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Smart Voter
San Francisco County, CA November 8, 2011 Election
Proposition B
Road Repaving and Street Safety Bonds
City and County of San Francisco

General Obligation Bonds - 2/3 Approval Required

Pass: 129175 / 68.02% Yes votes ...... 60741 / 31.98% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Arguments |

To fix potholes and repave deteriorating streets in neighborhoods throughout San Francisco, repair and strengthen deteriorating stairways, bridges and overpasses, improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, improve disabled access to sidewalks, and construct and renovate traffic infrastructure to improve Municipal Transportation Agency transit reliability and traffic flow on local streets, shall the City and County of San Francisco issue $248,000,000 in general obligation bonds subject to independent oversight and regular audits?

Summary Prepared by San Francisco Department of Elections:
Proposition B is a bond measure that would authorize the City to borrow up to $248 million by issuing general obligation bonds to improve and repair streets, sidewalks, and street structures.

The City could only use this money to:

  • repair and repave City streets and remove potholes;
  • strengthen and seismically upgrade street structures;
  • redesign street corridors by adding or improving pedestrian signals, lighting, sidewalk extensions, bicycle lanes, trees, and landscaping;
  • construct and renovate curb ramps and sidewalks to increase accessibility and safety for everyone, including persons with disabilities; and
  • add and upgrade traffic signals to improve Muni service and traffic flow.

The Mayor and the Board of Supervisors would approve the final list of projects.

Proposition B would allow for an increase in the property tax, if needed, to pay for the bonds. It would permit landlords to pass through 50% of any resulting property tax increase to their tenants.

Proposition B would require the Citizens' General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee to provide independent oversight of the spending of bond funds. One-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the bond funds would pay for the committee's audit and oversight functions.

This measure requires approval of two-thirds of the votes cast.

Fiscal Impact from City Controller Ben Rosenfield:
City Controller Ben Rosenfield has issued the following statement on the fiscal impact of Proposition B:

Should the proposed $248 million in bonds be authorized and sold under current assumptions, the approximate costs will be as follows:

  • In fiscal year 2011-2012, following issuance of the first series of bonds, and the year with the lowest tax rate, the estimated annual costs of debt service would be $3.4 million and result in a property tax rate of $0.0022 per $100 ($2.14 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.
  • In fiscal year 2018-2019, following issuance of the last series of bonds, and the year with the highest tax rate, the estimated annual costs of debt service would be $22.8 million and result in a property tax rate of $0.0116 per $100 ($11.46 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.
  • The best estimate of the average tax rate for these bonds from fiscal year 2011+2012 through 2034+ 2035 is $0.0076 per $100 ($7.46 per $100,000) of assessed valuation.
  • Based on these estimates, the highest estimated annual property tax cost for these bonds for the owner of a home with an assessed value of $500,000 would be approximately $57.28.

These estimates are based on projections only, which are not binding upon the City. Projections and estimates may vary due to the timing of bond sales, the amount of bonds sold at each sale, and actual assessed valuation over the term of repayment of the bonds. Hence, the actual tax rate and the years in which such rates are applicable may vary from those estimated above. The City's current debt management policy is to issue new general obligation bonds only as old ones are retired, keeping the property tax impact from general obligation bonds approximately the same over time.

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Arguments For Proposition B Arguments Against Proposition B


San Francisco has 850 miles of roads and sidewalks-- many filled with potholes, buckling sidewalks, seismically unsafe bridges, overpasses and stairways. Prop B is a critical component of the city's Ten - Year Capital Plan to make these urgently needed renovations and infrastructure improvements.


Over the last decade, over 200 pedestrians have been killed--many of them seniors. Prop B will improve the safety of our streets for our most vulnerable--the elderly, children and families, and those with disabilities, especially at intersections near schools.

PROP B IMPROVES OUR SAFETY In the event of the next earthquake, police, firefighters and medical personnel must be able to quickly reach those in need. Deteriorated roads, seismically unsafe bridges and overcrossings could have devastating impacts on the ability of first responders to aid in a disaster.

PROP B CREATES BADLY NEEDED LOCAL JOBS With high unemployment and many families having trouble making ends meet, Prop B, by investing in infrastructure, helps create over 1,000 local construction jobs and boosts small businesses.

PROP B DOES NOT RAISE YOUR TAXES Prop B has been specifically designed so tax rates WILL NOT increase. By complying with the city's policy of only issuing new bonds as old ones are paid off, this measure's full costs can be funded at current tax rates with NO INCREASE.

PROP B puts San Francisco back on the road to safer, smoother streets.

Fix the Streets of San Francisco--Yes on B!

Mayor Edwin M. Lee Supervisor Scott Wiener Supervisor Carmen Chu* Supervisor David Chiu Supervisor Jane Kim Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi Supervisor Malia Cohen Supervisor John Avalos

  • For identification purposes only; author is signing as an individual and not on behalf of an organization.

Rebuttal to Arguments For
DPW is pretending that all of the proposed street improvement projects are capital improvements and are not considered ongoing or routine maintenance. General Obligation Bonds (GOB) pay for capital improvements. They are not meant to pay for one-time maintenance projects such as road repairs.

The City worked hard to earn its current a low road rating by deliberately deferring road maintenance in good times and bad. Just about 80% of the money that should have been spent on road repairs was deliberately redirected to City employee salaries.

Now after years of deferred maintenance, the City comes crawling back to the voters with a $248M Road Repaving Bond on the November ballot. This is what the road repair bond claims they will give us: We get to repay for our infrastructure repair for a second time.

The question here is: Should the voters now reward City government for doing such a bad job? Federal, state, and local infrastructure funds should be spent on purposes that were intended. As one supervisor has stated, "The City has the financial means but not the political will to prioritize the maintenance of our streets."

Hopefully, the road repair bond will not kill passage of the school repair bond, since voters are leery of approving $761 million in new GOB debt across the two bonds. The education of our City's children is far more important than our City's deferred road repairs.

Vote NO on Prop B! Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods

San Francisco's Neighborhoods OPPOSE Prop B!

This bond does

  • not guarantee your street will get paved
  • not explain why the City Administrator and the Director of DPW have neglected -- for 20 years -- to direct already-budgeted street-repair funds to repaving our streets.
  • not explain why the mayor is asking for citizens to pay for it again -- where did our property tax and rental pass-through monies go the first time we paid?

And consider this: Only $148.4M of this bond's $248M is actually for street paving!

Do you want the City to double-tax you to help pay for these things when they should have been doing it all along with your property tax and rent pass-through money?

Of course not!

Force City Hall to use our money as it was budgeted, and as it was intended!

Vote NO on Prop B! Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods Established 1973. 46 neighborhood organizations.

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
San Francisco Planning and Safety Experts Support Prop B Many San Francisco streets, sidewalks and bridges are so deteriorated that major renovations are required.

Structural street repairs, reconstructing buckling sidewalks and seismically strengthening our bridges and staircases are necessary improvements beyond the typical maintenance that state and federal funding support.

Prop B is a major program of the city's Ten Year Capital Plan to invest in our infrastructure by reconstructing our failed roads, improving pedestrian access on sidewalks and crossings for the elderly and disabled, and making safety upgrades to bridges and other street structures.

Prop B directs that more than half of bond funds be spent on street repaving and reconstruction - our biggest need - throughout all neighborhoods. Rebuilding our streets and upgrading signals improves traffic flow and safety for our public transportation system and emergency responders, as well as for bicycles and automobiles.

If we do not pass Proposition B to ensure these improvements are made now, our city streets will further degrade with even more potholes, creating unsafe conditions for everyone and costing taxpayers significantly more as conditions worsen. Proposition B is subject to strict independent oversight and audits to ensure fund expenditures are transparent and used as directed.

Prop B has been designed so taxes WILL NOT increase. Because the city only issues new bonds as old ones are paid off, Prop B will be funded at current tax rates with NO INCREASE. San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR) Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White* Police Chief Greg Suhr*

  • For identification purposes only; author is signing as an individual and not on behalf of an organization.

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