

Proposition D is a reform of the City's ethics laws. It will change a number of rules and procedures around gifts, what is considered a bribe, training, and reporting.

Prop D will put the Ethics Department in charge of the annual ethics & bribery trainings, rather than let each Department train themselves. We're not sure if this will significantly alter the training procedures, but it will prevent departments with endemic corruption from excluding certain things from training.

Prop D will also tighten the reporting rules on gifts and expand the restrictions on what is considered a gift or a bribe.

The legal text is hard to read because huge sections have been deleted and added. We created this single document that shows all of the changes in-line (PDF), for your convenience.

Fiscal impacts

Controller's report (PDF)

There is a small cost to implementing these reforms, but after the first year's $43,000 estimated cost, each additional year will cost the city just $25,000. The City Controller provides some context on that cost, reminding us that "the Ethics Commission has four training and outreach staff with a budget of $788,488".

Why is this on the ballot?

Proposition D was placed on the ballot by the Ethics Commission.

  • Sponsor: None
  • Co-Sponsors: None
  • Placed on ballot by: Ethics Commission

Why vote Yes?

Proposition D is fine. It's neither amazing nor terrible, but rather a series of small changes to the City's ethics laws that make things a little bit better.

We have found no compelling reason to oppose Prop D, and we think a number of the changes (like centralized ethics training) will help reduce corruption in City Hall.

Vote Yes.

yes Yes on Proposition E

Police Department Policies and Procedures

What is it?

Proposition E is an Initiative Ordinance from Mayor London Breed that will update the San Francisco Police Department's policies on technology (including drones, body cameras, and other surveillance technology), vehicle pursuits, and community input.

Here's a summary of what Prop E will change:

Surveillance Camera policy
  • Responsibility for approving new cameras will shift from the Police Commission to the Chief of Police
  • The Chief of Police will be required to hold a public meeting in the neighborhood where the cameras will be installed, and post signs within 100 feet of the proposed camera locations
  • The Chief of Police will be required to issue a report to the Board of Supervisors every year on the use of cameras
  • Only a Sergeant or higher will be able to approve access to video footage, and only for active operations and crimes in progress
  • Captains or higher may approve live monitoring of feeds
  • Only in "exigent circumstances" (think active shooter) may a Sergeant or higher request access to live feeds verbally, but they must follow up with a written request within 7 days
Body Camera policy
  • Body camera footage may be used in lieu of written paperwork for use-of-force incidents ONLY if no physical injury occurred and no firearms were unholstered
Vehicle Pursuit policy
  • Officers may engage in vehicle pursuits if a felony or violent misdemeanor has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur
  • Officers must weigh the seriousness of the crime against possible dangers of pursuit and whether that pursuit is likely to result in prevention of the crime or apprehension of the suspect
  • Drones may be used in lieu of, or in addition to, vehicle pursuits
  • The department must issue a yearly report on vehicle pursuits
New Technology
  • In general, new technology will be allowed to be used by SFPD (for legitimate law enforcement purposes only), for up to a year before submitting a "surveillance technology policy" memo to the Board of Supervisors
  • The Board of Supervisors may impose new restrictions on allowable technology via 8 vote supermajority prior to Jan 1, 2027, or via simple majority after that date

Fiscal impacts

Controller's report (PDF)

There is no fiscal impact.

Why is this on the ballot?

Proposition E was placed on the ballot by Mayor London Breed. Since the Mayor cannot write laws, if the Mayor wants a law changed they must go directly to the voters.

  • Sponsor: Mayor Breed
  • Co-Sponsors: None
  • Placed on ballot by: Mayor Breed

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

High crime is a problem in San Francisco. In our September 2023 poll, nearly 1/4 of respondents reported being a victim of crime in the last year, but only half of crime victims reported it to police. San Franciscans want a police force that will solve and prevent crimes, not be drowned in bureaucracy and red tape. Prop E gets us one step of the way there.

Read our summary of what Prop E does, above, for all the details about the changes. We like all of them but one: mandatory community meetings at the Police Commission before installing a new camera. Mandatory community meetings do not result in better government outcomes, as those who show up to the meetings tend not to be representative of the community as a whole. (When was the last time you attended a 2pm-on-a-Thursday public hearing at City Hall?)

It is better to empower department heads, like the Chief of Police, to do their jobs while remaining under civilian oversight via the Board of Supervisors. However, these same issues exist with the current policy of mandatory Police Commission hearings (where they are arguably even worse, given the power of unelected commissioners), so we don't see this particular change as net negative.

We think you should vote Yes on Prop E because it will make it easier for SFPD to investigate crimes, arrest criminals, and help achieve justice for victims. Overall we think the changes are positive for San Francisco.

yes Yes on Proposition F

Drug & Alcohol Treatment for City Services

What is it?

Proposition F is an Initiative Ordinance from Mayor London Breed that will require drug screening and substance abuse treatment for single adults receiving cash assistance from the City. It will not apply to families or seniors.

Under current law, individual adults who have housing but need assistance can receive up to $712 per month. Individuals who are homeless can receive $109 per month, plus in-kind benefits such as shelter, food, and other services.

Proposition F will not change the amount of cash assistance provided to individuals addicted to drugs, but will require them to participate in drug screening and substance abuse treatment in order to receive the cash assistance.

Individual adults who are suspected of being dependent on illegal drugs will be required to undergo a professional evaluation for substance abuse by the Department of Public Health. If they are found to have a substance abuse issue, they will be required to participate in a treatment program in order to obtain the cash assistance. If they fail to comply with the treatment program (provided at no-cost to them), their cash assistance will be suspended for 30 days. However, their housing assistance will continue, and may be extended for longer if necessary to prevent eviction and homelessness.

Individuals will not lose their benefits if they are not 100% sober; they only need to participate in the treatment program.

Fiscal impacts

Controller's report (PDF)

Proposition F definitely comes with new costs for the City, but the savings in emergency care, not to mention the lives saved, could outweigh the costs.

The City may spend up to $4 million on the first year to administer and run this drug abuse treatment program, and up to $2 million per year after that. These are small numbers, considering our budget for homeless services is around $1 billion per year.

Currently, San Francisco loses almost 2 people per day to drug overdoses, and spends millions on emergency services for drug-related issues. If Proposition F can save even a fraction of those lives and prevent future drug-related expenses, it will be a good deal.

Why is this on the ballot?

Proposition F is a Initiative Ordinance placed on the ballot by Mayor London Breed. Since the Mayor cannot write laws, if the Mayor wants a law changed they must go directly to the voters.

  • Sponsor: Mayor Breed
  • Co-Sponsors: None
  • Placed on ballot by: Mayor Breed

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

Proposition F is a common sense measure that will help people get off drugs, into treatment, and back on their feet.

According to the September 2023 GrowSF Pulse poll, 74% of San Franciscans believe that people who are homeless and addicted to drugs should be required to enter substance abuse treatment in order to obtain housing and other services. We agree with regular San Franciscans. Recovery is possible, and we should help people get there.

yes Yes on Proposition G

Eighth Grade Algebra and SFUSD Math Curriculum Development

What is it?

Proposition G is a declaration of policy, which means it is not a law. It is a statement of the City's intent to do or support something. It states that it is official City policy to urge the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to offer Algebra 1 to students by 8th grade and to support SFUSD in developing its math curriculum.

Fiscal impacts

Controller's report (PDF)

There is no fiscal impact.

Why is this on the ballot?

Proposition G is on the ballot because Supervisor Joel Engardio wants to capture the intentions of voters rather than elected officials.

  • Sponsor: Joel Engardio
  • Co-Sponsors: Ahsha Safaí, Myrna Melgar, Catherine Stefani, Matt Dorsey
  • Placed on ballot by: Joel Engardio, Connie Chan, Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman, Myrna Melgar, Ahsha Safaí,and Catherine Stefani,

View vote details on legistar

Why vote Yes?

We support Prop G, but wish it could be binding law. Statements of policy are just that: a statement and not a law. Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors has no authority over SFUSD. The elected school board has that power. That's why it's so important to elect a good school board this November.

We think you should vote Yes on Prop G because it will send a message to SFUSD that San Franciscans want our students to be able to take Algebra 1 by 8th grade (and we know that 79% of San Franciscans already support this according to our poll). After the recall of three school board members in 2022 in part due to their failure to provide a quality education to our students, we think it's important to send a message to SFUSD that we expect them to do better.

California

State Senate, District 11

Vote Scott Wiener

We're big fans of Scott Wiener's work on housing in the State Senate. He's been the State's strongest advocate for housing for many years, and we're excited to see what he can accomplish in a third term.

Scott's bold leadership on housing policy has finally given us hope that solving our housing shortage is within reach. By bringing in State oversight to ensure that local governments don't block new homes, he's (nearly single-handedly) set us on a path to build enough new homes to meet demand.

"Local communities should continue to play a significant role in planning, but extreme local control has led to our massive housing shortage. As a result, it’s important for the state to step in with clear standards, which we have done, and for local communities to follow those standards. Housing is an issue of statewide impact — in terms of our economy, climate action, and so forth — and we need to treat it as such."

Scott Wiener

California State Senator

Who's running?

State Assembly, District 17

Vote Matt Haney

Matt Haney has held this seat for just one term; and we've been satisfied with his work. He's been a surprisingly strong advocate for housing, and has focused on building bridges between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic party, as well as working across-the-aisle to get things done.

We admire his collaborative spirit and his willingness to work with people he disagrees with. We think he's a good fit in the State Capitol, and we're excited to see what he can accomplish in a second term.

Who's running?

State Assembly, District 19

Vote Catherine Stefani

Phil Ting is termed out, so this is an open seat. We recommend voting for Catherine Stefani for Assembly. She's a moderate Democrat who has been a strong advocate for public safety in San Francisco.

Who's running?

yes Yes on Proposition 1

Behavioral Health Services Program and Bond Measure

What is it?

Proposition 1 is a $6.38 billion bond measure placed on the ballot by the State Legislature. It will fund housing, mental healthcare, and substance abuse treatment for homeless individuals and veterans.

Interestingly, this proposition approves two bills that went through the legislature in 2023: Senate Bill 326 and Assembly Bill 531, according to BallotPedia.

There are a number of changes being proposed, but the most significant are:

County behavioral health services spending

Current law (the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)) mandates that counties spend the tax revenue as follows:

  • 20% of MHSA funds "for prevention and early intervention programs" (WIC § 5892(a)(3))
  • The remainder (about 80%) spent on children's and adult systems of care (WIC § 5892(a)(5)

The proposed law (the Behavioral Health Services Act (BHSA)) changes these allocations to:

Additionally, counties will be required to establish and maintain a "prudent reserve" of no more than 20% of the average total distributed to the county over the past five years.

Finally, the proposed law would shift 5% of the funds from counties to the State, which will be used, in part, to increase the number of mental health professionals in the state.

These changes would take effect on July 1, 2026, and are all funded by an existing 1% tax on people making at least $1 million per year. It does not enact a new tax.

By our reading, this doesn't dramatically change the amount counties may spend on mental healthcare and drug abuse treatment. Spending on these programs may increase or decrease depending on how the county has been utilizing the MHSA funds. It is certainly more prescriptive on how the money is spent than the current law.

Mental health and substance use disorder treatment

$4.4 billion from the bond will fund the construction of mental health and drug or alcohol treatment facilities. The State Legislative Analyst Office estimates about 6,800 treatment spots will be built, which could serve up to 100,000 people per year.

Housing

$2 billion from the bond will be given to local governments in order to turn hotels, motels, and other buildings into housing, as well as build new housing. These homes would be for people who have mental health or drug abuse problems AND are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The State Legislative Analyst Office estimates about 4,350 homes will be built, with about half set aside for veterans.

Fiscal impacts

Proposition 1 changes how revenue from an existing tax is spent and authorizes $6.4 billion in bonds, which will cost the State an estimated $310 million per year for 30 years (that's $9.3 billion total). The payments will be from the general fund and will not increase taxes.

Why is this on the ballot?

Proposition 1 amends the Mental Health Services Act, which was passed as Proposition 63 in 2004. All amendments to prior ballot measures must be approved by the voters.

Why vote Yes?

California is facing a homelessness, mental health, and drug abuse crisis. Proposition 1 will help address all three of these issues with investments in housing & shelter, mental health treatment facilities and staff, and drug treatment centers.

There are two important factors that led to our "Yes" endorsement:

  1. The bond funds construction of drug treatment, mental healthcare facilities, and housing for those in recovery and the homeless. We are strongly in favor of using bond money to build infrastructure like this.
  2. The new allocation of an existing tax doesn't raise taxes for Californians and will help ensure that counties are spending their mental health funds on the most effective programs.

Other Contests

Arrow Decorator

This year we opted to only make endorsements in California and San Francisco. We believe that focusing on local issues is the best way to make a difference in our community.

But we'll soon provide some helpful summaries of top-polling candidates to help you decide, without making any recommendations ourselves.

Federal

President (Democrat)

The Democratic Presidential Primary is your best shot at influencing who becomes President. The State of California is almost certainly going to vote for the Democratic nominee in the general election, so the primary is where the real action is.

Who's running?

President (Republican)

Since California will vote for a Democratic President, Republicans in California only have a chance to influence their party's nominee. If you are a Republican, you should vote in the Republican Presidential Primary to make your voice heard.

Who's running?

President (Third Party)

Hey, it's your vote. If you want to vote for a third-party candidate, you can do that. But it's unlikely that a third party candidate will win the Presidency, so you should consider voting in one of the Party primaries, instead.

Who's running?

US Senate (Full Term)

For the first time in a very long time, California does not have an incumbent Senator on the ballot. And you'll get to vote for this seat twice! The "Full Term" begins in January 3, 2025. The "Partial Term" (see below) will fill the seat until January 3, 2025.

Senator Dianne Feinstein had served in the Senate since 1992 (that's 32 years!) and was planning to retire due to declining health. But on Friday, September 29, 2023, Senator Dianne Feinstein passed away while still in office. Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to serve out the remainder of Feinstein's term and is not running for the seat.

Who's running?

US Senate (Partial Term)

The "Partial Term" Senate seat will fill the remainder of Dianne Feinstein's term, ending January 3, 2025.

Who's running?

US Congress, District 11

Rumors were swirling about Nancy Pelosi's retirement, but on September 8 she announced she was officially running for reelection.

Who's running?

US Congress, District 15

Who's running?

Other Central Committees

We also opted not to make endorsements in the Republican, Green, and Peace and Freedom party Central Committees.

Republican County Central Committee, District 17

We did not send questionnaires for this contest. If you are a Republican unhappy with the current state of the Party, you may be interested in The Briones Republicans.

Who's running?

Republican County Central Committee, District 19

We did not send questionnaires for this contest. If you are a Republican unhappy with the current state of the Party, you may be interested in reading The Briones Republicans.

Who's running?

Green Party County Council

Who's running?

Peace and Freedom County Central Committee

Who's running?

Paid for by Coalition to Grow San Francisco - Grow SF PAC. FPPC # 1433436. Committee major funding from: Jeremy Liew. Not authorized by any candidate, candidate's committee, or committee controlled by a candidate. Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org.

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