SCHOOL FACILITIES SPECIAL TAX
This measure would extend a 1990 parcel tax that expires in 2010 by another 20 years, keeping it at its current rate ($32 a year for single family homes and commercial enterprises, $16 a year per dwelling unit for mixed use buildings). The tax brings in $7 million a year for San Francisco school facilities and would finance seismic upgrades, structural strengthening and related improvements of its facilities, and child care centers. Vote yes.
EARTHQUAKE SAFETY AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE BONDS
It's hard to argue against a $430 million bond act to upgrade police, fire, and water facilities to prevent a catastrophic collapse of the city's most basic public safety infrastructure in the event of an inevitable earthquake. Hard — but not impossible: Sup. Chris Daly, the lone vote against Prop. B, points out that the bond money would be used to upgrade police stations but that the old County Jail at 850 Bryant St. wouldn't get any help. Prisoners, it seems (even those who are awaiting trial and have been convicted of nothing) aren't worth protecting. And the Fire Department has been very hazy about where it's going to spend the cash. So we've got some concerns here — but on balance, we're endorsing Yes on B.
By some accounts, this measure was put together in retaliation for Mayor Gavin Newsom's November 2009 demand that Film Commission executive director Stefanie Coyote resign — shortly after her husband, actor Peter Coyote, supported Attorney General Jerry Brown over Newsom for governor. But Bill Barnes, who works as a legislative aide for Newsom ally Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier, the author of Prop. C, says Alioto-Pier was working on this measure even before Coyote got ousted.
Either way, it's a positive step. Prop. C would streamline a convoluted permitting process for shooting films in San Francisco — a process that can involve multiple departments — and would create a one-stop shop. It would also split the power to appoint the film commissioners between the mayor and the board (6-5, respectively), and require that all 11 commissioners have specific qualifications or experience. Vote yes.
Prop. D is a compromise. Sup. Sean Elsbernd wanted to reform the city's pension system by mandating higher employee contributions and an end to what's known as "spiking" — giving some employees a big raise just before they retire. Under current law, that worker would get a pension based on the inflated salary.
Elsbernd wanted to change the calculation and base pensions on an average of the final three years of salary an employee earned. Labor countered that some lower-paid workers only reach their top pay at the end of their careers. The final deal would base pensions on a two-year average. Prop. D would also require future employees to contribute and extra 2 percent to their pensions and require the city to set aside some money every year for the pension and retiree health care systems. In the end, progressive Sups. David Campos and Eric Mar signed on, and the city employee unions aren't opposed. Vote yes.