Vote to Update Our Bylaws

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is offering members a chance to update our bylaws to change Board elections in order to better protect members’ privacy. The updates will be put to a vote of all members from 12:00 a.m. July 17, 2015 to 11:59 p.m. July 31, 2015.

Every current member may vote once at sfbike.org/bylawvote.

Why are members voting on whether to update the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s bylaws?

In response to concerns from our members, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is offering updated bylaws to bolster members’ privacy. Our current bylaws permit a member-elected Board, which requires the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to turn over all members’ contact information to any member who asks for it.

Under California Corporations Code Section 6330, nonprofits with member-elected Boards are required to hand over their entire membership list to members requesting this information. The information to be provided includes members’ mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. The organization can also offer alternative means for the requesting member to communicate with the entire membership, but the member may reject the alternatives and, from a practical point of view, effectively insist upon receiving the entire contact list.

Recent compliance with this statutory requirement resulted in numerous member complaints voicing privacy concerns.

After much deliberation and careful consideration of all legal options, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition determined that the only effective way to properly respond to members’ privacy concerns is to provide members a chance to vote on eliminating the member-elected Board structure in our bylaws, and instead elect future Board members by a vote of sitting Board members. This would relieve the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition of the legal obligation to turn over our membership list referenced above.

Executive Summary of Changes

Under Section 6330 of California Corporations Code, nonprofit organizations with a member-elected Board create the legal obligation to hand over our entire membership list — complete with members’ mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses — to members, upon request. So, under California state law, any member can use every members’ personal contact information to send all members unsolicited communications.

This did not create any problems before the digital age — when door-knocking and phone calls were the most convenient forms of communications. Now, though, email blasts to all members from strangers are something that every member faces. This has resulted in a flood of complaints from members who recently felt that their privacy was violated.

As a member-driven organization, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition takes members’ concerns and privacy very seriously. To better protect members’ privacy, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is providing members the opportunity to vote on a change to our bylaws. The change is specifically and narrowly targeted to address members’ concerns and protect your privacy.

Voting “YES” on this change would mean that Board elections are modified, with present Board members electing future Board members. This would eliminate the legal requirement that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition hand over members’ complete contact information. This would put the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition on par with such organizations as the California Bicycle Coalition, KQED, SPUR and Walk SF.

Voting “NO” on this change would preserve the status quo. Any member could request the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s entire membership list, including complete contact information. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition would be legally required to comply with those requests for our membership list. And future Board members would be elected by a vote of all members of the organization.

No matter how the vote turns out, any San Francisco Bicycle Coalition member may still run for a Board seat; San Francisco Bicycle Coalition members will be alerted to Board openings at least one month before applications are due, following current protocol. And, as always, Board meetings and minutes will continue to be open to all members.

All other existing rights and roles of membership, including input on the Strategic Plan; guidance on who the organization endorses for mayor, supervisor and other offices; and providing essential feedback directly to the Board and staff will be preserved

Questions? Contact membership@sfbike.org

Read the proposed updated bylaws here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why would we change Board elections?

Recent privacy complaints from members are a result of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition having a member-elected Board. Under Section 6330 of California Corporations Code, nonprofits with member-elected Boards are required to turn over their entire membership list, complete with full contact information, to any member upon request. That has recently resulted in many of our members receiving unsolicited and unwelcome email blasts from a stranger.

The only way to change this, and improve member privacy under California law, is to change Board elections so that future Board members are elected by a vote of the existing Board.

Will members still guide the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s direction forward through the Strategic Plan?

Yes, member input will remain central to formulating the next strategic plan, just as it was the current one (2012 — 2017).

Can members still attend the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Board meetings and will minutes from those meetings still be available to members?

Yes, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and its Board are still dedicated and bound to transparency, and members may attend Board meetings. The minutes from Board meetings will remain available upon request by members.

Will there still be opportunities for member input outside of the Strategic Plan and bi-annual member survey?

Yes, members are still welcome and needed as part of our Member Committees, which advise our organizing staff and work with them to change San Francisco streets for the better. We will also continue to solicit feedback to help us prioritize our work, including hotspot requests, maintenance needs and corridor improvements. As always, staff will continue to take phone calls and emails from members and the general public, valuing feedback most from members.

Will members still shape the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s political endorsements, ahead of elections?

Yes, it is very important to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition that we continue our practice of putting candidates for elected offices like mayor, supervisor and district attorney to a members-only vote to inform our endorsements.

Will the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition still be a member-driven organization that depends on members day in and day out for guidance, for strength and for a clear voice to make San Francisco’s roads better for people who bike?

Absolutely. In addition to our strategic plan, member committees and political endorsements, member feedback guides everything we do. One of the first things that new staff are assigned will continue to be reviewing the latest member survey. And nothing the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition does — from Bike to Work Day, to Bike the Vote, to free Valet Bike Parking at local events, to educating cyclists of all experience levels and ages — is possible without the strength and voice of our members. That cannot and will not change.

Will the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition turn over the complete list of over 10,000 member names and complete contact information to any member who asks for it?

No, at least not if members vote to change the bylaws. At the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, we were embarrassed when this quirk in our bylaws and California law was discovered and used to send unsolicited email to our members. And our members let us hear about it. This proposed change to our bylaws is a response to scores of member complaints, demanding that we bring our privacy protections into the digital age.

Members compelled the staff and Board to do more to protect them from unwanted email blasts from strangers — something that was not foreseen when our bylaws were drafted decades ago. With the help of pro bono attorneys, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition identified the reason for this problem and found the only way to bring our privacy protections up to date.

Now, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition turns it over to our members, to vote on whether these updates should be implemented to change Board elections in order to better protect member privacy in the digital age.

Questions? Contact membership@sfbike.org

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