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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

November 2014 ballot: Height limits, district school board?

The November, 2014 ballot's going to be busy: An Assembly race to replace the (irreplaceable) termed-out Tom Ammiano in the Assembly, races for the even-numbered supervisorial districts (will anyone challenge Malia Cohen in D 10? That seems the only one where the incumbent might not have a walk) and, I'm hearing, a couple of interesting ballot measures.

The Potrero Hill folks, along with a lot of waterfront activists, are talking seriously about a campaign to lower height limits all along the Port, from Fisherman's Wharf down to the Hunters Point shipyard. The idea, as I hear it, would be strict limits -- the 40-60 foot cap that currently exists -- as far south as AT&T Park, with room on the southern waterfront for a few taller buildings.

But every new building would have to pay for the transit and other infrastructure demands that it creates (that's a lot of money) -- and all new housing would have to be 50 percent affordable.

This is, of course, a spectacular idea, and would be among the most profound, sweeping land-use measures since Prop. M passed in 1986. And the campaign alone would serve to remind us all that the city is under attack by developers, and land use will be the driving issue in local politics for the next few years.

Then there's talk of electing school board members by district -- another great idea that would ensure that schools on the East Side get the same level of attention as the ones in the wealthier parts of town (although the way things are going now, the East Side is going to be nothing but rich people soon anyway). My suggestion: School Board should be a full-time job, like the Board of Supervisors -- and the board members should be paid the same as a mid-career teacher.

That way a lot of good people who would love to be on the School Board (and would do a great job of it) but have kids and can't afford to work that many hours for $500 a month (the current pay) would have a chance to run. And every month, when the paycheck arrived, they'd be reminded what it's like to live on a teacher's pay.

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