This is an archive of a past election.
See for current information.
LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund If you appreciate our service to voters, please consider helping us with a donation.
Smart Voter
San Francisco County, CA November 3, 2009 Election
Proposition D
Mid-Market Special Sign District
City of San Francisco

Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

Fail: 45,011 / 46.08% Yes votes ...... 52,659 / 53.92% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Results as of Nov 10 4:00pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (428/428)
22.0% Voter Turnout (99,649/451,988)
Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Official Information | Arguments |

Should a special sign district be created which would allow new general advertising signs on and near Market Street between 5th and 7th Streets?

Summary Prepared by LWVSF Pro & Con Guide:
The Background Outdoor advertising signage has been addressed through several ballot measures in previous years. In 2002, voters adopted an ordinance prohibiting new general advertising signs anywhere in San Francisco. This proposition, if passed, would exempt the Mid-Market Street area from this ban. The Mid-Market Street area has historically been a center of San Francisco's arts and entertainment industry. In recent years, this section of Market Street, while still home to many cultural destinations, has fallen on hard times. The City has adopted a Mid-Market Draft Redevelopment Plan to promote cultural and economic vitality in the area. The Proposal Proposition D would create a new special sign district on Market Street between 5th and 7th Streets. Allowable new signage could include roof signs, wind signs, video signs, rotating signs, signs with moving parts, and illuminated signs, among others. The existing non-profit Central Market Community Benefit District (CBD) would regulate signs (height, position, movement, and illumination, for example) and select the companies allowed to install signs. Further, Proposition D would require property owners who have sold advertising space on their buildings to deposit a percentage of revenue earned into a fund managed by CBD and audited by the City Controller. Funds could be used for youth and cultural arts education and a cultural organization ticket booth at Market and Powell Streets, among other things.

Fiscal Impact from The Controller of San Francisco:
The Controller states the following: Should this ordinance be approved, in my opinion, it would in and of itself have a minimal impact on the cost of government. The proposed ordinance would create a new special district allowing general advertising signs in the Mid-Market Street area between 5th and 7th Streets, forming an exception to the bans on general advertising currently in place for those areas. Signs allowed in the area would be subject to various restrictions as to their size and features. A portion of revenues earned from signs would be required to be deposited to a fund for youth and arts education and related purposes in the area. Regulations and processes for signs in the district, and management of the youth arts and education funds resulting from the district would be the responsibility of an existing non-profit organization, the Central Market Community Benefit District, which works on community benefit issues in the Mid-Market area. The Controller's Office would be required to audit the youth arts and education funds annually. City agencies including the Planning Department and the Building Inspection Department would continue to have regulatory and permitting responsibilities and would incur added costs to administer signage allowed in the district, however these costs are typically recovered through fees charged to permit applications.

Official Sources of Information

This election is archived. Any links to sources outside of Smart Voter may no longer be active. No further links will be added to this page.
Links to sources outside of Smart Voter are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement.

Arguments For Proposition D Arguments Against Proposition D
1. Income generated from outdoor advertising sales would provide an important revenue source to support struggling Market Street theatres and cultural institutions. Funding would also support the CBD and other arts and education programs serving the local community.
2. New signage and outdoor marquees will create a sense of liveliness, bring needed lighting to the area, and improve safety for residents and visitors.
3. Proposition D creates a sensible exception to the Citywide ban on new signage; it is targeted only to a small area where signage has traditionally been located and where it is necessary to attract visitors.

1. Outdoor advertising, particularly digital billboards, would create visual blight that could be seen from across San Francisco.
2. Outdoor advertising generates large profits, only some of which would benefit the Community Benefit District and other non-profits.
3. Leadership and comprehensive planning are needed to revitalize the Mid-Market area; advertising alone will not restore vitality and would detract from the existing quality of life for residents and visitors.

San Francisco Home Page || Statewide Links || About Smart Voter || Feedback
Created: December 29, 2009 12:08 PST
Smart Voter <>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.