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We Deserve Better

As San Franciscans, particularly those of us who live on the Westside, we are witnessing our City bursting at the seams, with over 883,000 people. In just 7.5 years, we have grown by 78,000 residents.

photo of Manhatten

The question we face is: How many more people can we accommodate without adversely affecting our safety, quality of life, the character of our neighborhoods? Our crumbling infrastructure , which is vulnerable to another major earthquake, was built for a city of just 715,000 people?

ABAG, with its Plan Bay Area 2040, calls for 1,100,000 people by 2040. We learned at a recent forum on the future of Transportation in San Francisco, the SF Planning Department projects our City to balloon to over 1,500,000 people by 2065!


ABAG, with its Plan Bay Area 2040, calls for 1,100,000 people by 2040. … the SF Planning Department projects our City to balloon to over 1,500,000 people by 2065!”

Enough is enough!

Almost all the dialogue over housing in San Francisco revolves around the belief that we must significantly accelerate the construction of new housing - half blocks or block-large massive construction of "sky's the limit" condos and apartment buildings. Advocates of denser housing have declared that the era of the single family home is over. They are also dictating what kind of housing will be constructed – very low income, "affordable", market rate, luxury, mini units or 2-3 bedroom units that can accommodate growing families.

Opponents of more housing in SF say that the surrounding Bay Area counties need to do their fair share of adding housing. Even if some communities are not doing their fair share, they suffer the same massive infrastructure problems we have in San Francisco, including crumbling roads, traffic congestion, the need for more schools, fire stations, and more water. They, as we, are challenged by over-burdensome regulatory hurdles and exorbitant building costs.

Both sides are fundamentally wrong. More of the same, while throwing more money at the problem, will not solve the issue of affordability. We must reject the agendas of the special interests who are vested in the tired, failed policies of the status quo, freeing us to think outside the box.

The solution isn't with Supply-Side Economics. Indeed, we can't build ourselves out of this crisis in our small city of not even 47 square miles. The solution is achievable with Demand-Side Economics.

The inflationary pressures on the housing market has been manufactured by bad public policies, e.g., tax breaks for Twitter and other tech companies so they would bring their jobs and employees from outside the City into San Francisco, as well as adverse side effects from Prop.13 and rent control.

Homeowners and renters feel trapped in their current housing. Under current state law, if an empty nester/ homeowner over 55 wants to downsize, they may end up paying far more in property taxes than if they stayed put. The same is true for long-time renters who can't afford to move to a smaller apartment because they will be paying far more in rent.

So we make the following three modest proposals:

When the tax breaks for Twitter and other tech companies expire next year, don't renew them, and don't provide additional tax breaks to the tech industry.

Government should not be in the business of playing favorites or picking winners and losers in the private sector.

Vote Yes on Prop. 5 on November 6th. This would allow homeowners who are 55 or older to sell their home in SF and other urban areas, and purchase a less expensive home anywhere else in California without paying more in property taxes. That will significantly increase the supply of multi-bedroom homes for young, growing families that are currently priced out of the market without having to build one additional unit of family housing here and elsewhere.

Businesses who want to move here or expand operations here should consider decentralizing their operations and setting up satellite offices in college towns in the Central Valley and outside our urban core. It would be a win-win-win across the board. Kids graduating from Chico State, UC Davis, Sac State, Stanislaus State, UC Merced, Fresno State, and Bakersfield State who are receiving cutting edge STEM educations could get good-paying entry level jobs in our best and most innovative industries, while the corporations would benefit by employing kids fresh out of college for less salary and benefits than they have to pay in SF or the Bay Area. The costs for land and buildings is far less in the rural counties than here, and the rural counties, which currently have unemployment rates as high as 7.5% would benefit by the financial shot in the arm enabling them to provide housing and services for their homeless populations to keep them there, rather than migrating to SF.

Additionally, if corporations expand outside the Bay Area, it will reduce the Inflationary demand for housing here and in our surrounding communities.

We're not advocating that this is a cure-all, but we hope our proposals will create a fresh dialogue which will move the ball forward.

Christopher L. Bowman was born in San Francisco, grew up in Palo Alto, and returned to the City in 1975.

Keith Bogdon grew up in San Francisco. He and his wife are homeowners in the Richmond District.

October 2018

Post Mortem on the 2012 General Election



November 27, 2012



National Results


With approximately 178,000 votes still to be counted (mostly from California), according to Wikipedia President Obama won re-election with 64,880,101votes to Governor Romney’s 60,482,929 votes or 50.86% to 47.41%. Obama won 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206, with Romney picking up Indiana and North Carolina plus a congressional district in Nebraska over what Senator McCain received.


Governor Romney received about 550,000 more than Senator McCain, but President Obama’s vote was down about 3.6 million from 2008.


The “also rans” included Gary Johnson (Libertarian) who received 1,266,324 at 0.99%, and Jill Stein (Green) at 458,411 or 0.36%. Rosanne Barr (Peace and Freedom) received just 64,620 or 0.05% (more than 75% from California.)


For the U.S. Senate, nationally, the Democrats made slight gains, and now control the upper house of the Congress with 53 seats compared to 45 for the Republicans, and two Independents from Vermont and Maine, Sanders and King, respectively, who will caucus with the Democrats.


For the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans have retained control of the lower house of the Congress, 234 to 201 – a net loss of seven seats for the Republicans. Four of those lost seats came from California.


30 of the Nation’s 50 Governors are now Republican, a net gain of one seat for the Republican Party.


Statewide Results


            President Obama won by a landslide in California. According to the Secretary of State, which is running behind in the compilations of the county tallies, the President is leading Governor Romney, 7,474,360 to 4,650,897 or 60.06%% to 37.51%. That’s roughly the same margin as in 2008.


            Dianne Feinstein, in a two-way race, won by an even larger margin against Elizabeth Emken to retain her U.S. Senate seat. The votes were 7,474,360 (62.30%) to 4,522,150 (37.70%).


            Down ticket, the Republicans also suffered major defeats, losing four Congressional seats, including those of incumbents Dan Lungren, Mary Bono Mack, and Brian Bilbray (the count is now 38 Democrat to 15 Republicans); and now have just 11 of 40 seats in the State Senate and 26 of 80 seats in the Assembly, meaning that the super majority of Democrats can pass whatever new taxes or tax increases they want without Republican input.


            Among the results for the State Propositions, there were a number of surprises, including passage of Prop. 30, which, in addition to an increased tax on incomes over $250,000, included a 0.25% sales tax increase. NOTE: Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to extend the sales tax in 2009 was defeated by a two to one margin; Prop. 30 won 55.02% to 44.98%. The liberalization of the Three Strikes Law won by a huge margin of 69.19% to 30.81% statewide. It carried in every county of the State. Although losing – Props. 34 (on repealing the Death Penalty) and 37 (on labeling genetically engineered foods) lost by the narrow margins of 47.92% to 52.08%, and 48.12% to 51.88%, respectively.


Citywide Results


            Although the number of registered voters in the City increased by 25,000 over the number registered for the last Presidential election (due largely to the inception of on-line voter registration which began the month before the election), the turnout in November was 364,875 roughly the same as in 2004, but 24,000 less than four years ago. Thus, Citywide turnout was down from 81.25% in 2008 to 72.56% this year.


Also, for the first time in a Presidential election, more San Franciscans voted by absentee ballot (52.9%) than voted at the polls.


            Although there were no surprises in the partisan races, given the commanding lead Citywide that Democrats have over Republicans in voter registration, 55.65% to 8.70%, local Republican candidates ran well ahead of Governor Romney and Elizabeth Emken in their respective races. John Dennis, who ran a second time against Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, received 14.92% in the 8th CD compared to 12.47% for Governor Romney; Debbie Bacigalupi, who ran against Congresswoman Jackie Speier, received 17.59% in the City’s portion of the 14th CD compared to 13.81% for Elizabeth Emken; Harmeet Dhillon, the County Chair of the SFRCCC who ran against State Senator Mark Leno, received 14.93% Citywide to Governor Romney’s 13.03%; and Jason Clark, who ran against Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, received 13.77% compared to Emken’s 9.21% in the 17th AD.


            In the hotly contested and well-funded race for the open seat in the 19th AD (currently held by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma), Democrat Assessor Phil Ting and Democrat attorney Michael Breyer faced each other in a rematch of the June primary, and Ting won handily in the San Francisco portion of the district by a 57.69% to 42.31% margin, and by 61.0% to 39.0% in the San Mateo portion of what is arguably the most Asian district in the State. As of October 20th, Ting had raised $809,000 since the beginning of his two year campaign. Breyer had raised $1,038,000. It is commonly said, “money can’t buy you victory, but it sure helps.” Breyer trailed Ting by 34.4% district-wide in the primary, and the monies he raised helped to narrow that gap by one half.


There were three hotly contested races for Supervisor, and three which were largely foregone conclusions.


Supervisor Eric Mar won a majority of the first choice votes beating David Lee 53.68% to 38.75%. RCV didn’t become operative in this race. Appointed Incumbent Christine Olague was upset by London Breed in District 5, 56.16% to 43.84% after all the second and third choice votes had been transferred under RCV. In a race which wasn’t decided until several days after the polls closed, School Board member Norman Yee beat

Labor leader F. X. Crowley by just 132 votes in District 7.


In the other three races, in District 3 David Chiu won handily over three opponents with over 75% of the total votes cast; and in Districts 9 and 11, David Campos and John Avalos ran unopposed, although official and unofficial write in candidates received 4.92% and 5.75% respectively.


Two notes on the Supervisorial Races.


In the races in Districts 5 and 7 which were decided by RCV, Breed received only 42.31% of the “continuing” votes (the total number of first choice votes received by all the candidates in her race), and Yee received only 39.84%. Thus, both candidates won by pluralities, not majorities of the votes, with 57.69% of the voters of District 5 who voted for Supervisor not choosing Breed as their first, second, and third choice and 60.16% of the voters in District 7 not choosing Yee. This represents the major defect of RCV, which electoral system this author has opposed since before its approval by the voters in 2002.


            Additionally, one of the key variables as to which candidates won in Districts 1 and 5 was the vote by the Board of Supervisors on whether or not to retain Ross Mirkarimi as Sheriff. Supervisor Mar voted against Mirkarimi (when it became clear by the roll call vote that Mirkarimi would be retained). This enabled Mar to demonstrate to voters of his district that he was independent of the Progressive bloc on the Board. After Supervisor Olague voted for Mirkarimi, the Mayors Lee/Brown funding and grassroots campaign apparatus shifted its support from Olague to Breed. The write-in votes in Districts 9 and 11 were clearly protest votes against Supervisors Campos and Avalos for voting for Mirkarimi. In other districts, the write-in votes were less than 0.35% of the total votes cast.

            In other races, all the elected incumbents to the Board of Education and Community College Board of Trustees were re-elected, including Sandra Fewer, Jill Wynns, and Rachel Norton for the School Board, and Steve Ngo, Natalie Berg, and Chris Jackson for the College Board. Newcomers Matt Haney and Rafael Mandelman were elected to the School Board and College Board, respectively. Rodrigo Santos, who was appointed by Mayor Lee to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Milton Marks, III, came in a distant 6th, while Amy Bacharach who appeared to be gaining on Chris Jackson in the days after the election ultimately lost to Jackson by 584 votes when the provisional ballots from Districts 10 and 11 were counted.


            On ballot measures, Propositions A (Parcel Tax for the College District), B (General Obligation Bonds for the Parks), C (Affordable Housing fund), and E (Gross Receipts tax) won handily, while Props. D and G (Consolidation of Elections and Overturning Citizens United) won by landslides, as did No on F (dismantling O’Shaughnessy Dam).


District 7 versus the City.


            Generally, Districts 7 and 4 (the Sunset) are considered the most moderate of the City’s eleven Supervisorial Districts. Everything, though, is relative. In the context of the City, these districts are considered moderate. In reality, the voting behavior of Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu would be considered Liberal in most parts of California or elsewhere in the Nation. Unfortunately, for the health of the City, the political dialogue is not between Conservatives and Liberals, but between Liberals and Progressives.


            The following two tables demonstrate both points.




* 39.50% of the 7th Supervisorial District is in the 12th CD and 60.50% is in the 14th CD; only 17.27% of the 7th Supervisorial District is in the 17th AD versus 82.73% in the 19th AD.


** The percentages for candidates running for the Board of Education and the Community College Board of Trustees are calculated based on the total number of voters who cast ballots, rather than the total number of votes cast among the multiple candidates for these two offices, because voters can vote for multiple candidates and the percentages published by the Department of Elections are not comparable to those in other contests.


*** Although Prop. F was overwhelmingly opposed across the political spectrum, it was opposed by a higher percentage of the vote in District 7 than in the more progressive parts of the City.


# Although Sandra Fewer came in first in District 7, there was a virtual three way tie between her and Rachel Norton and Jill Wynns. She won handily Citywide.


## Natalie Berg came in 1st and Amy Bacharach came in 3rd place in District 7, while Chris Jackson came in 5th place.


The Election of Norman Yee as District 7’s next Supervisor.


            I won’t editorialize on race for Supervisor in District 7. Rather, I will let the facts speak for themselves.


            The data are as follows:



            Clearly, Norman Yee, and the four minor candidates for Supervisor, received a higher percentage of the first choice votes cast with the late absentees, and particularly the provisionals, than they did with the early absentees and the vote at the polls. Thus, the combined first choice votes for Yee and the four minor candidates was only 37.14% of the early absentee votes, but 50.95% of the provisionals. This suggests that these five campaigns had better field operations in GOTV (Get Out The Vote) than the other four campaigns combined.


            The vote in Park Merced at San Francisco State University was also instructive of the ultimate district-wide results.


            F.X Crowley and Norman Yee received roughly the same percentage of the votes as they did district-wide in the vote at the polls, 22.56% and 28.22%, respectively. in those five precincts, which constitute 8% of District’s vote, but Mike Garcia received only 10.02%, and the combined total for the four minor candidates was 24.88% compared to 11.66% for the district-wide vote at the polls. The vote in Park Merced and at SFSU represented a strong progressive tilt and also a protest vote against Mike Garcia who strongly supported the Park Merced project (which tenants feared would cause their displacement).


            The Department of Elections has provided a detailed analysis of how the votes of the various candidates transferred in District 7 under RCV.


            Candidates were eliminated from consideration in the opposite order in which they placed, and when the combined totals for specific candidates would not add up to the next person in the ranking, several candidates were eliminated at the same time, but the data remain separate for the purpose of analyses.



*The first choice votes on the RCV Results Report are slightly higher than those reported in the Certified Statement of Vote because the SOV reflects only the first choices marked by the voters in the first choice column. In a few instances, the voters left the 1st choice column blank, but filled in the 2nd or 3rd columns or wrote in the candidate’s name, and the DOE so noted that fact.



            Of the 31,385 first choice votes cast for the nine candidates for Supervisor in District 7, 14,457 first choice votes did not go to F.X. Crowley or Norman Yee. Of the 14,457 voters who cast first choice votes for other candidates, 6,507 or 45% had “exhausted” ballots and did not have a role in determining the final winner of the race. In most cases, those voters “bullet-voted” for their first choice candidate and didn’t select a second or third choice candidate. Of the remaining 7,950 voters whose 2nd or 3rd choice ballots were received by the two top vote-getters, F.X. Crowley received 58.2% of the vote versus Norman Yee who received 41.8%.


            Had the ratio of 2nd and 3rd place transferred votes from Mike Garcia to F.X. Crowley and Norman Yee remained constant, and had another 400 of Garcia’s supporters not bullet-voted for Garcia but instead cast a second choice vote n the race, F.X. Crowley would have been elected.


Alternatively, had F.X. Crowley and Norman Yee received the same percentage of the vote as they did in the late absentees and provisional first choice ballots as they had in the early absentee ballots and vote at the polls, Crowley would have been elected by a margin of nearly 500 votes when all the votes transferred.


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