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SF voters approve better transit, reject tax to pay for it

San Francisco voters voted overwhelmingly to approve $150 million for improved transit and homeless services Tuesday night — while rejecting by a similar margin a sales tax increase that would provide the funds.

Election night results in San Francisco show Proposition K, a three-quarter sales tax increase that would have taken effect in April of next year, failing with 67 percent of voters against the increase.

The 0.75 percent sales tax increase — to 9.25 percent — would have provided funds for Proposition J that would create the Homeless Housing and Services Fund and the Transportation Improvement Fund.

The City would allocate $50 million annually for the next 24 years in providing housing, navigation centers and programs to prevent homelessness and to aid those transitioning out of being homeless.

Since the sales tax increase failed, but Proposition J passed, Mayor Ed Lee is at his discretion able to terminate either or both of the homeless and transportation funds.

San Francisco’s transportation network would have received $101.6 million annually for the next 24 years that will would go toward improving Muni service for low-income residents would help continue the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s free Muni pass programs for low- and middle-income youth, seniors and persons with disabilities.

Funds would have gone to maintaining Muni’s fleet in good repair, expanding Muni’s fleet, and making infrastructure repairs and upgrades to the transit agency’s facilities such as stations, escalators, elevators and overhead wires.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority would have got a chunk of the transportation funds to the plan, design and deliver projects to improve The City’s transportation system. The transportation authority would have also used the funds on regional transit systems that serve San Francisco such as BART and Caltrain to improve reliability and increase capacity.

San Francisco’s current sales tax is at 8.75 percent, but will decrease to 8.5 percent after Dec. 31, 2016.

SFMTA Board Appointments

With 99.7 percent of precincts reporting, Proposition L is losing with 57 percent of voters so far voting “no” on reducing the mayor’s appointment power in appointing the directors of the SFMTA board.

As it stands, the mayor nominates all of the seven members of the SFMTA Board of Directors, but the Board of Supervisors still needs to confirm the mayor’s pick.

Had Proposition L passed, it would only have reduced the number of mayoral appointments to the SFMTA board to four members while allowing the Board of Supervisors to appoint three. The proposition would also have changed the threshold of the number of Supervisors needed to reject the SFMTA’s budget from seven to six.

Proponents of Proposition L have said this would have allowed for a more broad and diverse SFMTA board and more oversight on the transit agency’s budget by The City’s supervisors.

Those against Proposition L said voters had decided already to not allow supervisors to interfere with the transit system and to keep politics out of Muni.

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