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Delegates Weigh in on Candidates, Ballot Measures

Delegates to the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council voted on the final endorsements for the Nov. 3 municipal election. The Council endorsed candidates for District Attorney, City Attorney and Treasurer, as well as six ballot measures. The SFBCTC had previously endorsed Mayor Ed Lee for re-election and Supervisor Julie Christensen for District 3 Supervisor. Delegates also endorsed Supervisor Scott Wiener for election to the State Senate in 2016.

Supervisor Julie Christensen

San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council delegates voted in March to endorse Julie Christensen for election to the Board of Supervisors. Mayor Ed Lee appointed Christensen to the Board in January 2015 to serve the remainder of David Chiu’s term as District 3 Supervisor after Chiu’s election to the State Assembly. District 3 includes Chinatown, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, Polk Street, the Financial District and Union Square.

“She fought for the Central Subway and its extension to North beach and Fisherman’s Wharf, which fits in with improving public transit,” SFBCTC Secretary-Treasurer Mike Theriault said. “She has been a real ally on projects that are important to the trades.”

At the March 26 delegates meeting, Supervisor Christensen said she believes in “smart growth and sensible development in District 3.”

“We have to deal with the increasing need for housing and how to get people around,” Christensen said. “I am involved in issues city-wide, but in District Three we have different challenges.”

Among those who fought construction of the North Beach Library was former District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is seeking election to his old position on the Board of Supervisors. Christensen told Organized Labor that people concerned that it took over 10 years to get the North Beach Library approved and built should “just ask my competitor why.”

Chinatown Music teacher Wima Pang, who ran for supervisor in 2012 and 2008 and for mayor in 2011 and 2007, is also a candidate in District 3.

Mayor Ed Lee

Delegates to the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council voted to endorse Mayor Ed Lee for re-election at a meeting on Jan. 15. Mayor Lee attended the meeting and talked about his record and improvements in the city’s economy over the last few years.

“Unemployment is down and I’m working to make sure jobs are created, not just in construction, but in health care, local manufacturing, hospitality and retail,” Lee said. “I want a diverse economy. I want to see good paying jobs that are sustainable, and new businesses.”

“We have worked well with Ed Lee since he came into office, and his staff has worked with us,” Theriault said. “We are happy to have that cooperative relationship with the mayor’s office.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener for State Senate

“The early endorsement is unusual but it is important,” Theriault said. “Supervisor Wiener has made an honest effort to look at the City’s problems and try to solve them in a way that goes beyond politics. It is important to honor that. He has tried to put forth pragmatic solutions to the housing crisis, like addressing the issue of secondary housing units, which has been a third rail in San Francisco politics, but is an important way to retain the middle class in the city.”

The Building Trades Council also endorsed City Attorney Dennis Herrera and District Attorney George Gascón for re-election, as well as City Treasurer José Cisneros.

“The City is in dire need of affordable housing and needs new funding sources to replace funding lost when redevelopment disappeared. Affordable housing is a big issue for anyone who cares about San Francisco.”

– SFBCTC Secretary-Treasurer Mike Theriault on the importance of Prop A.

Ballot Measures

SFBCTC Delegates voted to endorse seven of the eleven local measures on the ballot in the November 3 municipal election. The Building Trades Council urges a “Yes” vote on measures A, B, D, F, H, J and K; and “No” on C, E, , G and I.

Prop A: Affordable Housing Bond – YES

If approved, Proposition A would authorize the city to issue up to $310 million in bonds to fund affordable housing programs. Prop A is sponsored by Mayor Ed Lee and was put on the ballot by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. If passed, the measure will finance the construction, development, acquisition, and preservation of housing affordable to low and middle income households. It would assist in the acquisition, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable rental apartment buildings to prevent the eviction of long term residents and repair and reconstruct dilapidated public housing.

Theriault said passing Prop A is a priority for the Building Trades, but not just for the construction jobs it could generate. “The City is in dire need of affordable housing and needs new funding sources to replace funding lost when redevelopment disappeared,” he said. “Affordable housing is a big issue for anyone who cares about San Francisco.”

Theriault added that the SFBCTC is working on a city-wide project labor agreement that could include the work on affordable housing, but even without that guarantee, the Council supports Prop A.

A two-thirds vote is required for approval of Prop A.

Prop D: Mission Rock Development – YES

Prop D is a referendum on increasing the height limits for part of the Mission Rock development proposed by the San Francisco Giants for the area south of AT&T Park.

The Mission Rock site consists mostly of Pier 48 and Seawall Lot 337. Prop D would retain the 40-foot height limit on Pier 48, retain the Pier 48 apron as open space and limit buildings to no more than one-story high on eight acres of open space elsewhere in Mission Rock. Prop D would increase the height limit on up to 10 acres in Mission Rock other than Pier 48 so that buildings along Terry Francois Boulevard would have a 120-foot height limit, three buildings would have a 240-foot height limit, and buildings on the rest of the 10 acres would be allowed heights up to 190 feet.

Mission Rock will include 1,000–1,950 residential units, most of which are rental units, space for restaurants, retail, commercial, production, manufacturing, artist studio, small business and non-profit uses, and eight acres of parks, open spaces and recreational opportunities.

“Mission Rock will be a great project for us and for the City,” Theriault said. “It completes the picture for Mission Bay by adding new retail as part of the project that is needed for the new residents.”

Prop C: Expenditure Lobbyists – NO

Prop C would regulate “expenditure lobbyists” by requiring them to register with the Ethics Commission, pay a $500 registration fee, and file monthly disclosures regarding their lobbying activities. The Ethics Commission defines an “expenditure lobbyist” as “any person, other than any government entity, or officer or employee of a government entity acting in an official capacity, who, directly or indirectly, makes payments totaling $2,500 or more in a calendar month to solicit, request, or urge other persons to communicate directly with an officer of the City and County in order to influence local legislative or administrative action.”

Labor unions representing City employees would have to register as lobbyists under the terms of Prop C.

Theriault told SFBCTC delegates that the measure “treats unions as if they are lobbyists – even if they are just trying to turn out members for political actions. It could impact our ability to hold demonstrations and our ability to cover political issues and endorsements in Organized Labor and on our website.”

“This measure would punish people for activism,” Theriault continued. “It puts up barriers to grassroots activism, which is the exact opposite of democracy. Unions fulfill a role in grassroots activism; this measure would hamper those efforts.”

Prop G: Disclosures Regarding Renewable Energy – NO

Prop H: Defining Clean, Green, and Renewable Energy – Yes

Proposition G and H address the issue of defining “renewable, greenhouse-gas free electricity.” Prop G defines renewable energy as “electricity derived exclusively from certain renewable resources located within or adjacent to the California border or electricity derived from Hetch Hetchy, except for electricity from other types of resources such as rooftop solar and other large hydroelectric facilities.” It would require the City’s CleanPowerSF program to inform customers and potential customers what the percentage of electricity they purchase is renewable, greenhouse-gas free electricity. It would prohibit CleanPowerSF from marketing, advertising or making any public statement that its electricity is ‘clean’ or ‘green’ unless the electricity is ‘renewable, greenhouse gas-free electricity’ as defined in this measure.

State law requires all retail electricity suppliers, including Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs, to disclose the sources of power being provided from various categories, including from eligible renewable energy resources.

While Prop G is considered a good policy which requires disclosure and transparency, the SFBCTC voted to go along with the recommendation of IBEW 1245, which represents electrical workers at PG&E to oppose Prop G and support Prop H as a compromise measure.

Prop H calls for using the State of California’s definition of “eligible renewable energy resources” when referring to terms such as “clean energy,” “green energy,’ and ‘renewable Greenhouse Gas-free Energy.” It calls for CleanPowerSF to inform customers and potential customers of the planned percentage of types of renewable energy to be supplied and to use electricity generated within California and San Francisco when possible.

Prop H also adopts a policy on the use of “renewable energy credits” by the CCA program. The Renewable Energy Credits (REC) program is controversial because it allows agencies to purchase “credits” on the energy market similar to the “cap and trade” program. IBEW 1245 has opposed the use of RECs and says that they allow CCAs like Marin County’s to inflate the percentage of renewable energy the CCA provides—to pay money and then claim dirty energy is clean energy.

Prop H would mandate that San Francisco’s CCA have accurate information regarding the sources and environmental impacts of the energy provided to them.

Prop B: Paid Parental Leave for City Employees – YES

Sponsored by Supervisor Katy Tang, Prop B amends the City Charter o allow parents who are both City employees to each take the maximum amount of paid parental leave for which they qualify for the birth, adoption or foster parenting of the same child.

Prop E: Requirements for Public Meetings – NO

Prop E requires that the City broadcast all City meetings live on the Internet; allow members of the public to submit electronically during the meeting live, written, video, or audio comments from any location and require those comments be played.

The City Controller determined that the cost to the City to implement Prop E “would increase by an estimated ongoing annual staff cost of $750,000 at a minimum. There would be new one-time costs of approximately $1.7 million at minimum to upgrade and expand the City’s sites and equipment for live-streaming.” There would also be other increased costs over time, according to the City Controller.

Prop F: Short-Term Residential Rentals – YES

Prop F would impose restrictions on private, short-term housing rentals, limiting short-term rentals of a unit to a maximum of 75 days per year. Current city law defines a short-term rental as a term of less than 30 days, and allows 90 days of “un-hosted” short-term rentals for any given unit annually. An un-hosted rental is one where no permanent residents reside during the rental period. The city currently does not limit “hosted” short-term rentals—where a unit rented out while a permanent resident also resides at the unit during the rental period.

The purpose of the limits is to prohibit converting rental units from residential use to tourist use, and help preserve the availability of housing in San Francisco. This initiative would make it illegal for any hosting website, such as Airbnb, to list a short-term rental unit if the unit was not eligible for rent according to city law. Airbnb would be required to remove the listing for any unit that had been rented out for more than 75 days in any given year. Current city law does not require hosting platforms to remove listings in accordance to city law.

“Our members share the concerns of other supporters of Prop F that unregulated short-term rentals have contributed to displacement of tenants and the high cost of housing in San Francisco, as well as the potential loss of hotel tax revenue and hotel jobs,” said Theriault. “This measure will help prevent non-residents from basically converting units to hotels, while still allowing home owners to rent out rooms to supplement their income.”

Prop I: Suspension of Market-Rate Development in the Mission District – NO

This measure would impose an I8-month moratorium – a complete suspension of City Permits – on development projects in the Mission District other than 100 percent affordable housing projects. The Board of Supervisors could also extend the moratorium for an additional 12 months.

The SFBCTC opposes the moratorium.

“We all understand the situation in the Mission, and have deep sympathy with the proponents of the moratorium,” Theriault said. “But to put this on the ballot now, in light of what happened with 8 Washington and the waterfront ballot measure, is to invite these kinds of measures that limit development to spread throughout the City. That would be a major problem for us.”

According to the City Controller’s Office, there are currently 24 projects at various stages of the planning and permitting processes, representing up to 1,220 units of housing within the area designated by the ordinance. Noting that up to 85 units could be delayed by 18 months or more, the Controller estimated that the loss in property tax and related revenues for San Francisco over the18-month moratorium could range up to $1 million.

Prop J: Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund – YES

Prop J establishes a Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund, which would give grants to Legacy Businesses and to building owners who lease space to those businesses for terms of at least 10 years. It expands the definition of a Legacy Business to include those that have operated in San Francisco for more than 20 years, are at risk of displacement and meet the other requirements—including making a significant contribution to the history or identity of a particular neighborhood or community.

Prop K: Surplus Public Lands – YES

Prop. K would enable the City to expand the allowable uses of surplus property to include building affordable housing for a range of households from those who are homeless or those with very low income to those with incomes up to 120 percent of the area median income. It also allows surplus property to be used for projects that make housing available for households earning up to 150 percent or more of the area median income.

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