Voters approved 10, rejected 4 local measures in San Francisco

Voters in San Francisco decided on 14 local ballot measures on Nov. 8. Ten were approved and four were defeated.

Four were citizen initiatives, of which, one was approved and three were defeated. The city’s board of supervisors referred 10 of the measures to the ballot, of which 9 were approved and one was defeated.

The San Francisco Department of Elections certified election results on December 1, 2022. Of San Francisco’s 497,561 registered voters, ballots were cast by 310,071 voters, meaning voter turnout was 62.32%.

Some specific measures included:

  1. Proposition H, which was approved, changed elections for mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney, and treasurer from odd-numbered years to November of presidential election years. It also changed the signature requirements for city ballot initiatives from 5% of votes cast for the mayor to 2% of registered voters.
  2. Proposition L, which was approved, continues an existing one-half cent sales tax through 2053 for transportation funding and allows the Transportation Authority to issue up to $1.91 billion in bonds for transportation projects. A two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote is required for approval of this measure.
  3. Proposition M, which was approved, allows the city to tax owners of vacant residential units in buildings with three or more units if the units have been vacant for more than 182 days in a year. The rate would be between $2,500–5,000 per vacant unit, continuing through 2053, and the revenue would be dedicated to rent subsidies and certain housing entities.

On some topics, voters decided measures with opposing provisions. For example, Proposition D, which was defeated, would have expedited the approval of certain housing projects and removed the Board of Supervisors’ approval as a requirement for certain housing projects using city property or city financing. Proposition E, which was approved, expedited the approval of certain housing projects and continued requiring the Board of Supervisors’ approval for affordable housing projects using city property or city financing. 

Voters also decided to keep JFK Drive closed to cars and reserved for recreational use after competing measures appeared on the ballot.

San Francisco adopted the initiative and referendum process in 1898, more than a decade before California authorized it statewide. Ballot measures can be put before San Francisco voters in one of three ways: (1) the city council may refer them, (2) through a signature petition drive for an initiative, which proposes a new law, or (3) via a referendum, which puts a law that the city council passed before voters.

San Francisco voters decided on seven local measures on June 7, 2022, approving five and rejecting two. In November 2020, voters approved 12 of the 13 measures that appeared on the ballot. From 2010 through 2022, San Francisco voters decided on 158 local ballot measures—an average of 12.1 per year, including odd and even-numbered election years. Voters approved 109 (69%) and defeated 49 (31%).