2015 SF Endorsements

Return to full list of 2015 endorsements.

Use the following links to find more information on the following endorsements:

Vote for clean energy:

PG&E allies try to define renewable energy to rid electricity sector of competition.

San Francisco’s mandate to create a clean energy option for residents and businesses has been on the books since 2004 and reaffirmed by a majority of the Board of Supervisors more than a handful of times. Despite that, the deployment of such a program, now known as CleanPowerSF, has been continually challenged and delayed by public officials heavily influenced by the region’s investor-owned utility, PG&E.

The current fight at the ballot box — this time in the form of two ballot measures vying to define what kinds of renewables CleanPowerSF can provide to customers — is just the latest in a long war waged by PG&E to maintain its dirty energy monopoly.

The Sierra Club urges a No vote on Prop. G and a Yes vote on Prop. H; it’s important to cast a vote on both ballot measures, because if H passes with more votes than G, only H goes into effect.      

No on G, the Dirty Energy Scam

Prop. G is a thinly veiled attempt to unravel the good work that San Francisco has done to shape the CleanPowerSF program — a program designed to put control of the City’s energy future in the hands of the people of San Francisco. Prop. G would block CleanPowerSF from including rooftop solar in the renewable energy package offered to its customers. Rooftop solar and energy efficiency upgrades are essential components of a local clean energy program, and both are areas with great promise for local jobs creation. Prop. G would put CleanPowerSF at a competitive disadvantage to PG&E while enabling PG&E to deceive energy customers by claiming its own nuclear and fossil fuel power is just as clean and green as CleanPowerSF’s far more renewable energy mix.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has said that Prop. G would drive up costs for ratepayers without any environmental benefit. Even the original proponent of Prop. G, IBEW Local 1245, now opposes this measure and has called for a Yes on Prop. H vote instead. Prop. G is not about defining renewable energy; it’s about maintaining PG&E's monopoly. Save the clean energy option and solar power in San Francisco. Vote no on Prop. G.

Yes on H, the Clean Energy Right to Know Act

Prop. H is a widely supported compromise measure that will ensure that both CleanPowerSF and PG&E follow the same clean-energy reporting rules required by existing state law. Prop. H will help us move more quickly to a clean-energy economy by creating greater demand for in-state and local renewable energy projects and allowing rooftop solar within San Francisco to be counted by CleanPowerSF as “clean” or “green” energy. As a countermeasure to Prop. G, Prop. H is a vital tool at the ballot that would protect the right of San Franciscans to choose clean energy to power their homes and businesses. Vote Yes on H to protect your choice for a clean energy future.

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Housing measures on the ballot:

The Sierra Club supports measures to protect and increase affordable housing in transit rich, walkable communities well served by local businesses. San Francisco is one such city. When people of all incomes can live in such communities, there is an aggregate reduction in suburban sprawl, greenhouse gas emissions, and habitat loss. In recent years, however, San Francisco has become increasingly unaffordable, forcing many people to live outside the City, where they are more dependent on cars and have longer commutes.

Additionally, local government has documented that construction of new affordable units has not kept up with the loss of rent-stabilized housing units. A 2014 study by TransForm showed that low-income households displaced to the suburbs more than double their vehicle miles traveled, and that the replacement of these households by high-income households in dense, transit-rich city neighborhoods results in a net increase in emissions.

This November, several housing ballot propositions seek to further the Sierra Club’s vision for a sustainable and equitable Bay Area by reversing these trends.

Yes on A: Affordable housing bond to address the housing crisis

The Prop. A Affordable Housing Bond is an important piece of the San Francisco housing puzzle. It puts money behind last year’s Prop. K, also supported by the Sierra Club, which created goals for the creation of affordable housing. One-quarter of the $310-million Prop. A bond will be for rehabilitation of public housing; another quarter will go toward first-time home-buyer programs and teacher-housing programs; and $150 million will go toward the construction of permanently affordable new homes.

Yes on F: Fix Airbnb to protect housing in SF

Proposition F removes incentives for converting homes into hotels. This spreading practice has been linked to low residential-vacancy rates in San Francisco and rising evictions of tenants. Prop. F’s sponsors say that up to 10,000 units may have been removed from San Francisco’s rental market as part of the homes-into-hotels industry and have identified whole residential buildings that have been converted into hotels. That’s because it’s more lucrative to rent to tourists than to rent to long-term tenants, especially if homes would otherwise be rent stabilized.

Nonetheless, a majority of San Francisco supervisors legalized the local homes-into-hotels industry in October 2014 by rezoning all of San Francisco for hotels. In doing so, they legalized what had previously been illegal — short-term rentals for fewer than 30 days. San Francisco-based Airbnb, a leader in the homes-into-hotels industry, strongly supported the passage of that ordinance and another passed in July that enriches their industry even more.

Now permanent residents may rent registered units to tourists for an unlimited number of days if they are present (hosted) and for 90 days if they are not present (unhosted).

However, the Planning Department — charged with enforcing this law — has no way to enforce limits on unhosted rentals or to fine short-term rental businesses for failure to register homes-into-hotels. Thus, incentives for keeping units out of the residential rental market remain in place.

Prop. F takes away these incentives. When someone registers a unit as a hotel, Prop. F mandates that notice be given to nearby residents and organizations. (Residents are already notified about many permits issued nearby, so this would be in keeping with normal Planning Department procedure.) Prop. F would limit all short-term rentals to 75 days per year, whether hosted or unhosted, and require quarterly reports to the Planning Department. The Planning Department could fine Airbnb and similar businesses for advertising any unregistered units.

Recently, San Francisco supervisors have worked on other legislation to legalize in-law units as part of addressing the current housing crisis.  Prop. F therefore forbids the use of in-law units as hotels.
Prop. F also includes a private right of legal action. But don’t be fooled by Airbnb’s argument about Prop. F pitting neighbor against neighbor: neighbors already have the right to sue each other. This private right of action empowers people to sue Airbnb and other short-term rental businesses for violations of privacy and quiet enjoyment of homes.

Yes on I: Sustainable and fair housing for the Mission

Proposition I seeks to ensure that the City meets its own affordable housing goals for the Mission District and that new residential development complies with the November 2014 Proposition K. Prop. K, which passed with Sierra Club support, made it city policy that at least 33 percent of all new housing be affordable to low- and moderate-income housing and that at least 50 percent be affordable to low-, moderate-, and middle-income households.

The Mission District has lost several thousand low- to moderate- and middle-income families in recent years. It has gained more in high-income earners. The first step in stopping the losses for the Mission District, which is also the Bay Area hot spot for the development of luxury housing, is an 18-month “pause” in the permitting process for market-rate residential developments and certain demolitions. This will give officials, departments, and neighbors time to create a Neighborhood Stabilization Plan that, in part, involves securing funding for implementation of their plan. The deadline for the creation of that plan would be January 31, 2017. Proposition I would also authorize a possible extension of this suspension for an additional 12 months by a majority of the Board of Supervisors.

San Franciscans have in the past supported “pauses” — or moratoriums — and restrictions. A development moratorium existed in the North Mission, and parts of SoMa, Potrero Hill, and the Central Waterfront until the completion of the Eastern Neighborhoods plan in 2008. And San Franciscans enthusiastically supported waterfront height limits in two recent elections. Residents of the Mission District, supported by the Sierra Club, now ask San Franciscans to support their call for a pause while they get a more sustainable and fair housing plan in place.

Yes on K: Prioritize surplus public land for affordable housing and open space

City departments own property that they sometimes have no use for. Current law requires the creation of an inventory of surplus and underutilized municipal properties (buildings, air rights, or land), but nothing compels local government to prioritize that land for badly needed affordable housing or parks and open space. Some departments sell surplus properties to make up budget deficits or increase their revenues.

Earlier this year the San Francisco Department of Public Works was about to sell property at 30 Van Ness — situated in a hot zone for housing development, as it is near transit, a freeway entrance, and several major city arteries — to market-rate housing developers. By sheer luck, affordable-housing advocates got wind of the upcoming sale in time and demanded more affordable units at the site. But what if they hadn’t? Prop. K would take the uncertainty out of the process.

The 2015 Surplus Public Lands measure is a good government measure that would mandate an annual public reporting on surplus property by April 15. It would give the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development discretion over those properties that offer the opportunity for affordable housing developments at a range of incomes. The supervisors would also have the power to dedicate a parcel for the creation of a park or open space. Prop. K also urges enterprise agencies (the SF Port, the SF Airport, and other agencies that do not rely on the general fund) and public educational institutions to comply with the measure.

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Other endorsed ballot measures:

Yes on C: Register expenditure lobbyists for greater transparency at City Hall

No on D: Public land should be used for public good — not luxury high-rises on the waterfront

Voters must stand up for San Francisco’s waterfront once again. San Francisco’s Proposition D is a special exemption from the law for one developer to raise waterfront height limits from one story to 240 feet.

San Francisco’s waterfront is public land: a limited and precious resource that belongs to all the people.  But Prop. D would block public access to public land, shadow public parks, and create mostly office buildings and luxury towers.

The proponents’ argument never even mentions their initiative’s central issue: it raises waterfront height limits to build 11 private towers on public waterfront land.

If passed, Prop. D would waterfront height limits for not just one high-rise tower like the failed 8 Washington “Wall on the Waterfront” project, but for 11 waterfront towers.  Five of the 11 waterfront office and luxury towers allowed by Prop D would be either 190 or 240 feet tall.

Prop. D deals with 100 percent public land, but the majority of housing built would be luxury apartments, not affordable housing. And there is no guarantee in Prop. D that most of its 11 waterfront towers won’t be exclusively for offices and commercial use with zero housing.

San Francisco’s beautiful waterfront remains a vibrant place open to all only because the people have repeatedly stood up to defend height limits and protect our waterfront from becoming filled up with shopping malls, hotels, private office towers, and luxury condos.

Prop. D is opposed by the Sierra Club, San Francisco Tomorrow, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, Sunset-Parkside Education and Action Committee (SPEAK), and the San Francisco Green Party.

No on E: a blueprint for bad government

This measure goes against the Sierra Club support of "good government" by enabling well-funded, out-of-state groups to essentially filibuster public meetings. Its proponents emphasize the live-streaming component of the measure — a good idea in theory but dangerous as it is written in Prop. E.

The real problems with this measure reside in the provisions around the live- and pre-recorded video testimony. The measure protects the anonymity of those submitting live- and pre-recorded video testimony, which means that well-organized and well-funded national and international groups that may support or oppose a particular piece of San Francisco legislation could easily organize people from anywhere in the nation — or the world — for such testimony. As it stands now, people who cannot attend meetings can still submit testimony via email or letters that become part of the public record, making the live- or pre-recorded testimony unnecessary.

State law now requires that public meeting agendas be published 72 hours before the meeting in question. But if this measure passes, and 50 or more people submit a request that an item be heard at a specific time during the meeting at least 48 hours ahead of time, clerks will have to re-issue meeting notices.

This measure is not a solution to a problem; it creates problems by making it harder for civil servants to do their jobs. It also opens up windows of opportunity — not for working San Franciscans, many of whom cannot attend policy meetings, but for well-organized and well-financed special interest groups who can hide behind the protection of anonymity and who may not even be from San Francisco.

Yes on J: Protect legacy businesses for complete, walkable neighborhoods

San Francisco's legacy businesses are not just part of the character of the City but also help it maintain affordability and walkability by providing goods and services for neighborhoods. Vote Yes on J to protect legacy businesses.

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Endorsed candidates:

Wendy Aragon, Community College Board of Trustees


With City College’s Board of Trustees recently returned to authority, voters once again have a say in what goes on. Wendy Aragon will be a voice of the people, not of special interests.
A community college graduate herself, Wendy comes with public policy experience chairing the Citizens Advisory Committee of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. There, she championed CleanPowerSF, the city’s clean-energy program, as well as environmental justice and workforce-training issues.

Wendy, who works in the construction industry, has pledged to reduce City College’s carbon footprint by upgrading buildings and facilities. She favors growing the college’s environmental science and sustainability class offerings, as well as subsidizing transit passes for students to promote use of transit. She would like to see the College develop its surplus 33 Gough Street property as 100-percent-affordable housing.

Aaron Peskin, District 3 Supervisor


As San Francisco faces a right-centrist Board of Supervisors and an administration seemingly wedded to tech and development interests, voters should return Aaron Peskin to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as the best choice for District 3 and for a progressive majority on the Board.

Aaron Peskin brings a rich history of accomplishments to his campaign for his old  District 3 Supervisor’s seat. In 2001, he prevented the ill-advised infill of two square miles of the Bay for runway expansion by the San Francisco International Airport. As a supervisor, he sponsored legislation to curb the Ellis Act, frequently used by landlords to evict tenants. With a charter amendment he authored in 2007 (Proposition A), the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has seen annual Muni funding increased by $30 million.

Since Peskin’s announcement of his candidacy in late March, housing affordability and opposition to evictions have been the visible center of his campaign. Aaron supports the construction of new low- and middle-income housing and preserving existing affordable housing to retain artists, nonprofits, and other small businesses. 

Aaron was an environmental activist before becoming a politician and has continued his activism as a citizen. He worked on making the America’s Cup a more environmentally friendly event; helped reduce emissions at Pier 27; and prevented the placement of a Jumbotron in the Aquatic Park Lagoon. Recently, he worked to protect the Flower Mart site in SoMa from high-rise development. 

Peskin is endorsed by the Sierra Club, San Francisco Tomorrow, the San Francisco Tenants Union, the Latino Democratic Club, and a long list of labor organizations, state officials, five members of the Board of Supervisors, current and former City Commissioners, and many artists and writers.

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