Proposition L — Sales Tax for Transportation Projects

See our November 2022 SF Election Guide for a nonpartisan analysis of measures and contests on the ballot in San Francisco for the election occurring Nov. 8, 2022. Voters will consider the following proposition in that election.

Proposition L is a proposed extension of the city’s current 0.5% sales tax until 2053 to help fund public transportation projects. The measure also allows the city to issue up to $1.91 billion in bonds to be repaid with proceeds from the tax, which the city controller estimated will generate $100 million per year in its early years, increasing to about $236 million by 2052. Revenue from the tax would be used to fund the 2022 Transportation Expenditure Plan, which includes a variety of programs focused on basic transit maintenance, major transportation improvements, paratransit services, congestion reduction, pedestrian and bike safety, and community-based equity planning. This measure requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

San Franciscans first voted to approve this tax in 1989 and elected to extend it once again in 2003. The current tax isn’t set to expire until 2034. However, advocates say that passing the tax now will unlock the potential to qualify for billions in matching funds in state and federal grants, and note that all but one of the major capital projects under the current plan have been completed.

Local transportation agencies like San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Rapid Transit have struggled since the start of the pandemic with decreased ridership and thus funding. A $400 million Muni bond measure narrowly failed in June. Supporters of Proposition L say the proposed improvements funded by the measure will be a key part of luring back riders, especially in the absence of other investments.

Supporters include Mayor London Breed, District 8 Supervisor and Chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Rafael Mandelman, the San Francisco Democratic Party, San Francisco Transit Riders, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, Senior and Disability Action, the Sierra Club, the San Francisco Labor Council and others.

Opponents of the measure include Larry Marso, who also opposed the failed June Muni bond, and the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. They argue that the current tax will not expire for another 10 years and that San Francisco County Transportation Authority’s spending is out of control. Opponents also say that the amount of federal funding available is “false marketing” because it does not adjust for inflation. Instead, they are pushing to “retool” the transit system for reduced commutes in the current climate with increased work-from-home.

The process for creating the new transit plan included six months of public advisory committee meetings composed of neighborhood, business, advocacy and community representatives, in addition to partnerships with community-based organizations to conduct outreach with communities of color, low-income households and monolingual communities. More detailed aspects of the 2022 Expenditure Plan include:

  • Muni reliability and efficiency improvements through transit-only lanes and other street design changes
  • Improving Muni and BART core capacity through more frequent and longer trains, upgrades to control systems
  • Extending Caltrain downtown and other Caltrain system capacity investments, which may be used in future light-speed rail services
  • Routine maintenance and rehabilitation on Muni, BART, Caltrain and ferry transit
  • Addition of zero-emission vehicles and other measures to reduce the impacts of climate change
  • Creation of a Bayview Caltrain station and Mission Bay Ferry landing
  • Investments in paratransit for seniors and people with disabilities
  • Street resurfacing and maintenance
  • Pedestrian and bicycle facilities maintenance
  • Improvements to traffic signs and signals
  • Investments in safe streets, such as curb ramps and tree planting
  • Creation of express bus lanes on freeways and other changes to encourage carpooling
  • Other measures to increase freeway safety and to repair the harm caused by former freeway and street projects
  • Creating and implementing neighborhood and equity priority transportation plans

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