Bay Area Election Results: A Lot to Celebrate
November 22, 2016

Photo by flickr user Anna Vignet


The Bay Area has some reasons to celebrate after November 8: Voters around the region chose to make critical investments in transportation, infrastructure and affordable housing. And in San Francisco they rejected a series of harmful measures that would have undone years of good government reforms. (See the table below for results of measures SPUR took positions on or followed.)


Regional Transportation

Measure RR, the Keep BART Safe and Reliable bond, passed in the three-county BART district (San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties). This was an important victory for the current and future state of regional transportation. The measure will open up $3.5 billion to fund needed electrical upgrades, track replacement and tunnel repair, which will help BART increase its capacity now. Meanwhile, RR also dedicates funding toward studying a possible second transbay crossing — an essential piece of the system’s future service, which SPUR has recommended studying.


Infrastructure in Oakland

Oaklanders approved Measure KK, a $600 million general obligation bond to fund paving streets, upgrading public facilities and acquiring and building affordable housing. Because of this bond, the city can address its $2.5 billion backlog of unfunded capital needs, use repaving projects to redesign streets for all modes of transportation, invest in public gathering spaces and preserve affordable housing for Oaklanders as the city grows.


South Bay Transportation and Fiscal Reform

Santa Clara County voters passed Measure B, a half-cent sales tax to fund key transportation projects in the South Bay. The tax will raise more than $6 billion over the next 30 years for the BART extension from Berryessa to Santa Clara, Caltrain capacity improvements, road repair and bike and pedestrian projects. Voters in San Jose also approved Measure G to update and restructure the business tax, which is expected to double the city’s tax revenue in its first year. SPUR strongly supported this reform as a critical step toward fiscal stability, one that will add revenue to the general fund and help San Jose live up to its promise as a world-class urban center.


Affordable Housing Across the Region

Across the Bay Area, voters made important investments in affordable housing. Measure A passed in Santa Clara County, ensuring $950 in general obligation bonds to fund affordable housing development for those most in need. The majority of funds will go toward supportive housing for very low-income households and formerly homeless, mentally ill and disabled residents. In Alameda County, voters approved a $580 million general obligation bond (Measure A1) to fund the creation of affordable housing and middle-income home ownership assistance. Building off of recommendations from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff’s Housing Cabinet (which SPUR participated in), the bond will help local nonprofit developers identify sites for housing development and finance projects.


San Francisco Ballotpocolypse

In San Francisco, voters faced 24 local measures in one of the longest and most consequential ballots in recent memory. Voters chose to maintain the current balance of powers among branches of city government by rejecting Propositions D, H, L and M. The decision was a significant win for good government: If approved, these measures would have meddled with the transition of elected officials into office, created an expensive and redundant position (public advocate), jeopardized the independence of an important city agency and eroded the mayor’s ability to manage departments.

San Francisco voters sent mixed signals to legislators regarding homelessness and housing policy. Proposition J — which would have created funds to address urgent homelessness and transportation needs — passed. But voters rejected the sales tax increase required to pay for these programs (Proposition K). Voters rejected Proposition S, which would have dedicated revenue from the city’s hotel tax toward family homelessness services, but approved Proposition Q to ban tent encampments from public sidewalks.

Propositions P and U were defeated. Both measures would have added unnecessary rules to the city’s work to build affordable housing. However, voters approved Proposition X, a complicated zoning measure that had no place on the ballot and may severely impact the city’s ability to build affordable housing.

It’s important to note that many of the 24 local measures on the San Francisco ballot did not need to be there. A responsible good government agenda for the city should prioritize reaching legislative solutions wherever possible, where the process allows for a full exercise of deliberation and compromise. We believe the ballot process is being seriously abused, and it’s time for a change. Stopping the abuse of the ballot process remains a key priority for SPUR over the next several years.

In the midst of a divisive national election, the Bay Area made strong statements in favor of educationpublic health and voting rights, and important commitments to transportation, infrastructure and housing needs. November 8 is behind us, and now the hard work — putting these proposals into action and ensuring their success — begins. 


Bay Area 2016 Election Outcomes




Measure Title


San Francisco


School Facilities Bond

Yes (79%)


City College Parcel Tax

Yes (80%)


Loan to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing

Yes (76%)



Vacancy Appointments

No (53%)


City Responsibility for Maintaining Street Trees

Yes (79%)



Youth Voting in Local Elections

No (53%)


Department of Police Accountability

Yes (80%)


Establishing a Public Advocate

No (53%)


Funding For Seniors and Adults with Disabilities

Yes (66%)


Funding For Homelessness and Transportation

Yes (66%)


General Sales Tax

No (65%)


Appointments to MTA Board of Directors and Budget Process

No (55%)


Housing and Development Commission

No (56%)


Noncitizen Voting in School Board Elections

Yes (53%)


Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point

Yes (52%)


Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property

No (67%)


Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks

Yes (52%)


Neighborhood Crime Ordinance

No (55%)


Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds

No (63%)


Restricting Lobbyist Gifts and Campaign Contributions

Yes (87%)


Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Development Projects

No (65%)


Tax of Distributing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Yes (62%)


Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties over $5 Million

Yes (62%)


Neighborhood Arts, Small Businesses, and Community Services

Yes (59%)

San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa Counties


Keep BART Safe and Reliable 2016

Yes (81% SF)

(71% AL)

(60% CC)

Alameda County


Alameda County Housing Bond (2/3 needed)

Yes (73%)


AC Transit Parcel Tax (incl. part of CC County)

Yes (82%)

Contra Costa County


Half- Cent Sales Tax Increase for Transportation Projects (2/3 needed)

No (63% v. 37%)



Oakland Infrastructure Bond

Yes (82%)

Santa Clara County


Santa Clara County Housing Bond

Yes (67%)


VTA Sales Tax

Yes (71%)

San Jose


Opportunity to Work Initiative

Yes (62%)


Business Tax Modernization

Yes (66%)



Growth Control Initiative

Yes (65.8%)

Morgan Hill


Extending the Residential Development Control System

Yes (77%)



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