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Pissed Off Voter Guide - November 2014

Know Your Voting Rights

  • 10/6: Early voting starts at City Hall. Call 311 or see SFelections.org for details.

  • 10/20: Deadline to register to vote: http://RegisterToVote.ca.gov

  • 11/4: Election Day! Polls open 7am-8pm.

  • Where’s your polling place? Call 311, see SFelections.org, or vote in City Hall.

  • Even if you’ve committed a felony, you can vote as long as you’re off parole. Don’t let the Man disenfranchise you!

California Propositions

Prop 1: Water Bond - Yes

Prop 2: Rainy Day Fund - No

Prop 45: Health Insurance Thing - Yes

Prop 46: Drug Testing of Doctors and Malpractice Limits - Frustrated No

Prop 47: Lock up Fewer Nonviolent Offenders - HELL YES

Prop 48: Approve an Off-Reservation Casino - No Endorsement


State Offices

Governor - Jerry Brown

Lt. Governor - No Endorsement

Secretary of State - Alex Padilla

State Treasurer - John Chiang

Attorney General - Kamala Harris

Insurance Commissioner - Dave Jones

State Board of Equalization, District 2 - No Endorsement

Superintendent of Public Instruction - Tom Torlakson

Controller - Betty Yee

US Representative in Congress, District 12 - No Endorsement

US Representative in Congress, District 14 - Jackie Speier

State Assembly, District 17 - David Campos

State Assembly, District 19 - Phil Ting

BART Board of Directors, District 8 - No Endorsement


Frisco Propositions

Prop A: $500 Million Transportation Bond  - Yes

Prop B: Set-Aside for Transportation Funding - Conflicted No

Prop C: Reauthorize and Expand the Children’s Fund - Yes

Prop D: Retiree Health Benefits for Redevelopment Workers - Yes

Prop E: Soda Tax - Yes

Prop F: Increase Height Limits at Pier 70 - Yes

Prop G: Anti-Speculation Tax - HELL YES

Prop H: Grass Fields at the Beach Chalet - No Endorsement

Prop I: Artificial Turf Fields All Over the City - No

Prop J: Raise the Minimum Wage to $15! - HELL YES

Prop K: Non-Binding Pinky Swear to Build Affordable Housing - No Endorsement

Prop L: Non-Binding Recipe for Carmegeddon and Gridlock - HELL NO


Local Offices

Board of Supervisors: District 2 - Juan-Antonio Carballo

Board of Supervisors: District 4 - No endorsement

Board of Supervisors: District 6 - Jane Kim

Board of Supervisors: District 8 - No Endorsement

Board of Supervisors: District 10 - 1) Tony Kelly 2) Ed Donaldson 3) Shawn Richard

Board of Education - Stevon Cook, Shamann Walton, Jamie Rafaela Wolfe

Community College Board – 4-year term - Wendy Aragon, Brigitte Davila, Thea Selby

Community College Board – 2-year term - William Walker

Judge of the Superior Court, Office 20 - Daniel Flores

Public Defender - Jeff Adachi

Assessor-Recorder - No Endorsement

State Candidates

Governor: Jerry Brown

In June’s primary, we endorsed Chicano artist and activist Luis Rodriguez, but now that it’s down to two we’ll endorse the incumbent, Jerry Brown. He hasn’t done much for things we care about, but he’s definitely better than his free-market-cheerleader opponent, Republican Neel Kashkari. Brown sounded downright progressive debating Kashkari. And Brown signed the plastic bag ban!


Lt. Governor: No endorsement

We’ve got history with the current Lt Gav-ernor. (Four years ago, we endorsed him in the June primary, but then we switched to “no endorsement” in November after he made some stupid “no new taxes ever” statement.) Lately, Gavin and his developer friends have been busy suing San Francisco over 2013’s Prop B. You know, the Waterfront Height Limit Proposition we endorsed, that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in the last election? Lame.


Secretary of State: Alex Padilla

Padilla is a young Latino rising star in the Democratic party, currently serving as a State Senator from Los Angeles. He has some laudable (though vague and mainstreamy) goals like expanding voter participation, ensuring every vote counts, increasing transparency through technology, and making it easier to start a new business. If he can fix that Secretary of State website, he’d make our lives a hell of a lot easier writing this voter guide.


State Treasurer: John Chiang

We endorsed Chiang in June in the primary. Here’s what we had to say back then. The Treasurer is the State’s banker and chief investment officer, responsible for managing the state’s pooled dough. Before Chiang started his campaign for Treasurer, he was on the Board of Equalization and then became the state Controller. As Controller, Chiang was pretty effective - he even got sassy with the Governor and legislators in 2011, threatening to dock their pay because their so-called balanced budget was based on a bunch of accounting tricks. Rawr!


Attorney General: Kamala Harris

Harris is a Democrat and the incumbent. She’s been tough on transnational gangs, and in the fight for marriage equality she was a total badass: she forced several bigoted Republican County Clerks to issue marriage licenses after Prop 8 was overturned. When the banks settled with the states on foreclosure fraud, Kamala held out to get more money for California. However since then, we haven’t seen any follow through on prosecuting any of the bankers or cracking down on other predatory lending. And she’s not 100% aligned with League values: she’s opposed to legalizing marijuana, and just days after SF’s City Attorney sued landlords who evicted tenants to run Airbnb hotels, Harris held a fundraiser at Airbnb, co-hosted by Uber and others. /headdesk/


Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones

We supported Hrizi in the primary but had good words for Jones, too. He’s broadly progressive - he’s fought against large insurance companies on behalf of consumers and fought against fraud. He’s also been on the right side of insurance battles re: ridesharing companies. Sweet.


State Board of Equalization, District 2: No Endorsement

The Board of Equalization collects tax, and is the only publicly-elected tax commission in the United States. Fiona Ma is the Democratic candidate, but we just can’t get behind her. Fiona Ma was a conservative Supervisor here in SF, and voted the opposite way from the League time and time again. Her donor list is a big business roll call. We think she’s more interested in raising money and gaining power than in tackling California’s problems. She’s running against a Republican and doing pretty well in the polls. In other words, we aren’t going to screw anything up by not voting for her, so no big thang.


Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson

The State’s Superintendent manages the operational side of the school system, licenses teachers, maintains school property and oversees the California Department of Education. Torlakson is the incumbent. He was once a school teacher and is funded mostly by labor. He’s advocated for after-school programs, fought junk food in schools, promoted health and fitness and wants to close the digital divide in public schools. Torlakson’s opponent, Marshall Tuck, is a charter school CEO who will redirect public school funds to corporate charter schools and private schools.


Controller: Betty Yee

In June, we endorsed Perez, another Democrat in the race. But once the top two primary dust settled, Yee & Swearengin were the candidates left standing. Betty Yee is a good candidate. As Board of Equalization Chair she is already familiar with CA finances and tax structure. She’s not a progressive champion or anything, but she’s a woman of color, a Democrat, and highly qualified.


US Representative in Congress, District 12: No Endorsement

Okay, so Barry Hermanson, who we endorsed in June, wasn’t the number two vote-getter, so it’s incumbent Nancy Pelosi Democrat vs a no-chance Republican challenger. Every two years we debate whether or not to endorse Pelosi. Some of us think she has been awful and doesn’t represent San Francisco values. She didn’t vote to impeach Bush, she wrote a blank check for the Iraq war, and she caved on universal healthcare. In 2010, we did endorse her because some of us were impressed with how she fought hard to pass the Affordable Care Act and the climate change bill (which died in the Senate). This time around we were too disappointed with her overall record to support her. Sorry, Nancy.


US Representative in Congress, District 14: Jackie Speier

Speier is a moderate Democrat who votes the party line on most issues, but she’s just progressive enough to earn our love. She opposes Keystone XL, pushed for tougher standards for natural gas pipelines, is outspoken on gun violence prevention, speaks up for transit and is an advocate for information privacy. And, dude, she took an effing bullet at Jonestown.


State Assembly, District 17: David Campos

Because Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is terming out of this seat, we need to replace him with another champion for progressive causes. Campos is currently Supervisor in District 9. He championed Free Muni for Youth, created legislation to close the loophole for the Healthy SF Ordinance, passed legislation to protect tenants, fought to protect San Francisco’s sanctuary city status, voted to support environmental review of tech buses, secured $1.2M for legal services for minors facing deportation, took a stand on FaceBook’s real name policy, and passed legislation to protect women’s right to choose. He’d be SF’s first Latino Assemblymember, and we like the idea of maintaining this as an LGBT seat in Sacramento.


His opponent David Chiu is hella catfish. He would fit right in with corporate Democrats in Sacramento…and that’s a problem. He voted to tear down hundreds of units of affordable housing at Parkmerced. He voted to criminalize homelessness by passing legislation to close the parks at night. He’s backed by big downtown money and folks sending a lot of nasty hit pieces on Campos. And, we’ll never forget “it’s on like Donkey Kong” - he made a sneaky backroom deal to appoint Ed Lee so he could be Board President again for a third term. No thanks, Chiu. We need Campos to represent San Francisco values!


State Assembly, District 19: Phil Ting

We didn’t endorse Ting in June, ‘cause we were pissed he supported the Mid-Market (Twitter) tax break and voted to rename the Bay Bridge after Willie Brown.That bridge belongs to Emperor Norton. But Ting does have a Republican opponent in November, Mormon clergy member Rene Pineda. And Ting does good work in Sacramento; he’s authored bills on harm reduction, supporting renters, energy efficiency, and affordable housing. He also has a history of supporting gun control, domestic workers and immigrant rights. In the end, we decided it’s time to show Ting some love.


State Props

Prop 1: Water Bond

This is a $7.1 billion statewide water infrastructure bond. It’s actually a slimmed down version of an $11 billion bond dreamed up in 2009. Worried that it was too controversial and too stuffed with pork to actually pass, the powers that be in Sacramento pulled it, delayed it, and trimmed it. The current version had huge bipartisan support in the legislature, which is how it ended up on the ballot. It includes cash for water storage, watershed protection and restoration projects, sustainability, water recycling, and flood management. Though borrowing money is a bad deal, and this is a big bond, we recognize that California’s water infrastructure is a mess. Though we can’t “legislate rain”, this bond is the next best thing we can do to prep for a potential megadrought. We say yes.


Prop 2: State Budget - Budget Stabilization Account

This Prop increases the size of the state’s “rainy day fund.” The idea is to help California save, and therefore insulate the budget from the boom and bust cycle. It’s a good idea in theory, but the devil is in the details. First of all, only the Governor can declare an “emergency” and allow the state to access the rainy day fund. What if there’s a crisis and a Republican refuses to break the piggy bank? Second, this prop sets an automatic trigger to start saving when CA has a budget surplus. But it’s based on the current situation, which is still a brutally austere budget compared with before the financial crisis of 2008. We’d prefer to get back to normal first. Finally, this forces public schools to dump their individual budget savings if the state does any saving on their behalf, and we don’t like the loss of local control. No on 2!


Prop 45: Healthcare Insurance - Rate Changes

Makes insurers justify their rates to the public and prohibits health, auto, and homeowners’ insurers from determining policy eligibility or rates based on lack of prior coverage or credit history.  This prop requires changes to health insurance rates - or anything else affecting

the charges associated with health insurance -  to be approved by the Insurance Commissioner before taking effect. Big insurance companies have pooled a shit-ton of money ($35M) to fight this. Consumer watchdog groups, nurses and teachers are leading the charge with, wait for it… $568K in the bank. Let’s help them fight back.


Prop 46: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors - Medical Negligence Lawsuits

This is a medical-law grab bag. It requires drug and alcohol testing for doctors and suspension of any who fail; requires health care practitioners to consult state prescription drug

history database before prescribing certain drugs; and increases the damages cap in medical negligence lawsuits. We like that last part, so that wronged patients can pursue justice (right now, the limits make it pointless to even file suit). But we don’t really care if our doctors smoke weed on the weekend, and drug history databases creep out our civil libertarian side. Frustrated no on 46.


Prop 47: Criminal Sentences - Misdemeanor Penalties

Rational public policy in California? We’re amazed! This prop kicks serious ass. It “ensures that prison spending is focused on violent and serious offenses, maximizes alternatives for nonserious, nonviolent crime, and invests the savings generated into prevention and support programs in K–12 schools, victim services, and mental health and drug treatment.” This prop will keep families together, support crime victims, and start to dismantle the prison industrial complex. It will even reduce crime, by steering nonviolent offenders away from the long prison stays which turn them into career criminals. A step away from the counterproductive and cruel “war on drugs” which targets poor people, young people, and people of color. Hell yes on 47!


Prop 48: Indian Gaming Compacts

We couldn’t come to a conclusion on Prop 48. A Yes vote allows a small and currently under-resourced Native American tribe, the North Fork Tribe, to build a casino on off-reservation land - land much closer to potential punters. The Chukchansi, a tribe that already operates a nearby casino, is funding the “No” side, to protect their profits (in fact, they’re the ones that got this on the ballot. Otherwise, the North Fork would be able to build without voter approval). On the one hand, we want to support the underdog. We also recognize how unfair it is that colonial genocide pushed Native folks onto random scraps of land, some of which are better situated than others. On the other hand, once we allow off-reservation casinos, we’ve essentially legalized gambling in all of California. Modern casinos (with their psychologist-designed slot machines) are regressive institutions. Do we want more huge vacuums sucking money from the pockets of seniors, poor folks, and working people? Your call on this one.


Local Candidates

Board of Supervisors: District 2: Juan-Antonio Carballo

Carballo is a tech and energy scientist and investor, is focused on transportation, affordability, and government responsiveness. We’re not perfectly aligned with him on every issue, but we agree on some major points, and he seems both intelligent and reasonable. He did order a glass of wine while visiting a Mission dive bar, but still, he can hang with us anytime. He probably will not be able to oust incumbent Mark Farrell, but we decided to help him try. Farrell, on the other hand, has voted the opposite way from how the League would on almost every non-unanimous issue ever brought before the Board. We’re sure he’s a kind man that loves his children, but we are dead opposed to him politically. Go Carballo go!


Board of Supervisors: District 4: No endorsement

Katy Tang, the incumbent Supervisor, was a legislative aide to Carmen Chu before Chu was tapped to become Assessor-Recorder in 2013. Mayor Lee promptly appointed Tang to her boss’s seat, and now she’s running for re-election unopposed. We’re not supporting her because of her conservative record. But even if we weren’t politically opposed to her, we’re sick of the mayor appointing politicians who then cruise to re-election because of the advantage of incumbency. San Francisco democracy is ailing, and the sleazy appointment process is a major cause. We weren’t surprised when Tang was opposed to Avalos’ “Let’s Elect Our Elected Officials” legislation - maybe she’s afraid to have some competition.


Board of Supervisors: District 6: Jane Kim

We’ve endorsed Jane Kim because of her broadly progressive record on the board. At the same time, our endorsement conversations revolved around our disappointment with her. We were embarrassed by her votes on key issues like the Twitter tax break, her more-frequent-than-expected alignment with the Willie Brown Democratic machine, and her failure to stand up to the Mayor and his business-friendly agenda for the city. We believe Kim is a good Supervisor for her district, but we’re still waiting for the progressive champion we voted for in 2010 to appear.


Board of Supervisors: District 8: No endorsement

The incumbent Supervisor, Scott Wiener, is whip-smart but politically conservative. Unfortunately, four of the four candidates challenging him are middle-aged white men, and zero of them are strong, serious contenders for the seat. Seeing a pattern here? Something is wrong with our city’s democracy when the majority of local candidate races don’t offer voters a real choice.


Board of Supervisors: District 10: 1) Tony Kelly 2) Ed Donaldson 3) Shawn M. Richard

The  District 10 race is a chance to change the makeup of the Board of Supervisors. A whole slew of folks are all hoping to unseat the incumbent, Malia Cohen. Cohen likes to convene a lot of task forces, but it seems like she’s forgotten the needs of her district. She loves being the swing vote on nearly everything and rarely agrees with the League.


Tony Kelly has been leading neighborhood efforts for more than a decade for sustainable land use, working-class jobs, open space & transit planning, affordable housing, and environmental justice. He’s whip-smart and he’s no stranger to City Hall. He nearly won this seat four years ago and we want to see him implement his ambitious plan for serving D10.


Ed Donaldson is known for his work around economic development and affordable housing for low income communities. He’s focused on job creation and retention, affordable housing and economic development, and increasing public health services and positive health outcomes in D10.


In 1995, Shawn M. Richard’s family was shaken by the handgun murder of his brother. One week later, Richard founded an organization, Brothers Against Guns, as a vehicle to abate gun violence in San Francisco and end the cycle of violence. His most important issues are equitable access to educational opportunities, public safety, affordable housing, economic workforce development, transportation, homelessness, and health and wellness.


Board of Education - Stevon Cook, Shamann Walton, Jamie Rafaela Wolfe

SF’s School Board manages the K-12 system in the city. There are three seats up for grabs this year, but with nine candidates running, it’ll be a very split electorate. Two of the nine are (lackluster) incumbents. It’ll be tricky for challengers to displace either of them, but neither of them have been endorsed by the powerful teachers’ union, so there’s a chance.


Walton - We endorsed Shamann Walton’s close-but-no-cigar effort two years ago. His answers to our candidate questionnaire show a deep understanding of policy and were extremely detailed, as well as politically progressive. He has the strongest chops and best chance of all the non-incumbents.


Cook - A young progressive and rising political star, he came up in SF at Thurgood Marshall. He’s undeniably charismatic, but also has an impressive amount of policy knowledge and experience working with the school district. He and Walton are both endorsed by the United Educators of San Francisco.


Wolfe - Wolfe doesn’t have as much policy wonk experience as our other two endorsed candidates, but as co-chair of the Trans March and a former board member of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, she’s got the organizational expertise and political guidance to make things happen. Plus, we appreciate that she’s running a grassroots campaign.


Community College Board: Wendy Aragon, Brigitte Davila, Thea Selby, William Walker

These candidates are exactly what City College needs right now: A deep commitment to education equity, familiarity with CCSF’s current accreditation drama, personal experience with higher education, and solid credentials. There are three seats open for four year terms on SF’s Community College Board, which manages City College. We’ve endorsed Wendy Aragon, Brigitte Davila, and Thea Selby (AFT 2121, the union which represents CCSF faculty, likes these three too).


There’s also one seat open for a two year term on the same board. For this one, we’ve gone for William Walker. A former student trustee, he’s determined to keep students first (even above faculty/staff concerns), and wants to keep our community college in line with the community’s needs.


BART Board of Directors, District 8: No endorsement

About half of our members voted to not endorse either candidate. Another half voted to endorse Nick Josefowitz. He wants to prioritize pedestrian and bike infrastructure around BART stations, run more frequent trains, upgrade cars and systems to improve efficiency and develop land owned by BART to help increase housing. But…. he’s not a supporter of the Anti-Speculation tax, he helped Mayor Lee bury CleanPowerSF when he was a Commissioner for the Dept of the Environment, and he rubber-stamped the Tech Bus Pilot without questioning the environmental impact. It’s also pretty crappy that he invested in Dow Chemical and General Electric, two major polluters. On the other hand, Josefowitz’s Republican opponent, James Fang, is pretty bad. Fang accepted contributions from contractors with business in front of BART, and has been accused of union busting and other shady dealings. SEIU is cheerleading for Fang because as a BART Board Director, he was instrumental in launching the independent investigation following the BART strike in July 2013. Hold your nose and pick your poison.


Judge of the Superior Court, Office 20: Daniel Flores

SF-born-and-raised, son of Salvadoran immigrants, he is the first in his family to graduate college. He is a Marines veteran and has a degree in Criminal Justice. He’s got a over a decade of experience as a defense and civil rights lawyer, endorsed by tons of people (that we like and also that we don’t like so much). In lawyer circles, he’s gotten kudos like Super Lawyer and Rising Star. We’re a teensy bit skeptical, but we’re excited that he wants to give back to the community on more “neutral” matters where weighing in isn’t a conflict of interest.


Public Defender: Jeff Adachi

So Jeff Adachi, SF’s public defender, has a long and complex political history in San Francisco. He’s a pretty damn good Public Defender. Plus he’s running unopposed. Adachi got a bad rap for the two years he spent spearheading pension reform leading up to pension reform legislation and his run for Mayor in 2011. Props for taking on a touchy subject, but he did it with union-hating venture capitalists. Now that the dust has settled on 2011’s Prop D, he seems to be back to the 2007 Jeff Adachi that we know and love, the one who fought against gang injunctions and created cool programs for at-risk youth.


Assessor – Recorder: No endorsement

The Assessor-Recorder is responsible for assessing property taxes. San Francisco’s skyline is dotted with cranes. There is construction everywhere. The Assessor should be right there, ready to get the City its fair share. Instead, the State Board of Equalization reported in their 2013 San Francisco City and County Assessment Practices Survey that SF has a huge backlog of assessable new construction. The Assessor should be all up in the business of the corporations that own big downtown office buildings, because every time a building changes hands, they owe Real Estate Transfer Tax. The incumbent, Carmen Chu, isn’t hiding that she’s super friendly with the Building Owners and Managers Association. Big Real Estate money funds her campaign even though she is is running unopposed this year. We just can’t bear to vote for her.

Frisco Props

Prop A: San Francisco Transportation and Road Improvement Bond

Prop A is backed by just about everyone - the Mayor, Supes, pro-transit orgs - and that’s good, because this will take a 2/3 vote to pass. We feel like throwing money at a mismanaged agency isn’t the answer, but we also NEED funding for bike, pedestrian, and motorist safety improvements. And, without the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) or Sunday Meters, there isn’t a revenue source. While we are typically against bonds, this is exactly the type of thing a bond should be used for: long-term infrastructure improvements rather than short-term unsustainable fixes. Prop A replaces old debt and doesn’t get us more in the hole. Seriously, Muni needs hella money. We say yes.


Prop B: Adjusting Transportation Funding for Population Growth

Prop B is a little complicated. We just got through saying that Muni needs hella money, so why are we against Prop B? This Charter Amendment proposed by Sup. Scott Wiener will adjust the appropriation from the General Fund to SFMTA annually to reflect increases in SF’s population. 75% goes to Muni, 25% bike/ped safety improvements. It includes a provision that it will be nixed if the VLF is passed in 2016 (which is savvy strategically because it holds the Mayor to his word that he’d lead the fight for that in two years). Dropping VLF and Sunday Meters was a huge eff you by the Mayor, and this feels like Wiener’s eff you back. It has definitely pissed off the Mayor since he came out saying that if it passes he will “punish” the Supes that support it. But, this ballot measure was being hashed out during the budget cycle - the time when Supes were earmarking money for certain projects. If Wiener really felt so strongly, he could have secured $22M for Muni months ago without changing the City Charter. We put on our picky-about-policy hats and say a conflicted no.


Prop C: Children’s Fund; Public Education Enrichment Fund; Children and Families Council; Rainy Day Reserve

Prop C, the Children and Families First Initiative, extends two important funds for children and youth services for another quarter century. The Child and Youth Fund receives money from property taxes and funds services like childcare, healthcare, recreation, and job training. Prop C reauthorizes it for 25 years and extends programs to transitional age youth between 18 and 24, including homeless youth and those leaving foster care or the juvenile justice system. The Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) ensures that every SF public school has a librarian, art classes, physical education classes, and sports opportunities. Prop C reauthorizes PEEF for 26 years and eliminates a provision that allows the City to reduce its contributions to the Fund in years in which the budget has a projected shortfall of $100 million or more. In addition, in-kind gifts to SFUSD would no longer count toward the City’s obligations for the fund. All this without raising property tax rates. Prop C was put on the ballot by the Mayor and the full Board with literally no opposition. Do it for the kids, ya’ll.


Prop D: Retiree Health Benefits for Former Redevelopment Agency and Successor Agency Employees

The Redevelopment Agency promoted economic development and affordable housing in San Francisco - and has a pretty complicated history. In 2012, the California Legislature dissolved all remaining agencies across the state. Successor agencies were essentially brought in to tie up the loose ends and shut down the affairs of the redevelopment agencies. There are approximately 50 former agency employees who would be affected by Prop D. We are talking about $75K for each person spread over many years. This is a drop in the bucket of San Francisco’s $8.5 Billion budget. They served the City and should get the same benefits as other employees. We say yes.


Prop E: Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

This is a 2 pennies-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks. The estimated $31 million a year it will raise will improve access to physical activity and healthy food in SF’s neighborhoods and schools, with more money going to the parts of the City that need it most. It’s no accident that low income communities of color have more diabetes and obesity—soda companies have aggressively targeted them for decades, and they’re spending big bucks to take this Prop down. Public health nerds see the soda tax as today’s biggest fight—just like battles with tobacco companies to raise cigarette taxes back in the day. Taxes like Prop E are regressive, but we think the pros outweigh the cons. We say yes.


Prop F: Pier 70

The Pier 70 project is exactly what we had in mind when voters approved Prop B in 2013 - public access to the waterfront, parks, affordable housing and local jobs, all with public buy-in. It is supported by a broad coalition including Sierra Club, affordable housing advocates and neighborhood associations. This is development that the City should be building and we say yes. (Fun fact: Remember Prop B from June, that said future development along the waterfront would have to be approved by voters? Ta-da!)


Prop G: Anti-Speculation Tax

People are buying up properties in the City as short-term investments. This type of speculation is driving up housing prices. This measure will disincentivize this kind of flipping, so people buy houses because they want to live in them—not to make money off them. There is already a transfer tax on sales of real estate in the City. Prop G would add an additional tax for certain multi-unit residential buildings when the owner sells them within five years of purchase. The tax rate would decrease the longer the owner held it. Harvey Milk was trying to pass legislation similar to this when he was killed in 1978. This is loooooong overdue. We say HELL YES!


Props H/I: Grass vs Fake Turf

There are two grass-related propositions on the ballot (no, not that kind of grass). There’s Prop H: “Requiring Certain Golden Gate Park Athletic Fields To Be Kept As Grass With No Artificial Lighting” put on by the Coalition to save Golden Gate Park. And, there’s Prop I: “Renovation of Playgrounds, Walking Trails, and Athletic Fields” put on the ballot by the Board of Supes. One is pro-grass and the other pro-fake turf.  Artificial turf is already in use in several fields across the city, and the lower maintenance and increased playing time it offers make it a sound like a better option… unless you are worried about the smell of tires in the air. What about environmental, human, and animal health threats posed by toxic chemicals in plastic turf and the rubber tire crumb infill? We’re also wary of the impact on the natural aquifer that underlies these fields (which will soon be used to supplement the City’s potable water supply), combined sewer overflow discharges into the ocean, and the precedent set for SF parks and the rest of the California Coast. There’s also concern that the “nicer” soccer fields that use the artificial turf will stop being used for pick-up soccer and become pay-for-use fields. At our endorsement meeting, there was a half and half split between those for and against Prop H (giving us a no endorsement) and an overwhelming vote against Prop I. If both measures were to lose, Rec and Park would have to go through the public process on a park-by-park basis, which we think would be better. We say you choose on Prop H, but vote no on Prop I.


Prop J: Raise The Minimum Wage

The City has a humongous income gap. Prop J would raise our local minimum wage from $10.74 to $15 an hour by 2018, increasing the wages of 142,000 SF workers. The measure is part of labor and community groups’ regional referendum seeking to raise the minimum wage in a number of Bay Area cities this November. We know from cities like San Jose that raising the minimum wage benefits women and people of color and has minimal effects on the overall price of food and goods in businesses who employ minimum wage workers. We say HELL YES!


Prop K: Affordable Housing

Our votes were split on Prop K and it landed us with no endorsement. We totally get how not taking a position on this ballot measure might be confusing—affordable housing is one of our top priorities, right? Well, what started out as a gutsy piece of legislation by Sup. Jane Kim got watered down to a non-binding policy statement. The League is pretty allergic to policy statements (especially for issues we need real action on), and the legislation doesn’t really clarify what the definition of “affordable” is. Prop K proponents say that if the Mayor and developers don’t stick to the terms, they’ll put something stronger on the ballot in 2015 during the Mayoral election. Okay, but why not just do that now, and why not have stronger terms as part of this legislation? Anyway, it’s not gonna hurt if you vote yes, but it won’t bring about the huge shift in the stock of affordable housing that our elected officials should be working towards. No position. Womp womp.


Prop L: Policy Regarding Transportation Priorities

A group called “Restore Transportation Balance” is behind this initiative, which would not enact any binding legislation or directly change any city laws. It would, however, establish SF’s transportation and parking policies. This would stop the city from: charging parking meter fees on Sundays or holidays or longer hours; putting new meters in neighborhoods without consent from the affected residents and businesses; or increasing parking garage, meter or ticket rates for at least five years. It would also require the city to enforce traffic laws “equally for everyone using San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks” (we assume this is a dig at bicyclists?) and require representation for motorists in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. This is all in direct opposition to SF’s goal of becoming a transit-first city. Without the ability to recover costs from cars (which take up more than their share of space, budget, and energy), we’ll get more and more gridlocked as SF’s population grows. We say HELL NO!


Want to pass progressive policies? Meet the League of Pissed Off Voters

We’re a bunch of political geeks in a torrid but troubled love affair with San Francisco. We’re blessed to live in America’s most progressive city, but we’re cursed to live in a city where most of the youth who grow up here can’t afford to live here. Frisco has its own dark history of injustice: redevelopment, environmental racism, the “old boys” network. All of us lucky enough to enjoy the San Francisco magic owe it to our City to fight to keep it diverse, just, and healthy. What are you doing to make a difference?

This voter guide (our 18th in SF!) is how we educate our friends and peers on the issues, excite pissed off progressive voters, and remind sellout politicians that we’re paying attention.


Hang Out with the League!

Want to get involved, got a question about this stuff, or just wanna have a drink with us?

Join us at happy hour & come party on Election Night!  Stay up to date:

THIS FRIDAY! Endorsement Results Happy Hour & Punk Rock & Schlock Karaoke

Head over to Bender’s for happy hour this Friday, September 26th at 7:00 PM.

We will be announcing our endorsements for the November election. To start off the evening, we’ll be taking suggestions to rename some of the propositions on the ballot. Bring your catchy titles! We’ll have our typical happy hour boozy political banter. 

If you are still around at 9pm, stay for Punk Rock & Schlock Karaoke. Huge songbook, cheap drinks. You can’t lose.
Bender’s Bar and Grill
806 S Van Ness Ave @ 19th
See you there!

Spring 2014 Endorsement Meeting - Sat 4/19

Been meaning to come out to a League event? Want to get in on the ground floor for the June Election? Join us this Saturday for the Endorsement Meeting!

We’ll be discussing the different candidates and propositions for this election, then voting on the League’s official position. If you’ve donated (which you can do on the spot) and volunteered in the last year, you can vote for your favorites…but even if you can’t, this is a fun opportunity to learn about the big races and get ready for the election. 

Plus, we’ll be hanging out at Thee Parkside, which has delicious food and free-flowing spirits, so it’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon :)

Saturday, April 19th, 2014, 1pm - 4pm
Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St
In the back patio (kids are allowed!)

See you there!

Brief History of the City Hall Stairway

The grand staircase in San Francisco City Hall’s Rotunda is one of the City’s most dramatic locations. Harvey Milk was a big fan of the stairs. In the movie Milk, Harvey tells Cleve Jones: "When you come here, I want you to wear the tightest jeans possible. Never blend in. And no elevators. Ever. Always take the stairs, you can make such a grand entrance going up the stairs".


The stairs have also seen some darker scenes. May 13, 1960 is known as “Black Friday.” Students protesting a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Un-American Activities were washed down the stairs by police with fire hoses!


The stairway and rotunda will always be linked to the struggle for marriage equality, and since that victory, they’ve been the scene for countless gay marriages.

Here’s a picture from this year when immigration and domestic violence activists celebrated the passage of John Avalos’s Due Process for All ordinance.


And here’s a selfie of some League members taken after we got the updated results of the 2013 election.


And then … last night, Twitter rented out City Hall for their holiday party. Here’s the scene with their CEO giving a speech and (presumably) all of their big shots at the top of the stairs.

Now we know that anyone can rent out City Hall and lots of people have lavish parties there. But in the wake of the Twitter tax break and the way the Mayor genuflects before the tech industry, it’s a little disconcerting to see the lavish spread and twitter logo projected on the wall batsignal-style.

Just saying.

This is the undercover cop who beat both DJ and Orlando. His nickname is “Freckles.” He has no business being a police officer in San Francisco.‪#‎Justice4DJ‬
Rally Tuesday 11/19 at 5 p.m. at Valencia and Rosa Parks Lane. Then march to Mission Police Station.

This is the undercover cop who beat both DJ and Orlando. His nickname is “Freckles.” He has no business being a police officer in San Francisco.‪#‎Justice4DJ‬

Rally Tuesday 11/19 at 5 p.m. at Valencia and Rosa Parks Lane. Then march to Mission Police Station.


SF League of Pissed Off Voters’ Pissed Off Voter Guide - Nov 5, 2013

The Bite-Sized Ballot

  • Prop A - Retiree Healthcare NothingBurger - No Endorsement
  • Prop B & C - Luxury Condos on the Embarcadero - Hell No!
  • Prop D - Clumsy Symbolic Well-Meaning Rx Drug Statement - No

Candidates without Competition :(

  • Assessor-Recorder - No Endorsement
  • City Attorney - No Endorsement
  • Treasurer-Tax Collector - No Endorsement
  • District 4 Supervisor - No Endorsement

Prop A - Complicated (and pointless?) health care finance rule changes

In 2008, voters approved the creation of a Retiree Health Care Trust Fund to put money aside for retired City workers’ health care. Prop A would add restrictions on when the City could dip into that before it’s fully funded. The idea is to leave that money alone so it can gather interest and become self-sustaining. All of the Supervisors & the Mayor agree on this—but here’s the thing. They could just decide not to touch the money, rather than passing this extra law. Prop A also has confusing provisions that would allow the City to use the fund if two-thirds of the Supes, the Mayor, Controller, and Trust Fund Board all agree. So what’s the point of this thing? We don’t think Prop A is evil or scary, but we couldn’t come to a consensus on it. Some of us trust the City bean counters who endorse it. Some of us suspect that Supe Mark Farrell—the lead sponsor—is just using this to pad his resume for future political adventures. No endorsement - you make the call.

Props B & C - We Don’t Need More $5 Million Condos!

Both B and C deal with the proposal to build 134 luxury condos at 8 Washington Street, just north of the Ferry Building. Average tag? $5 million!! The towers would be twelve stories high, even though the area’s only zoned for eight stories. The project also includes a 320-space garage…even though it’s surrounded by public transit. The Board of Supervisors approved this whack project, but neighborhood activists gathered signatures for Prop C, to shoot it down. Then the developers put Prop B on the ballot to try to make their lame condos sound awesome. We need housing for normal people, not millionaires. Say Hell No to both B and C, cause if either one passes, developers will make bank building condos for the 1%.

Prop D - Prescription drug policy statement

This is a symbolic policy statement (ie, it doesn’t actually do anything). It asks the City to try and lower its prescription drug costs by negotiating with drug companies and by asking state & federal reps to sponsor legislation to reduce drug prices. It’s an ok idea, but SF doesn’t buy enough drugs to negotiate wholesale prices. Maybe California could? Ideally, we wish drug prices were regulated on a federal level. This prop was put on the ballot by an LA org that marched into SF without buy-in from the SF AIDS advocacy groups who’ve been fighting this fight at home for decades. It’s not terrible, it just tries to tackle very complicated procedures with a broad statement and without the support of local orgs. We say no.


All of the candidates running for office this year are unopposed incumbents (technically Katy Tang has an opponent, but he has no website, campaign, or platform). This is lame! We think it’s a sign of unhealthy democracy that we don’t even have a choice. So why isn’t anyone running? well, it’s insanely expensive…and challengers have a massive electoral disadvantage running against incumbents. The citywide races (non-Supervisor and non-Mayor) have no term limits and no public financing, so we’re stuck with these career politicians till they decide to bow out. Even if they’re ok at their jobs, that’s problematic.

Speaking of unhealthy democracy, we’ve noticed a troubling trend: the Mayor appoints politicians to elected offices, who then win the next election primarily because of the advantage of incumbency. In fact, wait…that’s how we got this Mayor! So how do we fix this? We think all appointees should be ‘seatwarmers’ - legally prohibited from running when their position opens up.

Since we don’t have a choice for these races, we’re not endorsing candidates. Instead we’re focusing on what we want to see. If we were in these offices, here’s what we’d do:

Assessor-Recorder: (Incumbent: Carmen Chu) They’re responsible for assessing property taxes. And most of that comes from big skyscrapers downtown. The Assessor should be all up in the business of the corporations that own those buildings, because every time a building changes hands, they owe Real Estate Transfer Tax. Instead, the (appointed) incumbent is buddy-buddy with the Building Owners and Managers Association. That sucks. 

City Attorney: (Incumbent: Dennis Herrera) A progressive City Attorney would have more guts to stand up to the fat cat companies (like PG&E, AT&T and big banks) who get way too many breaks in this town. The incumbent has done good things like support gay marriage (but does that give you street cred in SF?), protect workers who were getting ripped off on health coverage, try to save City College, and go after Nevada for patient dumping. On the other hand, we’re hugely opposed to his use of gang injunctions, which disproportionately criminalize youth of color.

Treasurer-Tax Collector: (Incumbent: José Cisneros) Instead of putting the City’s money in crappy big banks, the Treasurer should be setting up a municipal bank (North Dakota has one! Supervisor John Avalos is working to make this happen in SF). The incumbent has done some good stuff (work against predatory payday lenders, enact financial literacy initiatives, even ask banks to improve their policies) but he doesn’t seem ready to take the big step of setting up our own bank to compete with the corporate goliaths.

Supervisor for District 4 (The Sunset): (Incumbent: Katy Tang) Before she was recently appointed by the Mayor, Tang was an aide for the previous D4 Supe, Carmen Chu — who was just appointed Assessor. Before that they worked together in the Mayor’s budget office. We had hopes that Tang would be different than her conservative predecessor, but so far, no such luck. She opposes CleanPowerSF and she worked to weaken the Due Process for All ordinance, using fear-mongering language about SF becoming a “safe haven” for criminal immigrants. She’s also raised over $150,000—including a pile of money from developers & people with business with the city. What does she need all that cash for when she’s essentially running unopposed? We say “No Endorsement”. 

UPDATE: Mike Murphy is a qualified write-in candidate for District 4 Supervisor. He’s running on a progressive platform focused on “stopping the revolving door” of unelected appointees in City Hall, opposing the privatization of our parks, and supporting sustainable development instead of condos for billionaires. He got into the race too late for our endorsement process, but if you live in the Sunset, check him out at murphy4supe.wordpress.com and decide for yourself if you want to write in his name on your ballot.


Our City is Changing

Housing in San Francisco is out of control. Ellis Act evictions are up 81% in the past year. No one we know can afford to buy a home here (most of us can barely afford rent). Tech wealth, displacement, the shriveling of cultural diversity in our neighborhoods - even issues like the America’s Cup boondoggle or the sword hanging over City College. It all seems to be part of a trend. Well, fuck. What can we do about it?


If you live in a rent controlled unit, your landlord can only increase your rent once a year . The percentage varies depending on your move in date, but typically the increase is less than 3%. State law (Costa-Hawkins) limits rent controlled buildings to anything built before 1980. Costa-Hawkins also prevents commercial properties from being covered by rent control, which means there is no way to prevent businesses from being evicted.

If we have rent control, why are so many people getting evicted?

Not all units are covered by rent control. Units that aren’t covered (buildings constructed after 1980, dorms, residential hotels, subsidized housing) can have their rent raised by any amount at any time. The Ellis Act gives landlords the option to “go out of business.” This means they can evict all of the tenants in a building (they can’t single out just one), and take the units off the market. They can not rent them for 5 years after evictions, unless they are rented at the previous rental rate. 

Policy Solutions

Increase the Affordable Housing Requirements - Currently, when developers build new market rate housing, they have to make 10% of the units affordable, or build the equivalent of 15% somewhere else in the City. That’s just not enough—especially for super-luxury projects like 8 Washington. The affordability requirement should have a progressive structure—the higher the price of the new housing, the more affordable units they should have to build. Remember, supervisors have power to change the planning code to add development perks (if they want to get more of something like parking or height, require they build more affordable units, or build units on site).

Linking Affordable & Market-Rate Housing - Right now, the affordable housing requirement is regressive: whether you’re building $10 million penthouses or modest Bayview duplexes, you have to make 10% of them affordable. That’s stupid, because the different projects have very different impacts on affordability. 

The fancier a new building is, the more jobs appear to provide services to the new residents. But since those service industry jobs don’t pay enough to afford market rate housing, we need more affordable housing to keep the balance - and the developers should foot the bill.

Protect our Flavor - Rising rents push out non-profits and arts orgs. We need creative solutions to save the spirit of the City: new office buildings could be required to donate space to non-profits, or we could extend rent control to nonprofits. 

Moratorium on New Market Rate Housing - The nuclear option. A lot of people argue that we have to live with this issue because of “supply and demand”. But because SF is so small and there’s so much demand, it’s not that simple. Yes, we need to build a lot more housing ‘to increase supply’, but if 90% of it is market rate, how many units do we have to build before rents come down? 10,000 units? 50k? 100k?

Legalize in-law units. Most ‘in-law’ units are attached to single family properties, and are unauthorized. The Asian Law Caucus estimates there are tens of thousands of these units, which are a significant source of low income housing. Each year 50-100 units are lost because they are not compliant. Why not bring the units up to code and convert them to legal housing? Then let homeowners create more in-law units to add to the mix!

Get creative. Luxury high-rises aren’t the only way to build more units. What about unused commercial spaces? Parking lots? This would create housing without displacing residents or businesses.

Adjust parking limits: Developers try to include as many parking spots as possible but ⅓ of homes in SF do not own cars. Parking takes up space that could be used for more units - plus it creates more traffic, impacts transit, and changes the demographics of the city.

Prioritize the people who already live here: The City could invest in loans and grants to help everyday San Franciscans stay in their homes or become homeowners. LA has city-funded short term rental assistance! It costs less than finding replacement housing once the renter is evicted, or than providing the services needed when people are homeless.

We also need stabilization of existing housing. If there is a bad history of Ellis evictions or TIC conversions by a particular landlord or developer, we could make it more difficult to merge units, demolish, or convert properties.

 Real estate speculators who buy a property but let current residents stay could get a tax break. And what about roommate legislation? That way, if the tenant who’s on the lease moves out but their roommates stay, the unit would still be considered occupied and rent increases would not apply.

Adjust Relocation Fees 

Tim Redmond, formerly of the Guardian, suggested a strategy on his new blog. The Ellis Act is state law, so it’s hard to fight, but the SF BoS controls the size of the relocation fees developers pay to evicted tenants when they use the Ellis Act within the City. Why not drastically up the fee so it provides tenants a realistic chance of buying a home here, and simultaneously squashes the landlord’s financial reward for turfing out our neighbors? 

Eat the rich - SF is an incredibly desirable place to live and do business, and it’s the diverse neighborhoods, immigrants, artists, do-gooders, and dreamers who make it that way - not the millionaires. If corporations and rich people want a slice of our awesome, they should pay their fair share;  progressive taxes & fees can fund housing and services to keep the city affordable.

Get Involved - This city is still 70% tenants. If we stick together and have each other’s backs we have a ton of power. Landlords and developers can only get away with quietly evicting our neighbors for so long.  Politicians running for office in a city full of renters need to be reminded that they cannot be elected (or reelected) without the support of renters. You can help - check out these organizations working against displacement and economic injustice in the City:

Direct Action for the 99%

These folks are all doing badass work in SF. If you like us, you’ll love them.

  • Causa Justa Just Cause - cjjc.org
  • Eviction Free Summer - evictionfreesummer.wordpress.com/
  • POWER - peopleorganized.org
  • SF Rising - sfrising.org
  • Tenants Together - tenantstogether.org
  • SF Tenant’s Union - sftu.org
  • Eviction Defense Collaborative - evictiondefense.org
  • Legal Assistance to the Elderly - laesf.org

Who is the League of Pissed Off Voters?

We’re a bunch of political geeks in a torrid but troubled love affair with San Francisco. We’re blessed to live in America’s most progressive city, but we’re cursed to live in a city where most of the youth who grow up here can’t afford to live here. Frisco has its own dark history of injustice: redevelopment, environmental racism, the “old boys” network. All of us lucky enough to enjoy the San Francisco magic owe it to our City to fight to keep it diverse, just, and healthy. What are you doing to make a difference?

This voter guide (our 16th in SF!) is how we educate our friends and peers on the issues, excite pissed off progressive voters, and remind sellout politicians that we’re paying attention.

We’re into

  • affordable housing not luxury condos
  • CleanPowerSF not dirty PG&E power
  • progressive taxation not budget cuts
  • equal rights not immigration raids
  • diverse neighborhoods not downtown interests

Know Your Voting Rights

October 21, 2013 is the deadline to register to vote. Online Voter registration is finally here! Register to vote online: http://RegisterToVote.ca.gov

  • Election day is November 5th, 7am - 8pm. Call 311 to find your polling place or go towww.smartvoter.org Also, anyone can vote at City Hall.

  • Early voting at City Hall: Weekdays from 8-5 starting on October 7th; then, starting the 26th, 10-4 on weekends too!

  • As long as you’re not on felony parole, you can vote. Even if you’ve committed a felony or you’re on probation, you can register & vote. Don’t let the Man disenfranchise you.

  • Voter Fraud Hotline: See something shady on Election Day? (800) 345-VOTE

Questions?  See http://sfelections.org/tools/voterkit/ or call 311!

Hang Out with the League!

Want to get involved, got a question about this stuff, or just wanna have a drink with us? Come to our monthly Happy Hour (Third Mondays) & come party on Election Night!  Stay up to date on all our events and local news at:

  • facebook.com/theLeagueSF

  • twitter.com/theLeagueSF

  • theLeagueSF.tumblr.com

  • theLeague.com/sf

  • theLeagueSF@gmail.com

Watch Phil Ginsburg Lobby Malia Cohen on Closing the Parks

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener delayed the vote on his controversial proposal to make it illegal to be in City parks after Midnight. There was a funny moment during the meeting that might explain why: in the background of this video clip, you can watch Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg (who supports the ordinance) talk to Supervisor Malia Cohen (who is one of the swing votes) for over seven minutes! It sure looks like he’s trying to convince her to support the ordinance, and from her body language, it doesn’t look like Supervisor Cohen is convinced!

To protest the ordinance, several League members participated in a “sleep-in” in Dolores Park Monday night with the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Coalition on Homelessness, and others.

The Milk Club is asking for help in calling the swing Supervisors (Malia Cohen, Katy Tang, and London Breed) to ask them to oppose the ordinance. Get more info here:


If Phil Ginsburg can take 7 minutes to lobby Malia Cohen, you can take 1 minute to make three quick phone calls!

Stop the Shell Shock? More Like, Stop PG&E’s Bullshit!

Have you heard about this “Stop San Francisco Shell Shock”? If you live in the City and you use Facebook, google, or Pandora, odds are you’ve probably seen these misleading ads. In a nutshell, this is a last ditch attempt by PG&E’s union to block CleanPowerSF—the program to give San Franciscans the choice of buying 100% clean energy. CleanPowerSF is the single biggest step the City can take to directly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change, and PG&E’s gang is doing everything they can to stop it.

Here’s the super short version:
- Do you want to have the option of switching to 100% renewable electricity? If so, you should support CleanPowerSF. Here’s the Facebook page to find out more: http://www.facebook.com/IHeartCleanPowerSF
- Or would you rather continue PG&E’s monopoly on electricity service in the City and continue to have no choice except to buy their dirty energy? If so, then forget about CleanPowerSF and feel free to click on those misleading “Stop the Shell Shock” ads.

When we try to figure out complicated or obscure local political arguments, we like to start by looking at who is supporting which side. This one is pretty clear:

Who Supports CleanPowerSF?
SF Bay Area Sierra Club
SF League of Conservation Voters
World Wildlife Fund
350 Bay Area
SF Organizing for America
Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano
John Avalos, David Campos, David Chiu, Jane Kim, Eric Mar, Ross Mirkarimi, Scott Wiener 
And of course, the League of Pissed Off Voters!

And Who Opposes CleanPowerSF?
IBEW Local 1245 (Union of PG&E employees)
Mayor Ed Lee (who says PG&E is “a great corporation”)
Carmen Chu, Sean Elsbernd, Mark Farrell
And that’s about it.

But Doesn’t Shell Suck?
Yes, unfortunately the initial contract for CleanPowerSF is with Shell, which is a big ugly energy corporation. BUT:
- Shell’s only role is to buy 100% renewable electricity for us on the wholesale market and deliver it to the City. None of our money will go to fossil fuels.
- The wholesale electricity market is big and complicated and unfortunately full of shady corporations. Shell was the only company willing to take on this first phase of setting up the contracts to buy 20 megawatts of clean energy.  
- This is a short-term (4.5 years) contract to get CleanPowerSF up and running. After that, the Public Utilities Commission can either take over the program themselves or make a new contract with someone else.

What’s Happening with CleanPowerSF Now?
Unfortunately, nothing. The Board of Supervisors approved the contract back in last September. The last step that needs to happen is the Public Utilities Commission needs to approve the maximum rate for CleanPowerSF. But, the PUC commissioners are all appointed by the Mayor—friend of PG&E who opposes CleanPowerSF—and he’s been leaning on them hard to stall or kill the program. 

But it’s getting harder and harder for them to delay. The PUC staff has dramatically improved the program since the Supervisors originally approved the contract last year: the price has decreased dramatically while also dedicating more money to building local renewable energy sources.   

What Can You do to Help?
Email the Public Utilities Commission (and please CC us and the Board of Supervisors!) and tell them to quit messing around and approve the “not-to-exceed” rates for CleanPowerSF! Seriously, email them now! They’re voting Tuesday, August 13th at 1:30 p.m. Here’s our email you can use as an example:

To: Public Utilities Commission (donna.hood@sfgov.org), Board of Supervisors (board.of.supervisors@sfgov.org), League of Pissed Off Voters (theleaguesf@gmail.com) 

Dear Public Utilities Commission,

Please vote to approve the proposed not-to-exceed rate for CleanPowerSF at your August 13th meeting. It’s been almost a year since the Board of Supervisors approved the contract for CleanPowerSF! Since then, you have discussed and deliberated and debated these rates to death. We understand you have concerns about what mix of renewable energy CleanPowerSF will have, where the energy will come from, and how much local power generation we’ll be able to build. We’re concerned about all that too. But here’s the thing: we can’t make progress on any of that until you approve the dang not-to-exceed rates! 
So please, no more splitting hairs or speculating on the future details of the program. Approve the not-to-exceed rates. That will give the Board of Supervisors their opportunity to evaluate the rates, and then the City can FINALLY sign the contract and get on to implementing CleanPowerSF. Once that happens, we’ll be right there with you to make sure we’re building as much green power as we can, as quickly as we can, with local, union labor. 
The threats of global climate change are too dire and too imminent for any further delay or debate. CleanPowerSF is the single biggest step we can take as a City to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and set an example for the rest of the country. Please approve the not-to-exceed rates for CleanPowerSF and let’s make this happen!
Most sincerely, 
(your name here)

The SF League of Pissed Off Voters Position on the TIC-Condo Conversion Legislation

There’s a nasty fight going on at City Hall where tenants and working-class homeowners are being pitted against each other. It’s a complex, wonky issue about allowing Tenancies in Common (TICs) to convert to condominiums, but it has huge ramifications for renters in the City.

There are three sides to this issue: renters, TIC owners AND the real-estate industry.  It is apparent that something needs to be done to create more affordable housing in San Francisco, but while this legislation promises us some, it also means losing 2600 properties to condo conversions – and it’s a signal to the real estate industry that it’s open season on evicting more tenants to create more TICs. That’s not the right way to create new affordable housing.


For some background on this legislation, and on the League, see the end of this letter. Here, we’ll lay out the League’s position.


The cliff notes version:

The proposed compromise on TIC-condo conversions makes us nervous. We’d be more comfortable with voting this whole legislation down and keeping the current system. But we’re standing by our allies in the tenant groups who have lived and breathed this issue for years. We support the current compromise, but it can’t be watered down any further.


Why is this so important for renters?

State law basically says that once something is exempt from rent control, it is forever. The City exempts condos from rent control - so once it’s converted, that unit can never be regulated again. Right now, there are hundreds of tenants who are renting units in TIC buildings. This legislation would put them at risk of losing their rent control.


The original legislation was, frankly, pretty scary - but it might contain some benefits for tenants, in the form of proposed amendments that came out of months of negotiations. There are two big wins for tenants in the amendments submitted by Supervisors Chiu, Yee and Kim – the 10 year moratorium on the lottery and the exclusion of 5 and 6 unit buildings from the condo lottery going forward. This 10 years of breathing room, we are told, will give pro-tenant organizations time to tackle some state laws like the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act and the Ellis Act. But not everyone is supporting this “win” for tenants, and we fear there are more changes on the way once this reaches the full Board of Supervisors. The expected efforts to change this legislation include taking away the language about the 10 year moratorium and eliminating the owner residence requirements.


So what’s the League all pissed about?

We don’t like legislation that moves the goal posts. TIC owners bought their TICs knowing the rules of the lottery. Changing the rules now – even with the 10 year moratorium – signals to the real estate industry that they might be able to change the rules again. We want to see the lottery go away altogether and stop TICs from being converted into condos.


In an ideal world, we would have added more amendments: We think the $4,000 to $20,000 fee for TICs to convert is too small. Ideally, the fee should cover the cost of building a replacement unit. Or at least, there shouldn’t be discounts below $20,000. We want to have an oversight agency to see the conversions through so that no “dirty” properties are able to convert. We also want to make sure that the lifetime leases can be enforced on a local and state level.


So we’re down to make this deal, but don’t fuck with us. No more giveaways to the real estate industry. It may not be a pro-tenant Board of Supervisors anymore, but it’s still a pro-tenant City. And if the Board gives in to the realtors, San Francisco renters will take this shit to the ballot.


What’s this all about anyway?

A Tenancy in Common (TIC) is basically a pseudo-condo where the residents in a building share joint ownership. They’re riskier than condos because if your neighbor defaults on his mortgage, it could mess you up too. Because they’re riskier, they’re cheaper than condos, which means that a lot of people who can’t afford condos roll the dice and buy TICs instead. Because their riskier, TIC owners pay higher interest rates than condo owners. Every year there’s a lottery to allow 200 TICs to convert to condos. When a TIC becomes a condo, the owners pay about $10,000 in fees, but they can get lower interest rates, and their home becomes instantly more valuable.


The good thing about TICs is they allow additional folks a chance to buy a home in the City. The down side, is that they’re usually created by landlords evicting or somehow displacing tenants and permanently removing rent-controlled apartments from the market. The TIC lottery is supposed to balance these competing interests. The reason we can’t allow all of the TICs to convert to condos is because that would create tremendous pressure for landlords to evict their tenants and convert their buildings into TICs.


Back in June of last year, Supervisors Mark Farrell and Scott Weiner introduced legislation so that TIC owners could bypass the lottery (where only 200 TICs are converted per year) and pay a one time conversion fee to convert their TICs into condos. The legislation was brought before the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee in January, and that’s really when the shit hit the fan. In the past few months, there have been negotiations on all sides to try to find some compromise.


Who is the League of Pissed Off Voters?

We’re a bunch of political geeks in a torrid but troubled love affair with San Francisco. We’re blessed to live in America’s most progressive city, but we’re cursed to live in a city where way too many of the youth who grow up here won’t be able to afford to live here. Frisco has its own dark history of injustice: redevelopment, environmental racism, the “old boys” network. All of us lucky enough to enjoy the San Francisco magic owe it to our City to fight to keep it a diverse, just, and healthy City. We’ve published 15 consecutive voter guides to educate our friends and peers on the issues, excite pissed off progressive voters, and remind sellout politicians that we’re paying attention.


The San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters