Anti-growth measure is sign that some want change

The Associated Press
Tuesday November 14, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO — Although the second of two measures to regulate growth in San Francisco was close to failing, as the first one did on election night, those for and against Proposition L said it sent a message that voters want change in how the city handles growth. 

The last count, taken Monday afternoon, had Proposition L trailing by 1,500 votes.  

Elections officials said they underestimated the number of votes left to be counted and there are still 10,000 ballots remaining. About 6,500 provisional ballots have been discarded due to identification problems, election officials said. 

They expect to complete the count within the next two days. 

The measure appeared to pass on election night, but absentee and provisional ballots turned the results around.  

While neither side was sure what it would do next, the issue of regulating business growth in the city will not go away. 

Proposition L was an anti-growth initiative put on the ballot by artists and activists who feel Mayor Willie Brown has done little to tame the Internet economy’s impact on the city.  

Developers backed by Brown poured in more than $2 million to defeat the proposition. 

The proposition prompted Brown to put a less-stringent growth-control measure, Proposition K, on the ballot. It overwhelmingly was defeated. 

With one proposition denied outright and the other close to failing, Brown will try to forge a compromise deal on growth, said his spokesman P.J. Johnston. 

“Mayor Brown clearly understands that the people of San Francisco are concerned about growth issues,” he said. “City leaders have to come forward with a plan that will satisfy those concerns or at least address them.” 

Johnston said the mayor would not challenge Proposition L if it passed. 

Frank Gallagher, a spokesman for the No on L campaign said Proposition L is flawed, but that filing suit against the measure would be difficult. 

“The Department of Elections has been very meticulous about this,” he said. “It certainly precludes the possibility of such an action.” 

Propositions K and L were similar, but the No on L side said that San Francisco already has stringent development codes in place and that the proposition went too far in its regulations and did not address housing needs. 

Supervisor Tom Ammiano disagreed, saying the proposition actually would save housing by discouraging further development and preventing the displacement of people. It would require developers of live/work spaces to pay into affordable housing funds and school funds, which, he said, they currently are not required to do. 

Yes on L campaign spokeswoman Debra Walker said the campaign would take legal action if Proposition L did not pass. 

“If Proposition L loses and it’s close, we will probably be challenging the Department of Elections’ invalidating almost 400-500 votes of people that voted in the wrong district,” she said. “We’ll probably look at the possibility of a recount.” 

Another option, if the proposition failed, was for the Board of Supervisors to pass a growth ordinance, Ammiano said.  

He thinks the new board will look favorably on growth-control legislation, but the majority of the board seats still need to be determined and will go to runoff elections next month. 

“It means that the Board of Supervisors needs not to sidestep this issue any longer,” he said. “I fully anticipate that I will take the lead on introducing legislation that mirrors Proposition L.”