Proposition R - George W. Bush Sewage Plant

Voter Guide
This measure appeared on the November 2008 San Francisco ballot.

What it does

Proposition R is an initiative ordinance to change the name of the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant, located on the Great Highway in the Outer Sunset in San Francisco, to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

If this initiative is adopted, the City would change the website and outdoor signage at the facility to reflect the new name after the new President of the United States is inaugurated in January 2009. The measure would also require the City to use the new name on all stationery, business cards, city maps and other public materials printed after the name change.

Why it is on the ballot

The proponents collected over 16,000 signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

The current Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant (built in 1993) provides wastewater and stormwater treatment for the western portion of San Francisco, and discharges cleaned water into the Pacific Ocean. It is a model facility that has the capacity to treat up to 65 million gallons a day. It is one of the few water treatment plants in the U.S. built largely underground. The plant won an award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2004.


Arguments in favor of Prop. R:

  • It could result in more people becoming aware of the sewage treatment plant. That could result in more people visiting it, and appreciating the contribution it makes to the environment and the livability of the city.
  • The measure draws attention to the reputation of a portion of the city's electorate for its political humor and playfulness.


Arguments against Prop. R:

  • The measure attempts to demean the value of an essential piece of San Francisco infrastructure, and at a time when the City is on the brink of investing more than ever into upgrading its wastewater treatment system. Dedicating infrastructure is typically done to honor a person or group. This vital piece of environmental infrastructure should, if at all, be re-named in honor of someone who has made a difference in improving our local environment.
  • This measure does not need to be on the ballot. The name of the plant could be changed by administrative action of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
  • The measure will have no effect on policy, either locally or nationally, and thus serves little purpose.
  • The renaming is likely to be taken as an insult not only by those who admire George W. Bush, but also by those who think it demeans the dignity of the presidential office.
  • For those people who do not admire or appreciate the political humor and playfulness of a portion of the city's electorate, the passage of the measure, as well as its mere appearance on the ballot, will contribute to the city's reputation for ineffective political actions.
  • The Oceanside plant is a vital piece of city infrastructure that controls water pollution and protects our local coastal zone. It may also soon receive a water recycling facility, which would allow treated water to be re-piped for local irrigation. Calling it a "sewage plant" misrepresents all of the services it performs.

SPUR’s analysis

SPUR believes that ballot measures should be relevant to improving governance. This measure does not even purport to effect city policy. Further, it intentionally debases an important piece of our city's infrastructure. We do get the joke, but think it would be funnier if we wouldn't have to live with it in perpetuity.

SPUR recommends a "No" vote on Prop. R.