There's no question that the current fields are in bad repair and that users of artificial turf appreciate its all-weather durability. But some people worry about the environmental impact of the stuff, which is made from recycled tires, while others wonder if this bond will end up giving control of 7 percent of our parkland to the sons of Gap founder Don Fisher (their City Fields Foundation is the entity contributing matching funds for city-led turf conversions). Although the Rec and Park Department has identified 24 sites for such conversions, none can take place without the Board of Supervisors' approval and the supervisors and the Rec and Park Commission needs to make it clear that if neighbors don't want the artificial turf, it won't be forced on them.
Prop. A also earmarks $5 million for trail restoration and $5 million for an Opportunity Fund, from which all neighborhoods can leverage money for benches and toilets through in-kind contributions, sweat equity, and noncity funds.
And it includes $4 million for park forestry and $185,000 for audits.
With a 2007 independent analysis identifying $1.7 billion in maintenance requirements, this is little more than a start, and park advocates need to be looking for other, ongoing revenue sources. But we'll happily endorse Prop. A.
Proposition B (deferred retirement for police officers)
We've always taken the position that relying exclusively on police officers to improve public safety is as useless as simply throwing criminals behind bars it's only part of the solution and will never work as an answer all on its own.
But we're also aware that the city is suffering a dramatic shortage of police officers; hundreds are expected to retire within a few short years, and those figures aren't being met by an equal number of enrollees at the academy.
So we're supporting Prop. B, even if it's yet another mere stopgap measure the police union has dragged before voters, and even though the San Francisco Police Officers Association is often hostile to attempted law enforcement reforms and is never around when progressives need support for new revenue measures.
Prop. B would allow police officers who are at least 50 years of age and who have served for at least 25 years to continue working for three additional years with their regular pay and benefits while the pension checks they'd have otherwise received collect in a special account with an assured annual 4 percent interest rate.
The POA promises Prop. B will be cost neutral to taxpayers, and the city controller will review the program in three years to ensure that remains the case. Also at the end of three years, the Board of Supervisors, with a simple majority vote, could choose to end or extend it.
POA president Gary Delagnes added during an endorsement interview that department staffers in San Francisco who reach retirement age simply continue working in other police jurisdictions. If that's the case, we might as well keep them here.
No other city employees are eligible for such a scheme, which strikes us as unfair. And frankly, one of the main reasons the city can't hire police officers is the high cost of living in San Francisco so if the POA is worried about recruitment, the group needs to support Sup. Chris Daly's affordable-housing measure in November.
But we'll endorse Prop. B.
Proposition C (Alcatraz Conversion Project)
We understand why some people question why a decaying old prison continues to be a centerpiece of Bay Area tourism.