The Board of Supervisors could change or even repeal voter-approved ordinances, years after their initial passage, under a charter amendment Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced Tuesday for the November ballot.
Wiener said he is proposing the measure in response to criticism about the number of ballot measures, such as, “Why can’t the Board of Supervisors do its job and pass legislation without asking us to pass it for you?”
If approved, he said it would reduce the number of ballot measures and make “government more flexible.”
Supervisor John Avalos was critical of the proposal. “I’m not sure what problem Supervisor Wiener is trying to solve with such a cumbersome piece of legislation,” Avalos said, and then drew references to the William S. Burroughs novel “Naked Lunch.” “Democracy can be sloppy. I like my lunch to come naked. Like a reality sandwich.”
Under Wiener’s proposal, after a measure is approved no changes could be made for three years. Then for the next four years, changes could be made with a two-thirds vote by the board. Then after seven years, a simple majority-vote could change or repeal the measure.
The board could not repeal measures placed on the ballot through a petition, but could amend them, under the proposal.
Wiener’s proposal accompanied his introduction of a ballot measure that he said was a good example of why the system needed change. The measure, recommended by the Ethics Commission, would require monthly reporting of political consultant activity, not quarterly.
“There are 21 states that allow for voter adopted ordinances. Of those, we are the only one that prohibits the legislature from subsequently making changes,” Wiener said.