Media Contact: Gwen Oldham at SF Chamber, 415-352-8839 or goldham@SFChamber.com

San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Announces Ballot Positions for November 2011 Election

San Francisco's leading business organization unanimously supports the City Plan for pension and health benefit reform

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce announced today its ballot positions for the city's November 8, 2011 local election. The Chamber will begin working immediately through its membership and political action committee (PAC), SF Forward, to actively support and oppose these key initiatives impacting local businesses and the San Francisco economy.

"The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the initiatives we believe will help create jobs, improve government efficiency and enhance the quality of life in our city," said Steve Falk, President & CEO, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "The Chamber continues to oppose initiatives that harm local employers and put economic recovery at risk."

With two pension reform measures on the ballot, the Chamber's Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the City Plan for pension and health benefit reform, which was developed with consensus from city, business and labor leaders and will save the city approximately $1 billion over 10 years. The Chamber will oppose the pension reform initiative sponsored by Public Defender Jeff Adachi because it was not created in the spirit of collaboration, and is certain to result in a costly legal challenge the city can not afford.

"While pension reform initiative supported by Public Defender Jeff Adachi would create meaningful reforms to the city's pension system, it will likely be unable to withstand promised legal action, bringing us back to square one on needed reform," said Jim Lazarus, Senior Vice President of Public Policy, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "The City Plan can achieve real pension reform and also makes changes to the Health Service System Board, which will save the city millions."

The San Francisco Chamber took the following positions on the November 2011 Election ballot.

Street Repair Bond   SUPPORT
The city has underfunded street resurfacing for decades. This $248 million General Obligation Bond will provide needed funding for road repaving and reconstruction, seismic and safety improvements, streetscape enhancements and other improvements – all without increasing property taxes.    
     
School Facilities Bond   SUPPORT
San Francisco must remain competitive with neighboring school districts to encourage families to stay in the city. This $531 million General Obligation Bond will enable the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to complete its upgrade and rehabilitation plan and enable the district to offer better facilities for San Francisco students.    
     
Pension and Health Benefit Reform (City Plan)   SUPPORT
Pension reform is vital to the long-term fiscal health of the city. The City Plan, drafted through a collaborative process involving Mayor Ed Lee, labor, the business community and other stakeholders, provides a comprehensive package of reforms that will put San Francisco on the path to a sustainable pension system.    
     
Pension Reform (Initiative)     OPPOSE
The pension reform initiative supported by Public Defender Jeff Adachi would create meaningful reforms to the city’s pension system if it is able to withstand promised legal action. However, this initiative was not created in the spirit of collaboration and is certain to result in a costly legal challenge the city can not afford. As a result, the Chamber opposes this measure.    
     
Amending Initiative Ordinances   SUPPORT
The city needs the flexibility to amend initiative ordinances when they are no longer effective or working. This good governance Charter amendment will allow the Board of Supervisors to amend future initiative ordinances after three years. This measure does not apply to previously passed or voter-submitted initiative ordinances.    
     
Circumcision Ban   OPPOSE
California state law prohibits local governments from restricting medical procedures. This measure bans male circumcision – a medical and religious practice – and does not belong on the ballot. Its passage will only result in a costly legal challenge the city can not afford.    
     
Referendum to Repeal Parkmerced   OPPOSE
This politically-motivated measure will kill the Parkmerced redevelopment plan that has been approved by the Board of Supervisors. The Parkmerced project has been vetted for more than five years through hundreds of public meetings and should continue to move forward without delay. The project will create a cleaner, safer, healthier community while delivering 35,000 construction jobs, economic growth and significantly more transit to an area of the city which hasn't seen significant infrastructure upgrades in half a century.    
     
Sales Tax   SUPPORT
Following the expiration of the 1% state sales tax, this measure will impose a temporary local .5% sales tax, brining the city's tax rate to 9% effective April 1, 2012. Money generated from this tax increase will be used only for expenditures incorporated into the initiative. The measure includes a rollback provision which would automatically repeal the local tax if the state reinstates its 1% tax before January 1, 2017.    
     
Repeal of Care Not Cash   OPPOSE
This politically-motivated measure will dismantle the city's successful Care Not Cash program, which has provided services and a path to long-term housing for more than 3,400 formerly homeless individuals. San Francisco must continue to work to find housing options and programs for homeless people, but this proposal moves the city in the wrong direction.    
     
Demolition Ban   OPPOSE
This measure would ban the demolition of buildings or apartment complexes with more than 50 units. If passed, this measure will significantly hamper the city's ability to create new housing and is a thinly-veiled attempt to halt new development in San Francisco such as the renovation and expansion of Parkmerced.    
     
Recreation and Park Earned Revenue Ban   OPPOSE
This poorly-drafted ordinance will limit the ability of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department to generate needed revenue to pay for existing operations and new park amenities. At a time when city departments are being asked to slash their budgets across the board, this measure is out of touch with current economic and budgetary realities.    
     
Requirements for Campaign Consultants   SUPPORT
This measure will update disclosure and reporting requirements for campaign consultants to make them consistent with the city's current requirements for lobbyists. The Chamber joins the city's Ethics Commission in supporting this measure.    
     
Quality Neighborhood Schools for All   SUPPORT
A clear neighborhood school assignment system is one key step to keeping families in San Francisco. This measure will make it city policy to provide every family with the choice to send their children to a quality neighborhood school, while still providing the opportunity for parents to send their children to schools with language immersion and other specialized programs.    

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About the Chamber
Founded in 1850, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is recognized as the pre-eminent business organization for advocacy, networking and economic growth. The Chamber  delivers on its mission to attract, develop and retain business in San Francisco by representing companies and organizations that make San Francisco a preferred destination for businesses and visitors – a great place to live and work.

SF Forward – the Political Action Committee (PAC) of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce – is the political voice for businesses and residents who support sound economic policy and an exceptional quality of life for all San Franciscans. www.sfchamber.com/sfforward.