Why SF Needs Prop L

In an election year with a whopping 14 local ballot measures competing for your attention, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of any one of them. But the sleeper blockbuster proposition of the bunch is Prop L. Its passage or failure will affect every single person who lives, works, or visits San Francisco. We all need to move around the city — and every form of transportation or mobility in San Francisco would benefit if it passes.

Prop L extends the existing half-cent sales tax that has funded SF’s interconnected transportation systems for 30 years, without increasing that tax at all. SF voters have already approved this action twice before, in 1989 and again in 2003. More importantly than the extension, Prop L reallocates the tax funding to more effectively fit our current needs. The existing spending plan for the tax was developed back in 2003 — before bike share, before most bike lanes in the city, and long before the pandemic. Heck, before smartphones even existed! Our contemporary needs are different from what they were 20 years ago, and our transportation spending must reflect those changes.

Those reprioritized investments will be apparent across transportation modes. For people biking, Prop L will make funding available for:

  • More protected bike lanes, through funding for quick build projects, and safe infrastructure like traffic calming measures (and the maintenance of that infrastructure)
  • Programs that encourage and empower people to bike, such as bicycle education classes and Safe Routes to School for youth and families
  • Street resurfacing and signal improvements that keep everyone safer

For people who use transit, Prop L will:

  • Provide more funds for maintenance and pandemic recovery for all agencies serving SF 
  • Create seed funding for major projects, like Better Market Street improvements
  • Unlock the door for billions in federal dollars for our transit agencies — necessary funding that will become unavailable without Prop L’s passage.

The proposition also improves equity in the city. Prop L will:

  • Extend funding for Paratransit, which has been tapped out as expenses have skyrocketed with a growing senior population.
  • Set aside money for community-focused transportation planning, particularly in Equity Priority Communities — neighborhoods that have experienced historical disinvestment.

Because it’s a tax measure, Prop L requires two-thirds of voters in favor to pass. And if it doesn’t pass, the tax won’t go away — its current form remains in effect for another 10 years. We’ll just be stuck paying a tax with an outdated expenditure plan that no longer meets our needs.

So now, with our ballots sitting in our mailboxes or on our desks, we must be sure to vote Yes on Prop L — but that’s not enough. Without major marquee races in SF to inspire people to vote, we may be facing lower turnout than in recent November elections. After so many votes already this year, election fatigue is real. But, if you care about our transportation systems — and how could you not? — the stakes couldn’t be higher. So, we call on you to text 10 of your SF family and friends using this template and make sure that they fill out their ballot and that we pass Prop L in November.

“Hey, friend. I’ve been doing ballot research and wanted to spread the word about voting Yes on Prop L on November 8. It renews a sales tax in SF that for thirty years has provided critical money to ensure that Muni, BART, bike safety, paratransit, and more have the funding to improve and expand. If you want to learn more, head to sfbike.org/propl. Thank you for voting!”

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