Yes on ‘A’

According to the description in the ballot pamphlet authored by the “Ballot Simplification Committee”, measure A is a bond measure which will authorize San Francisco to ell bonds to (a) fund improvements and upgrades to San Francisco General Hospital, which does not meet seismic safety standards for hospitals and is “not expected to remain functional in the event of a major earthquake”, (b) fund an expansion of, and seismic upgrades to, the city-owned ambulance facility, which does not meet seismic standards and is currently otherwise inadequate to ensure fast response; (c) renovate and expand the southeast health center for the purpose of “improv[ing] and expand[ing] access to mental health, urgent care, substance abuse, dental care, and social services; (d
) build, acquire, and improve homeless shelters and service sites.

All of these are good causes.

The first two of theas are *absolutely critical* and should be funded; if the ambulance d ispatcher and the general hospital and trauma center are not currently expected to survive a major earthquake, we needd to fix that, full stop.

It’s not clear to me why the other three, which are good causes but not absolutely critical in the same way, are bundledd with the first two.

I dislike logrolling of this sort. It smacks of using the critical nature of one problem to justify spending money on something else which the proponent is worried might not be able to obtain funding on its own. It inflates the cost of things by thing two disparate things together, and it makes it impossible to make granular decisions. I *do not believe* that a seismic-retrofit only bond meassure could not have passed the Board of Supervisors, and I am angry at the Board of Supervisors for bundling things together in this way.

And the argument against has a good point that it “would be … simpler and more honest if the city set up an improvement fund from which annual disbursemenetts for necessary maintenance and upgrades could be made.”

And yet I live in *this* world rather than an idealistic world in which all politicians behaved in the way I think most appropriate, and so I accept that the Board of Supervisors *has not* done that and that the problem of seismically unfit buildings is real and present. Refusing to pay for seismic upgrades in order to force the Board of Supervisors to do things the “right” way has a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face kind of fanaticism about it; it means, on some level, saying I’d rather the buildings fall down and the city pay the cost (both in money and in lives) of *that* disaster, rather than the city continue to fund things the wrong way.

I *would not* prefer that.

And so I am inclined to swallow my misgiving sand vote for the measure.

The one thing that gives me pause is: it’s really hard to tell hw much goes to seismic retrofits. $20 million goes to “construction, acquisition, improvement, retrofitting, and upgrading” of homeless shelters and homeless service sites. $58 million goes to “construction, acquisition, improvement, retrofitting, and upgrade of the San Francisco Fire Department Ambulance Deployment Facility, which includes the construction of a modern, seismically safe ambulance and parametic deployment facility and for urgently needded repairs and modernizations of neighborhood fire stations.” 272 million goes to “essential seismic retrofits and improvements at the [Geneal Hispiral] and neighborhood clinics, including but not limited to tthe modernization fo fire response systems and t he renovation and addition to the Southeast Health Center, and the improvement o f high-demand community health centers with the expansion of access to mental health, urgent carer, substance abuses, dental, and social services.”

So how much of this is funding essential seismic retrofits and how much is funding other things? It’s hard to say, and that gives the measure’s marketing an overall feeling of sleaziness, like it’s *Trying* to mislead me.

And yet … i’d probably vote for *all* of these if they were seperate bond measures; capital construction is one fo the things where it really makes economic sense to borrow money, and all of these are things the city needs to have.

So: the best course of action, it seems to me, is to vote ‘Yes’ … and add the sleazy marketing of this initiativet to the list of things to consider when asked to vote to re-elect these supervisors.

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