San Francisco voters will soon start receiving their ballots in the mail for the June 5 presidential primary election. Containing only two local measures, the ballot should come as a relief to the many San Franciscans who are still fatigued from the lengthy and complicated November mayoral election. But make no mistake, both measures will have a drastic impact on The City and are worthy of careful consideration before heading to the polls.
The most alarming measure, Proposition A — the local garbage collection and disposal ordinance — stands to undermine San Francisco’s successful efforts to reduce waste and has the potential to increase costs to ratepayers and The City’s budget. By requiring The City to break its garbage collection and disposal contract into five distinct categories, this measure will create a new waste bureaucracy under the control of the Board of Supervisors. It will also require The City to own its own processing and transfer facilities, adding potential new capital expenses to the already strained city budget. As the state and local government continue to cut back on services, this hardly seems like the time to create added expense.
More importantly, if passed, Prop. A jeopardizes the historic partnership that has helped San Francisco achieve its nation-leading 78 percent landfill-diversion rate. This successful partnership between residents, our local employee-owned garbage company and The City’s independent rate board has been developed and improved over 80 years. In fact, our program has become a model that cities across the nation are now trying to emulate. It simply doesn’t make sense to replace a proven, efficient and successful program with a hodgepodge of services operated by up to five separate companies.
If passed, Proposition B — the Coit Tower declaration of policy — will also be harmful to San Francisco. Driven largely by not-in-my-backyard interests on Telegraph Hill, this measure attempts to limit commercial activities at Coit Tower and restrict the use of revenue generated at the popular landmark. Supporters claim the measure is necessary to ensure the money is spent where the money is raised.
But Coit Tower is one of the Recreation and Park Department’s top revenue-generating properties. Restricting its ability to leverage these funds will take an estimated $700,000 out of the department’s citywide budget, which is used to pay for recreation facilities across The City. San Franciscans who support the ideals of the 99 percent should take a close look at this measure, which takes money away from the services used by the majority and earmarks it for exclusive use at a single landmark in one of the most elite neighborhoods of The City.
The June 5 ballot may be a far cry from last November’s, but the stakes are still high. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce urges all San Franciscans to read up on Propositions A and B and vote NO on both measures.
Steve Falk is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.