Opinion: Direct democracy goes wild in San Francisco

Ballot measures
Voters in San Francisco might have to sit down to fill out their monster measure list in November, like Bob Wemple did Tuesday during Wyoming’s primary election.
(Ryan Dorgan / Jackson Hole News & Guide)

“At least I’m not in San Francisco.” That’s what voters in the city of Los Angeles can tell themselves when they start to feel lightheaded contemplating the achingly long Nov. 8 ballot. 

There will be 17 state ballot measures and  at least seven local measures on the ballot on the ballot that goes out to folks in Los Angeles (possibly more depending on where they live). That means making decisions on 24 complex and important questions, some of which will have profound effects on our lives: such as, should California dump the death penalty? How about legalizing recreational marijuana? Should property taxes of L.A. homeowners be raised to build houses for the homeless?

But it will be a cakewalk next to what voters in San Francisco face this fall. Their ballot has 25 local measures on it — that’s not a typo — for a total of 42 separate questions to ponder in November, not counting who should be the next president. The local questions aren’t simple ones, either. They include proposals to fund homeless programs, build affordable housing, ban on tents on sidewalks, tax sugary drinks, oversee police and lower the local voting age to 16.



The ballots for all Californians could conceivably grow longer, though it’s not likely. The official deadline has passed to put things on the statewide ballot, but the Legislature could vote to put something on the ballot in the waning days of the current session. And there is a $3-billion housing bond measure that’s still in play.

For editorial writers like me, this means not just writing and researching a pile of endorsement editorials, but meeting with all the various proponents and opponents of each measure. Some measures can be combined into one meeting and some measures have no organized opposition, though it’s still a lot of meetings for me and my colleagues at the L.A. Times.

But, at least I’m not in San Francisco.


Follow me @marielgarzaLAT

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