Shall the City amend the Charter to transfer responsibility from property owners to the City for maintaining trees on sidewalks around their property as well as sidewalks damaged by the trees, and pay for this by setting aside $19 million per year from its General Fund, adjusted annually based on City revenues?
Digest by the Ballot Simplification Committee
The Way It Is Now: City law generally requires property owners to maintain trees in the public sidewalk area next to their property as well as the sidewalk around those trees.
A property owner is usually liable for injuries and property damage other people may suffer resulting from the owner’s failure to maintain those trees and sidewalks damaged by those trees.
The San Francisco Unified School District (School District) is responsible for maintaining trees on its property.
The Proposal: Proposition E is a Charter amendment that would transfer responsibility from property owners to the City for maintaining trees and sidewalks damaged by the trees. The City would then be liable for injuries and property damage resulting from failure to maintain the trees and to repair sidewalks damaged by the trees.
The City would pay for maintaining these trees and sidewalks by setting aside $19 million per year from the City’s General Fund, adjusted annually based on the City’s revenue.
The City could give up to $500,000 per year from the set-aside to the School District to help pay for the cost of maintaining trees on public school property.
Until January 1, 2017, the Mayor would have the authority to terminate the fund and the set-aside, based on the Mayor’s review of the City’s financial condition.
A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to amend the Charter to transfer responsibility from property owners to the City for maintaining trees on sidewalks around their property as well as sidewalks damaged by the trees. The City would pay for this by setting aside $19 million per year from its General Fund, adjusted annually based on City revenues.
A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to make these changes.
Controller’s Statement on “E”
City Controller Ben Rosenfield has issued the following statement on the fiscal impact of Proposition E:
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 contribution to a newly created fund, the Street Tree Maintenance Fund, of $19 million beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2017–18. This fund would be used to pay for City services to maintain street trees as of July 1, 2017. The cost to the City in FY 2017–18 would be $13.5 million as the City has already budgeted $5.5 million for these services.
In subsequent years, contributions to the fund would be adjusted by the aggregate change in the City’s overall discretionary revenue. The City would be able to temporarily suspend the required budget increases in any year in which a general fund deficit of $200 million or more was forecast.
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 “E” Got on the Ballot
On July 29, 2016, the Board of Supervisors voted 11 to 0 to place Proposition E on the ballot. The Supervisors voted as follows:
Yes: Avalos, Breed, Campos, Cohen, Farrell, Kim, Mar, Peskin, Tang, Wiener, Yee.
This measure requires 50%+1 affirmative votes to pass.