Though the upcoming November election has been been marked by controversy and turmoil over the hot-button housing measures, there are also a variety of important non-housing initiatives on the ballot.
Parental leave for city workers, the Giants’s new housing development, and a up to $100 million in subsidies to legacy businesses are on the ballot this November. If you haven’t had a chance to read up on the proposed ordinances, here’s our guide to the lesser-known initiatives:
Proposition B would grant city employees extended paid parental leave, giving each parent employed by the city 12 weeks of paid time off. The law is tailored specifically for families in which both parents are employed by the city, since the current law requires such families to split 12 weeks between both parents.
If the measure passes, each parent employed by the city would be entitled to the full 12 weeks, plus a four-week extension in the case of a temporary disability caused by the pregnancy. They would also be allowed to keep at least 40 hours of sick time after their parental leave ends, since the current law requires that they to dig into this time when taking leave.
The measure includes childbirth, as well as cases in which parents must take leave to care for an adopted or foster child.
Proposition C would require any individual or organization that pays someone to lobby on their behalf to register with the city’s ethics commission and pay a $500 annual fee.
Because lobbyists are often paid by third-parties that do not have to register with the city, the funding for such lobbying is often unknown. The new measure would require these third-parties to register with the Ethics Commission if they pay more than $2,500 in any month for direct lobbying, research, advertising, or outreach.
But non-profit organizations like the San Francisco Tenants Union and the Mission Economic Development Agency are opposed to the measure, saying the legislation is not narrowly tailored enough and that the $500 fee could hurt smaller groups.
Proposition D would allow the Mission Rock housing development to proceed with a height increase, building to 240 feet where the area currently allows 40 feet.
The Mission Rock development in Mission Bay is well under way, and the proposal would only grant a height increase to allow for further planning between the team and the city.
Supervisor Jane Kim recently pressured the team to increase the affordable housing on site from 33 percent to 40 percent. in June. Only about 15 percent of that affordable housing goes to low-income residents, however, while almost 25 percent would be reserved for middle-income residents. The developers say the project will also add $1 billion to city revenue and create thousands of temporary construction jobs and permanent office jobs.
The measure has overwhelming support because of the high percentage of affordable housing guaranteed. Building 40 percent affordable housing is far above the current requirements of between 12 and 20 percent for private developments, and groups like the San Francisco Tenants Union say it will create a new benchmark for private developments.
The opposition comes from the Sierra Club and the Green Party. The Sierra Club opposes the conversion of public land into private waterfront towers, while the Green Party points out that the project will be mostly market-rate and that the Giants should come back with a better offer.
Proposition E would give the public greater control over city meetings, requiring that they be streamed live online, that they accept video testimony during public comments, and that they start and stop certain items according to a predetermined schedule.
Most groups say the proposal would be too taxing, since many public meetings are already streamed online and this would require the more than 120 bodies that meet at different times and places to purchase video equipment and stream their discussions.
Additionally, public comment can — and often does — add hours to some meetings in city government (the Planning Commission alone routinely holds 12-hour hearings). On highly contentious issues, adding more comments could make meetings prohibitively long.
Supporters of the measure argue, however, that it would give people who don’t usually have the time to go to City Hall in the middle of the day to be heard as well.
Propositions G and H go hand in hand in a strange way: Prop. H competes with Prop. G.
Proposition G would restrict the definition of renewable energy to only power produced within California and from certain sources, like hydroelectric dams. Proposition H, on the other hand, use the state definition of renewable energy and includes solar, thermal, wind, and a host of other renewable energy categories.
The contention arose from Clean Power SF, the city’s alternative energy program, which competes with PG&E’s current monopoly on energy. A union of PG&E workers initially supported Prop. G because they said it would keep Clean Power SF accountable, but have shifted their support to Prop. H after deliberations with the Board of Supervisors, meaning Prop. H faces no real opposition.
Proposition J would create a city fund from which annual grants could be allocated to small businesses struggling to pay rent. To qualify, however, businesses must be 30 years old, or be 20 years old but facing a serious risk of displacement.
Many of San Francisco’s small and longtime businesses are facing significant rent increases as their leases expire. Some, like Navarro’s Martial Arts Academy in the Mission, have seen their rents tripled and cannot afford their new leases.
The fund would give $500 per full-time employee to qualifying businesses or up to $50,000 a year. Additionally, landlords who agree to extend the lease of a legacy business by a minimum of 10 years would qualify for grants of up to $22,500, or $4.50 per square footage of the business space. Each year, 300 businesses could be added to the subsidy list.
The city controller estimates that some 7,500 businesses qualify for the legacy business distinction, with an average of eight employees each. If funds were given to all these businesses, within 25 years the city could be paying businesses and landlords some $94 million annually in subsidies.
The Green Party and the Chronicle oppose the measure, however, saying it is ripe for patronage. Because only the mayor or city supervisors can nominate businesses, they say the legacy business registry would amount to a list of businesses favored by city hall.