SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Mayor Ed Lee is expected to win re-election Tuesday even as the San Francisco ballot reflects deep concern over the tech-driven development he’s championed in his five years in office.
The ballot includes contentious citizen-backed initiatives to restrict Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms, and impose a freeze on luxury housing in the popular Mission District. Both are opposed by the mayor.
The ballot also features a widely supported $310 million bond for affordable housing. The mayor is pushing Proposition A, which also has the support of the Board of Supervisors and tech titans such as Airbnb, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
San Francisco has become a national symbol of income inequality as newcomers shell out $1 million to buy small, high-end condos while long-time tenants battle eviction.
Lee, the city’s first Asian American mayor, was appointed to the office in January 2011 and won re-election in November of that year. He faces five little-known candidates who have not raised much money.
Critics say he caters too much to Silicon Valley, citing his brokering a tax break in 2011 to benefit Twitter as part of a remake of the city’s downtown. His campaign argues that the city struggled with housing long before he became mayor.
“Mayor Ed Lee is not going to make any apologies for improving the economy,” said campaign spokesman P.J. Johnston.
Corey Cook, a former associate professor of political science at the University of San Francisco, said the ballot reflects a San Francisco both pleased and disturbed by the jobs boom as well as an affection for Lee.
“Despite the conflicted nature of public opinion,” Cook said, “voters still like Ed Lee and they want him to be successful.”
Perhaps the most divisive measure on the ballot is Proposition F, which would limit home-shares to 75 nights and require Airbnb and other hosting platforms to pull listings that exceed the limit. Proponents say the proliferation of short-term rentals is squeezing the city’s already tight housing market.
San Francisco-based Airbnb has spent more than $8 million to defeat the measure.
Another measure that’s split city leaders is Proposition I. It would place an 18-month moratorium on construction of market-rate housing in one of the city’s most coveted neighborhoods, the Mission District.
Opponents say neither measure would make housing more affordable.
Most citywide offices on the ballot are largely uncontested. The exception is the re-election bid ofSan Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who set off a national firestorm this summer when his office released a Mexican national who later shot and killed a woman on a San Francisco pier.
His leading opponent is Vicki Hennessy, a former sheriff’s official who has the endorsement of the sheriff deputies association.
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