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SF Judge's Ruling Offers Hope for Fresno Parks Tax Backers



Illustration of scales of justice with city of Fresno and Measure P logos
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In a ruling that could have implications for Fresno’s Measure P,  a San Francisco judge ruled Friday that tax measures there put on the ballot by citizen initiative only needed majority voter approval.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman ruled that two petition-led measures passed in San Francisco in 2018 (both called Proposition C — one in June of that year, and the second in November). The propositions would increase city taxes for a specific purpose, childcare and homelessness, respectively.

San Francisco Measures Are Similar to Measure P

The San Francisco measures are similar to the 2018 Measure P in Fresno. All were placed on the ballot via signature gathering and would raise taxes for specific funds.
While Measure P earned 53% of the vote, because of city attorney Douglas Sloan’s interpretation heading into the election, the measure was deemed to need two-thirds approval to pass. Thus, the city declared the measure failed.
However, San Francisco’s city attorney made the opposite determination based on a 2017 state Supreme Court case known as Upland.

The Upland Decision

In Upland, the state Supreme Court ruled that the laws found in the state’s Constitution regarding tax measures (approved by voters via Proposition 13 in 1978 and Proposition 218 in 1996) did not apply to measures placed on the ballot via signature gathering.
However, the state’s high court ruled on the specific question of when the item may be placed on the ballot. It did not rule directly on the threshold: majority vs. two-thirds.
Now, Schulman’s decision finds that Upland also applies to how many votes a measure needs to pass.
The San Francisco court’s decision likely will be challenged by one of the defendants in the case, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Fresno Court Ruling Could Come This Week

The Fresno case is also in the courts. Technically, the city asked for an interpretation, knowing the unanswered questions stemming from the Upland decision. Parks advocate group Fresno Building Healthy Communities and HJTA are also involved in the Fresno case.
A preliminary ruling in the Fresno Measure P case is expected early next week.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email