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
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.