Shall the City amend the Charter to create a Homeless Housing and Services Fund, which would provide services to the homeless including housing and Navigation Centers, programs to prevent homelessness and assistance in transitioning out of homelessness by allocating $50 million per year for 24 years, adjusted annually; and create a Transportation Improvement Fund, which would be used to improve the City’s transportation network by allocating $101.6 million per year for 24 years, adjusted annually?
Digest by the Ballot Simplification Committee
The Way It Is Now: The City provides a variety of services to homeless people, including street outreach, homeless shelters, transitional housing and Navigation Centers, permanent supportive housing, and health and job services. In July 2016, the City created a Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing to consolidate the City’s efforts to assist homeless people. The City is not required to provide any specific annual amount for homeless services in the budget.
The City’s Charter gives the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) authority over the City’s transportation system, which includes roads, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, parking, taxicabs and Muni (the City’s public transit system). SFMTA collects income from several sources, including Muni fares, parking fees and citations. The City’s Charter requires the City to contribute a portion of the General Fund to SFMTA each year. The City adjusts that amount every year based on the City’s revenue and population change.
In 2013, the City accepted the Transportation 2030 Task Force Report, which recommended that the City increase funding for transportation and road improvements.
In 2014, the City adopted a “Vision Zero” policy. Its goal is to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2024 by building safer streets, educating the public on traffic safety, enforcing traffic laws and implementing safety projects.
The City’s transportation system is affected by several other agencies:
• The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (CTA) is responsible for long-range transportation planning for the City. The CTA also analyzes, designs and funds improvements for San Francisco's roadway and public transportation networks.
• Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a public train system that serves the San Francisco Bay Area, and connects San Francisco with stations in the East Bay and northern San Mateo County.
• Caltrain is a commuter rail line that runs between San Francisco and Santa Clara County.
The Department of Public Works (DPW) maintains San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks, including road repaving and repairing potholes.
The Proposal: Proposition J is a Charter amendment that would create two funds:
Proposition J would create a Homeless Housing and Services Fund. Beginning in 2018 and for the next 24 years, the City would allocate $50 million to the fund each year, adjusted based on changes in City revenues.
The City would use this fund to provide services to the homeless:
• programs to prevent homelessness and
• assistance in transitioning out of homelessness.
Proposition J would also create a Transportation Improvement Fund. Beginning in 2018 and for the next 24 years, the City would allocate $101.6 million to the fund each year, adjusted based on changes in City revenues.
The City would use this fund to improve the City’s transportation network by allocating funding as follows:
• 12.4% annually to SFMTA to improve transit service to low-income and transit-dependent communities and reduce the cost of transit for low- and moderate-income youth, seniors and people with disabilities;
• 18.8% annually to SFMTA to maintain Muni’s vehicle fleet in good repair, expand the fleet and repair and upgrade SFMTA stations;
• 9.4% annually to the CTA to improve the service of the existing transit system and expand its capacity; and fund planning, design, education, outreach, evaluation and capital investment in transportation infrastructure for transit-oriented development projects;
• 14.1% annually to the CTA to improve the reliability and increase the capacity of BART and Caltrain; fund long-range regional network planning, design studies or capital improvements; improve management of regional highways; and promote sustainable travel choices;
• 12.4% annually to the CTA to implement the City’s Vision Zero policy; and
• 32.9% annually to DPW to repair City streets and conduct preventative maintenance of City streets.
Until January 1, 2017, the Mayor would have the authority to terminate one or both funds, based on his review of the City’s financial condition.
A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to amend the Charter to create a:
• Homeless Housing and Services Fund, which would provide services to the homeless including housing and Navigation Centers, programs to prevent homelessness and assistance in transitioning out of homelessness by allocating $50 million per year for 24 years, adjusted annually; and
• Transportation Improvement Fund, which would be used to improve the City’s transportation network by allocating $101.6 million per year for 24 years, adjusted annually.
A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to make these changes.
Controller’s Statement on “J”
City Controller Ben Rosenfield has issued the following statement on the fiscal impact of Proposition J:
Should the proposed charter amendment be approved by the voters, in my opinion, it would significantly increase the cost of government.
The proposed amendment would require general fund contributions to two newly created funds, the Homeless Housing and Services Fund and the Transportation Improvement Fund, of $12.5 million and $25.4 million, respectively, in fiscal year (FY) 2016–17 and $50 million and $101.6 million, respectively, in FY 2017–18.
For fiscal years FY 2018–19 through FY 2040–41, contributions to the funds would be equal to the FY 2017–18 contributions adjusted for annual changes in discretionary revenue. The proposed amendment would authorize the City to issue lease revenue bonds or lease financing arrangements for certain categories in the Transportation Improvement Fund.
The Homeless Housing and Services Fund would be used to provide services to the homeless, including programs to prevent homelessness, create exits from homelessness, and move homeless individuals into more stable situations. The fund can be used to support operations of these services and to make capital investments required to maintain or expand system infrastructure needs.
The Transportation Improvement Fund would be used to improve San Francisco’s transportation network through investments in transit services and affordability; Muni fleet, facilities, and infrastructure repair and improvement; transit optimization and expansion; regional transit; Vision Zero safer and complete streets; and street resurfacing.
This proposed amendment is not in compliance with a non-binding, voter-adopted city policy regarding set-asides. The policy seeks to limit set-asides which reduce General Fund dollars that could otherwise be allocated by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors in the annual budget process.
How “J” Got on the Ballot
On July 19, 2016, the Board of Supervisors voted 8 to 3 to place Proposition J on the ballot. The Supervisors voted as follows:
Yes: Avalos, Breed, Campos, Cohen, Farrell, Mar, Tang, Wiener.
No: Kim, Peskin, Yee.
This measure requires 50%+1 affirmative votes to pass.