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San Francisco voters to consider
four local ballot measures on June 6

By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service

June 5, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Four local ballot measures are up for consideration by San Francisco voters in the June 6 Gubernatorial Primary Election. The local measures cover issues as varied as the allocation of funding for homicide prevention services, modifications to the city's eviction disclosure laws, changes to the composition of the board of directors of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority and changes to the city's planning code to allow both public and private residential health care facilities in the city's public districts.

Proposition A, which would alter the city's charter, proposes to allocate an additional $10 million a year for the next three years for homicide and violence prevention services.

The additional funding would go toward supporting programs such as workforce training, substance abuse treatment, conflict resolution and family and witness relocation services for populations where there are high levels of violence.

Monies currently spent on violence prevention programs, which the City Controller estimates to be approximately $35 million, could not be reduced during the three-year period if the proposition passes.

A homicide prevention planning council, made up of city officials and citizens from communities with high homicide rates, would also be established through the proposition. The council would be charged with developing annually a homicide prevention plan to be submitted to the Board of Supervisors.

The community organization Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth supports the proposition because, the group argues, it addresses some of the "root causes" of violence in San Francisco, according to Jose Luis Pavon, a youth coordinator at Coleman Advocates.

Law enforcement activities in the city are already heavily funded, according to Pavon, but more money needs to be spent on violence prevention programs.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd opposes the proposition on the grounds that existing violence prevention programs should be audited to determine which ones are working before decisions are made on spending levels.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce supports the concept behind the measure, but opposes the proposition because it is a charter amendment and the city could set homicide prevention funding levels by ordinance, according to Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of the Chamber.

"This is on the ballot because some supervisors wanted to have an anti-violence platform in an election year," Lazarus said.

The Board of Supervisors put Proposition A on the ballot through a 6 to 5 vote. Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly, Sophie Maxwell, Ross Mirkarimi, and Gerardo Sandoval voted in favor of putting the proposition on the June ballot.

Proposition B is an ordinance that would require landlords who are selling buildings that have two or more residential units to tell all potential buyers in writing whether or not any tenants evicted from the building are elderly or disabled. Landlords are already required by city law to disclose to buyers the specific legal grounds for the eviction of any tenants of residential units that are vacant at the close of sale.

According to Supervisors Daly, Mirkarimi, and Peskin, this more detailed level of eviction disclosure would reduce the number of evictions in San Francisco because it would become more difficult to sell units that were freed up because of evictions.

Proposition B would help "stop the rapacious movement of speculative housing practices that have been in place (in San Francisco) for awhile," Barbara Blong, the housing director of Senior Action Network, said.

Some opponents of Proposition B, such as the Small Property Owners of San Francisco, argue that buyers are already informed of Ellis Act evictions and that the disclosure of Ellis Act evictions will not deter buyers because of the demand for home ownership.

Supervisors Ammiano, Daly, Maxwell, Mirkarimi and Peskin put Measure B on the ballot.

Proposition C would introduce an ordinance that would change the designation of the city's representatives on the Board of Directors of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority. The TJPA is charged with building and operating the new Transbay Transit Center, which is set to replace the Transbay Terminal.

Currently three of the five TJPA board members are appointed by San Francisco officials. One representative is appointed by the San Francisco mayor, one by the Board of Supervisors and one by the Municipal Transportation Agency's board of directors.

Measure C would instead designate three elected officials to represent San Francisco on the TJPA board - the Mayor of San Francisco, the member of the board of supervisors representing District 6, where the Transbay Transit Center will be located, and the member of the board of supervisors who is on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Supervisor Chris Daly, who represents District 6 and who supports Proposition C, says that the measure is intended to refocus attention on the rebuilding of the transit terminal. The proposition would require the mayor specifically to be involved in the project, which, Daly said, is "going to be necessary for moving the political will for making the project happen."

The TJPA should have elected officials set policy and transit professionals to carry out the policies on a day-to-day basis, Daly said. The TJPA has been plagued by problems such as "bureaucrats that don't show up for meetings," Daly said.

While Proposition C will most likely not pass, Daly said, it has succeeded in bringing the issues surrounding the transbay transit project to the attention of the Newsom administration.

Newsom, for his part, opposes the measure, arguing that the mayor's office is already represented on the TJPA board and that the measure will replace a transit professional with a politician.

Supervisors Ammiano, Daly, Ma and Mirkarimi put Proposition C on the ballot.

Proposition D would amend the city's planning code to create the "Laguna Honda Hospital Special Use District" where the Laguna Honda Hospital is now located. New facilities located in this special use district would need to be either residential health care facilities or certain other assisted living facilities.

The measure would also introduce changes the planning code to allow both publicly-owned and privately-owned residential health care facilities to operate in districts that are zoned as "public" areas.

The proposition would also allow the city's zoning administrator to enforce limitations on Laguna Honda Hospital and other residential health care facilities located in any public district in San Francisco, such as the admission of patients with certain conditions.

The city controller estimates that the ordinance would cost about $27 million a year, due to public health patients no longer being able to be treated at Lagunda Honda Hospital and requiring care in other health care facilities.

Supporters of Proposition D argue that the measure will maintain Laguna Honda as a care facility for seniors and the physically disabled.

Opponents of the measure, such as San Francisco Public Health Director Mitch Katz, argue that the ordinance will allow private developers to build for-profit facilities on public land and that the measure inadvertently requires decisions about patient admissions at Laguna Honda to be made by the zoning administrator, and not health care professionals.

Proposition D, as an initiative ordinance, qualified for placement on the ballot by obtaining the 10,486 signatures necessary.

All of the local ballot measures need a simple majority to pass.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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