Wednesday, November 5, 2014

San Francisco: E and L both lose

Well, the voting is done, and the results came out largely the same as I had hoped.

In California, 47 passed, as I'd hoped, but so did both 1 and 2. 1 was a water bond, which focused on building dams which don't do anything to either create more water or conserve what we have, the obvious approach the latter in a state which does little to reduce water consumption by either agriculture or individuals. 2 was for a "budget stabilization" account for California. Maybe it will help. 47 helped reduce sentencing on minor theft (<$950) and drug possession. That's a good thing, and I supported it.

Locally, things also were generally good, except I was disappointed that Proposition E, the "sugary drink tax", got "only" 55% of the vote and for new taxes 2/3 is required. This is a bit silly. Consider the case where I have two measures, one which raises revenue via taxes, the other which spends the same amount. The People, being fiscally responsible, vote for either both or neither. 60% vote yes, 40% no. The result? Deficit, since the spending measure passes and the revenue fails. This is a result nobody wanted. So as a result we end up funding everything from bonds, which require only a simple majority, and on those we need to pay interest. It's really a bit of a joke.

So no soda tax, but no change in transportation policy either, something which measure L would have endorsed. It looks like L got less than 38% of the vote. That's a resounding reinforcement for Transit First, and should be the nail in the coffin of pro-car policies like free Sunday Parking or low car registration fees, both policies endorsed by our fine Mayor Ed Lee, who was perversely endorsed in the 2011 election by the San Francisco Bike Coalition. The victory for sanity was even greater if you consider what was written on the ballot was a highly misleading representation of the content of the measure: whether the city should "change" its policy on parking and streets. Had this been all I'd seen I'd have voted yes -- I want to see a change, a change back to metered parking on Sundays, a change to bus rapid transit, a change toward pedestrian malls, a change toward a more aggressive expansion of the bike network. Despite this obviously intentional deception, The People have spoken: it's time to stop pandering to the whiners and move forward with a complete streets agenda.

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