San Francisco

Voting has changed in San Francisco County this year. The Voter’s Choice Act was enacted in the county to make voting more convenient. Changes include an expanded period of in-person early voting, every registered voter in the county will receive a vote-by-mail ballot, and every registered voter in the county is able to vote in-person at any Vote Center in their county. Also, in-person voters in San Francisco County will have the opportunity to use the new voting system, Democracy Suite, a touchscreen tablet with audio features, to mark their ballots. Have questions about the changes to voting in San Francisco County? Visit your county elections website.

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San Francisco, Initiative, Prop E

Prop E is a measure that provides part of the solution towards San Francisco’s housing crisis. Sponsored by Todco, a nonprofit that manages affordable housing developments, the measure ties the city’s ability to approve new office development plans to the creation of affordable housing. Prop E would modify an older law, Prop M, which imposed an annual limit on office development. Prop M passed in 1986 after a number of tall towers abruptly changed the city skyline. Prop M limits the city to only 875,000 square feet in new large office projects per year, and Prop E would limit that growth further, reducing it by whatever amount the city falls short on its state-mandated affordable housing goals. 

Advocates of Measure E -- which include numerous progressive allies of Courage California -- believe that the growth of commercial space is part of what is driving up the cost of housing and has to be slowed unless affordable housing is added, as well. While more and more businesses flock to the city of San Francisco, creating jobs, there is no where for the employees to live. It is not unusual to hear of SF employees commuting in from as far as Merced -- spending the majority of their day getting to and from work. 

The measure’s opposition includes developers and city officials. Together they claim Prop E will simply raise the cost of commercial space and limit job growth in the city. The city controller’s analysis expands upon that claim by estimating that Prop. E. would cause the city to lose out on 10 million square feet in office space, 47,000 jobs, and 8.6 percentage points in economic growth in the next 20 years. However, considering that office development is increasing while affordable housing development is stagnating, it is unclear who those jobs and city’s funds will go to when only the super rich can afford to live in San Francisco. When we consider that, plus the fact that the measure is supported by Courage’s closest allies that work daily on affordable housing issues, it leads us to recommend you support the measure. 

Vote YES on Prop E.
 

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City Office Development Limit Initiative
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Vote YES on Proposition E
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Vote Yes on Prop A San Francisco

City College’s facilities were largely built in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the school has deferred repairs and safety upgrades on many of its properties for years. These deferrals have resulted in facilities and even some campuses closing -- the Civic Center campus has been closed since 2015 due to code violations and concerns about it’s earthquake readiness. Prop A is a bond measure that would allow the college to borrow $845 million from taxpayers to pay for needed seismic retrofits, as well as accessibility improvements and other safety repairs. The money would also be put towards making future buildings more environmentally friendly, a worthy goal. 

The San Francisco Community College District Board of Trustees believes this measure will only pay for about half of the school’s needed repairs, so it is possible we will see another bond measure on the ballot in the future. Regardless, this bond is necessary, as the majority of the college’s buildings are ranked “poor” or “very poor” on the facilities condition index. 

It’s fair to say that City College of San Francisco has had its share of negative headlines recently, between a series of unpopular faculty cuts and several other dramas. The trustees coming to voters for $845 million on the heels of all of that isn’t ideal. Still, the college is an important city service and should be a safe place to learn.
 
Vote YES on Prop A.
 

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Vote Yes on Prop A San Francisco
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Vote YES on Proposition A, City College Bond Issue
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Yes on Proposition D San Francisco

In recent years, some of the same economic pressures that have made housing so expensive have also been at work in the commercial sector. Smaller businesses have been disappearing from expensive areas, with landlords incentivized to leave commercial properties empty instead of renting them out for less than they’d prefer. The result has been a commercial blight in many areas that not only changes the fabric of the community but also makes it challenging for existing businesses to survive. 

Prop D is a creative attempt at addressing at least one of the causes of this scourge --  landlords who are keeping their commercial spaces vacant in the hopes of attracting higher-paying tenants. It’s the brainchild of progressive San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and would charge landlords that leave a commercial property vacant for more than half the year $250 per linear foot. The tax would then double every consecutive year. The measure wouldn’t take effect until 2021 and would only apply to a specific list of around 30 commercial corridors. It wouldn’t apply to non-profit owners and builds in flexibility for spaces damaged by fire or earthquakes, plus it leaves room for city supervisors to alter, freeze, or ultimately sunset the law. 

While it’s true that landlord greed is only one reason for the collapse of the brick-and-mortar economy in much of SF, it’s a major one and one of the few that the city is actually empowered to address. The measure is a worthwhile attempt at reinvigorating SF’s commercial economy and, if it works as intended, gives many other urban communities with similar concerns a way forward. It requires a two-thirds majority to pass. 

We strongly recommend a YES vote on Proposition D.

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Yes on Proposition D San Francisco
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Vote YES on Proposition D, Vacant Property Tax
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Yes on Prop C San Francisco

In March of 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shuttered the federally-funded, locally operated San Francisco Housing Authority and ordered that its responsibilities be turned over to the city. This was following years of financial mismanagement, and the city absorbed most of the agency’s functions as well as about 25 members of its staff. Unfortunately, because of wording in the City Charter, these transferred employees lost their retiree medical benefits. This was due to a gap in their employment with the city that occurred through no fault of their own, and this prop would simply alter the charter so that the employees who got hired by the city in the aftermath of the Housing Authority’s disintegration are able to access their well-deserved benefits. It will cost the city about $80,000 overall but over a very long period. 

We strongly recommend a YES vote on Prop C.

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Yes on Prop C San Francisco
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Vote YES on Proposition C, San Francisco Housing Authority Retirement Benefits
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Yes on Prop B San Francisco

Prop B would allow the city of San Francisco to borrow $628.5 million in bonds to invest in some of the infrastructure and emergency service improvements necessary to help protect residents in the event of a major earthquake. The measure would cost the owners of homes assessed at $1 million roughly $150 a year, and while SF’s property taxes are high, so are the risks if the city doesn’t do everything it can to invest in earthquake preparedness. 

Californians all know we live with the risk of the “Big One,” and the city’s plan to borrow this money would allow them to make seismic improvements, as well as other needed repairs and improvements to fire department facilities, police stations, and 911 call centers. The measure requires two-thirds support to pass. Given the long-term likelihood of a major earthquake, this is a wise use of the city’s borrowing abilities and worth supporting. 

We strongly recommend a YES vote on Prop B.
 

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Yes on Prop B
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Vote YES on Proposition B, Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond
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SF Judge Seat 21

Submitted by caitlin on Thu, 02/20/2020 - 09:20

There are two candidates for this open seat. Courage California does not have enough information to recommend one over the other in this race, but we have compiled basic biographical information for your reference.

SF JUDGE SEAT 18

Submitted by caitlin on Thu, 02/20/2020 - 09:18

There are two candidates for this open seat. Courage California does not have enough information to recommend one over the other in this race, but we have compiled basic biographical information for your reference.
 

Carolyn Gold

San Francisco County Bar Association ranking: QUALIFIED

Carolyn Gold serves as the Director of Litigation and Policy at the Eviction Defense Collaborative. Gold has spent over 20 years as a tenants rights lawyer and advocate. 

The Eviction Defense Collaborative provides support for low-income residents, including renters facing eviction and residents of homeless shelters funded by the city. She previously served as supervising director of the Bar Association of San Francisco's Justice and Diversity Center and as Judge Pro Tem for the San Francisco Superior Court. 

She is a graduate of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and she earned her J.D. from U.C. Hastings College of the Law. 

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https://www.carolyngoldforjudge.com/
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Kulvindar “Rani” Singh

San Francisco County Bar Association ranking: EXCEPTIONALLY WELL QUALIFIED

Kulvindar “Rani” Singh has been a San Francisco Assistant District Attorney for over 20 years. Since 2016, she has been the Managing Attorney for the Domestic Violence Unit and the Collaborative Courts and Mental Health Units. She began her legal career at the Berkeley Community Law Center (now EBCLC), defending low-income tenants against wrongful eviction. 

Singh has been recognized on numerous occasions for her work on human trafficking cases, including the Modern Day Abolitionist Award from the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking. She was also nominated to the Judicial Council’s State Advisory Committee for Collaborative Courts. 

Singh attended City College of San Francisco, and the University of California, Davis. She received her J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

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https://www.singhforjudge.com/
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https://www.singhforjudge.com/endorsements
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Michelle Tong

San Francisco County Bar Association ranking: QUALIFIED

Michelle Tong has spent over 16 years as Deputy Public Defender in San Francisco County. Prior to joining the Public Defender's office, she was Eviction Defender at the Eviction Defense Collaborative. Prior to law school, she also worked at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus on immigration and employment issues. 

Tong is running to address inequities in the justice system and the “well-documented disparities that exist in our courts by addressing the implicit biases on our judiciary.” She wants to support a “system that focuses on making victims whole through restorative justice principles.” 

Tong received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her law degree from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. 

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www.tong4judge.com
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http://www.tong4judge.com/endorsements/
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