PRO & CONS – Prop J – November 8, 2016

PROPOSITION J – FUNDING FOR HOMELESSNESS AND TRANSPORTATION

Charter amendment

Placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors

Requires a simple majority for passage

THE QUESTION:

Should the City set aside funds for Homeless Housing and Services and Transportation Improvement in the fiscal year 2016 – 2017 and for following 24 fiscal years?

BACKGROUND:

The City provides a range of services to homeless people including street outreach, shelters, navigation centers, housing, and health and job services. In July 2016, the City created a Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to consolidate the City’s efforts to assist homeless people. However, the City currently does not have a special fund o mandatory level of funding for homeless housing and services for the budget.

The City has a Municipal Transportation Fund for the operation of the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA), but does not have a special fund for street resurfacing.

THE PROPOSAL:

This charter amendment would establish two new funds in the City’s Charter, the Homeless Housing and Services Fund and the Transportation Improvement Fund.

The Homeless Housing and services Fund would be used to provide services to the homeless, including programs to prevent homelessness and enable homeless people to transition out of homelessness and into more stable situations.

The City would appropriate $12.5 million to the Fund in the fiscal year 2016 – 2017 and $50 million to the Fund each year through fiscal year 2040-2041. This annual amount can be adjusted based on City revenue from year to year. Based on the review of the City’s financial condition, the Mayor will have a one-time chance to cancel this section by January 1, 2017 based on review of the City’s financial condition.

The Transportation Improvement Fund would be used as follows:

  • 4% to improve service and affordability for low-income communities, seniors, and people with disabilities
  • 8% for infrastructure repair, including fleet maintenance, stations, and rails
  • 4% would go to the County Transportation Authority (CTA) for transit optimization and expansion
  • 1% would go to the CTA for improvements in regional transit including BART and Caltrain and long range regional network planning
  • 4% would be used to fund safe streets, safety education, outreach and evaluation, and to upgrade traffic infrastructure
  • 9% would be used for street resurfacing

The City would appropriate $25.4 million to the Fund in fiscal year 2016 – 2017 and $101.6 million to the Fund each year through fiscal year 2040 – 2041. This annual amount can be adjusted based on City revenue from year to year. Funds would be allocated to the MTA, CTA, and Department of Public Works to carry out these improvements. This amendment would allow reallocation of funds to other uses if a vehicle license fee or other new revenue becomes available for street resurfacing.

In order to carry out purposes of the Transportation Improvement Fund, the Board of Supervisors may authorize issuance of lease revenue bonds or lease financing arrangements.

This section of the Charter will be active until July 1, 2041, at which point it expires. The Mayor will have a one-time chance to cancel this section by January 1, 2017 based on review of the City’s financial condition.

A “YES” vote means:

You want the City to create two new funds for Homeless Housing and Services and for Transportation Improvement through fiscal year 2040 – 2041.

A “NO” vote means:

You do not want the City to set aside funds for these purposes.

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF PROP J:

  • Proposition J will only make funding commitments if the city raises new money; it will not take away from other spending.
  • This measure is supported by a large coalition of homelessness, transportation, environmental, and housing advocates..
  • Proposition J would create a “lockbox” that guarantees funding for vital homelessness and transportation needs.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST PROP J:

  • According to the City Controller, Proposition J would significantly increase the cost of government.
  • Despite billions of dollars in expenditures, homelessness is worsening in San Francisco.
  • Proposition J would take $152 million annually from the General Fund to spend on homelessness and transportation instead of Police, Fire, and Public Works.

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