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Coalition of business and taxpayer groups file suit against San Francisco to enforce Proposition I

Slow Implementation of Voter-Approved Fiscal Accountability Measure at Issue


May 23, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the Committee on Jobs filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court yesterday to compel the City to enforce the requirements of voter-mandated Proposition I. The suit was filed on behalf of a broad coalition of organizations including, the Building Owners and Managers Association, the Hotel Council of San Francisco, the San Francisco Taxpayers Union, the San Francisco Apartment Association, the San Francisco Association of Realtors, Coalition for Better Housing, the San Francisco Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Geary Boulevard Merchants Association.

Proposition I was approved by the voters on November 2, 2004 and passed into law on December 17, 2004. The law requires the City and County of San Francisco to create an Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) and for the OEA to analyze any legislation pending before the Board of Supervisors that might affect the overall economic health of the City before the Board votes on it.

"The voters of this city recognize that their quality of life is dependent on a healthy, vibrant local economy. They know a strong economy is vital to the city's ability to provide and pay for basic critical services. San Franciscans 'get it,' which is why they passed Proposition I in the first place," said Steve Falk, president & CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "And it's why the Chamber has been consistent in calling for the full implementation of Proposition I."

The lawsuit asks the court to compel the OEA to immediately begin a review of legislation pending before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to determine whether any of the proposed laws will have an impact on the City's economy through loss of revenue, job creation or other factors.

"More than 18 months has elapsed since voters approved Proposition I," said Nathan Nayman, Executive Director of the Committee on Jobs. "In that time just two laws have been studied by the Controller. Before San Francisco asks its residents and businesses for another dime, it ought to show us the results of these backlogged economic analyses."

The lawsuit also asks the Court to invalidate certain rules passed by the Board of Supervisors related to Proposition I. As passed by the voters, the ordinance urged the Board to only waive economic analysis in time of crises with a two-thirds majority of the Board supporting the action.

In August 2005, the Board of Supervisors passed a set of rules which gave the President of the Board the power to waive economic analysis of any legislation before the board; allow the Board to vote on a piece of legislation without an economic report; and exempt certain kinds of legislative documents such as resolutions from being subject to any analysis under Proposition I. The lawsuit asks for all of these rules to be invalidated.

Several pieces of legislation are currently pending at the Board of Supervisors that are likely to have an impact on the City's economy, including the Minimum Wage Implementation and Enforcement Ordinance which would require businesses to pay an annual fee to enforce minimum wage laws, as well as laws making major changes to the City's Inclusionary Affordable Housing Program and a Moratorium on Condominium Conversions. Other laws such as the closure of Golden Gate Park on Saturdays and the ban on condominium conversions have already been approved by the Board with no economic analysis done in advance of a vote.

"San Francisco's hospitality industry and others depend on the economic well being of the City to attract visitors year round," said Patricia Breslin, Executive Director of the Hotel Council of San Francisco. "We want the Board to understand the economic impact of their actions before they vote."

The lawsuit asks that the Controller's office complete an economic analysis of all pending legislation within 30 days.




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