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SF election results: Rock-solid win for Proposition B earthquake bond

Proposition B crushes it on Super Tuesday

A person in a yellow safety suit and white hardhat, standing in a large, empty, circular room.
An emergency cistern in the Mission, empty in 2013.
Robin Scheswohl

Quake watchers who hoped to finance upgrades to San Francisco’s emergency services and water delivery systems via $628.5 million worth of bonds will get their wish, as voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved Proposition B.

While some contests are still too close to call in SF, this bond measure was a complete blowout, with the SF Department of Elections recording more than 81 percent of voters favoring it.

The final count will vacillate as the city tallies more votes in days to come, but in this case it hardly matters. The result isn’t surprising; hardly anybody bothered to campaign against the bonds in the months heading up to the election.

Among other things, funds from Proposition B will go toward structures and seismic improvements for firehouses ($275 million), police stations ($121 million), and most importantly the city’s “emergency firefighting water system” ($153.5 million).

The emergency system of cisterns and high-pressure plumbing ensures that firefighters have access to water in the crucial hours after a major earthquake, but City Hall fears it’s not robust enough and which a 2019 civil grand jury noted neglects neighborhoods like Bayview and the Sunset.

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer called herself “thrilled and relieved” by the bond passage in a Wednesday statement.

Mayor London Breed praised the outcome as well, saying that “it’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but a matter of ‘when’ the next major earthquake will strike.”

This is the third time in a decade that SF voters have backed a nine-figure earthquake bond, with similar measures passing in 2010 and 2014, for a combined $812 million-plus.

Since this is a a tax-related measure placed on the ballot by city lawmakers, it needed two-thirds of the vote to pass, but there was essentially no suspense as to its outcome late Tuesday evening.