Several measures on the San Francisco ballot cruised to victory Tuesday while two additional measures were still too close to call. Facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit, San Francisco City Hall had turned toward voters to help fill that gap.
Of the tax measures on the ballot this year, only one — Proposition F, a massive business tax overhaul — had unanimous support from Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors. Money from that measure was critical to keeping the city’s delicately balanced budget intact.
But Breed was frustrated by the board, which placed a few other taxes on the ballot this year. They include Proposition L, a tax on companies whose CEOs are paid far higher than the average employee, and Proposition I, an increased real-estate transfer tax on properties worth $10 million or more.
The worry? Tax fatigue from voters, many of whom have lost jobs or had their lives upended by the pandemic.
Aside from taxes, voters also faced an eclectic mix of questions this November — ranging from how much power the Department of Public Works should have to whether non-citizens should be able to serve on commissions and boards.
Here’s where the measures stood:
Proposition A: A $487.5 million bond measure passed easily, with the money going to homelessness, mental health, parks and infrastructure projects. It needed a two-thirds super-majority to pass. This measure had widespread political support, including from both Breed and the Board of Supervisors.
Proposition B: A City Charter amendment to break the Public Works Department into two also won. One agency, the Department of Sanitation and Streets, will deal with street cleaning, sidewalk maintenance and sanitation. The other will handle engineering, design and project management. The measure will also create a commission to oversee the new sanitation department. It will cost the city between $2.5 million and $6 million annually, according to the City Controller’s Office. It needed a simple majority to pass.
Proposition C: A charter amendment appeared headed to victory that would allow those without U.S. citizenship to serve on boards that advise City Hall on issues ranging from housing to health care. It needed a simple majority to pass.
Proposition D: This measure, handily passed by voters, will amend the City Charter to create greater oversight at the Sheriff’s Department. It needed a simple majority to pass. The measure will create a seven-member Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board that will make policy recommendations to the sheriff and the Board of Supervisors. It will also create the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General to investigate in-custody deaths and complaints against the department as well as its employees and contractors.
Proposition E: Voters approved this measure, which will eliminate the requirement in San Francisco law that the Police Department have at least 1,971 full-duty officers. It needed a simple majority to pass.
Proposition F: A complete overhaul of San Francisco’s business-tax structure won. It will phase out the payroll tax, increase gross receipts business tax rates for some businesses and increase the number of small companies exempted from the business tax. This measure had support from Breed and the Board of Supervisors, as it is key to helping the city plug a massive budget deficit caused by the pandemic. It needed a simple majority to pass.
Proposition G: A measure that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections was narrowly winning. It needed a simple majority to pass.
Proposition H: A measure intended to help the city’s struggling small businesses by streamlining permitting processes for new businesses and making it easier for existing restaurants and retailers to make changes to their business models and storefronts passed.
Proposition I: A measure to increase the transfer tax on property sales valued at $10 million or more was approved by voters. This measure had attracted the most opposition of any ballot measure this year, largely from big landlords and developers. Supervisor Dean Preston, who wrote the measure, said the money will go toward affordable housing production — though that was not guaranteed. It needed a simple majority to pass.
Proposition J: A $288 parcel tax that will generate about $48 million a year for San Francisco Unified School District’s teachers also won. It needed a two-thirds super majority to pass.
Proposition K: Voters also approved a measure that would allow San Francisco to build or fix up to 10,000 units of affordable housing but provided no funding to do so. It needed a simple majority to pass.
Proposition L: Dubbed the CEO tax, this measure passed and will tax companies where top executives earn significantly more than the rest of their workforce. It needed a simple majority.
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