February 20, 2014
$400 Million Earthquake Safety Bond Headed To The Ballot Box
The paperwork to allow a proposed $400,000,000 bond issuance to be placed on the June ballot has just been filed with San Francisco’s Department of Elections.
The $400 million San Francisco Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond would finance the construction, improvement, and seismic retrofitting of the city's deteriorating emergency firefighting water system, neighborhood fire and police stations and Medical Examiner facilities.
A $420 million Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond was approved by 79 percent of those who voted in 2010, 66 percent is needed to pass. And in terms of other relevant percentages, according to the USGS, there is a 63 percent chance of a 6.7 or greater magnitude earthquake striking the Bay Area in the next 25 years.
First Published: February 20, 2014 3:15 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Does approval of this bond mean we get another parcel tax added to our property tax bill? These parcel taxes shouldn't be added to properties which are valued close to their real value. Double it and add it to all those whose taxes are tiny in comparison to what they would pay if their value was current. I pay $12,000/yr and my neighbor pays $800/yr., yet their home is worth more. Crazy.
Posted by: MoneyMan at February 20, 2014 3:54 PM
Ha, good luck with that 'proposition', as it were
Posted by: Sam at February 20, 2014 4:43 PM
These bonds have no effect on the City's property tax. As the assessed tax base increases and old bonds are paid off, the City can issue bonds and still hold the tax rate the same. Parcel taxes on the ballot are clear labeled such.
Posted by: MSTBLD at February 20, 2014 5:17 PM
Uh... no. Use the property tax I pay you less frivolously. Thanks!
Posted by: taco at February 20, 2014 5:56 PM
The city will need to pay interest, banking fees, and eventually pay the money back (or float new bonds to pay out the old at prevailing interest rates). Last I checked folks living in rent controlled apartments were off the hook, as are their prop 13 landlords. That leaves relatively recent real estate purchasers holding the bag.
The fairest way to pay for stuff like this is a city income tax on residents. Why is that not part of the 'progressive' agenda?
Why are these activists chasing google yuppies out of town without doing the traditional thing first -- relieving them of their cash while they are too partied up to notice?
Posted by: around1905 at February 20, 2014 6:12 PM
Of the $400M, 40% will go for the crime lab and cops on bikes. Someone explain to me how a crime lab and cops on bikes has anything to do with seismic and earthquake safety? Sounds like another wasteful bond measure with a deceptive title.
Here is the non-sequitor, loosey-goosey logic propounded by the bond supporters -- touting the need for a "professional work environment" (WTF).
"When a disaster strikes, our police officers and investigative forensic personnel must be equipped with seismically safe structures, professional work environments and the facilities necessary for a coordinated, city-wide response."
Posted by: M at February 20, 2014 6:53 PM
Dear M, Welcome to Bizarro's World of San Francisco budgeting where "work orders" take money from the City Departments which can raise fees such as MUNI and the Recreation and Parks Department to fund other departments. Another example is using SFPUC funds to build bicycle lanes on the Wiggle, instead of replacing aging water infrastructure under the streets.
For some of the reasons you list, I will be voting NO.
Posted by: Jackson at February 20, 2014 8:17 PM
It's a shell game of a kind.
The new buildings for the crime lab and motorcycle cops is part of a $1.6 billion project to replace the Hall of Injustice at 850 Bryant. They are going to tear it down and build a new shinier one after they empty it out and no longer need it.
Of course engineers have been saying the building is unsafe for more than 20 years -- hasn't fallen down yet. Maybe they should hire Mel Murphy.
Posted by: shakedown at February 20, 2014 8:36 PM
Let's get the city working on a text messaging service. That will pay for this and then some!
Posted by: sfresident at February 20, 2014 10:38 PM
Hmm, was hoping this was a zone of rationality, but I guess not.
"Of course engineers have been saying the building is unsafe for more than 20 years -- hasn't fallen down yet." ... probably helps that there hasn't been a quake in 25 years. Though by your logic, apparently we need not repair anything ever - because up until the point it fails, clearly it's fine and doesn't need to be replaced.
"The city will need to pay interest, banking fees, and eventually pay the money back..." Interest rates are still at near-historic lows; work can be done today and "paid for" in 20 years at virtually the same cost. It's frankly criminal that we aren't building infrastructure left and right, given current interest rates.
"Last I checked folks living in rent controlled apartments were off the hook, as are their prop 13 landlords. That leaves relatively recent real estate purchasers holding the bag." Uh, no (except the tenants bit). If the voters approve a tax proposition, it functions as a Prop 13 override and affects all parcels, not just "relatively recent real estate purchasers".
Posted by: Sierrajeff at February 21, 2014 8:44 AM
sj, embrace the benefits of benign neglect:
- save on engineering studies that weren't done
- save on demo costs thanks to mother nature
- use FEMA money because 'emergency'
- get enviro wavers because 'emergency'
New Orleans' yesterday can be San Francisco's tomorrow
Posted by: shakedown at February 21, 2014 9:57 AM