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SF State students analyze how propositions would affect Latino community

The tension continues to build as we prepare for a consequential election of epic proportion on Nov. 3. With so much at stake on the national level, the equally important local and statewide measures don’t garner nearly as much media attention. San Francisco voters will be asked to vote on 13 local and 12 statewide propositions that could change the way we do things in our city and state. In the interest of ensuring Latino voters are informed with fair explanations and recommendations before voting, student volunteers in the upper-division Latino Politics class (LTNS 660) in the Latina/Latino Studies Department at the SF State’s College of Ethnic Studies—under the guidance of professor Teresa Carrillo—have carefully researched local propositions A-L and RR, and statewide propositions 14-25.  These measures will change the way we are taxed, represented, sentenced in court, given a voice in city government, and how our tax dollars are spent. We did research to understand what changes are being proposed and how they might affect the Latino community. Listed below are explanations and recommendations for El Tecolote’s readers. We hope that you will represent your community by voting in the way that makes most sense to you, whether it be early voting, mail-in voting, or in-person voting on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Please make your voice heard—we need you more than ever.  

State Propositions 14-25

Prop 14: Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative

Submitted by Greg Zajac

Prop 14 proposes to authorize $5.5 billion in state bonds for stem cell and other medical research, including training, research facility construction, and administrative costs. Proponents argue that we need to invest in stem cell research, but we feel that at this moment, it is too much of a debt to take on as taxpayers. Today, California is facing an enormous budget deficit and is proposing to slash high-priority social programs that benefit all of us. California has also accrued additional expenses in the process of COVID-19 response. Thus we feel it is not the time to approve a $5 billion measure when we could be investing in healthcare, housing, jobs, education, and other pressing needs.

Prop 15: Require More Property Tax from Big Business

Submitted by Natalie Torres

Prop 15 will increase funding for education by placing a tax on commercial and industrial properties. Essentially, big businesses and corporations will have to pay their dues for state services. The money received from the property taxes will go towards education and city funding, not the state. This will be done by basing tax value upon a commercial property’s market value rather than its purchase price back when it was first bought. For years, big businesses have been able to avoid tax increases by not having their property reassessed. Their taxes have been substantially lower than their actual worth. It is time that big businesses finally contribute to the betterment of their local community. Fortunately, this proposition exempts homeowners and small businesses from paying this increased property tax. This will allow a market space for new start-up businesses and allow them to compete with bigger corporations. Many new businesses are Latino owned, therefore the Latino population will benefit from Prop 15. More importantly, Latino youth will benefit from greater funding for public schools and community colleges following years of defunding.  A YES vote for Prop 15 would create an equal playing field for both Latino small business owners and youth by redistributing the tax burden toward big business.

Prop 16: Bring back Affirmative Action in California

Submitted by Teresa Carrillo

In 1996, California’s voters passed an initiative to do away with “affirmative action” in public education and employment. If passed, Prop 16 will allow public colleges, universities and agencies to once again create affirmative action programs to increase diversity and help groups that have been discriminated against in the past.  This means that public colleges, universities and agencies can include race, sex, color, ethnicity and country of origin as part of their decision-making about who gets in and who gets hired in order to insure more equal opportunity and improve the quality of public education. Before 1996, affirmative action programs across California were effective in increasing the number of Latinos admitted to college and hired into public employment. Since affirmative action has been banned, the number of Latinos admitted or hired to the most desired positions has dropped. We firmly support Prop 16 because affirmative action helps to bring equity and fairness into decisions about admissions and hiring

Prop 17: Expand Voting Rights to Felons on Parole

Submitted by Erick Reyes

Prop 17 seeks to restore voting rights to people who are on parole. If Prop 17 fails, parolees will have to wait until they complete their parole to regain voting rights. Our current system of mass incarceration imprisons a disproportionate number of Black, Brown and working-class people, thus felony disenfranchisement also primarily impacts these groups. A YES vote on Prop 17 would restore voting rights for about 50,000 people, most of whom are Black, Brown and working class. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, one out of every six Latino men is incarcerated at one point in their life and Latinos experience a high rate of recidivism due in part to so many rights being taken away from people who go to prison. The bottom line is, most people in prison will someday get out and Californians need to ask themselves: “Do we want people to come out of prison as better criminals or as better citizens?” YES on Prop 17 will lend Latinos more clout during elections by adding more people with voting rights. In a nation where democracy is a cherished value, no one should be denied the right to vote; democracy works best when everybody is allowed to express their opinion.

Prop 18: Youth Voting

Submitted by Karen Sanchez and Juanita Ortega-Golden

Prop 18 allows 17-year-olds, who will turn 18 before the general election, to vote in the primary election and special elections. Presently, the legal voting age in California is 18, so if a voter is 17 on the day of the primary, they cannot vote. Prop 18 would amend the California constitution to allow those 17-year-olds who are otherwise eligible to vote, to register and vote in the primaries, as long as they turn 18 before the November election.  We are in favor of Prop 18 because it expands the Latino vote and invites interested young voters to register and vote. A YES vote would allow the Latino youth population to have a voice on issues that greatly affect them, such as immigration, education, housing, and other state laws. Young people could, in turn, encourage other family members to vote.

Prop 19: Inheritance Rules

Submitted by Peter Junior Camacho 

Prop 19 will change the rules for “tax assessment” transfers in California so that certain homeowners will be able to buy a new home without having to pay higher taxes.  Directly affected will be homeowners who are over 55, disabled, or affected by a natural disaster by allowing them to keep their lower property taxes when moving to a new home anywhere in California. This means a tax discount if you move to a more expensive house or if you inherit a home and you live in it. Taxes would only go up if the inherited house is worth $1 million over its assessed value or if the inheritor does not live in the inherited house. Most beneficially, the revenue generated by this change will allow the state to create a much needed California Fire Response Fund (CFRF) with 75 percent of calculated revenue to go towards fire suppression services, including a CFRF administration office. In addition, the state plans to create the County Revenue Protection Fund (CRPF), which will get 15 percent of calculated revenue to reimburse counties for revenue losses caused by this measure. Supporters include Californians for Disability Rights, California Senior Advocates League and the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. They are in favor of Prop 19 because it expands tax benefits for seniors, wildfire victims and people with disabilities while closing tax loopholes for more expensive inherited properties and directs increased tax revenues to fire protection, schools and local governments. 

Prop 20: Reject Changes to Law Enforcement Policies

Submitted by Annie Farfan 

Prop 20 proposes to amend several criminal sentencing and supervision laws that were passed between 2011 and 2016, making specific types of acts chargeable as misdemeanors or felonies, rather than just misdemeanors. Some examples of such acts include shoplifting, theft, drug possession, and domestic violence. Those committing such acts would then enter a federal and state database by submitting a collection of DNA samples. When considering a proposal like this, we must not ignore the injustices already engraved within the criminal justice system. We are recommending a NO vote on Prop 20 because it proposes to increase penalties for low level offenses in a system that already targets Latinos and other people of color, adding to the racial geography of mass incarceration.

Prop 21: Local Rent Control

Submitted by Lesly Hernandez

Prop 21 allows local governments to limit rent increases on buildings older than 15 years, protecting millions of renters while incentivizing the construction of new housing. Cities and counties will be able to develop and implement rent control policies that ensure renters can find and afford rental housing which could stem the tide of evictions and displacements affecting communities across California. Prop 21 allows a city or county to exercise any local law controlling the rent for residential properties older than 15 years but exempts single-family homeowners. We are in favor of Prop 21 because so many Latinos are renters and this measure expands renters rights over the rights of landlords. Although there are some problems with Prop 21, such as the lack of protections for seniors, veterans and disabled, and the lack of specific provisions to reduce rent, we believe that the benefits outweigh the costs for the many Latino renters in California. 

Illustration: Korina Moreno

Prop 22: Limit Labor Rights for App Drivers

Submitted by Roberto Cruz

Up until 2019, drivers for app-based ride and delivery services such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, worked as independent contractors, allowing their employers to get out of their obligation to provide many labor rights outlined in our labor laws. A new law passed in 2019 requires that drivers be hired as employees and not as independent contractors, so that the protections of the labor law, including minimum wage, overtime pay and paid time off if they are sick, would extend to app-drivers. Prop 22 would allow rideshare companies to keep app-based drivers as independent contractors as opposed to employees and thereby allow fewer benefits, including a subsidy instead of healthcare benefits and a new lower “earnings guarantee.” A NO vote on Prop 22 is an important way for gig economy workers to exercise their labor power collectively and show large corporations that workers will not simply be threatened into submission. If corporations are allowed to deny app-drivers their labor rights, will restaurant workers or delivery workers be next?

Prop 23: Regulation of Dialysis Centers

Submitted by Jose Gonzalez and Stephanie Pacheco

Prop 23 calls for more regulation of kidney dialysis centers and would require that a doctor be present during all treatment hours. Without Prop 23, a patient’s doctor is required to visit only once per month during the patient’s treatment. Prop 23 requires clinics to report any dialysis-related infections to the state every three months and requires permission from the state before a clinic could close or reduce services. Finally, Prop 23 prevents clinics from discriminating against clients based on their insurance or how they are paying for their treatment. Because Prop 23 allows for low-income families to access care and treatment without fear of being denied because of who or how they pay for their treatment, we recommend a YES vote. 

Prop 24: Change California’s Privacy Law

Submitted by Jose Gonzalez, Breynner Giron, and Stephanie Pacheco

On the face of it, Prop 24 looks like a good thing because it proposes to expand California’s privacy laws and increase penalties for companies that break rules around the collection and sale of children’s private information. But as one opponent warns, there are pitfalls in the fine print, including the ability of tech companies to downgrade service to those who cannot afford extra fees, weakened privacy for small businesses, and a failure to address the problem of digital redlining, which refers to the use of race to deny lending. We join the Latinx Young Democrats, the ACLU, and Dolores Huerta in opposing Prop 24.

Prop 25: Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments

Submitted by Erick Reyes 

Prop 25 seeks to end the current system of cash bail and replace it with risk assessments. Currently, people who are arrested have to pay bail in order to be released before trial. Those who have money post bail and are released while those who cannot afford bail have to stay in jail. In California there are 82,000 people in local jails, the majority of whom are Black and Brown, live below the poverty line, and are jailed on low-level offenses. Their inability to afford bail can lead to many problems, including the loss of their job, custody of their children, or their lease—and this is all before they are proven guilty of anything. Prop 25 will do away with cash bail and instead categorize suspects by low to high risk. Suspects who are deemed low risk for flight risk and public safety will be allowed to leave jail without bail while those deemed high risk will remain. We believe a YES vote on Prop 25 will benefit Latinos because so many of our brothers and sisters are stuck in jail for minor offenses, for crimes they may not have committed, and are unable to make bail. This, in effect, criminalizes poverty and takes away the presumption of innocence that is a right of people going to trial. Risk assessment may introduce new challenges, but criminal justice reform advocates such as San Francisco’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin, along with 91 community organizations still recommend a YES vote as a step in the right direction. 

San Francisco Local Propositions A-RR

Prop A: Bond to Fund Services, Parks and Streets

Submitted by Peter Junior Camacho

Prop A arrives during a time when it is most needed.  San Francisco’s Health and Recovery Bond, Prop A will raise $487.5 million that would provide funding in three vital areas. The first and most vital, considering the COVID-19 pandemic, provides $207 million for urgently needed services that target homelessness, substance abuse and mental health. The funding will allow the expansion of emergency housing assistance and behavioral health services during a time of emergency.  Secondly, $239 million of the bond will be used towards parks and open spaces. COVID-19 has brought several restrictions when it comes to being indoors, so we need funding to improve our parks and open spaces, especially in underserved areas.  Projects include Gene Friend Recreation Center in SOMA, India Basin in the Bayview, Japantown Peace Plaza, Buchanan Mall in the Western Addition, parks in Chinatown, Herz Playground in Visitation Valley, Golden Gate and McLaren Parks, to name a few.  Lastly, $41.5 million will be used towards right-of-way repair including repair or resurfacing of streets, curbs, street structures and plazas. Not only would this beautify San Francisco but it would make public spaces safer and more accessible for all. A YES vote on Prop A will provide needed funds now for mental health treatment, supportive housing, renovated parks, repaired sidewalks and local jobs. Even though we, as taxpayers, will have to pay for this bond in the future, we feel that the immediate needs merit this investment.

Prop B: Department of Sanitation and Streets and Public Work Commission

Submitted by Greg Zajac and Bianca Martinez

Our streets are in need of constant cleaning, upkeep and repair, which the city has not been able to maintain. Contaminated streets have made the spread of viruses harder to contain as feces and garbage continue to accumulate in our public spaces. Prop B will amend the City Charter to split off street cleaning duties into a new agency called the Department of Sanitation and Streets which will focus on making our streets healthy, safe, and sanitized for everyone. Its duties would include keeping public restrooms clean, managing city trash, maintaining street trees and plants, keeping streets clean/repaired, removing graffiti and illegally dumped waste, and repairing city owned buildings and facilities. Prop B also proposes to create a five-person commission that will approve contracts, set standards, hold public meetings and oversee the agency. We are in favor of Prop B because it will help to clean up our streets and give citizens a greater voice in city governance.

Prop C: Remove Citizen Requirements for Members of City Bodies

Submitted by Greg Zajac and Bianca Martinez

San Francisco thrives because of our diverse population; each individual adds a unique voice and perspective. Prop C would revise San Francisco’s City Charter to match California Senate Bill 225, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year. If passed, Prop C will allow all qualified San Francisco residents, including non-citizens, to serve on city boards, commissions, and advisory bodies that advise City Hall. The measure takes away requirements that prevent people from serving on city bodies if they are not registered to vote. This would be a win for the Latino community because it would allow all residents to be a catalyst for change in their own communities. Increased civic decision making would create better opportunities for change where needed and allow for policies that are more responsive to community needs. Prop C will give a voice to the unheard while simultaneously reducing the stigma of being undocumented.

Prop D: Greater Oversight at the Sheriff’s Dept

Submitted by Stephanie Pacheco, Jose A Gonzalez and Breynner Giron

Prop D will create a new Sheriff’s Oversight Board that will make policy recommendations to the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors. Prop D will also create a new Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General that will investigate in-custody deaths and complaints against the department, its employees and contractors. The cost to taxpayers of added oversight is estimated at $2 million per year. These changes will help the Latino community and other marginalized groups who are more likely than others to be victims of police misconduct. Prop D encourages accountability within the criminal justice system of San Francisco and addresses systemic racism, police brutality and the unfair treatment of Black and Brown people.

Prop E: Police Staffing

Submitted by Erick Reyes

Prop E will change the city charter to remove mandatory police staffing levels. Currently the city’s charter requires that the San Francisco Police Department maintain at least 1,971 full duty sworn police officers. Revoking the city’s charter with a YES vote would place police staffing levels under the purview of the Police Commission, which will base decisions on police staffing levels on workload and input from the public. Police staffing levels will be reconsidered at least once every two years based on a report submitted by the Police Department. We recommend voting YES on Prop E because the current policy is outdated, it was adopted in 1994. A YES vote on Prop E will provide a new and better framework for determining how many police officers are needed for the city.

Prop F: Business Tax Overhaul

Submitted by Karen Sanchez and Juanita Ortega-Golden

Prop F calls for taxes to be collected from corporations such as big tech and finance companies. Prop F will recalibrate business taxes, increasing business tax for larger corporations while extending a tax break to small companies. Prop F will allow the city to unlock millions of dollars in tax revenue tied up in legal disputes and eventually add about $97 million annually. A YES vote will benefit the Latino community as it will create much needed funding for youth programs, affordable housing and to address homelessness. We join the Latinx Young Democrats and other allies in recommending a YES vote on Prop F.

Prop G: Allow Youth Voting in SF

Submitted by Jose A Gonzalez 

Prop G would lower the voting age from 18 to 16 and 17, granting the younger generation their right to vote in local elections. They would be allowed an opportunity to vote on topics such as climate change, gun control and other issues that inherently affect their generation the most, as they will be the ones dealing with many of the repercussions in their adult lives. A YES vote on Prop G would give 16 and 17 year olds the OPTION and RIGHT to vote, but it would not be an obligation or a forced vote. These young voters would have to come forward of their own choice and register themselves to vote. Many movements are led by young people who have demonstrated their capability and willingness to participate in elections. While they may seem young to some, many are bright, critical thinkers who are immersed in news and social media that allows for them to form their own opinions on local political issues. Prop G benefits communities of color as it gives voting rights to young people, and communities of color have greater numbers of youth as compared to the general population. Prop G could also give way for more political education in schools, paving the way for young voters to make their voices heard, first in local elections and eventually at the state and national level. 

Prop H: Neighborhood Commercial Districts and City Permitting

Submitted by Stephanie Pacheco 

Prop H will help new and existing businesses to process permit applications at a faster rate, within 30 days. This could help the Latino community by streamlining the permitting process which has been stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prop H could also allow for nonprofit organizations to rent out vacant spaces in neighborhood commercial districts. Our support for Prop H is tempered by a lack of consultation with Latino communities in the drafting of the measure and a conspicuous absence of support by Latino leadership. This is a measure pushed forward by the Mayor and supported by the Republican Party, but in light of the fact that Latino small businesses and nonprofits could benefit from Prop H, we offer a tepid recommendation for a YES vote.

Prop I: Increase Taxes on Property Sales of $10 Million or More

Submitted by Lesly S. Hernandez Mejia

Prop I will double the city’s “transfer tax” for big property sales of $10 million or more.  Currently, transfer taxes range from 0.5 percent for properties up to $25,000 to 3 percent for properties of $25 million or more, with lower rates for properties sold to the City or to affordable housing nonprofits. Prop I will raise property sales taxes on properties sold for $10 to $25 million to 5.5 percent and to 6 percent for properties over $25 million, maintaining the current exemptions for properties sold to the City or to affordable housing nonprofits. Prop I would also increase the state’s limit on the City’s annual tax revenue spending by the amount of additional taxes collected under the proposed rate increases. The increased limit would last for four years. The increased revenues, estimated at $196 million per year, would go to both COVID-19 related rent relief and affordable housing. Weighing the pros and cons of Prop I, we compared the increased tax revenues from large sales for funding of housing and rent relief against the cost of raising taxes in a City that already has high taxes, and we came out slightly in favor of Prop I.

Prop J: Parcel Tax for San Francisco Unified School District

Submitted by Greg Zajac

Our educators have needed a living wage for quite sometime now. Although they are notoriously underpaid, teachers continue to provide children with quality education to the best of their abilities. Prop J proposes to add a $288 parcel tax to generate an estimated $48 million per year for teachers. The money provided from the real-estate tax will also help modernize our schools and assist in digital learning brought upon us in response to COVID-19. The money is guaranteed to be spent on the services promised and cannot be taken from the state or federal government. A similar measure was passed in 2018 but legal disputes have prevented it from proceeding;  Prop J would replace the old measure if it passes. Even though Prop J raises taxes, we support it because it collects more funds for San Francisco’s public schools.

Prop K: Authorize Affordable Housing

Submitted by Michelle Duran 

Prop K is a measure to authorize the city to build or rehabilitate up to 10,000 units of affordable housing. The measure needs a majority vote to pass. If passed it authorizes the building or buying of existing buildings for affordable housing but does not provide the funding for the housing. We believe a YES vote benefits Latina/os. There is a housing crisis in San Francisco due to the high cost of housing. The crisis has worsened for many Latinos during COVID-19 pandemic because they are disproportionately affected by the virus and low-income. The pandemic has caused widespread loss of jobs and people are struggling to pay rent. There is an urgent need for affordable housing and Prop K proposes to address that need.

Prop  L: Tax Companies That Have Extreme Pay Gaps Between Managers and Workers

Submitted by Jennifer Linares, Ashley Rosas and Teresa Carrillo 

Prop L will impose an extra tax on companies  in San Francisco that pay their managers more than 100 times the median compensation paid to their employees. The companies that feed into such an inequitable pay structure would have to pay somewhere between 0.4 percent and 2.4 percent of payroll expenses in extra taxes, generating an estimated $60-140 million a year for San Francisco’s tax base. The extra taxes would go into the city’s appropriation budget which in turn allocates funds to pay the city’s bills, maintenance and repairs. Prop L will help Latino communities by boosting tax revenues while incentivizing companies to be more equitable in their pay structure.

Prop RR: Sales Tax Hike for Caltrain

Submitted by Lesly Hernandez

Prop RR will impose a tax hike of a one-eighth cent sales tax to provide reliable funding to cover the shortfall from rider fares on Caltrain. The needed funding will preserve Caltrain service and support regional economic recovery, prevent traffic congestion, make Caltrain more affordable and accessible, reduce air pollution with cleaner and quieter electric trains, make travel time faster, and increase Caltrain frequency and capacity between Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties. The tax increase will have oversight and audits and the tax increase will last 30-years, providing approximately $100 million annually for Caltrain that the State cannot take away. Funding from Prop RR will save Caltrain from shutdown and preserve Caltrain service for thousands of essential workers such as nurses, teachers, retail and service workers. Sales taxes are not our favorite way to tax, but in the long run, the benefits of Prop RR outweigh the costs of the sales tax increase for Latino commuters.

The Latino Voter Guide was researched and written by: Jorge William Bermudez, Peter Junior Camacho, Teresa Carrillo, Roberto Cruz, Michelle Duran, Annie Farfan, Breynner Giron, José Gonzalez, Jennifer Linares, Bianca Martinez, Lesly Hernandez-Mejia, Juanita Ortega-Golden, Stephanie Pacheco, Ashley Rosas, Erick Reyes, Karen Sanchez, Natalie Torres, Greg Zajac 

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