On January 23rd 16 people attended and participated in our annual Program Planning Meeting at the Presidio Library. At this meeting we discussed our League’s Areas of Focus, received an update on the Education study, learned about the League’s National convention in June 2016 and helped set priorities for the Bay Area as well as the National Leagues.

We also did something different this year. We had an Advocacy/Action member, Roanne Mejilla, interview Marie Baldiserri our League’s Management Training Adviser about League culture. Members, new and old, got a chance to “listen in” on their conversation that included such topics as “what do we mean by speaking in one voice?” All in attendance came away with a greater understanding of what it means to be a League member.

One purpose of the meeting was to see what we’ve done in our areas of focus and to chart our course over the second half of the program planning cycle to insure we reach our goals. As a reminder, we have three (3) areas of focus.

Voting Registration/Internal Barriers and Motivations:

Goal: To create a survey regarding why people don’t vote and identify barriers to voting. To engage members to take a more active role in monitoring the election process, especially in their home district and in the ballot collection process.

Affordable Housing In San Francisco:

Goal: To focus on educating our members and the community about housing rights by putting blog posts on our LWVSF website and collaborating with other housing organizations around the issue of housing.

Sunshine Task Force

Goal: To have LWVSF act as a facilitator in getting legislation enacted to strengthen the Sunshine Task Force.

Ashley Raveche spoke first, listing five (5) barriers to voting and then giving us proposed opportunities to address those barriers. The barriers are:

1) “My vote doesn’t matter.” We can – partner with the Campus Election Engagement Project to engage students; promote the Department of Elections’ PSA “Where is your polling location?” and the SmartVoter website.
2) Fear of jury duty; citizens associate the voting register and the jury duty pool. We can – educate the public that both the DMV and the Department of Elections provide names for the jury pool; educate voters about the automatic registration that occurs under the new CA Motor Voter Law.
3) The ballot is too long, too complicated. We can – educate voters of the option to vote for all or a portion of the ballot measures.
4) Low voter turnout among minority communities. We can – do outreach to minority communities to combat disenfranchisement that leads to low voter turnout and lack of participation.
5) Complaints from voters unable to locate polling locations because of alleged errors in the Voter Information Pamphlet. We can – promote the voter guide on line; communicate to voters that polling location do change.

Going forward, Ashley suggested we promote the Motor Voter Legislation and that we shift our focus from voter registration to efforts to get out the vote.

Maxine Anderson spoke on the Affordable Housing area. She reported that an Affordable Housing Panel including a public official, a representative of a home sharing firm, a home sharer and an anti-eviction activist was hosted at our June 6, 2015 Annual Meeting to discuss the issue of short-term rentals. Advocacy/Action committee members also monitored SF government committee activity pertaining to regulating short-term rentals and its effect on the availability of affordable housing in San Francisco. The committee also identified links to related websites for inclusion on the League’s website. The following proposed action for 2016:

1) Continue monitoring actions by the City by encouraging League members to attend Planning Commission meetings.
2) Post details of meeting pertaining to affordable housing on the League’s website.

Leuwam Tesfai spoke on the Sunshine Task Force area. She reported that efforts are currently underway to strengthen the Ordinance by writing and placing an ordinance on the November 2016 ballot that would address areas of weakness in the current Ordinance. Leuwam identified the following volunteer opportunities for 2016:

1) There will be a need for signature gatherers;
2) Members with knowledge of documentation retention technology are needed to assist in drafting the proposed legislation.

Martha Benioff covered the national League’s area of focus for the coming year and requested member feedback. The national asked for local League input on continuing the “Making Democracy Work” initiative. This effort focuses on strengthening voting rights across the country through opposition of voter i.d. laws, promotion of pro-voting laws and compliance, expansion of online registration, promote direct election of the president, support efforts for full congressional representation of the District of Columbia, and restoration of the Voting Rights Act. Members in attendance suggested that money in politics should also be part of that initiative. Martha will pass this information on to national after it is approved by our Board. An announcement of the National Convention in Washington, D.C. from June 16-19, 2016 was also made and members were encouraged to attend.

Heather Sterner updated members on what is happening with the Bay Area League and requested member feedback on their proposed area of focus of transportation. League members voiced concern that housing should also be on the agenda of the Bay Area League. Heather will bring this feedback to the Bay Area League. Heather also informed members of Bay Area League Day on February 6 and encourage everyone to attend.

Members were asked if there were any areas that they might be interested in pursuing that might be a focus for the next Program Planning cycle or individually. The members voiced the following ideas/interests:

1) Pursuing the issue of “Tech” money in politics, particularly the activities of investor Ron Conway;
2) Reproductive health and reproductive rights may be on the ballot again around the issue of parental notification. Christina Dragonetti, a local member and member of the State Board, volunteered as a contact person. Those interested in the issue can reach her at
3) Pursuing the issue of climate change. Educating and public and energy initiatives.

At the end of the meeting announcements of events and volunteer opportunities, members might be interested in, were made.

1) State legislator interviews with David Chiu and Philip Tin on February 5th;
2) An upcoming film screening of a documentary highlighting the “pay to play” culture in contemporary politics. Date TBA.
3) The March 6th LWVSF Gala at the City Club;
4) Education Study participation was requested. Beate Boultinghouse provided the overview of the study and provided a website to get a more in-depth understanding of the Higher Education study.

Written by Maxine Anderson.

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