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Justice Louis Brandeis

The League is wholeheartedly political and influences policy through advocacy. Though we mobilize people to create civic change, the League is strictly nonpartisan and neither supports nor opposes candidates for office. The League takes action on an issue when we have a position that supports the issue or speaks to the cause. These positions exist at the local, state, regional, and national levels of the League, and are always the result of thorough study and membership consensus. The League may choose to take action at any time as policy issues arise in the community. The League of Women Voters of San Francisco also typically takes positions on propositions considered by San Francisco voters during the standard election cycle.

Also - you can take a look at the current positions for California and the US here:

Download the League of Women Voters of San Francisco's Positions as a pdf>

San Francisco is a Charter City. The charter city provision in the California Constitution (commonly referred to as ‘home rule’) gives cities supreme power over ‘municipal affairs’. The home rule provision maximizes local control and recognizes that cities, rather than the state, know what’s best for their communities. Any city ordinance that regulates a municipal affair trumps general law of the state. The courts have consistently classified some areas as municipal affairs; municipal election matters, land use and zoning decisions, how a city spends tax dollars and municipal contracts. San Francisco County and City share the same boundaries and are consolidated. Many city officials also fulfill the duties of county officials. 

Members of the LWVSF participated in the last major revision of the San Francisco City Charter in

Objectives of this position:
Support a San Francisco City Charter, which is an enabling document, understandable to the general
public. It should contain a brief preamble.

  1. The Charter should provide:
    a) a line of authority;
    b) clear designation of powers;
    c) for accountability;
    d) for citizen participation;
    e) power to establish an administrative code;
    f) power to establish a personnel system.
  2. The Charter should prohibit the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors from interfering in the
    operation of administrative affairs.

Objectives of this position:
Support measures to increase effectiveness and accountability of administration. Retain the authority that now lies in the Mayor's position.

  1. The Mayor, with the concurrence of the Board of Supervisors, should have the power to create,
    eliminate and combine departments and boards and commissions. If the supervisors do not act within a specified time, the Mayor's proposal will would go into effect.
  2. The Mayor should appoint heads of those departments whose policies are set by the commissions.
  3. The Mayor should continue to appoint heads of those departments, which are currently responsible to the Mayor.
  4. The duties of controller should be in the office of Mayor.

Objectives of this position:
Support measures to increase responsiveness, responsibility and effectiveness of the Board of

  1. Members of the Board of Supervisors should serve full-time with salaries commensurate with their
  2. The Board should have an expert staff, which includes a budget analyst and a legislative analyst.

Objectives of this position:
Support a system of boards and commissions which will effectively serves the public.

  1. Duties of boards and commissions should include the following functions:
    a) Holding public hearings;
    b) Approve the budget of their department or their own budget;
    c) Advise;
    d) Act as an appeals board.
  2. Regulations governing boards and commissions should include:
    a) Attendance requirements with specific limitations on absences;
    b) Formal orientation procedures for all boards and commissions;
    c) Standardized compensation for all commissioners and remuneration for reasonable, appropriate expenses incurred.
  3. Selection of commissioners should be based on the following criteria:
    a) Commitment and time to serve;
    b) Proven ability in a field related to the commission;
    c) Objectivity in working with community problem;
    d) Represents the diversity of the community.
  4. Selection process should provide for increased public participation by:
    a) Establishing an ongoing screening and nomination committee;
    b) Submission of names of potential candidates by the public to the committee.
  5. Appointments should include:
    a) Uniform length terms of four years;
    b) Terms staggered to ensure continuity;
    c) Membership limited to seven to increase efficiency;
    d) Appointment of commissioners should be by the Mayor as terms expire.
  6. Effectiveness of a commission should be judged by the following criteria:
    a) Provides a public forum;
    b) Includes citizens in decision-making;
    c) Provides for a range of viewpoints.
  7. Coordination and efficiency of the boards and commissions system should be increased. Consolidate
    boards and commissions and their departments if the following conditions are met:
    a) Special needs are considered;
    b) Procedures and policy-making are open to view.
    c) Long-range, cost/benefit ratio is improved.
    d) Delivery of services to the public is improved.
  8. Establish a new commission or an ad hoc committee if there is a critical unmet need.

Objectives of this position:
Support an efficient, equitable and modern personnel system that:

  1. Provides financing that maintains adequate staffing levels;
    a)Annual performance evaluation of all employees;
    b)Restriction of all provisional appointments;
    c) A regular, on-going and dynamic recruitment program;
    d)Promotional examinations to allow all qualified employees within the system, regardless of class,
    to take the promotional examination and when only a few employees within the system are
    qualified, allow eligible applicants outside the system to take the promotional examination;
    e) Flexible programs that allow all applicants to be trained for regular entrance examinations, with
    qualified staff to implement such programs and;
    f) Improved examination procedures through the use of standardized examination.
  2. Amend Charter to permit at least rule-of-three;
  3. Evaluations of all job classifications to occur cycle at least every five

Objectives of this position:
Support measures that promote effective and equitable methods of paying for city services which:

  1. Provides effective control over expenditures.
  2. Reduce expenses of government by:
    a) Streamlining government through:
    i) Establishing a comprehensive computer network to coordinate all city departments:
    ii) increasing efficiency of the offices of assessor and tax collector:
    b) Eliminating duplication of functions among departments.
    c) Evaluating the way salaries and benefits are set.

Objectives of this position:
Support a budgetary process, which is effective, transparent and responsive to the needs of the

  1. Require a budget process that includes:
    a) public discussion of community priorities before budgetary decisions are made.
    b) open hearings at all levels of decision-making; departmental, commission, Mayoral and Board of Supervisors;
    c) Define departmental objectives by using:
    i) program planning;
    ii) procedures that consider citywide priorities and coordinate planning and spending among
  2. Support a budget that meets the following criteria:
    a) understandable to elected officials and interested citizens;
    b) provides visible relationship between expenditures and objectives so that effectiveness and
    efficiency can be evaluated.
    c) Retain the current level of services by increasing taxes and fees if necessary.
    d) Reflects realistic planning, so that so that supplemental appropriations are used only to meet
    unforeseeable requirements.

Objectives of this position:
Support a free public library system that meets the informational, educational and recreational needs of all city residents.

  1. Support library functions that educate and inform the electorate, thus facilitating citizen participation
    in government decision-making.
  2. Support measures to improve patron service, including:
    a) increase automation e.g. automate acquisitions;
    b) increase the size of the book and non-print collections;
    c) hire additional staff e.g. more pages;
    d) increase hours at the branch libraries;
    e) encourage cooperation between the library and the San Francisco Unified School District.
  3. Support a variety

Objectives of this position:
Support measures that increase information to the voter of about voting rights and available voter

  1. The Department of Elections shall serve the voters and provide accurate information to the public in an efficient and courteous manner. Steps should be taken to:
    a) Improve office procedures by providing:
    i) up-to-date job and procedural manuals;
    ii) special training for employees who give information to the public;
    iii) seminars for supervisory personnel;
    iv) regular staff meetings;
    v) training in the use of electronic data processing.
  2. Formulate and put into effect an active outreach registration program.
  3. The position of Director of Elections should be:
    a) a separate position;
    b) appointed rather than elected;
    c) open to candidates outside San Francisco Civil Service as well as those within Civil Service.
  4. The qualifications for the position of Director of Elections shall:
    a) include knowledge of electronic data processing;
    b) include experience with election laws and procedures.

LWVUS Positions in brief:

  1. Government - Promote an open government system that is representative, accountable and responsive.
  2. Citizen’s Right to Vote; protect the right of all citizens to vote; encourage all citizens to vote.
  3. Citizen’s Right to Know/ Citizen Participation

LWV CA Positions in brief:

  1. Election Systems: Support election systems for executive offices of both state and local levels that require the winner to receive a majority of the votes as long as the majority is achieved using a voting method such as instant runoff voting, rather than a second, separate runoff election.
  2. Initiative and referendum process- Support citizen’s right of direct legislation through the initiative
    and referendum process
  3. Intergovernmental Relationships- Support an efficient, effective and equitable balance of
    responsibility and authority among levels of government with accountability to the public.
  4. State and Local Finances: Support measures to ensure revenues both sufficient and flexible enough to meet changing needs for state and local government service.

Objectives of this position:
Support measures to increase quality child care for school-age children and provide adequate subsidies
for families in need.

  1. Create awareness that childcare is a societal as well as a family responsibility.
  2. Support a mix of formal and informal (drop-in) school age childcare programs which:
    a) provide programs suited to the age of the children;
    b) are located at or close to school sites throughout the city;
    c) encourage monitoring of attendance at formal and informal childcare programs.
  3. Support measures to ensure adequate financial support from federal, state and local government
    sources and from private sources for school age childcare programs, including:
    a) use of public facilities at little or no rent (e.g. local, state, and federal government office
    buildings, school sites, etc.);
    b) start-up funds for non-profit child care programs;
    c) tax incentives for corporations providing child care programs;
    d) use of Community Development Block Grants for child care programs;
    e) creation of local tax base to support both formal and informal child care programs;
    f) provision of adequate number of subsidized spaces in San Francisco Unified School District's
    Children's Centers and other State Department of Education funded programs.
  4. Support measures to ensure transportation for school age child care programs, including reasonable MUNI fares.

LWVUS Positions in brief:

  1. Child Care; Support programs and policies to expand the supply of affordable, quality child care for all who need it.
  2. Early Intervention for Children at Risk: Support policies and programs that promote the wellbeing, development and safety of all children.

LWV CA Positions in brief:

Child Care: Support state and local policies, legislation and programs that meet the need for accessible, affordable and quality childcare.

Objectives of this position:
Support measures that reduce barriers to education, training and employment for women and minorities
and eliminate inequities in pay rates based on race and gender. The need for comparable worth is the
result of the traditional "undervaluation" of certain job categories commonly held by women and

  1. Support efforts to educate the public on pay equity and comparable worth.
  2. Support systematic and objective means for studying and eliminating the inequities in pay rates based on race and gender.
    a) the City Civil Service should include pay equity studies when determining wage rates for city
    b) the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor should support upward adjustments in pay rates based
    on the results of the Civil Service pay equity studies.
  3. Support government policies that would encourage job and pay equity in the private sector.

Objectives of this position:
Support a public schools system that meets the educational needs of all students.

  1. Community, parents, students and educators should formulate district education goals. Similar groups at the local school site should determine specific objectives. Both groups should have the
    responsibility of ongoing monitoring and evaluation of these goals.
  2. The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) should develop and implement a master plan for continuing comprehensive and well-coordinated School Improvement Programs for all kindergarten through 12th grade students. The Board of Education should see that necessary funds are obtained to carry out this plan. The master plan should be evaluated regularly to make sure its objectives are being obtained.
  3. The Board of Education should:
    a) retain the power to establish school attendance areas;
    b) improve communications between it and the public;
    c) publish its policies;
    d) evaluate its program periodically.
  4. Evaluation of administrative job performance should be strengthened.
  5. The following criteria should be given greatest weight in determining budget priorities for the
    selection of programs.
    a)coordination of programs to avoid duplication and to promote the most effective use of money
    b) academic effectiveness of programs;
    c)promotion of effective career training related to marketable job skills.
  6. Evaluation of programs should be improved by:
    a) training of principals, teachers and parents involved at the school site
    b) implementing the SFUSD Board of Education policy which enforces results of program
    c) employing professional staff trained in evaluation procedures to administer program evaluation.
  7. The following social programs are considered legitimate functions of the school:
    a) nutrition programs (breakfast and lunch);
    b) driver education (classroom education and vehicle training)
  8. Military Science (ROTC) is not considered a legitimate function of the school district.
  9. The following programs should not be limited to students of economic or special physical need
    (whether of not the program is administered by the school district):
    a) nutrition (breakfast and lunch)
    b) driver education (classroom education and vehicle training);
    c) after-school athletics (team sports and after school playground activities);
    d) children's centers.
  10. Social programs should be funded in the following manner (whether or not the program is
    administered by the school district):
    a)nutrition: federal, state, parent fees on a sliding scale;
    b)driver education: state;
    c)after-school activities: city;
    d)Children's centers: federal, state, city, parent fees on a sliding scale;
    e)military science (ROTC) should receive no funding.

LWVUS Positions in brief:
Equality of Opportunity; Support equal access to education, employment and housing.

LWV CA Position:
Education; Support a comprehensive pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade public education system
that meets the needs of each individual student; challenges all students to reach their highest potential;
develops patterns of lifelong learning and responsible citizenship.

Objectives of this position:
Support measures that provide for the needs of low, moderate and middle-income groups.

  1. Equal opportunity for access to housing without discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion,
    national origin, age, sexual orientation or disability.
  2. A housing information service, which would collect, organize and disseminate information and work with existing public agencies and civic groups.
  3. Adequate funding for the City Planning Department to allow it to act effectively in the area of
  4. Streamline the building permit process
  5. Subsidized housing programs which:
    a) include low, moderate and/or middle income housing in all housing
    b) omit or severely reduce new housing projects which would serve only low income groups;
    c) provide rent subsidies to those who qualify for aid;
    d) provide incentives to builders to construct such housing;
    e) provide incentives to owners to rehabilitate existing housing;
    f) are primarily funded by federal and state sources.
  6. Condominium conversion legislation which includes:
    a) non-transferable lifetime leases for the elderly;
    b) more than 35% tenant approval;
    c) preservation of low/or moderate units;
    d) tying condominium conversion permits to the building of new rentals by an agreed upon ratio;
    e) compliance with the housing code;
    f) requires a structural integrity report in a prospectus for buyers.
  7. Temporary rent regulation with provisions for review which should include:
    a)regulating the amount of rent increases;
    b)making exceptions for specified circumstances.
  8. Support temporary anti-speculation regulation with provisions for review which should include:
    a)tax on property held less than three years;
    b)exceptions for hardship.
  9. Support measures, which increase the housing, supply in the South of Market area.
    a) Require developers of office buildings in the South of Market area to provide for new or
    rehabilitated housing in San Francisco.
    b) Rehabilitate present housing in the South of Market area where feasible.

LWVUS Positions:

  1. Equality of Opportunity: Support equal access to education, employment and housing.
  2. Meeting Basic Human Needs; Housing supply; Support policies to provide a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family.

LWV CA Position:

  1. Support of State programs to increase the supply of safe, decent and adequate housing for all
  2. Support for action at all levels of government for the provision of affordable housing for all

Objectives of this position:
Support a planning process that balances the need for more open space and the need for increased
Planning criteria:

  1. Open space availability, type and function
  2. Social requirements
    a) Facilities and amenities;
    b) Aesthetics; view, visual quality, proportion and human scale
    c) Physical requirements;
    i) Health impacts on air, water and noise
    ii) Safety; fire and earthquake
    iii) Comfort; wind velocity
    d) Economic Impact;
    i) jobs; number, type and distribution
    ii) taxation; amount and type
    iii) balanced development
  3. Transportation, with consideration of
    a) access,
    b) availability and
    c) traffic patterns.
  4. Recreation
  5. Preservation of desirable and/or historical areas.

Objectives of this position:
Development should be guided by a flexible long-range plan.

  1. All redevelopment areas should conform to the San Francisco General Plan.
  2. City-owned surplus or under-used land should be developed in a manner which best meets public
  3. The South of Market area should continue to incorporate a mix of uses

Objectives of this position:

  1. Citizen participation in planning should be strengthened by wider notification of planning hearings
    and a longer notification period.
  2. Appeals of planning decisions which affect a considerable segment of the community should be
    referred to the Board of Supervisors. A separate appeal body should be established to hear all zoning appeals.
  3. Representatives of the Chief Administrative Officer and the Public Utilities Commission should be retained on the Planning Commission in a non-voting advisory capacity.

Objectives of this position:
Support measures which will improve the position of San Francisco as a port city, provide additional
benefits for commerce, navigation, the environment and the economy.

  1. The City’s full maritime potential should be realized by giving priority in port planning to
    management, maintenance and promotion of San Francisco harbor.
  2. Support the concept of regional port cooperation for maritime purposes.
  3. The principles of the General Plan, with special emphasis on height and bulk contents should be

Objectives of this position:
The Recreation and Parks Department should:

  1. Keep fees to the public at a minimum
  2. equal fees for residents and non residents alike;
  3. establish reasonable fees for all commercial use of its properties;
    retain all fees as reimbursement.
  4. Maintenance of facilities not directly related to the basic objectives of the Recreation and Park
    Department should be transferred to the appropriate agencies

Objectives of this position:

  1. Conservation and development of San Francisco Bay and enhancement and preservation of the Bay and its shoreline.
  2. Legislative controls by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission should be maintained.

LWVUS Positions in brief:

  1. Urban Policy; Promote the economic health of Cities and improve the quality of urban life.
  2. Natural Resources: Promote an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise
    management of natural resources in the public interest.

LWV CA Positions in brief:
Land Use:

  1. Support state land use planning that recognizes land as a resource as well as a commodity.
  2. The state should establish guidelines and standards for land areas of more local concern. Decisions for these areas should be made at the lowest level of government feasible, but should be subject to state
  3. Citizens must have a meaningful participation in land use planning and regulation.

Please note that the League's action/advocacy activities are funded by the League of Women Voters of San Francisco. Education Fund monies are not used for this purpose. All of the League's educational election resources are supported by the Education Fund (501c3) and are strictly non-partisan.


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