Alcaldía de San Francisco. San Francisco City Hall. Photo Courtesy

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, San Francisco voters will be asked to vote on four local measures that will impact the City and County of San Francisco. Students in the Latino Politics class at the SFSU College of Ethnic Studies have carefully researched local Measures A–D in order to understand what changes are being proposed and how those changes might affect the Latino community. Listed below are explanations and recommendations for Measures A, B, C, and D. We hope that you will let your voice be heard on Nov. 5 by taking the time to cast your vote on these and other important issues.

Measure A: YES
Measure A proposes a change to San Francisco’s Retiree Health Care Trust Fund that would prohibit withdrawals from the Trust Fund until sufficient funds are set-aside to pay for all future retiree health care costs. The measure makes it harder to use the funds now in an attempt to ensure that retirees in the future will be able to get the health care benefits they have been promised. We recommend a YES vote on Measure A, which protects the Health Care Trust Fund so that San Francisco can meet its commitment to providing health care for retired workers—including firefighters, police officers, and nurses—who made sacrifices to protect our community. It is estimated that Measure A will solve San Francisco’s health-care deficit and ensure a better future for generations to come. If passed, San Francisco becomes the first city in the nation to have a solution for both pension and health care deficits. Vote YES on Measure A to protect retiree health care benefits.

Measure B: NO
Measure B would allow developers to build two towers on the Embarcadero waterfront containing 134 luxury condos with an average price tag of $5 million each. One of the two proposed towers would surpass the waterfront height limit by 62 percent, leaving the building at an unprecedented height of 136 feet (52 feet higher than the current limit).

Presently, the property in question at 8 Washington Street operates as a parking lot and a private fitness club. Developers estimate that the proposed project will create 250 temporary construction jobs and 140 permanent jobs, but have not specified how they would contract for the construction jobs nor what kinds of permanent jobs will be available for hire. The developers have proposed to pay a fee of $11 million to San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund for future projects instead of including mandated low-cost housing on-site. Although housing infrastructure is key in eliminating shortages, building ultra-luxury condos will not relieve the current housing shortage San Francisco is experiencing. A NO vote will stop the development of this project and leave room for other potential proposals.

Although, the initiative has been predicted to produce anywhere between $54-$100 million in tax revenue for the City, it is important to note that any prospective plan will generate tax revenue. Furthermore, engineers have testified that this project puts San Francisco at risk by building too close to a major sewage line that has the potential to rupture during an earthquake and flood the neighborhood and Bay. The site also sits on a portion of public land that makes the City of San Francisco obliged to spend an estimated $5 million to upgrade the city-owned portion of the sewage line to keep Bay water from seeping in, leaving only a difference of $6 million for affordable housing. This proposition has been packaged as a stimulus for the city, but we feel that the opportunity costs are too high. Two-thirds of the property will be private, leaving only a small shaded park for the public. If the measure is approved, this project will set a precedent for future proposals on the waterfront, blocking the Embarcadero to the public,not opening it up. We feel that Measure B is not in the interest of most San Franciscans so we recommend a NO vote on Measure B.

Measure C: NO
Measure C is a referendum against the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ prior approval of the waterfront development at 8 Washington Street which is at issue in Measure B. Opponents of the Waterfront Development collected enough signatures to qualify for a public vote challenging the Board of Supervisors’ prior approval of the project. We recommend a NO vote on Measure C so that voters can overturn the Board’s prior approval and stop the Waterfront Development project.

Measure D: YES
Measure D would change the way San Francisco buys prescription drugs by allowing city officials to negotiate directly with manufacturers instead of using federally selected companies—a method which has allowed the price of prescription drugs to rise at a rate of 3.6 percent per year, more than twice the 1.7 percent healthcare inflation rate. Currently, the Affordable Care Act addresses major problems within the healthcare system, yet does not adequately address the rising cost of prescription drugs. With Measure D, San Francisco will take a step towards changing that by asking our state and federal representatives to pass legislation that substantially reduces prescription drug prices purchased by all levels of government. San Francisco would save an estimated $8 million per year of the $23 million that we currently spend on prescription drugs.

Measure D is a fight against prescription drug companies that make huge profits and pay their CEOs millions. Measure D protects the most vulnerable within our community but it also helps to control the rising price of prescription drugs for the insured. Because we believe that the interests of the Latino community will be served by passing Measure D and reducing the price of prescription drugs, we recommend a YES vote of Measure D.

By Professor Teresa Carrillo in collaboration with students from San Francisco State University (SFSU)-Pastor Bejinez, Chadwick Burnaw, Daniel Cortes, Mario Rosset Martinez, Veronica Maturino, Heather Mittelman, Ana Suarez, Stephanie Suarez and Pablo Velez Villegas from the Latina/Latino Studies Department LTNS 660 class “Latino Politics” at SFSU.

This evaluation of local measures in the upcoming Nov. 5 elections does not represent El Tecolote’s opinion, but it constitutes an evaluation made by the students of the Department of Latina/Latino Studies course, LTNS 660, “Latino Politics” from San Francisco State University, under the direction of professor Teresa Carrillo.