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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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County

City and County of San Francisco
Proposition A - 2/3 Approval Required

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Election Results

Passing

294,117 votes yes (70.63%)

122,314 votes no (29.37%)

HEALTH AND RECOVERY BONDS. To finance the acquisition or improvement of real property, including to: stabilize, improve, and make permanent investments in supportive housing facilities, shelters, and/or facilities that deliver services to persons experiencing mental health challenges, substance use disorder, and/or homelessness; improve the accessibility, safety and quality of parks, open spaces and recreation facilities; improve the accessibility, safety and condition of the City’s streets and other public right-of-way and related assets; and to pay related costs; shall the City and County of San Francisco issue $487,500,000 in general obligation bonds with a duration of up to 30 years from the time of issuance, an estimated average tax rate of $0.014/$100 of assessed property value, and projected average annual revenues of $40,000,000, subject to independent citizen oversight and regular audits? The City’s current debt management policy is to keep the property tax rate for City general obligation bonds below the 2006 rate by issuing new bonds as older ones are retired and the tax base grows, though this property tax rate may vary based on other factors.

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters of San Francisco

The Question

Shall the City issue up to $487.5 million in general obligation bonds to fund homelessness projects, facilities and services for persons with mental health and substance use disorders, as well as improvements to parks, open space, recreation facilities, streets, curbs, and other street infrastructure?

Note: This Pro/Con information is also available in Chinese and Spanish.

The Situation

The City provides a variety of projects and services, including mental health and homelessness programs, parks, open spaces and recreational facilities, streets, curb ramps, and plazas. There is a gap in City services for people with mental health and substance use disorders, and new health facilities and institutions. It is estimated that on any given night around 8,000 people are homeless in San Francisco, and the City can offer shelter for less than half of them.

 

Parks, recreation facilities, and open spaces are essential to City residents’ quality of life, and the COVID- 19 pandemic has increased use and demand. The City currently has a large backlog of deferred maintenance of these facilities.

The Proposal

Proposition A is a bond measure that would allow the City to borrow up to $487.5 million by issuing bonds. Part of the money could be used to upgrade facilities to house and deliver services for persons experiencing mental health challenges, substance use disorder, and/or homelessness. Bond proceeds could help to create a more sufficient supply of Permanent Supportive Housing units for those needing long-term affordable housing and on-site social services.

 

Bond proceeds could also be allocated to the City’s parks and recreation infrastructure, addressing public safety hazards, improving disabled access, enhancing green infrastructure, climate resiliency, and seismic safety, thereby improving the overall condition of our neighborhoods and parks. Streets, curb ramps, street structures, and plazas would be upgraded, and the City’s backlog of deferred maintenance addressed:

 

Bond funds would be allocated as follows:

 

 Mental health, substance use disorders, and/or homelessness: $207 million.

 Parks, open spaces, and recreation facilities: $239 million.

 Streets, curb ramps, and plazas: $41.5 million.

 

Proposition A would allow a property tax increase to pay for the bonds if needed. City policy is to limit the amount of money it borrows by issuing new bonds only as prior bonds are paid off. Landlords could pass up to 50% of any increase through to residential tenants. The City may authorize tenants to seek waivers from the pass-through based on financial hardship.

 

Proposition A would require bond expenditures to be overseen by the Citizens’ General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee.

 

A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to authorize the City to issue up to $487.5 million in bonds to raise money for facilities and services for those experiencing homelessness, mental health and substance use disorders, as well as to improve City parks, recreation facilities, open spaces, and streets.

 

A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want the City to issue these bonds.

Fiscal effect

Controller's statement: sfelections.sfgov.org/sites/default/files/Documents/candidates/2020Nov/Prop%20A%20-%20GO%20Bond%20Health%20and%20Recovery.pdf

Supporters say

 San Francisco’s already sizable homelessness and mental health crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID- 19 pandemic. The need for quality and substantial shelter, permanent supportive housing, and mental health resources has grown significantly.

 Bond money will stimulate the local economy, accelerating San Francisco’s recovery through job creation in a time of significant economic downturn and unemployment. Bond expenditures would be overseen by the Citizens’ General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee, ensuring fiscal responsibility and accountability.

 The Proposition does not raise taxes on homeowners, ensured by the City’s policy of retiring old bonds before new bonds are issued.

 Proposition A is the result of a collaborative effort between the City and community groups.

Opponents say

The Office of the Controller has projected that the total cost in interest and principal will total $960 million in debt obligations. This increase in debt obligations could worsen the City’s fiscal crisis by pushing it deeper into debt.

This bond may not have set aside enough money for mental health initiatives.

The Neighborhood Parks allotment has identified projects located at India Basin, Gene Friend Recreation Center, Hertz Playground Recreation Center, Buchanan Street Mall, and Japantown Peace Plaza. Other neighborhoods, like the Tenderloin, may not be properly addressed.

We need more creative solutions to our decades-old problems of homelessness and mental health. This bond is just a repeat of previous failed policies.

Details — Official information

YES vote means

A "YES" Vote Means: If you vote "yes," you want the City to issue $487.5 million in general obligation bonds to fund mental health and homelessness projects, parks, open spaces and recreation facilities, as well as improvements to streets, curb ramps and plazas

NO vote means

A "NO" Vote Means: If you vote "no," you do not want the City to issue these bonds.

Summary

Ballot Simplification Committee

The Way It Is Now: The City provides a variety of projects and services, including:

• Mental health and homelessness programs;

• Parks, open spaces and recreational facilities; and

• Streets, curb ramps and plazas.

The Proposal: Proposition A is a bond measure that would authorize the City to borrow up to $487.5 million by issuing general obligation bonds.

Bond money could be spent as follows:

• $207 million on mental health and homelessness projects, including housing, shelters, community health, psychiatric and behavioral health facilities;

• $239 million on parks, open spaces and recreation facilities; and

• $41.5 million on improving streets, curb ramps and plazas.

Proposition A would require the Citizens’ General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee to review how this bond money is spent.

If needed, Proposition A would allow an increase in the property tax to pay for the bonds. City policy is to limit the amount of money it borrows by issuing new bonds only as prior bonds are paid off. Landlords could pass through up to 50% of any resulting property tax increase to tenants.

Financial effect

City Controller Ben Rosenfield

Should the proposed $487.5 million in bonds be authorized and sold under current assumptions, the approximate costs will be as follows:

a) In fiscal year (FY) 2021–2022, following issuance of the first series of bonds, and the year with the lowest tax rate, the best estimate of the tax required to fund this bond issue would result in a property tax rate of $0.00095 per $100 ($0.95 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.

b) In FY 2029–2030, following issuance of the last series of bonds, and the year with the highest tax rate, the best estimate of the tax required to fund this bond issue would result in a property tax rate of $0.01402 per $100 ($14.02 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.

c) The best estimate of the average tax rate for these bonds from FY 2021–2022 through FY 2052–2053 is $0.01066 per $100 ($10.66 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.

d) Based on these estimates, the highest estimated annual property tax cost for these bonds for the owner of a home with an assessed value of $600,000 would be approximately $83.13.

The best estimate of total debt service, including principal and interest, that would be required to be repaid if all proposed $487.5 million in bonds are issued and sold, would be approximately $960 million. These estimates are based on projections only, which are not binding upon the City. Projections and estimates may vary due to the timing of bond sales, the amount of bonds sold at each sale, and actual assessed valuation over the term of repayment of the bonds. Hence, the actual tax rate and the years in which such rates are applicable may vary from those estimated above. The City’s current non-binding debt management policy is to keep the property tax rate for City general obligation bonds below the 2006 rate by issuing new bonds as older ones are retired and the tax base grows, though this property tax rate may vary based on other factors

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

More information

News (3)

Tax Measures on San Francisco’s November 2020 Ballot — September 9, 2020 National Law Review
Is This the Bayview's Big Park Moment? — September 8, 2020 San Francisco Public Press
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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Proposition A

Organizations (6)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Proposition A
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

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