Joe Biden
Congress, District 12
Nancy Pelosi
Congress, District 14
Jackie Speier
Scott Wiener
Assembly, District 17
David Chiu
Assembly, District 19
No Endorsement
San Francisco
Supervisor, District 1

Marjan Philhour #1

Veronica Shinzato #2

Supervisor, District 3
Danny Sauter
Supervisor, District 5
Vallie Brown
Supervisor, District 7

Myrna Melgar

Joel Engardio
(honorable mention)

Supervisor, District 9
No Endorsement
Supervisor, District 11
No Endorsement
Board of Education

Michelle Parker

College Board

Jeanette Quick

Victor Olivieri

BART Board, District 7
Lateefah Simon
BART Board, District 9
No Endorsement


November 2020



Congress, D12
Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of the most effective liberal legislators today. She played a pivotal role in passing the Affordable Care Act, winning the House majority back in 2018 midterm elections, and recently getting Congress to pass the CARES Act. Speaker Pelosi understands the mechanics of legislating and how to wield political power to make policy possible. She supports policies that create well paying jobs, build a stronger safety net, and grant access to affordable, quality healthcare. As a leader of diverse coalitions and master cat herder, she embodies her statement that “our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power”. She deserves re-election and we need her leadership to guide us through the pandemic, economic recovery, and the ushering in of a new progressive era.

Donate 💸pelosiforcongress.org
Congress, D14
Jackie Speier
Jackie Speier

Jackie Speier has represented CA-14 since 2008, and has been a potent force for progressive policies in Congress.

She has been at the forefront of taking on sexual discrimination, and has brought the issue of harassment in the tech industry to Congress. She will continue to advocate for gender minorities in the technology industry, and continue the fight to translate this accountability into law.

Congresswoman Speier has also advocated for public transit in the Bay Area, working with the US Department of Transportation to bring much-needed funding to Caltrain for safety and reliability improvements. From Washington, she continues to demonstrate a close focus on Bay Area issues and supporting her constituents.

Donate 💸jackiespeier.org
Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Voting for Joe Biden is critical in this election. The other option is unacceptable.

It’s difficult to succintly cover the areas in which Joe Biden will move us forward. But from healthcare and LGBTQ rights to climate change policy, Joe Biden is the only candidate that will address the multiple crises affecting the United States.

Given our industry, we want to emphasize the futures of our immigrant peers and friends. We’ve seen our coworkers turned friends become uncertain of their fates on visas like H1Bs, and worry about their futures in the United States. It’s heartbreaking.

As tech workers, we know that our industry would not be successful without the contributions of our peers from around the world. Vice President Joe Biden recognizes that immigration is crucial to America, and that the technology industry as we know it would never exist without the contributions of immigrants who trusted the United States with their futures. Under the current administration, the rights and aspirations of immigrants are under attack, and it is vital that we elect Joe Biden to reverse the horrifying turn the American immigration system is taking underneath the Trump Administration.

Donate 💸joebiden.com



Prop 14 — No Endorsesment

Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative

What is it?

This is a $5.5B bond to fund the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which was created in 2004 by Prop 71, which included a $3B bond. As of October 2019, CIRM had $132MM in funds, and had suspended applications for new projects due to depleted funds. No more than 7.5% of the bond could be used for operational costs, the remaining is to be spent on grants to entities that conduct research, trials, and programs related to stem cells, as well as start-up costs for facilities.

Why is it on the ballot?

Californians for Stem Cell Research, Treatments & Cures, a political action committee, is leading the campaign in support of the ballot initiative. The campaign had received $6.58 million. As a proposed bond, it is constitutionally required to go to a ballot proposition.

Why didn’t we make an endorsement?

We feel that there are strong arguments to be made both for and against this ballot proposition and thus did not feel confident committing to a particular stance.

On the one hand, if California is to raise debt, now is the time to do it. Interest rates on California bonds have never been lower, making it the perfect time to borrow long term and lock in those low interest payments. R&D can pay large societal dividends over the long run, making it the perfect use of borrowed funds. Further, the CIRM in particular has funded some groundbreaking research that has greatly advanced the state of medical science while cementing California’s position as a leader in the field.

On the other hand, California’s budget situation is very dire. The pandemic is tearing a hole in the state’s finances, forcing deep spending cuts across the board. Worse, the widespread work-from-home spurred by the pandemic may erode California’s position as the global tech epicenter, which would depress tax revenues even as the economy recovers from the covid recession; while we do not think this is especially likely, we cannot dismiss the possibility altogether. Given this budget uncertainty in both the short and long term, committing $260 million per year in interest payments for the next 30 years, without any new source of revenue, seems like a luxury we cannot afford. While stem cell research funding from the CIRM will dry up without this proposition, the same is not true for stem cell research as a whole. The NIH spent $2 billion funding stem cell research at the federal level last year, a figure that is growing annually even under a Republican administration. The federal government is not subject to the same financial constraints as California is, and thus they are potentially a more appropriate entity to fund stem cell research than the California state government.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to vote for this proposition depends on just how high a value one places on stem cell research relative to other uses of state money, and how important one considers it that California in particular fund this research and keep the state a leader in the field. We hope that our summary makes it easier to make your own informed decision, but we cannot firmly recommend you vote one way or the other.

Prop 15 — YES

Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative

What is it?

Prop 15 reforms 1978’s Prop 13 to remove the tax subsidy from commercial and industrial properties worth at least $3 million, while maintaining the subsidy for residential and agricultural properties.

The tax revenue generated by this reform (in the ballpark of $10B per year) will be earmarked for “schools and local communities,” and which will supplement existing school funding rather than replace it (ie whatever school funding exists now will be the baseline, the new tax revenue will be added on top). Other uses of the tax revenue must be “allocated in the same manner as other property tax revenues, consistent with prior ballot measures approved by voters, to improve the quality of life in local communities in all parts of California.”

Why is it on the ballot?

Prop 13 was passed via ballot initiative. Our rules dictate that any changes to a past ballot initiative must also be done via ballot initiative.

Why should you vote yes?

Anything that weakens Prop 13 is good. Prop 13 effectively takes money from schools to subsidize long-term land owners. While we would prefer full repeal of Prop 13, a partial repeal targeted at commercial and industrial property is a necessary political bargian. Homeowners really like getting their property tax bill subsidized by the state, and repealing that subsidy remains tanatalizingly out of reach.

Prop 15 will unlock billions of new dollars in taxes and help fund our underperforming schools. It is the first chip in the armor protecting Prop 13 from full repeal.

While we support Prop 15, one must consider the unintended consequences of increasing property taxes on commercial and industrial properties. Already, cities prefer to add jobs without adding housing because commerical property generates lots of tax revenues without requiring constituent services like schools. In the Bay Area, we have added 8 jobs for every 1 home for the past decade, and Prop 15 could make this ratio even worse.

Increasing the taxes from commercial property while maintaining artificially low taxes on residential properties will further incentivize cities to prefer office construction over housing. On the flipside, the higher taxes may disincentivize developers from building offices, so these competing incentives may ameliorate each other.

Still, the road to full repeal of Prop 13 is long and requires temporary and uncomfortable compromises. It is worth taking this step, despite its possible negative consequences, so that we may one day soon finish the journey to end Prop 13.

This satisfies both #GoodGovernment.Promotion, #Taxation.LiberateSetAsides(kinda), and #Taxation.NewTaxes from our voting framework.

Prop 16 — YES

Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment

What is it?

This will repeal California’s ban on affirmative action. Passing Prop 16 will allow, but not require, the state and local governments, public universities, and other public entities to develop affirmative action policies. This will permit policies based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin.

It is a simple repeal that strikes Article I, Section 31 of the California Constitution and does not introduce any new language.

All affirmative action policies must still meet federal requirements, including prohibitions on explicit racial quotas and on blanket awards of extra points in the admissions process based solely on race.

Why is it on the ballot?

This is a constitutional amendment to overturn 1996’s Prop 209 (also a constitutional amendment) which banned affirmative action in the state. All constitutional amendments must go to a vote, and all modifications of prior ballot initiatives must also go to a vote.

Why should you vote yes?

Prop 209, passed by voters in 1996, banned discrimination and preferential treatment in public employment based on a person’s race, gender, or national origin. This had the effect of both protecting people from certain abuses and banning affirmative action.

According to a report by the New York Times,

…[B]y nearly every measure, the ban has harmed Black and Hispanic students, decreasing their number in the University of California system while reducing their odds of finishing college, going to graduate school and earning a high salary.

We believe in anti-racism: a policy framework that does not merely seek to attain equality, but to actively help people negatively affected by institutional racism. We believe that repealing Prop 209, thus legalizing affirmative action, helps achieve these goals.

First, it’s worth highlighting that this repeal would affect hiring in areas such as public employment and government contracts. Minority and women-owned businesses could receive the extra support they need to win contracts outside of the insular networks that politicians and other powerful people have built through the decades. Leveling the playing field in government contracting could increase competition and decrease waste and corruption in the public sector.

However, most of the concern around this ballot measure is focused on affirmative action for public college admissions, particularly within the University of California system, which enrolls 285,000 students annually. The UC Regents support this measure and have adopted policies to ensure that, if the prop passes, their implementation will comply with all federal requirements.

We believe the goals behind affirmative action policies are good, and research indicates the implementation effects are good as well. For example, a paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that affirmative action actually increased the SAT scores for minority students. It is, perhaps, the knowledge that the students had a good shot at getting in that pushed those students to perform better on the SAT. Incentives matter.

There is some belief in the Asian-American community that affirmative action will disadvantage their children when it comes to college admissions. While it is true that admissions to any particular university are zero-sum (and thus that admitting more Black and Hispanic applicants will mean fewer white and Asian-American applicants are admitted), the high-performing white and Asian-American students who might lose out on admissions to schools like UC Berkeley are not typically harmed in the long run by this:

[I]n focusing on those who got into the most selective U.C. campus at Berkeley, the study found that white and Asian-American students received little concrete benefit from the policy. Mr. Bleemer’s study suggests they would have otherwise enrolled in an equally selective college elsewhere, and had the same chances to graduate and begin successful careers.


Another recent study of the Texas top 10 percent admissions preference found similar results: The more racially and economically diverse students who benefited by enrolling at selective University of Texas campuses were more likely to graduate and earn higher salaries, while the students who were displaced did not suffer by the same measures.

For high-performing white and Asian American students, getting into any particular selective university does not actually have a large effect for future career trajectory, whereas getting into a selective university has a drastic effect for Black and Hispanic students. David Chiu, himself a Taiwanese-American and a stalwart proponent of Asian-American rights and representation, has endorsed Prop 16. Prop 16 is simply not meant as, nor is likely to become, a blow to the future success of white students or students from Asian-American communities.

Prop 16 satisfies #Values.Equity from our voting framework.

Prop 17 — YES

Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment

What is it?

This will restore the right to vote for people on parole.

Currently, California allows people on probation to vote, but all people currently in prison or on parole cannot.

Why is it on the ballot?

This is a California Constitutional amendment, which requires a public vote. To get on the ballot, this amendment first needed a 2/3 majority in both the State Assembly and the State Senate, which it achieved.

Why should you vote yes?

All people deserve representation, even if they have committed crimes. Two states (Maine and Vermont) do not strip the right to vote from prisoners, and as of 2020 people on parole can vote in 19 states. California is behind the curve on criminal justice reform and we need to catch up.

Prison sentences are voter suppression. Many people end up in prison for crimes of desperation, and do not deserve to have everything taken from them when they already have so little. It’s one thing to remove someone from society if they are a danger, but it’s another to remove their voice entirely – especially people we’ve deemed fit to reintegrate with society.

This satisfies both #GoodGovernment.Promotion and #Representation.Rights from our voting framework.

Prop 18 — YES

Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds Amendment

What is it?

It would extend voting rights to 17 year olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 and satisfy all other requirements to vote at the time of the general election.

Why is it on the ballot?

This is a California constitutional amendment, which is required to go to a vote. It passed a vote in both chambers of the state legislature to get on the ballot.

Why should you vote yes?

Unlike San Francisco’s Prop G, this is relatively straightforward. There are only a few months between the primary and general election. Youth who come of voting age during this window are at a disadvantage because they may find the options on the ballot narrowed down without being able to express input in the primary. Extending voting rights to the primary allows these voters to get exposure to the issues and candidates, and gain experience with the electoral process so they can submit a more informed vote in the general election.

Eighteen states already allow 17 year olds to vote in primaries if they will be 18 by the general.

This satisfies #Representation.NoLobby from our voting framework.

Prop 19 — YES

Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Amendment

What is it?

First, for background, Prop 13 is the landmark 1978 ballot initiaitive, led by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, that made substantial changes to tax law in California. In short, Prop 13 subsidizes property taxes for long-time landowners. It sets property taxes at 1% of the purchase price of a property and only allows 2% growth per year. In a state where property values have increased something like 5% per year, this subsidy has added up to billions of dollars of tax revenue not collected. And, since property taxes are the primary funding source for schools, it has starved our public education system of desparately needed funding.

Prop 13 also mandated that all new taxes be put to a public vote, but that is unrelated to this reform.

This year’s Prop 19 modifies some provisions of Prop 13 pertaining to inheritance and transfers of tax rates.

Currently, Prop 13 allows:

  • Passing on your tax rate to your heirs
  • Transferring your prop 13 tax rate to a property of equal or lesser value (to incentivize empty-nesters to downsize) just once, and only to a smaller home, and only if you’re 55 or older.

Prop 19 modifies Prop 13 to:

  • Remove the tax rate inheritance of properties that are not the primary residence of the inheritor
  • Allows transfer of tax rates to anywhere in the state
  • Allows transfer of tax rates to more expensive homes
  • Allows transfer of tax rates up to three times
  • Dedicates additional revenue or net savings to wildfire agencies and counties

Why is it on the ballot?

This modifies Prop 13, which was enacted via ballot initiative. All laws from ballot initiatives can only be changed by subsequent ballot initiatives. In addition, this is a constitutional amendment, which must also go to a vote.

Why should you vote yes?

Prop 13 created a permanent landed class by allowing people to pass on their subsidized tax rates to their children. Effectively, this let the children of landowners inherit a property they could rent out at market rates, while continuing to get a substantially below-market tax bill.

Eliminating the tax rate inheritance for investment properties is great! Inheritance is the least deserved wealth imaginable and should not be subsidized with low rates (especially for investment properties where the family does not risk facing eviction).

From a political perspective, reducing the number of people who can inherit Prop 13 tax breaks could gradually erode Prop 13’s political support and pave the way for full repeal in the future.

The original stated intention of Prop 13 was to help aging people afford to stay in their homes by ensuring they weren’t priced out by rising property values. Inheriting artificially low tax rates on properties that aren’t even your primary residence is not part of that intention, and Prop 19 wisely eliminates this provision. However, granting the elderly greater flexibility to move without increasing their tax bills does further that cause. While it might seem like an extra transfer to old rich homeowners, it’s at least one that has some real benefits in accordance with Prop 13’s justification, and it seems a worthwhile tradeoff to make.

Of note, YIMBY Action endorsed Prop 19, which is a strong signal that it is good housing reform.

This satisfies both #GoodGovernment.Promotion and #Values.Movement from our voting framework.

Prop 20 — NO

Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative

What is it?

This will allow certain crimes to be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, rather than just misdemeanors (apparently called “wobblers”).

It will add two new crime types to the state code: serial crime and organized retail crime; letting both be charged as wobblers.

It requires people convicted of some past misdemeanors to submit DNA samples to state and federal databases, which is currently only required for some felonies.

It changes parole review guidelines to require considering the “felon’s age, marketable skills, attitude about the crime, mental condition, and circumstances of the crimes committed” before granting parole.

Why is it on the ballot?

This reforms two prior ballot initiatives (2014’s Prop 47 and 2016’s Prop 57). All changes to prior ballot initiatives must also go to a vote.

Why should you vote no?

This seeks harsher penalties for many minor crimes, and to make it harder for people to be released on parole. California already has more prisoners, per capita, than many Western democracies. As of 2017, our prison population was at 137% of capacity. Since 1980 our prison population has increased from 0.1% of all Californians to 0.5%.

We cannot continue down this road of locking up people for minor offenses, of overcrowded and inhumane prisons, of making it harder for people to reenter society.

A just society requires just treatment of its people, including those who have harmed society through crime. This ballot prop will make meaningful prison reforms harder and further the injustices perpetrated by our prison system.

Collecting DNA samples from people convicted of misdemeanors (including drug possession!) seems like a needless invasion of privacy, and misclassifying 51 crimes as violent to exclude them from the parole review program is vindictive and punitive, making it a step in the wrong direction for criminal justice reform.

Prop 20 undermines #Representation.Rights from our voting framework.

Prop 21 — NO

Local Rent Control Initiative

What is it?

This repeals the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, passed in 1995, which banned cities from enacting new rent control laws on housing first occupied after Feb 1, 1995.

Recently, David Chiu passed AB 1482, a statewide “just cause eviction” law that effectively enacts rent control of CPI + 5% (technically, it applies relocation assistance penalties to landlords who raise their rents by more than CPI +5% and cause their tenants to move).

AB1482 applies to:

  • Corporations
  • REITs
  • LLCs with at least one corporate member

And does not apply to individual owners, even if they own several homes.

Prop 21 will allow new rent control on all housing first occupied more than 15 years ago (as a rolling window).

Prop 21 will apply to all homes except those owned by:

  • Natural persons who own 1 or 2 properties
  • Revocable trusts (or other look-through entities) containing people who own 1 or 2 properties

In addition to allowing rent control, Prop 21 also allows vacancy control. Currently, California ties rent control to a particular residency, so that when a tenant moves out the rent on the unit may reset to the market rate. Vacancy control would ban this practice, allowing an increase of just 15% when a tenant moves out.

Why is it on the ballot?

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation collected signatures to put this on the ballot. It could have been done by the legislature.

Why should you vote no?

There are a number of reasons to oppose Prop 21, and several of them have nothing to do with the merits of rent control or vacancy control.

First, because Prop 21 is a ballot initiative, it can only be changed by the legislature with a 2/3 vote of both houses. And even then, those changes must “further the purposes” of the initiative. Any changes which seek to restrict or eliminate the powers that Prop 21 grants to cities must go to a full statewide vote. This means that if a city enacts such onerous laws that they kill all development, the only remedy is a statewide ballot prop campaign.

Second, we shouldn’t throw out all the hard work that David Chiu put into AB1482, which effectively established reasonable state-wide rent control of “CPI + 5%” – that is, Consumer Price Index inflation plus 5%. Assemblymember Chiu worked with tenant advocates, labor unions, and property developers to find a compromise that furthered the goals of housing stability while not disincentivizing construction and investment. Prop 21 will override AB1482’s carefully crafted provisions and let cities enact wildly different rules from their neighbors. This increase in legal complexity will make developing new housing even harder.

Beyond the procedural reasons to vote No on Prop 21, you should also vote No on the merits.

Vacancy control has failed everywhere it has been tried. In Stockholm it led to a waiting list of over 500,000 people that can take 30 years to move through. In Mumbai it led to a thriving black market and bribes to get an apartment, horribly deteriorating rental housing stock, all while pushing new development into ownership units rather than rentals, further limiting the options of those not wealthy enough to own. There is no reason to think the outcome will be any different in California.

Renters deserve stability, and they deserve high quality homes. While Prop 21 may increase stability for existing renters, it will make rental housing both harder to find and lower quality. It may even incentivize bribery by wealthier people in order to convince a landlord to rent to them.

We supported David Chiu’s AB1482 bill, as we would support anything that made the necessary compromises to grow the housing stock. Expanded rent control must be coupled with development incentives, otherwise we are merely treating a symptom while making the disease worse. Fundamentally, rents are high becase we have a shortage of 3.5 million homes, and rents will not go down until we start addressing the reasons for the shortage: overly restrictive development laws and local governments captured by NIMBYs.

Rent control isn’t actually the reason that rents are high, despite what many people think. Rent control is an OK band-aid for a dysfunctional market, but vacancy control will lead to much more dysfunction. Rent control passed in the legislation as part of a compromise package that includes housing production/streamlining would be a positive thing, but not as a standalone ballot prop.

Prop 21 undermines #GoodGovernment.Promotion from our voting framework, because of its high threshold to modify and forcing future decisions to the ballot.

Why should you vote yes?

Though a majority of us are against Prop 21, the vote was not unanimous. Here is the dissenting opinion:

Prop 21 would help renters currently in non-protected residences achieve stability. Yes to Prop 21 means supporting harm-reduction measures until we get to housing abundance. Prop 21 expands the applicability of rent control to more classes of housing by closing loopholes that corporate landlords were able to exploit, but still exempting true “mom-and-pop” landlords. It would be the first major change to Costa-Hawkins, and enact a 15-year rolling exemption to rent control for new properties, rather than setting a start date in stone (currently, all properties built after 1995 are exempt).

Rent control is not necessarily in opposition to fixing the supply-side problems of our housing shortage. What disincentivizes production of new housing is not our rent control laws, but rather that we make new housing illegal through zoning ordinances. The fight to remedy California’s decades-long housing shortfall will take time to achieve victory.

Price controls and scarcity are in fact a disaster, but those fighting for renters rights want some level of regulation with an absence of scarcity. Price controls can be dangerous, but sometimes worth the trade-off if the advantage is positive enough - namely keeping people stabily housed. Rent control is a tool we can use to prevent displacement as we work to bring down prices by increasing supply.

The claim that Prop 21 would kill all development is overstated, it simply allows cities to enact rent control. Prop 21 sets reasonable limits, such as exempting new development. Assuming that all cities immediately implemented local rent control and all Prop 21 eligible rental supply were maxed out, it is unlikely that all development would cease. At some point, demand would drive new development.

Vacancy control is not uniquely dangerous, nor would exacerbate the dysfunction of the current housing market. Arguments against vacancy control are that it diminishes the quality of existing rental stock because landlords aren’t incentivized to maintain and favors a select few tenants who benefit. Currently in vacancy decontrol, we still have these issues. In the present day, landlords raise rental rates to market even without improving the quality of the good or making it competitive with new development. Because there’s so little new development anyways, the supply competition and incentive argument is not as applicable here.

As for the argument that vacancy control leads to the formation of a “black market” of rental stock or bribery from wealthy tenants, these incentives arise because housing is not a self-regulating market. Housing is a market administered by public agencies and elected officials. They have a responsibility not to simply impose regulations and walk away, but instead work to make sure the market functions more optimally. It doubles the resolve that we must demonstrate to build the necessary housing, and keep scarcity to a minimum to prevent black markets from arising.

Prop 22 — NO

App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative

What is it?

This is a special exemption to AB5, which reclassified independent contractors as full-time employees. This change is only applicable to “app-based drivers,” e.g. Uber/Lyft drivers and UberEats/DoorDash/Postmastes food delivery drivers. The provisions are rather complicated, but Ballotpedia has a rather helpful summary. Under AB5, drivers would be treated as full-time employees, and thus be entitled to the same minimum wage and benefits as full-time employees in other industries. Prop 22 would instead keep drivers classified as independent contractors but establish some degree of minimum wage and insurance benefits that are less generous than those for full-time employees. Rather importantly, any amendments to Prop 22’s provisions would require a 7/8th supermajority in both chambers of California’s state legislature.

Why is it on the ballot?

DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber funded a ballot initiative campaign to put it on the ballot. Constitutionally, it could have been passed by the legislature instead.

Why should you vote no?

The flexibility of ride hailing is definitely a boon for many part-time drivers, and that flexibility has long played a key role in the branding of “gig economy” companies. However, despite a starring role in the YesOn22 advertisements, such drivers are not actually the core of the ride-hailing workforce. Instead, 70% of drivers drive for over 30 hours per week, and a majority rely on ride-hailing as their primary source of income, making them full-time employees in all but name. And such drivers constitute the lion’s share of the actual rides delivered by Uber and Lyft. Full-time employees deserve normal worker protections, and full-time employees are the bulk of the ride-hailing industry.

Further, on procedural merits, Prop 22 is entirely indefensible. Labor law, especially in grey areas and new industries, is extremely complicated and difficult, as AB5’s flaws and unintended consequences highlight. Being able to amend laws to deal with unforeseen consequences is of utmost importance. But Prop 22 directly attacks the notion of any flexibility, etching one particular set of regulations into stone. Any gaps or flaws in this bill written by industry lobbyists would be permanent, barring a virtually unobtainable 7/8 supermajority in both chambers of the legislature.

The legislative process has already allowed some cleanups of AB5’s larger mistakes and unintended consequences. AB2257 was signed into law on September 4, 2020, exempting more freelance professions from AB5 such as musicians and journalists. If AB5’s standards for ride hailing prove to be unreasonable in practice, it seems reasonable to expect that a similar cleanup bill could happen for ride hailing. But Prop 22 would foreclose on any ability to amend the law based on circumstances.

We are broadly supportive of the gig economy, which has been a boon for consumer welfare and legitimately created new opportunities for people to find novel forms of employment. But it is a perversion of our democratic process for corporations to write their own regulations, and this proposition would kneecap our ability to have an agile legislature that can respond to the challenges of labor law. We urge you to vote NO on Prop 22. For more, please see this excellent Twitter thread.

Prop 23 — NO

Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative

What is it?

This will introduce new rules for dialysis clinics in California. It will mandate that clinics:

  • Maintain at least one licensed physician physically present at the clinic while patients are being treated (unless there’s a bona fide shortage of physicians)
  • Report infection data back to the state health department and the National Healthcare Safety Network
  • Provide a written notice to the state health department to get permission to shut down a clinic

Why is it on the ballot?

The SEIU-UHW (Service Employees International Union - United Healthcare Workers) West union paid to collect signatures to put this on the ballot.

Why should you vote no?

This is only on the ballot because the SEIU-UHW West union could not come to an agreement with the various companies running dialysis clinics in the state. Much like 2018’s Prop 8 (which mandated price caps on dialysis clinis), this ballot prop abuses the electoral process in service of a negotiating tactic.

Regardless of any merits to this ballot prop, voters should reject it on principle. Private organizations should not use our electoral process to further their agenda.

In addition, due to increased costs of requiring a physician on site, this ballot prop will raise prices and lower access to care for patients. Clinics may reduce their hours or more remote ones may close down. And it’s worth noting that the California Medical Association is opposed.

This undermines #GoodGovernment.Promotion from our voting framework.

Prop 24 — NO

Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative

What is it?

This will change some laws around personal data privacy in California and create the California Privacy Protection Agency. It will:

  • Allow companies to be fined immediately, without any grace period to fix violations
  • Require businesses to:
    • Not share consumer data upon request from the consumer
    • Provide an opt-out for having “sensitive personal information” used in advertising or marketing
    • Obtain permission before collecting information from people under 16
    • Obtain permission from parents/guardians for people under 13
    • Correct inaccurate information upon request
  • Prohibit businesses from retaining personal information for “longer than reasonably necessary”

Why is it on the ballot?

It was placed on the ballot by Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco real estate developer. Over $4MM was spent on signature collection.

Why should you vote no?

This should be done via the legislature so that it could be amended as necessary. By passing this via ballot prop instead, we are tying our hands in the case that it is disastrous.

The ACLU of California is against it. They claim that this will weaken consumer privacy because a single blanket opt-out wouldn’t be possible. Instead, they say, people will have to opt out of every business individually.

This is a worse version of CCPA (California’s equivalent of the GDPR). As the global tech epicenter, we should not be taking our cues for how to regulate tech from the famously sclerotic European Union.

This undermines #GoodGovernment.Promotion from our voting framework.

Prop 25 — YES

Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum

What is it?

A Yes vote will uphold 2018’s SB10, passed by the California State Senate, which changed the bail process to use a risk assessment rather than money. If someone was deemed low risk they would be released on bail instead of held in jail until trial or needing to post a large cash bail.

A No vote will repeal SB10 and return California to a cash bail state.

Why is it on the ballot?

When Governor Jerry Brown signed SB10 into law, the American Bail Coalition (a trade association of bail-bond companies) filed a referendum and collected the signatures to put it on the ballot. Nearly $3MM was spent to collect signatures.

Why should you vote yes?

Cash bail is a system that sounds sensible in theory but has been horrific in practice. While many people can post a nominal amount of money as collateral to ensure that they show up to trial, this creates a severe financial burden on the poorest in our society, who cannot instantly come up with hundreds or thousands of dollars to meet bail. This creates a two-tiered criminal justice system, where the rich can post bail while the poor languish in jail for months before trial and can lose their jobs because of crimes that they are eventually acquitted of. Around 50,000 people are held in California jails without being convicted of a crime, a gross violation of the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”

Automated risk assessments, like those authorized by SB10, can provide a better approach. If done properly, they can ensure that only defendants who are actually likely to flee are held pre-trial, while the bulk of defendants, even those without the financial means to post cash bail, are allowed to experience our justice system as it was intended: innocent until proven guilty. In fact, perfectly accurate risk assessments could provide the ultimate free lunch: not only would fewer innocent defendants who pose no flight risk be allowed to walk free pre-trial, but more defendants who would post cash bail and then flee to avoid trial would be detained and ultimately stand trial. Existing examples offer some reason for optimism. Kentucky, New Jersey, and Orange County have all begun using risk assessments to replace cash bail, which has generally led to fewer people being held in jail pre-trial without drastically increasing the rates at which people skip trial (indeed, Orange County saw fewer defendants skip trial, as high-risk but wealthy defendants could no longer buy their way out of the system).

All that said, our endorsement does come with some reservations. Algorithmic systems are not automatically free from bias if they are trained on biased data. Applied poorly, automated risk assessments can end up further perpetuating societal biases, all while granting a false sheen of objectivity. For example, many jurisdictions have begun basing their pre-trial detention decisions on risk assessment scores from a closed-source system called “COMPAS.” An investigation by ProPublica found that risk scores produced by that system were deeply biased, systematically underestimating the future arrest likelihood of white defendants while overestimating it for Black defendants. Though the developers of the system undoubtedly had good intentions, algorithmic bias can be very difficult to avoid or correct, and it is essential that any system used by California be open sourced to allow the public to ensure that it is free of bias. SB10 does not prescribe any particular risk assessment system, and the positive experiences of Kentucky, New Jersey, and Orange County (none of which saw racial disparities worsen as a result of their risk assessment scores) make us cautiously optimistic that risk assessments can be done in a way that does not further racial disparities. But if Prop 25 passes, we will be closely watching to ensure that the systems chosen are transparent and demonstrably unbiased.

This proposition satisfies #Representation.Rights from our framework. For more information, please see the YesOn25 campaign page or this Vox article on SB10 from when it was initially passed.


Assembly, District 17
David Chiu
David Chiu

Incumbent Assemblymember David Chiu has been an ally for tech for at least a decade. In addition to voting in favor of the mid-market tax incentive for tech companies, (aka the “Twitter Tax Break”), when Assemblymember Chiu was a San Francisco Supervisor, he created San Francsico’s open data portal, known as DataSF. Because of him, San Francisco’s open data policy is one of the best in the nation.

Assemblymember Chiu’s background is in the tech industry. As a private citizen, founded Grassroots Enterprise, an online communications company that focused on political causes. He was COO until resigning to run for office.

As a child of immigrants and a former small business owner, Assemblymember Chiu has the personal experience and knowledge to represent the tech industry well.

Donate 💸votedavidchiu.com
Assembly, District 19
No Endorsement

No candidate earned our endorsement in this contest.

Scott Wiener
Scott Wiener

Senator Scott Wiener is a huge champion of rights in the digital age. After Trump’s FCC repealed net neutrality, Senator Wiener proposed a California implementation of Net Neutrality. His legislation ensures that California can continue to be the cradle of the tech industry and that large telecom corporations can’t unfairly quash new startups.

Restoring full net neutrality protections in California is within sight," said Senator Wiener. “The internet is at the heart of 21st century life - our economy, our public safety and health systems, our democracy - and we must protect it. The core premise of net neutrality is that we get to decide where we go on the internet, as opposed to telecom and cable companies telling us where to go.”

In addition to his excellent pro-innovation legislation, Senator Wiener has been consistently pro-housing and made it clear that it was bad government, not the tech industry that led to our housing shortage:

Senator Wiener stands alone among California elected officials in both his efficacy and his forward-thinking. He deserves your vote.

Statement from the candidate:

For many years, San Francisco’s non-tourism economy was being hollowed out. The resurgence of our economy — due to growth in the tech, healthcare, biotech, and manufacturing industries — allowed us to make unprecedented investments in the community. We need to foster a strong and equitable economy in San Francisco.

Donate 💸scottwiener.com

San Francisco


District 1 Supervisor
Marjan Philhour #1
Marjan Philhour

Statement from the candidate:

San Francisco has always been a pioneer in every facet of life from civil rights to the arts and environmental policy. The technology sector is another area where we excel and positively contribute to our local economy and the culture of our City. It draws on our intellectual capital and creativity and helps us solve local issues with new and innovative ideas as we adapt to changing times.

Donate 💸votemarjan.com
Veronica Shinzato #2
Veronica Shinzato

Statement from the candidate:

San Francisco is the global tech industry’s center for startups. These companies and people are at the forefront of innovation worldwide. They have connected cyberspace to the physical world without having to leave our home for everyone to use and enjoy. But San Francisco made it harder not easier for new talent. With the high cost of rent, public transportation, and public safety San Francisco has become unattractive as other cities and states provide more incentives for our tech industry. San Francisco and its residents have benefited from the partnerships of the tech industry, and now San Francisco has to make it easier not hard to attract and keep our tech workers and industry in our City.

Donate 💸veronicashinzato.com
District 3 Supervisor
Danny Sauter
Danny Sauter

Statement from the candidate:

Our technology industry has the chance to be a partner in helping San Francisco fix its most persistent problems, be an avenue for economic growth, and represent our city proudly on an international stage. To reach this ambitious goal, leaders within both San Francisco’s government and technology industry must work collaboratively and stay focused on the impact the industry has on the lives of everyday residents.

Donate 💸dannyd3.com
District 5 Supervisor
Vallie Brown
Vallie Brown

Statement from the candidate:

The tech industry is an important part of the City’s economic engine and vitality. But the tech industry needs to be cognizant of the effects their success has on low-income and communities of color. Government should work with the tech industry to bridge the economic divide, I feel I’m the candidate to make that happen

Donate 💸votevallie.com
District 7 Supervisor
Myrna Melgar
Myrna Melgar

Statement from the candidate:

Since its founding on occupied Ohlone land, San Francisco has been a place of opportunity and hustle: the discovery of gold in 1849 brought great wealth and also inequity, and that has been a pattern throughout our history. The tech industry has transformed the globe in ways we know and future ways we can only imagine. It has also transformed San Francisco: it has brought great wealth and opportunity, and has also caused hardship and disparity. I would define the job I am seeking, as policy maker, to manage change and growth, to regulate the excesses of capital, to invest wisely and judiciously in our infrastructure so that economic growth can happen while minimizing its negative impacts, and maximizing the opportunities for our City and its population.

Donate 💸myrnamelgar.com
Joel Engardio (non-endorsement honorable mention)
Joel Engardio

Joel Engardio gave good answers on tech and small business issues, but his public statements against new dense housing developments in most neighborhoods, and his law-and-order rhetoric made us all agree that he did not deserve our endorsement. However, we are including his statement because, while we disagree with many of his positions, we seek to educate voters in the tech industry who may have different values from our own.

Statement from the candidate:

The tech community is an important contributor to San Francisco’s dynamic economy and culture. Tech workers are creators and artists. They are our colleagues, friends, neighbors and family members. They make San Francisco more interesting and diverse, continuing a long history of newcomers transforming the city for the better. It is important to encourage and facilitate tech workers to engage in political discourse. All of San Francisco can benefit by embracing the benefits of tech and innovation.

Donate 💸engardio.com
District 9 Supervisor
No Endorsement

No candidate earned our endorsement in this contest.

District 11 Supervisor
No Endorsement

No candidate earned our endorsement in this contest.

Board of Education
Michelle Parker
Michelle Parker

Statement from the candidate:

I don’t think it makes sense to paint the tech industry with a broad brush. The work of social media companies, electric car companies, and rocket companies could not be more different, yet we paint it all as “tech.” I think that smart regulation, including strong user privacy and net neutrality laws, will foster innovation and minimize negative externalities. Ultimately, technology is a tool, and we must use the power of law to make sure it is a tool for social equity and human flourishing.

Donate 💸michelleparker.org
College Board
Jeanette Quick
Jeanette Quick

Statement from the candidate:

The tech industry in San Francisco has been instrumental in creating global transformative products that have impacted people all around the world. Likewise, people from all over the world come to work in our tech industry in all types of roles, from entry-level to senior executives and have added to the diversity and depth of our city. Thousands more have innovated to create services that rely on our tech community and show that San Franciscans will always create more. However, tech has increased the cost of living in the city and has created very real concerns about inequality and the ability of non-tech people to continue to live here. I think we as a city have real work to do to develop solutions to ensure that both tech and non-tech can co-exist and thrive.

Donate 💸votejeanette.com
Victor Olivieri
Victor Olivieri

Statement from the candidate:

Having worked in two tech start-ups in San Francisco and as a senior university administrator in the UC system, I know what an important role City College could play as a key partner for the tech industry, fostering great local jobs for the next generation that reinvigorate and diversify our city in the post-COVID-19 economy. But we must act now and seize the opportunity to retrain our workforce and shape our pipelines from education to employment, meet the challenges of the pandemic head-on through innovative online course offerings, and embrace the demands of the new economy with pathways to the certifications and degrees that will elevate our students on the opportunity ladder.

Donate 💸victorforsf.com
BART Board, Distrct 7
Lateefah Simon
Lateefah Simon

Lateefah Simon did not provide a statement.

Donate 💸lateefahforbart.com
BART Board, Distrct 9
No Endorsement

No candidate earned our endorsement in this race.


Prop A — YES

Health and Homelessness, Parks, and Streets Bond

What is it?

General Obligation Bond, not to exceed $487.5 MM.

These funds may be used for any of the following:

  • Finance the acquisition or improvement of real property, including:
    • Facilities to house and/or deliver services for persons experiencing mental health challenges, substance use disorder, an/or homelessness
    • Parks, open space, and recreation facilities, including green and climate resilient infrastructure
    • Streets, curb ramps, street structures and plazas, and related costs necessary or convenient for any of the above

This also permits landlords to pass through 50% of the resulting property tax increase to residential tenants, as required by Administrative Code Chapter 37.

It will be paid back over thirty years via property taxes. Note that while this technically creates a new tax, General Obligation Bonds are enacted via a rolling schedule, meaning that this new tax takes effect only as an existing tax on an older bond expires.

See also: Prop A full legal text

Why is it on the ballot?

California Government Code section 53506 and Article XVI of the California Constitution mandated that general obligation bonds of this size be put to a vote.

Why should you vote yes?

This bond funds necessary acquisition and maintenance of vital infrastructure and social services. In addition, bonds are a great way to fund infrastructure: they allow us to build things now and pay for them with inflated dollars later.

This satisfies both #Taxation.Infrastructure and #Taxation.New-Taxes from our voting framework.

Prop B — NO

Department of Sanitation and Streets, Sanitation and Streets Commission, and Public Works Commission

What is it?

Prop B creates a new Department of Sanitation and Streets, which will take over street cleaning and the maintenance of trees which interact with the public right-of-way. It also creates a new Sanitation and Streets Commission which will have oversight of the Department of Sanitation and Streets, but lack administrative power, and the ability to hire, fire, or discipline employees.

Prop B also changes the oversight of the Department of Public Works from the City Administrator to a new Public Works Commission. Like the Sanitation and Streets Commission, this new commission would lack any administrative power.

Finally, Prop B adds a requirement that both DPW and DSS perform an annual performance audit and a cost & waste analysis.

See also: Prop B full legal text

Why is it on the ballot?

This is a City Charter amendment. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% + 1 majority vote.

Why should you vote no?

This is performative acccountability. It will not solve the very real problems plaguing the Department of Public Works, and in fact will likely make them worse while costing the city an extra $2 to $6 million per year.

On moving DPW oversight from City Administrator to a new commission

Citizen commissions do not produce good outcomes. San Francisco loves to create commissions, but they are ineffective governance tools. Not only do they get easily captured by the wealthy and retired (who can afford to serve and to show up to lobby), they’re also used to reward people in the political machine.

Commissions provide insufficient pressure on the organization they purportedly oversee because they lack any administrative power. They cannot fire bad employees, they cannot actually direct the department to do particular things like cleaning one street instead of another, and since they only meet occasionally they cannot remain adequately informed about the inner workings of the departments.

Moreover, without the City Administrator to provide accountability for the department to the Mayor, the new commission will result in even worse performance of DPW.

On creating a new Department of Sanitation and Streets

DPW is tasked with everything from cleaning streets and sidewalks, to paving streets, to bridge repair. It holds a deep well of experience and expertise across all of its departments. It is already divided into four divisions: operations, engineering, architecture/landscape architecture, and finance/administration.

Rather than create an entirely new department, which would tear multi-talented people away from DPW, a better reform would be to create a new division inside DPW that is focused on street sanitation. This new division would be held accountable by the City Administrator and be able to better focus on keeping streets clean.

This undermines #GoodGovernment.Bureaucracy from our voting framework.

Prop C — YES

Removing Citizenship Requirements for Members of City Bodies

What is it?

This amends the city charter to allow non-citizens to serve on city boards, commissions, and advisory bodies.

See also: Prop C full legal text

Why is it on the ballot?

All amendments to the City Charter are legally required to go to a vote and needs 50% + 1 to pass.

Why should you vote yes?

All people, regardless of citizenship status, should have representation in their local government. The US Census Bureau reports that 34% of San Franciscans are foreign-born. Even if we assume half of those have become citizens, that still leaves about 150,000 people without the ability to influence their city.

One of our core values is that immigrants are the lifeblood of America; an open and multi-cultural society is something to strive for. We should take every opportunity to welcome immigrants into our community and to give them say in how we are all governed.

This satisfies both #GoodGovernment.Promotion and #Values.Immigration from our voting framework.

Prop D — YES

Sheriff Oversight

What is it?

Prop D amends the City Charter to create the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board. This board would report “findings and recommendations” to the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors regarding Sheriff’s Department operations.

It also creates the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General, directed by an Inspector General appointed by the Oversight Board. It will be tasked with investigating complaints of non-criminal misconduct by employees and contractors of the Sheriff’s Department, as well as investigating in-custody deaths. It will develop policy recommendations for the department and report its findings quarterly.

The Oversight Board would consist of seven people: four appointed by the Board of Supervisors and three by the Mayor. One of the people appointed by the Board of Supervisors must be “a person with experience in labor representation.”

The staffing levels of the new Office of Inspector General would be mandated at “no fewer than one investigator for every 100 sworn SFSD employees,” and require that no staff of either the SDOB or the OIG “have been employed previously by a law enforcement agency or a labor organization representing law enforcement employees.”

These new departments would not have the authority to hire, fire, or discipline personnel in the Sheriff’s Department. Rather, this ballot prop authorizes the SDOB and OIG only “to advice and make recommendations to the Sheriff and Board of Supervisors.”

See also: Prop D full legal text

Why is it on the ballot?

All amendments to the City Charter are legally required to go to a vote and needs 50% + 1 to pass.

Why should you vote yes?

Policing in America is broken. Police are trained to be too violent and are not held accountable for using extreme violence against people of color.

Police must be held accountable for misconduct, violence, negligence, and all other derelictions of duty. This is a good step in that direction.

Note that these new departments lack any actual enforcement power. So while this is a step in the right direction, it is unlikely to be enough. There is some risk that passing prop D could lead to a feeling of “we tried something” and stymie further reform efforts. But we think that, despite this risk, the reports which this office will publish could result in public pressure campaigns against the Sheriff (for example, a recall election) to force disciplinary action, and provide a valuable signal to the public on police accountability.

This satisfies #Good Government.PoliceAccountability from our voting framework.

Prop E — YES

Police Staffing

What is it?

Prop E is a simple charter amendment to remove the minimum police staffing requirement of 1,971 officers and require a report from the Chief of Police (in odd-numbered years) that summarizes the police department’s current staffing levels and recommending new staffing levels for the next two years.

See also: Prop E full legal text

Why is it on the ballot?

All amendments to the City Charter are legally required to go to a vote and needs 50% + 1 to pass.

San Francisco passed a ballot prop in 1994 that set the minimum staffing level for SFPD to 1,971 full duty sworn officers. This means that we’re bound by what is effectively the city’s constitution to have at least that many officers, regardless of crime or budget levels. Indivisible SF explains more about how we got here.

Why should you vote yes?

This is a no-nonsense reform that lets the city government decide how many police officers are needed, rather than be beholden to the number chosen by voters in 1994.

Whether you support defunding the police, abolishing the police, remaking the police, just prefer a more responsive government, or only care about our budget crisis – this reform is necessary.

This satisfies both #GoodGovernment.Bureaucracy and #GoodGovernment.PoliceAccountability from our voting framework.

Prop F — YES

Business Tax Overhaul

What is it?

There are multiple parts to Prop F.

  • Lowers the annual business registration fee by approximately 50% for businesses with $1MM or less in San Francisco gross receipts
  • Increases the small business exemption ceiling for the Gross Receipts Tax to $2MM and increases the business registration fee by a couple hundred dollars on businesses benefiting from this increased exemption
  • Modifies the gross receipts tax rate (See tax rate table in the legislative digest, p 4)
  • Fully repeals the Payroll Expense Tax
  • Implements what Prop C did if Prop C fails in court (see below)
  • “Other changes” to the City’s business taxes
Fix for Prop C

Prop C was victorious in court, so the fix described below is now moot. However, we are including it for completeness:

Prop F contains a fix for 2018’s Prop C, which introduced a new gross receipts tax to fund housing and various social services. Normally, citizen initiatives for new taxes require 2/3 majority when their proceeds go to fund specific services rather than the general fund.

However, 2018 was weird. There was a CA Supreme Court case, California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland, that interpreted an adjacent clause in the state constitution in a way that suggested, but didn’t affirmatively state, that citizen initiatives only need 50% regardless of if they are for the general fund or specific purposes.

The San Francisco City Attorney interpreted the ruling in this way and advised the Department of Elections to treat 2018’s Prop C as a 50% measure.

Predictably, after Prop C passed with less than a 2/3 majority several groups sued.

The taxes were allowed to be levied, but the revenue was sitting in an account and untouchable until this case was decided by the supreme court.

If Prop C had lost in court, then Prop F would have levied a new tax for roughly the same amount as Prop C.

See also: Prop F full legal text

Why is it on the ballot?

All amendments to the City Charter are legally required to go to a vote and needs 50% + 1 to pass.

Additionally, prop 13 mandates that all new taxes be subjected to a vote of the public. Taxes that end up in the General Fund require a 50% + 1 majority.

And finally, because this contains an amendment to 2018’s Prop C, the rules about ballot props mandate that all changes to past ballot props must also go to a vote.

Why should you vote yes?

A ton of back-room political negotation was necessary to reach this compromise bill. In a more functional government, this would have been passed by the Board of Supervisors and everyone would have had a great photo-op. But since California’s laws prevent that, the voters have to give final approval. So, you should vote yes because this vote is merely a legal formality.

On the merits, lowering taxes on small businesses suffering in the pandemic is good, and shifting the payroll tax to a gross receipts tax is probably good.

Prop G — No Endorsement

Youth Voting in Local Elections

What is it?

Lowers the voting age in local elections from 18 to 16, not state and federal. This measure would only apply to youths who are U.S. citizens and is almost identical to San Francisco’s 2016 Measure F which failed to pass with 47.9% of the vote.

Why is it on the ballot?

This is a City Charter amendment that the Board of Supervisors unaminously voted to place on the ballot. All charter amendments must be approved by a 50% vote.

Why aren’t we endorsing?

While we support increasing representation in governance, we could not come to a strong consensus. Instead, we are presenting arguments both in favor and against:

Vote Yes

Why not let 16 year olds vote? They can drive a car, why not drive democracy? Sixteen and seventeen year olds have fully developed cognitive ability and are capable of the logical reasoning 18 and older people do. There’s no coherent reason to keep them from voting other than our cultural norms.

Youths are affected by our democratic decisions, so they should have a voice in shaping them. Sixteen and seventeen year olds can work, pay taxes, and contribute to society in many ways adults can. And many innovations in tech have been created by people under the age of 18.

Moreover, democratic participation among young people has always been low. There’s a chance that an additional two years of experience in local elections could help youths build a habit of civic engagement early in life. Anything which increases participation in elections is likely good for our country.

Vote No

Children under 18 are not adults in the eyes of law or society, so why should they get this privilege of adulthood? We don’t trust children to have the necessary decision-making capacity to choose to smoke or drink, why would we think they have the capacity to consider long-term outcomes of governmental decisions?

It is not clear this would address the underlying reasons for low youth turnout in elections. We may go through the trouble of adapting our systems to accommodate youth voting, only to discover that it was all wasted time and effort. Young people may still choose to sit out democracy.

In additions, there may also be an extra administrative overhead of tracking and sending trimmed ballots for youths only. However, the Controller report estimates that additional costs are marginal. The city has procedures in place when we expanded voting on school board elections to non-citizens in a previous ballot measure.


In reviewing arguments for both sides, we believe one should not advocate for or against a policy aimed at expanding the electorate based on speculation of how electoral behavior or outcomes would change if the group in question were granted the right to vote.

Vote on Measure G based on whether you believe 16 and 17 year olds should have the right to vote as matter of principle, and not consider who among the newly eligible would exercise the right or vote a certain way.

This satisfies #Representation.NoLobby and undermines #GoodGovernment.Bureaucracy from our voting framework.

Prop H — YES

Neighborhood Commercial Districts and City Permitting

What is it?

This reforms a number of anti-business laws:

  • Streamlines city review of “principally-permitted” uses in Neighborhood Commercial Transit districts
  • Legalizes the cafe/workspace business model in Neighborhood Commercial (NC) and Neighborhood Commercial Transit (NCT) districts
  • Make more uses principally permitted in NCT districts
  • Abolish mandatory notices to neighbors for principally permitted, limited commercial, and limited corner commercial uses in NC and NCT districts
  • Expands what counts as a “bona fide eating place”
  • Permits temporary, or “pop-up,” activities in vacant storefronts
  • Permits outdoor activity areas on the ground floor
  • Allows use of parklets for restaurant service (like we’re doing now due to COVID)

Generally, this streamlines the process of opening a business, makes it easier to modify a business, and expands what is allowed in certain neighborhoods.

Why is it on the ballot?

Mayor Breed placed this on the ballot because the Board of Supervisors refused to act.

Why should you vote yes?

COVID has destroyed small businesses. This ballot prop will make it easier for businesses to survive the rest of the pandemic, and for new ones to open. An editorial by small business advocates Sharky Laguana, Laurie Thomas, and local policy analyst Robert Fruchtman titled How can we rebuild our economy, if we make it this hard to sell ice cream? and SF Chronicle’s article titled Bid to open S.F. ice cream shop turns into a bitter saga because of byzantine small business rule details the arduous and expensive process of opening a new business in SF.

Prop H removes lot of red tape that makes San Francisco the worst place in America for small businesses and permits more flexible use of commercial spaces. The process of obtaining a permit takes months or even years, Prop H would expedite review process to 30 or less days in neighborhood commercial districts. The current rules define zoned activities in neighborhood district as 1) principally permitted, 2) conditional use by exception, 3) not allowed. Why can’t the same space be a coffee shop during the day and outdoor retail space on weekends? Why force struggling small businesses to jump through hurdles? Flexible usage allows for efficient utilization of commercial spaces. Businesses that would benefit from having a brick-and-mortar presence but do not have resources to commit to an expensive lease as the sole, primary occupant of a space can share space and distribute costs.

Opponents say that amending the planning code should be done through the regular legislative process, not through ballot initiative. Complex planning and zoning rules have made it prohibitive to start a business prior to COVID. For years, our Board of Supervisors has failed to act to reform inordinately burdensome regulation that is hostile to enterpreneurs while providing no benefit to public safety. With COVID threatening small business livelihoods, we must act swiftly as voters to confirm these long overdue reforms.

This satisfies #GoodGovernment.Bureaucracy from our voting framework.

Prop I — NO

Real Estate Transfer Tax

What is it?

San Francisco levies a tax on all real estate sales, the rates vary by property values. Prop I would double the rates for all properties valued at $10MM and up:

Sale priceCurrent tax rateNew tax rate

The City Controller estimates that under economic conditions similar to the 2008-2020 time frame, this tax would generate between $13MM and $346MM per year, for an average of $196MM. However, this assumes that the tax does not impact economic activity.

The City Economist report states that this tax will have a cooling effect on all development. It will depress some property values (because the new tax rate gets priced in), and make projects like 12+ unit apartment buildings infeasible at the margin.

Why is it on the ballot?

Prop 13 mandates that all new taxes be subjected to a vote of the public. Taxes that end up in the General Fund require a 50% + 1 majority.

Supervisor Dean Preston, along with Supervisors Mar, Haney, Ronen, and Walton, put it on the ballot. This is a reelection year for Preston and Ronen.

Why should you vote no?

This tax is extremely poorly designed. Unlike almost every tax in the world, it is not a marginal tax, so each new bracket will tax the entire value; a property valued at $10,000,000 will pay twice as much total tax as one valued at $9,999,999. And while it is marketed as a tax on luxury homes, the majority of the buildings with a value over $10 million are new apartment and office buildings, making it essentially a tax on apartments and offices that conveniently excludes single-family mansions. Considering that most new apartment and office buildings are sold from the developer to the property manager before being rented out, this essentially makes Prop I a drastic tax on new office and dense housing construction, two things we are in desperately short supply of.

Since this law contains no grandfathering, projects which were already under way at the edge of feasibility (AKA on-the-margin) will suddenly become impossible. This effect on marginal production is permanent and will result in an immediate decrease in housing production of 400-500 units per year. To put this in perspective, we need to build at least 5,000 homes per year just to make rents increase more slowly and we haven’t even been able to achieve that very low number for the past several decades.

According to the City Economist’s report:

The higher tax can have the effect of making some redevelopment plans less feasible, leading to more constrained real estate markets, higher commercial rents, and higher housing prices

To hit the new tax threshold of $10MM, one only needs to build a 12-unit building, and the highest threshold is hit at only 28 units. Not only will this kill new market rate housing, the resulting drop in fees on those units will further starve the Affordable Housing Trust Fund which the city uses to fund development of subsidized Affordable housing.

All 100% Affordable buildings for people with low incomes must be at least 50 units to qualify for all of the necessary tax credits to make financing the project possible, so this will also raise the price of subsidized housing, which already clocks in at over $650,000 per subsidized unit. Subsidized affordable properties are exempted until 2024, so this effect won’t be seen immediately.

Finally, the City Economist also found that this tax will have a net-negative impact on the city’s economy:

Based on these projected changes to the local economy, the REMI model forecasts that the net impact on the city’s economy would be negative.

The negative impact is almost entirely associated with the development that would be made infeasible by the Transfer Tax increase. Limitations to the growth of the city’s housing supply will tend to inflate housing prices, while limitations to the growth of commercial real estate will limit job growth, and put downward pressure on wages.

As a result, the real incomes of San Francisco households would decline, on average, because of the lower incomes and higher housing prices. San Francisco would become less attractive economically as a place to live. Consequently, the city’s population would decline, with both fewer migrants moving in, and more residents moving out.

We cannot afford to raise the cost of housing production while simultaneously depressing wages as we enter a recession. We already have a statewide shortage of 3.5 million homes and the highest housing prices in the country; this new tax will make it harder to build our way out.

This runs contrary to #Taxation.NewTaxes from our voting framework, but it is so poorly designed and has such negative consequences that we cannot endorse it.

Prop J — YES

Parcel Tax for San Francisco Unified School District

What is it?

Like Prop F, this contains a fix for 2018’s Prop G, which introduced a new parcel tax of $298 per parcel to fund San Francisco Unified School District salaries, staffing, professional development, technology, charter school, and oversight of funding.

2018’s Prop G passed with 61% of the vote. The City Attorney declared that it only needed 50% of the vote, but state law says it needs 2/3, so it was then sued.

If Prop J passes, it will sunset 2018’s Prop G and institute a new (slightly lower) tax, with revenues directed to the general fund rather than set aside for SFUSD.

See also: Prop J full legal text

Why is it on the ballot?

Prop 13 mandates that all new taxes be subjected to a vote of the public. Taxes that end up in the General Fund require a 50% + 1 majority.

Why should you vote yes?

2018’s Prop G clearly had support of the public, and Prop J will end the legal limbo that its funds are sitting in if it passes.

On the merits, Prop J’s tax is much better than 2018’s Prop G. That’s because Prop J directs the revenue it raises into the general fund, rather than locking it away in a set-aside. We believe all taxes should go toward the general fund so that our legislature can have discretion about when and where to spend money. Set-asides lock the city into obligations that they may not be able to pay for, or which are a bad use of money in a recession.

This satisfies both #Taxation.NewTaxes and #Taxation.LiberateSetAsides from our voting framework.

Prop K — YES

Affordable Housing Authorization

What is it?

This authorizes the construction of up to 10,000 residential housing units of “low rent housing projects” for the purpose of “providing affordable rental housing.”

It does not fund their development, acquire the necessary land rights, or grant building permits. It merely gives the city permission to pursue their development.

See also: Prop K full legal text

Why is it on the ballot?

Article 34 of the California State Constitution bans the construction of municipally owned housing unless explicitly authorized by a public vote.

Why should you vote yes?

It is presumably not news to anyone reading this guide that San Francisco has a massive homelessness and housing crisis. Over 8,000 people in the city are experiencing homelessness, making this crisis truly the defining policy issue for the city. Meanwhile, the city is drastically under-building low-income housing, all but guaranteeing that more economically vulnerable people will be forced into homelessness or displaced from San Francisco altogether. By giving the city authorization to build 10,000 low income housing units, Prop K can serve as one step towards the sort of bold, transformative action needed to begin undoing these crises.

That said, it is important to temper expectations. The Article 34 authorization that Prop K is just one step towards building new affordable housing. Zoning, funding, and dealing with local NIMBYs will all pose massive barriers towards actually acting on those 10,000 units. And it is far from clear that San Francisco will actually pursue the municipally owned housing that Prop K enables. Publicly owned and managed housing in San Francisco has a dismal history of disinvestment and mismanagement, and over the past decade, the city has begun systematically transferring all of its public housing to non-profits. Low income housing that is built, owned, and run by non-profits are not subject to Article 34’s restrictions and thus would not need Prop K’s approvals to be pursued. If the city continues this course of having non-profits build and run its affordable housing, Prop K may end up being little more than performative progressivism.

However, it remains possible the city will try at some point to build and run public housing through the municipal government again. It is important that we not pre-emptively deprive ourselves of any tools with which we might make a dent in our housing and homelessness crises. And while we’re not fond of purely symbolic measures, there is value in taking a stand against a law with such segregationist history and intent as Article 34. Thus, we urge you to vote yes on Prop K, to take a stand against California’s exclusionary history and hopefully build some affordable housing along the way.

This satisfies #Values.SafetyNets from our framework.

Prop L — NO

Business Tax Based on Comparison of Top Executive's Pay to Employees' Pay

What is it?

This would institute new gross receipts taxes on companies that pay their highest-paid executive at least 100x what their median SF-based employee is paid.

The rates are:

For businesses engaged in any business other than administrative office

Pay ratioTax rate
600:1 or more0.6%

For businesses engaged in business as administrative office

Pay ratioTax rate
600:1 or more2.4%

The City Controller’s Office predicts this will raise between $60MM and $140MM, but also notes that the “narrow base of expected payers, annual fluctuations in the value and form of executive compensation, and potential relocation risk” as reasons that contribute to a highly unstable tax.

See also: Prop L full legal text

Why is it on the ballot?

Prop 13 mandates that all new taxes be subjected to a vote of the public. Taxes that end up in the General Fund require a 50% + 1 majority.

It was placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors (minus Catherine Stefani).

Why should you vote no?

This is a performative culture war tax that is poorly designed and will hurt bootstrapping startups. The Board of Supervisors picked these numbers arbitrarily. Why did they pick these ratios? Why did they pick these tax rates? The answer is that they just… made them up. The picked numbers that sounded good, rather than numbers based in economic reality. Sadly, this is an all-too-common occurrence in San Francisco.

San Francisco’s elected officials have long shown contempt toward the tech industry, despite the industry funding the rapid expansion in city budgets. They continually demonize the tech industry and blame it for the city’s ills. The reality, however, is that the blame for the failure of government lies at the feet of the people in government.

NOTE: Our first version of our argument against Prop L may have contained a factual error. We have taken down part of the argument while we double check our facts.

Measure RR — YES

Caltrain Sales Tax

What is it?

A 1/8-cent sales tax to provide dedicated funding for Caltrain’s operations. It would apply to Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco counties and needs a 2/3 majority across the three counties to pass. It is expected to raise $108 million per year for Caltrain.

Why is it on the ballot?

Prop 13 mandates that all new taxes be subjected to a vote of the public. Taxes that are set-aside for a particular use require a 2/3 majority. The specific format of the tax was dictated by Senate Bill 797, which allowed the imposition of this tax across county lines.

Why should you vote yes?

Caltrain is one of the few public transportation agencies without a dedicated source of funding, rendering it very vulnerable to revenue declines like those caused by the covid-19 ridership decline. Without the revenue provided by this tax, Caltrain may be forced to shut down, just as ridership would have begun to return to normal next year, assuming a vaccine becomes available.

Such a shutdown would be disastrous, potentially requiring 2.5 years before service could resume again. With Caltrain approaching completion of its electrification plans that would greatly boost service and ridership, that would be an unmitigated catastrophe. A Caltrain shutdown would dump four freeway lanes worth of cars back on the roads, worsen climate change, and make commuting harder for thousands of Bay Area residents, including many tech workers. While sales taxes are generally regressive and thus not an ideal way to raise revenues, the actual material impact of this tax is extremely mild, at $1.25 of taxes for every $1000 sold. A tax that low is unlikely to cause drastic hardship to anyone and seems like a very low price to pay to keep our essential public transit functioning.

For more information, please check out rescuecaltrain.org. This proposition satisfies #Taxation.Infrastructure from our voting framework.