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Who’s Not Against Cars-First Prop L? Supes Tang, Farrell, Yee, and Mayor Lee

Supervisors Tang, Farrell, Yee, and Mayor Lee have not opposed Prop L, a Republican-crafted measure to enshrine cars-first policies. Photos: Aaron Bialick
Supervisors Tang, Farrell, Yee, and Mayor Lee have not opposed Prop L, a Republican-crafted measure to enshrine cars-first policies. Photos: Aaron Bialick

With only a few days left until the election, four elected officials have yet to take a stance on Proposition L, the Republican-crafted measure that misleadingly urges San Francisco to "restore transportation balance" by giving priority to private automobiles and free parking.

Supervisors Katy Tang, Mark Farrell, Norman Yee, and Mayor Ed Lee apparently see no need to come out against the measure, which has been renounced by the other eight supervisors and almost all of SF's political establishment, including their own SF Democratic County Central Committee.

We reached out to each of their offices to explain their position three days ago, and not surprisingly heard no response from Farrell or Lee.

Supervisor Farrell launched a campaign against parking meters, which led to the supervisors voting to hamstring the SFMTA's ability to expand them. Yet even his most vocal ally in that battle, Supervisor Malia Cohen, came out against Prop L after her district's Potrero Hill Democratic Club became the first neighborhood group to do so.

As for Mayor Lee? Well, he's done more than anyone at City Hall to keep driving cheap, even if that means streets are more dangerous and congested. Lee reversed Sunday parking meters, even though they reduced traffic, and dropped his support for putting a vehicle license fee increase on the ballot. Then, he vowed to punish the supervisor majority who put replaced it on the ballot with Prop B, Supervisor Scott Wiener's alternative transit funding measure.

The only public statement Lee has given about Prop L was this cryptic dismissal, in an interview with the SF Chronicle editorial board: "I'm not worried about it."

It's worth mentioning that Prop L's biggest backer, billionaire Sean Parker, gave $100,000 to Lee's mayoral campaign in 2011. He also recently gave $200,000 to Prop A, the $500 million transportation bond measure that Lee has also put his political muscle behind.

Supervisors Tang and Yee have both refused to take a stance on Prop L because they're "focusing on" other measures on the ballot, according to staff from their respective offices.

Coming out against Prop L should be a no-brainer for Tang and Yee, both of whom have said that pedestrian safety is a high priority in their west side districts. Flyers handed out by Prop L's proponents specifically attack safety improvements to deadly streets like Sloat Boulevard, which sits on the border between Yee's district 4 and Tang's district 7.

Yee, who has been injured by a driver, made pedestrian safety a top priority when he first came into office. Both Yee and Tang have touted the crosswalk signal that was added at the spot where Hanren Chang was killed, to try and prevent future tragedies on Sloat.

Yee's aide, Jen Low, said he simply wants to focus on other ballot priorities. "There's a lot of propositions," she said. "For him, he's putting his mind into ones that are close to his heart, like Prop C [to boost the Children's Fund], the minimum wage fund [Prop J], and Prop I," the measure to install an artificial turf soccer field in Golden Gate Park. "For him, Prop L just doesn't seem like a priority issue -- but based on his legislative record, we are 130 percent in support of any pedestrian safety improvements."

Tang, a mayoral appointee who was later elected, is focused on campaigning for Prop A, the transportation bond championed by Mayor Lee, according to aide Dyanna Quizon. Noting that the measure requires a challenging two-thirds vote for approval, Quizon said Tang "believes that it encompasses all modes of transportation, whether it's drivers or public transit riders. She'd rather focus on that one proposition rather than others. She believes Prop A addresses all of the issues that Prop L might address."

Eight other supervisors, however, seem to be able to stand against Prop L, and back other props at the same time.

"Prop L seeks to divide people, while actually making things worse for everyone," said Supervisor London Breed.

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