The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to put a measure on the November ballot that would allow supervisors to alter certain voter-approved legislation.
The board voted 7-4 in favor of the measure, which was introduced in April by Supervisor Scott Wiener.
It would apply only to ordinances and policy statements introduced by supervisors or the mayor, not initiatives placed on the ballot by voters’ signatures, and it would not apply to any past legislation.
Supervisors would not be able to amend ordinances for the first three years after they are approved by voters. After three years, legislation could be amended via a two-thirds vote by the board, and after seven years, only a majority vote by the board would be necessary.
Wiener said the proposal is a modest first step toward fixing a “broken” ballot measure system.
“It’s too easy to place things on the ballot, whether by supervisors or the mayor or other means,” he said.
Wiener said that once a measure is approved, it is “effectively frozen in time” unless the issue goes back to the ballot box again. He said California is the only state in the country to legislate that way.
His initial proposal also applied to initiatives placed on the ballot by voters but said he “removed that out of respect” since there was “a lot of concern that that was the core of the voters’ power.”
The initial proposal also would have applied to past legislation, but he said he changed that, too, since people were “mistrustful … that I had a secret list of things to go after, and that was never the case.”
The board did have the option of making the measure apply to initiatives on this November’s ballot, a move Supervisor Sean Elsbernd tried to promote so that the board could potentially amend three measures recently placed on the ballot by other supervisors related to parks, the homeless and the demolition of buildings at the Parkmerced apartment complex.
Elsbernd said all three measures are too vaguely worded and that “there’s going to be significant, significant cleanup needed on all three.”
He especially took issue with the Parkmerced measure, which seeks to stop the demolition of the buildings as part of a project to expand the complex that was approved by the board last month.
He said the wording of that measure is unclear, and that the city attorney’s office has said the legislation would not even be able to achieve its goal of stopping the demolition.
“I think this legislation had the opportunity to go through spell check, but did anyone read it before they signed it?” Elsbernd said. “We want to hoist a completely misguided measure on the electorate, with an intent that cannot even be achieved.”
However, the board ended up voting to only make Wiener’s measure apply to legislation taking effect after January 2012.
Eric Mar, Ross Mirkarimi, John Avalos and David Campos were the four supervisors who voted against putting the proposal on the ballot.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News
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