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Smart Voter
San Francisco County, CA June 3, 2014 Election
Proposition A
Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond
City and County of San Francisco

2/3 Approval Required

Pass: 96,137 / 79.04% Yes votes ...... 25,491 / 20.96% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Information shown below: Yes/No Meaning | Arguments | Tax Rate Statement |

To improve fire, earthquake and emergency response by: improving and/or replacing deteriorating cisterns, pipes, and tunnels, and related facilities to ensure firefighters a reliable water supply for fires and disasters; improving and/or replacing neighborhood fire and police stations; replacing certain seismically-unsafe police and medical examiner facilities with earthquake-safe buildings and to pay related costs, shall the City and County of San Francisco issue $400,000,000 in general obligation bonds, subject to citizen oversight and regular audits?

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote on this measure means:
If you vote "yes," you want to allow the City to sell up to $400 million in general obligation bonds to finance the construction, improvement and seismic retrofitting of specific public safety and emergency response facilities.

A NO vote on this measure means:
If you vote "no," you do not want to allow the City to sell bonds to finance the construction, improvement and seismic retrofitting of specific public safety and emergency response facilities.

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Arguments For Proposition A Arguments Against Proposition A

Proposition A rebuilds and restores our aging emergency firefighting water system and prepares San Francisco for a major disaster.

After the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, San Francisco burned to the ground for the sixth time. To prevent San Francisco from burning again, residents called for the construction of the world's best emergency firefighting water system.

Today, the deteriorating 100 year-old system requires rehabilitation. On March 12, a 5-alarm fire consumed a major Mission Bay project under construction. That fire would have caused greater damage had San Francisco's newer emergency firefighting water supply system not been in place.

Equally troubling, other facilities for first-responders are in seismically unsafe buildings that could fall after a major earthquake.

Proposition A:

  • Ensures a steady supply of high-pressure water, giving firefighters a critical tool to fight major fires;
  • Replaces deteriorating pipes, improves pump stations, and builds additional new cisterns citywide;
  • Improves seismically deficient and substandard neighborhood fire and police stations;
  • Constructs a new resilient police motorcycle unit, crime lab and medical examiner facilities.

Proposition A will NOT increase property tax rates. There will be independent citizen oversight of spending and financial audits. Specific legal requirements encourage the hiring of local residents for construction jobs, contributing to the City's economic vitality. Earthquake scientists say the odds are 2 in 3 that a disastrous earthquake will strike San Francisco before
2040. That's why your support is critical NOW. Please help us improve earthquake and fire safety in our City by voting YES on A.

Mayor Ed Lee Board of Supervisors President David Chiu Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White* Police Chief Greg Suhr*

  • For identification purposes only; author is signing as an individual and not on behalf of an organization.

Rebuttal to Arguments For
"Proposition A would allow an increase in the property tax to pay for the bonds. It would permit landlords to pass through 50% of the resulting property tax to tenants."

That's the language the official Ballot Simplification Committee (tasked to come up with simple, factual descriptions of ballot measures) used to describe this $400 million spending proposal.

But proponents claim in their ballot argument that "Proposition A will NOT increase property tax rates." Compare those two statements. Clearly either one or the other is misleading at best!

Which statement do you think more accurately reflects what will happen if Prop. A passes?

Ask yourself, "Should I trust people who try to mislead me? Should I vote the way they want me to vote?"

Now consider these two different methods of financing seismic upgrades:

(1) Set a little money aside from your budget each year to go toward upgrading facilities one by one, prioritizing those most in need.

(2) Spend nothing for many years, then go out and borrow a large sum of money that costs you nearly twice as much as the amount of the loan due to interest and financing costs, to pay for all the upgrade work you've been neglecting (Prop. A).

If someone proposed the second approach to you, would you consider them to be responsible leaders whom you would want to entrust with your resources and safety?

We urge a "NO" vote on Proposition A.

Libertarian Party of San Francisco

No one would argue against safe buildings and a functioning emergency response system, but is an expensive bond measure the most prudent use of taxpayer money to accomplish these goals? By lumping all these reasonable improvements under one "proposed project," the Board of Supervisors has inflated the cost and declared a bond is necessary. By the time the citizens pay for the interest, legal expenses, bond fees, and oversight committee costs, the $400 million cost will almost double. With the expected cost overruns that always accompany these bond projects, we can expect to pay a lot more.

Rather than ignoring basic infrastructure for decades and then declaring the costs too great to pay out of current operating funds, there is a better way. With a current budget of $7.3 billion, surely city officials can bring back the fiscal prudence of major improvement funds, which call for setting aside a small portion annually to upgrade facilities. Then projects can be funded on a priority basis and paid for one at a time, not all at once, without incurring unnecessary debt for the future. No bond measure today should be approved by the taxpayers without a clause establishing major improvement funds.

Vote NO on A. By voting NO, tell the Board of Supervisors to go back to the drawing board and include a clause for establishing major improvement funds and act like the true trust keepers of taxpayer money that they are supposed to be. Demand that our government officials fund the basic services of government, which includes the upkeep of safe government buildings, out of their huge operating budget each year, not with costly bond measures that force our children and grandchildren to pay for debt that we choose to incur.

Libertarian Party of San Francisco

Rebuttal to Arguments Against

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to place the 2014 Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response bond on the June 2014 ballot because the City's general fund simply cannot pay for these kinds of urgent, extensive infrastructure investments to protect and safeguard our homes, businesses and communities. ESER 2014 will allow for critical upgrades to our first-response facilities without raising property taxes + a prudent, time-tested policy cemented in our City's 10-Year Capital Plan.

ESER 2014 continues the work of the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response general obligation bond program that was overwhelmingly approved by San Francisco voters in 2010. It has helped the City begin a wide range of vital projects, including improvements to neighborhood firehouses and the emergency firefighting water system.

San Francisco is located in earthquake country and, unfortunately, history has shown us the devastation quakes can cause. Being prepared is crucial to limiting damage and speeding our post-disaster recovery. This $400 million investment will improve deteriorating and outdated public safety systems relied on by all San Franciscans.

Responding quickly in the event of a major disaster or emergency directly impacts on how well we, as a city, can recover after a major emergency.

Mayor Ed Lee Board of Supervisors President David Chiu Supervisor John Avalos Supervisor London Breed Supervisor David Campos Supervisor Malia Cohen Supervisor Mark Farrell Supervisor Jane Kim Supervisor Eric Mar Supervisor Katy Tang Supervisor Scott Wiener Supervisor Norman Yee

Tax Rate Statement from Controller's Statement on "A"
City Controller Ben Rosenfield has issued the following statement on the fiscal impact of Proposition A:

Should the proposed $400 million in bonds be authorized and sold under current assumptions, the approximate costs will be as follows:

  • In fiscal year 2015+2016, following issuance of the first series of bonds, and the year with the lowest tax rate, the estimated annual costs of debt service would be $13 million and result in a property tax rate of $0.0069 per $100 ($6.79 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.
  • In fiscal year 2020+2021, following issuance of the last series of bonds, the estimated annual costs of debt service would be $33.9 million and result in a property tax rate of $0.0149 per $100 ($14.69 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.
  • The best estimate of the average tax rate for these bonds from fiscal year 2014-2015 through 2039+2040 is $0.0097 per $100 ($9.61 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.
  • 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 $500,000 would be approximately $74.53.

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 debt management policy is to issue new general obligation bonds only as old ones are retired, keeping the property tax impact from general obligation bonds approximately the same over time.

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Created: July 9, 2014 18:44 PDT
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