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What’s in Proposition L?

Thursday, October 6, 2022

On November 8, San Francisco voters will decide whether to continue a half-cent transportation sales tax that has been funding city and county transportation projects since it was first enacted in 1989. Proposition L is not a tax increase but does require a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

The half-cent sales tax is administered by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA).  Proposition L would approve a new 2022 Transportation Expenditure Plan for how these funds will be spent for the next 30 years.

The 2022 Transportation Expenditure Plan will fund projects in these categories:

  • 41% for transit maintenance and enhancements: Funds Muni, BART, Caltrain and ferries. The money goes toward maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement of vehicles; station and access improvements; and planning for the next generation of public transit.
    • Examples: New buses and light rail vehicles, electrifying Muni’s bus fleet, maintaining buses and trains so they operate safely and reliably
  • 23% for major transit projects: Funds Muni bus and train reliability and efficiency improvements; increasing Muni and BART capacity; and major expansion projects
    • Example: The Caltrain Downtown Extension from 4th and King railyard to the Salesforce Transit Center
  • 19% for streets and freeways: Funds street repaving; walking and bicycling safety improvements; signals and traffic calming; and major street and freeway redesign planning
    • Examples: Neighborhood-level investments such as crosswalks, traffic calming, new and upgraded traffic signals, bicycle lanes and Safe Routes to School programs
  • 11% for paratransit: Funds the SFMTA’s paratransit service, which is a van and taxi program for people who are unable to independently use or access public transit because of a disability or disabling health condition
  • 6% for system planning and community equity: Funds transportation demand management; neighborhood and equity-focused planning and implementation
    • Example: Implementing improvements identified in community-based plans across the city and particularly in Equity Priority Communities

The SFCTA website provides more details on the 2022 Transportation Expenditure Plan.

In previous years, the sales tax has funded projects large and small, some of the well-known ones being the Salesforce Transit Center, the electrification of Caltrain (anticipated to be done in 2024), Muni Central Subway and reconstructing Doyle Drive, now known as Presidio Parkway.

It has also funded smaller projects like traffic calming, street repaving, protected bike lanes, new and upgraded signals and, during the pandemic, taxi rides home for essential workers.

To compete for federal and state grants, such as the funds in last year’s federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, San Francisco needs local funds that match the money from the grant. The sales tax funds are our main source of these matching funds. On average, we’ve leveraged every dollar in half-cent sales tax funding to attract $4 - 7 in additional funding from federal, state or other sources.

If Measure L does not pass, the half-cent transportation sales tax will continue to be collected until March 2034. However, the money can only be spent on projects that were included in the Transportation Expenditure Plan from 2003.

To learn more about the half-cent transportation sales tax, you can go to the SFCTA website.