D (see below), this measure has a nice beneficiary: part of the money from naming rights would go to save the jobs of recreation directors, many of whom have faced budget-driven layoffs.
We agree that rec directors play a crucial role, particularly in neighborhoods with large numbers of at-risk youth. And we wish the Chamber of Commerce, Sup. Elsbernd, and other supporters of Prop. C were willing to accept some progressive tax hikes to fund those jobs.
But this isn't a good deal. The city owns the stadium; the taxpayers financed its construction and spent 30 years paying off the bonds. But the 49ers, a private outfit owned by a very wealthy family, would get half the money from any naming deal. And the money that would come in would be radically short of what the team would need to rebuild the 'Stick. Vote no.
Mid-Market special sign district
Again: credit for the effort. David Addington, who owns the Warfield Theater and several other properties on mid-Market Street, accurately notes that the city's main thoroughfare, between Fifth and Seventh streets, is rundown, ignored, and badly in need of an economic boost. He argues that allowing new digital billboards would create something of a Times Square in San Francisco, attracting tourists and turning mid-Market into a thriving theater district. Nothing else the city has done has worked why not give this a try?
We aren't necessarily opposed to digital billboards and we'd love to see mid-Market reinvigorated. But Prop. D would give too much authority to an unelected, unrepresentative group. It would amount to privatizing city planning and set a terrible precedent.
Under the measure, the Central Market Community Benefits District, a private group of property owners, organizations, and residents, would be authorized to approve new general advertising billboards as large as 500 square feet. The ads would have to meet city codes, but the Planning Department and supervisors would have no ability to block new installations. And the money potentially millions of dollars a year would go entirely to the property owners and the CBD, which would decide how to distribute it.
Yes, like Prop. C, this measure would help a worthy group: some of the new money would go to youth programs in the Tenderloin. But the process this measure describes isn't at all democratic. The CBD board selects its own members, and the only oversight the city has is the ability of the Board of Supervisors to abolish the agency and start over.
We're open to new ideas for central Market Street. We're open to lights and ads and maybe even billboards. But we're not willing to turn over zoning and public finance decisions to a private group. Vote no.
Advertisements on city property
Proposition E, written by former Sup. Jake McGoldrick, would freeze new commercial billboards and ads on street furniture at 2008 levels and outlaw advertising on public buildings. It's an extension of existing city policy, which seeks to limit the increasing blight of commercial ads in public space. Vote yes.