March 2020 Election Guide: Prop A

From the Public Press’ March 2020 Nonpartisan Election Guide:

Proposition A would authorize the City College of San Francisco to borrow up to $845 million by issuing general obligation bonds. It needs at least 55% “yes” votes to pass.

The money would pay for repairs and improvements to facilities, including seismic retrofits, upgrades to electrical and plumbing systems, and increased access for people with disabilities.

The bond revenue would also expand training programs aimed at preparing students for high-paying, local jobs in the science, arts and technology fields. This would include constructing a permanent childcare center for both staff and students to use. It also means expanding internet access throughout all campuses.

Proposition A arrived on the March ballot by a unanimous vote of the City College Board of Trustees, who say the school is in serious need of work, as 70% of the Ocean Campus buildings are rated in poor or very poor condition. Campuses in neighborhoods throughout San Francisco are also in need of infrastructure improvements.

Board president Alex Randolph told the San Francisco Chronicle that “this bond will only fund about half of the projects on our list.” 

The ballot measure would create a committee to oversee spending. The committee would include a member of a taxpayers association, and could not include district employees. It would produce annual audits and ensure that none of the money went toward administrator salaries.

San Francisco property owners would ultimately foot the bill for this work — with interest, the bonds would end up costing $1.6 billion, according to the San Francisco Controller’s Office. Property owners would pay an average tax of $11 per every $100,000 of their assessed property value, per year.

The San Francisco Republican Party opposes Proposition A. It says that property owners should not have to pay for City College’s repairs and maintenance. One reason the funding need is so great, it argues, is because in 2017 tuition was waived for all San Franciscans, “even those who can well afford to pay.” The Republican Party is calling on the City College Board of Trustees to come up with a different funding approach.