San Francisco supervisors today introduced a flurry of year-end legislation just before their break for the new year, including several proposed charter amendments for next year’s ballot in June.
Most of the proposed legislation is budget related. The city is facing an estimated $522 million budget deficit for the coming fiscal year.
Supervisor John Avalos submitted three charter amendments.
One would prohibit the city from picking up the cost of employees’ contributions to the city and state retirement systems.
The second would raise the minimum work week for firefighters to 52 hours, which Avalos said would bring San Francisco in line with other cities.
The third would allow the Board of Supervisors to require that money appropriated to city departments for particular programs be spent on its designated purpose. Currently, departments are given authorization to spend the money but are not required to spend it.
A charter amendment proposed by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd would change city law regarding the wages set for San Francisco Municipal Railway transit operators. Currently, wages are set after an annual survey of comparable transit agencies, with Muni operators receiving a minimum close to the highest pay rates.
Elsbernd’s legislation would eliminate the wage survey and allow transit operator wages to be set through collective bargaining without any minimum.
Supervisor Chris Daly submitted a charter amendment on fire safety that would establish a “zero-tolerance” policy for firefighters drinking on the job.
“It’s time for us to nip that one … in the bud,” Daly said.
Elsbernd also introduced non-ballot legislation to address what he called a “critical” issue of escalating city employee retirement and pension costs to the city.
He said the costs “are a very significant reason” for the city having to raise fees for residents.
“We must begin to find a way to pay this bill,” he said.
Other proposed non-ballot legislation addressed issues such as secondhand smoke and animal enclosures at the San Francisco Zoo.
Supervisor Eric Mar introduced an ordinance to expand the city’s ban on smoking. Current law prohibits smoking in city buildings, schools, public transit and certain businesses.
Mar’s proposal would close “huge loopholes in existing policy” and strengthen public health regulations by expanding the smoking ban in areas where people congregate, he said.
The ban would expand to include bars, tourist lodging facilities, homeless shelters, enclosed common areas in multi-unit apartment buildings and farmers markets.
In response to a recent incident in which a man climbed into the San Francisco Zoo’s grizzly bear enclosure but was later acquitted of charges of trespassing and disturbing wild animals, Elsbernd today introduced legislation that would specifically prohibit entering zoo enclosures and otherwise taunting or endangering zoo animals.
A current Park Code law on disorderly conduct sets fines at between $50 and $500; the new legislation would increase fines to between $500 and $1,000.
Elsbernd said the current fine “is just not enough to deter people from jumping into our zoo enclosures.”
All the proposed legislation still requires approval from the full board.