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Measure Q - Special Tax for Extended Police and Structural Fire Protection Services

According to our analysis, Measure Q’s tax renewal funds emergency services for a region of San Mateo County with increased fire risk.

About the Race

This special election is asking voters whether to extend an existing $65 tax that applies to residents of San Mateo County Service Area 1 (CSA 1), which includes Unincorporated San Mateo Highlands, Baywood Park, and Baywood Plaza for an additional four years. The tax is used to pay for enhanced fire department services for the area, which includes a 24/7 fire engine located at Fire Station #17, located on Paul Scannell Drive. CalFire staffs the engine with a minimum of three firefighters, at least one of which is a Paramedic. The tax also funds patrol service of CSA 1 by a Deputy Sheriff, 7 days a week, 18 hours a day.

According to President of the Highlands Community Association Nicolas Liesje, this measure is being presented to voters in a special election because San Mateo County staff omitted this measure from the March 2020 ballot. It is unclear why this omission was made.

About the Decision

Measure Q renews the $65 tax on residents of CSA 1 for four additional years. A YES vote on Measure Q does not change the levels of taxation or services available to CSA 1. A NO vote on Measure Q will mean that CSA 1 will no longer have enhanced fire department and police services, and will also not pay the $65 tax, which is collected alongside local property taxes. Measure Q requires a 2/3 vote to pass.

About the Service Area

CSA 1 was established in 1955 to provide enhanced fire service for the San Mateo Highlands, Baywood Park, Baywood Plaza, San Mateo Oaks, Polhemus Heights, Hillside Garden and other neighborhoods in the unincorporated area to the east and west of Polhemus Road. The current population of CSA 1 is estimated at 3,052. The additional police services were added to the tax in 1966. CSA 1 does not administer any other special services.

About the Official Arguments

An argument in favor of and an argument against a measure were selected for publication in the Sample Ballot & Official Voter lnformation Pamphlet. The primary argument in favor of Measure Q was filed by President of the Highlands Community Association Nicolas Liesje. He describes the fire and police services funded by the tax as “local emergency services” and points out that it is an extension of an already existing tax that was first passed in 1955. The primary argument against Measure Q was filed by Mark Hinkle, President of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and Jack Hickey, member of the Libertarian Party of San Mateo. They characterize it as a waste of taxpayers’ money. They also point out the costs of the special election itself as wasteful.

Based on the historical context of how this tax was first proposed and passed, it appears that the police services are in support of the fire emergency response services. The renewal of the police services funded by this tax appear to support emergency response efforts for CSA 1 only, and therefore seems unlikely to significantly impact police funding overall in San Mateo County.

How to Vote in this Election

The June 23 election encompasses only County Service Area 1 of San Mateo County and is being administered by San Mateo County’s Registration & Elections Division. To be counted, completed ballots must be received no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, or be postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than three days after Election Day. Voters will be able to cast their ballot via mail, or vote in person on paper or the electronic voting machine at a Vote Center. Information about this election can be found at https://www.smcacre.org/current-election.

Every registered voter in San Mateo County will be mailed a ballot beginning 29 days before Election Day. Voters will have the following options for returning their ballot:

  • Vote in person at the one Vote Center that will be open for this election, located at 40 Tower Road, San Mateo, CA 94402
  • Mail their ballot (postage is pre-paid) so that it is postmarked by Election Day, July 21, 2020
  • Drop their ballot off at marked drop off boxes inside and outside 40 Tower Road, San Mateo, CA 94402.

Accessible Voting: Voters with disabilities can vote privately and independently by accessing and marking a ballot in a screen-readable format from any computer. Ballots must be printed out and returned to the Registration & Elections Division. Marked ballots cannot be emailed or faxed. The service may be accessed anytime, day or night during an election period by going online to https://www.smcacre.org/my-election-info and entering your information to find a link to your ballot; or emailing registrar@smcacre.org or calling 650.312.5222 to have a link to your ballot emailed to you.

Register to Vote: To be eligible to vote in this election, your Voter Registration Form must be submitted online by midnight no later than 15 days before June 23rd. If you are mailing a Voter Registration Form, it must be postmarked no later than 15 days before June 23rd and received by the San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division by the close of the polls on June 23rd, Election Day.

After the June 8th deadline, you can still register and vote under Conditional Voter Registration (CVR), also known as Same Day Voter Registration. Contact your county elections office to learn more about CVR.

Risk-Limiting Audit: The San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division will be conducting a pilot risk-limiting audit for the June 23, 2020 County Service Area No. 1 Special Mail Ballot Election. More information about the audit is available here.

San Mateo County Registration & Elections Website: https://www.smcacre.org/election

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Election Type
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Ballot Measure Type
Ballot Measure Number
Measure Q
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Support
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Sample Ballot Description
Special Tax for Extended Police and Structural Fire Protection Services
Call to Action
Measure Q: Special Tax for Extended Police and Structural Fire Protection Services
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State

San Diego, Measure B

Both Measures A and B on the San Diego County March ballot deal with housing development in the county’s unincorporated areas. While Measure A is designed to increase public oversight and approval over any large development project in San Diego County, Measure B reaffirms the approval of a specific large development project called Newland Sierra by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. 

San Diego County’s Measure B would uphold the approval of Newland Sierra, a planned high density development just north of Escondido on land currently zoned as rural or semi-rural. The Newland Sierra project would build 2,135 homes on land previously zoned for 99 residences, as well as the development of about 2 million square feet of commercial space. In addition to approving the land rezoning, the San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the county’s development guidelines specifically for Newland Sierra.

The Supervisors have failed to set in place any long-term action plans on affordable housing or climate for the county, which is how Newland Sierra was approved with no affordable housing guarantees in part of the county identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as an area of severe fire danger. 

Proponents of Measure B argue that a legal agreement signed by the the developer of the project guarantees affordable housing be included in the project, and that the project will help alleviate the housing crisis in the area. Opponents of Measure B, have pointed out that the signed legal agreement can be changed at any time by the developer and is therefore not enforceable by the county or the public. This is a strong example of how developers are often irresponsible stewards of our responsibility to build and expand affordable housing, while making sure that this housing is built in areas safe from excessive wildfire danger.

We recommend a NO on Measure B. 

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B
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Oppose
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Sample Ballot Description
General Plan Amendments for Newland Sierra Project
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Vote NO on Measure B
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State

San Diego, Measure A

Both Measures A and B on the San Diego County March ballot deal with housing development in the county’s unincorporated areas. While Measure B is related to the future of a specific development -- the one that inspired both of these measures -- Measure A would address the approval process for all developments in the unincorporated lands around San Diego. 

Dubbed by advocates as the “Save Our San Diego Countryside Measure,” Measure A would require a countywide vote on any major projects granted a General Plan amendment. (The county’s General Plan covers zoning and land use was last updated in 2012. Large housing developments generally require an amendment in order to proceed.) Developers rarely fare well in these kinds of public votes, but proponents of the measure believe residents should have a greater voice in any changes that involve building in the fire-prone areas in the outskirts of the county. They also note that the county government is too easily bought off by donations from the building industry and developers. 

The opposition, unsurprisingly, comes primarily from those very people -- the building industry and developers. Opponents claim it’s being financed by the ultra wealthy and primarily designed to save properties like the Golden Door Spa, the luxury retreat funding the opposition to Measure B, from development despite the fact that over a dozen environmental groups support the measure. They reiterate the conservative claim that Measure A would stymie new housing projects due to the expense involved in putting anything before a public vote.

Developers often are irresponsible stewards of our responsibility to build and expand affordable housing. Measure A would ensure that the public's voice is heard when it comes to amending the General Plan, which impacts both affordable housing and safety. It would prevent elected officials from changing the General Plan without justifying those amendments to voters in order to appease developers. While it might be well-meaning to build more housing in an attempt to address the housing crisis, if it's done in high-risk areas where families may lose their homes and potentially their lives down the line, it is misguided -- as we've seen with the countless wildfires throughout the state that have devastated various communities in fire-risk areas. 

Vote YES on Measure A.
 

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A
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Official District Info
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Sample Ballot Description
Voter Approval for Land Use Amendments to County General Plan
Call to Action
Vote YES on Measure A
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State

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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E
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Support
Official District Info
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Sample Ballot Description
City Office Development Limit Initiative
Call to Action
Vote YES on Proposition E
Sample Ballot Checked?
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State

Santa Clara BOS District 3

Submitted by deepthi on Mon, 03/02/2020 - 12:22

There are three well-qualified candidates in this race who have received broad support from progressive advocates: Kansen Chu, Magdalena Carrasco, and Otto Lee. After extensive research, we believe they are all good choices. Read the full descriptions below to find the candidate which best fits your values and priorities for Santa Clara Board of Supervisor, District 3.

Santa Clara BOS District 3

Submitted by deepthi on Mon, 03/02/2020 - 12:10

There are three well-qualified candidates in this race who have received broad support from progressive advocates: Kansen Chu, Magdalena Carrasco, and Otto Lee. After extensive research, we believe they are all good choices. Read the full descriptions below to find the candidate which best fits your values and priorities for Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor, District 3.