John Farrell
How to stop the San Francisco Exodus
                                          

Our city is in big trouble. And it is not just because of Covid-19 which has devastated our economy. It is because of a continued string of bad policies and decisions by City Hall over the past 10 years that has led to a dramatic drop in our quality of life in the City. City Hall was projecting a deficit even before the pandemic hit.

 

We watch as our city continues its slide due to lack of vision and direction. Nothing compares to the extent of the crime, drugs, homelessness and overall filth our visitors, residences and businesses have to deal with every day on our city’s eastside, such as in the Tenderloin. But the efforts to clean up the Tenderloin are pushing homeless people, especially the mentally ill and drug addicted, into other neighborhoods all over the city and making the problem worse. People are now leaving our city because they are fed up. 

 
quote marks

We cannot ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do. It is inhumane to continue allowing this.”

The current approach to homelessness is not working. Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”  People are complaining about our homeless problem on facebook, nextdoor, etc… but nothing gets done to solve the problem.

So what do we do? How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? That is the big question. We cannot ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do. It is inhumane to continue allowing this.

We need to reevaluate our current programs and formulate a game plan for the future. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. For example, 10 out of 10,000 people in Rhode Island are homeless. Of these, 93.3 percent are sheltered, one of the highest rates in our nation. Rhode Island also scored well when it comes to veterans, as just 3.3 percent are without shelter. There is a program in Providence, Rhode Island called the “Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)” program. First thing they do is enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get their drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility they line up to get their medicine. There are three opioid blockers (Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol) that are FDA approved to get people off heroin. The inmates choose what blocker they want. These blockers stabilize them physically to handle the emotional work needed to address the disease of drug addiction. The MAT program provides counselors to help them return to the outside. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested. It has saved lives.

Since our city has no rules the homeless can come and go as they please. We need to enforce our quality of life laws while providing services to these people who desperately need it. So how do we enforce the laws? For those mentally ill and drug addicted, I recommend the mayor and our supervisors pass an ordinance that provides that, if a person on our streets is incoherent and not of sound mind, they will be taken to a treatment center to be evaluated and helped over at least the next 30 days.

So where do we take them? We need treatment centers where doctors, counselors and caseworkers are available along with the treatment that we know work to save lives. The majority of homeless are over 40 years old. As our society ages more and more people need skilled nursing facilities (SNF). The reduction in SNF beds has provided another crisis in our City. In 1999, voters approved Proposition A to rebuild the 1200 SNF beds and 140 assisted living beds at Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH). In 2008, LHH cut its’ SNF beds to 780. The City knew there was a shortfall in SNF beds and instead of building more and ensuring LHH rebuilt the 1200 as approved by the voters, the City reduced SNF’s. This needs to be revisited and more SNF’s need to be made available for our aging society.

Where will the money come from to do this?  City Hall just closed a $1.7 billion deficit that is being addressed by rainy day funds, department cuts and wage freezes. City Hall needs to audit the current $300 million annually spent on homeless services, especially those provided by City departments. The City needs to stop throwing good money after bad. When I worked for the City we brought in hundreds of millions to our City that were being missed. The City has the funds to cover the deficit but they are not being recognized. I have identified over $1 billion in revenues from missed assessments, taxes and fees. I have sent several emails to the Mayor’s Office to show where these revenues are being missed but have only received one boilerplate reply which didn’t address my letter's substance.

There is also a lot of goodwill in our tech companies as well as others. These philanthropic companies are concerned and care about our City problems. If we have a business plan to address our homeless situation throughout our City I know these companies, along with many others, would rise to the occasion to assist our brothers and sisters in need. 

I don’t have all the answers but I do know the current approach isn’t working. I will be damned if I will just sit back and do nothing to help those in need and watch my city continue to go to pot.

We have an opportunity for our city to rise again. Let’s grab it.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

August 2020

Impending Budget Shortfall a Dilemma for Our City's Taxpayers

cartoon of budget shortfall
John Farrell
John Farrell

Our city is hurting. Our economy is shot. Our drug and homeless situation is out of control, especially in the Tenderloin. Small businesses are closing at record numbers and there is over 12% unemployment. Hotels rooms are empty as conventions and tourism has halted. There are protests over recent tragedies. And tragedies resulting from these protests. Our police are being minimized and protestors are allowed to destroy and take down statues without ramifications. Trust in our City government (City) is at an all time low especially from the abuse of power from entrusted City officials.

The City just closed a nearly $250 million budget deficit and now faces a $1.7 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years which could reach over $2.5 billion per Controller Ben Rosenfield. With all the financial experts the City has, they will come up with budget cuts and increasing taxes to property and business owners. If departments are to be cut then the City needs to prioritize and ensure the funding of vital services and programs such as our police, fire and public health before lower priorities are funded. In regard to increasing taxes, our taxpayers have been through a lot these past months and you can’t always put the burden on them.

quote marks

With all the financial experts the City has, they will come up with budget cuts and increasing taxes to property and business owners.”

There are at least four tax increase proposals on the November ballot which includes a tax on CEO’s earning at least 100 times the median income of the average worker, a 1.12% payroll tax on stock-based corporations, a doubling of the transfer tax from 3% to 6% for commercial and residential properties sold for over $10 million, and there will be two competing proposals to overhaul the City’s gross receipts tax.

All options need to be on the table.  When I worked for the City we brought in hundreds of millions to our City that were being missed. Several were missed for political purposes but once we found out — we made sure they were picked up. The City has the funds to cover the deficit but they are not being recognized. I have identified monies from missed assessments, taxes and fees, in former articles on this website, to cover the deficit. I have sent several emails to the Mayor’s Office to show where these revenues are being missed but have only received one boilerplate reply which didn’t address the substance of my letter.

To quote Victor Hugo, “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

We have an opportunity for our city to rise again.

All the best to you and your family in these trying times.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

July 2020

City Hall after the earthquake
An Emphatic Letter to City Hall 
 
John Farrell
John Farrell

Our City and nation have gone through a lot these past months and it has given us the opportunity to reflect on who we are and where we want to go. We have seen the best in people and we have also seen the worst. This virus has devastated our economy and how we interact with each other, but not our spirit.

Never forget, our City was in a terrible state of depression after the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the incomprehensible murders in Guyana by the People’s Temple leader, the tragedy of AIDS and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, to name a few. But San Francisco always rises stronger than ever.

We are presented with another opportunity to rise again. This time with Mayor Breed at the helm.  But we have come to that fork in the road. As Al Pacino eloquently said in the movie A Scent of a Woman, “Now I have come to a crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception. I knew. But I never took it. Do you know why? It was too damn hard.” 

quote marks

Now I have come to a crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception. I knew. But I never took it. Do you know why? It was too damn hard.”

If our City continues on the same road it was on, prior to the pandemic, then we will continue on a path to imminent failure. But if we take the other road, we will all succeed. Our City needs to get our economy back on track and get people working again, and to address our devastated City finances and our increasingly horrendous homeless situation.   

To address the budget deficit of nearly $2 billion over the next two fiscal years, our City financial advisors will consider increasing taxes on property owners and reducing or cutting low-priority expenditures—in addition to a hiring freeze and work furloughs. 

The City is planning a $438.5M bond measure in November to fund street paving, park improvements and homeless services. Leave the property taxpayers alone. They have already been through a lot this year and you can’t always put the burden on them. There are other ways. The City has the revenues but they are not being recognized.

In regard to our homeless situation the current programs are not working. We are seeing more and more homeless in our neighborhoods. Some come for hotel rooms and other freebies. Some think they can do as they please without ramifications. Apparently, the City accepts the most appalling behavior and the resulting (nearly) 400 homeless deaths on our streets over the last three years (prior to the pandemic). So at this point City Hall is part of the problem — not part of the solution.  

I advise the City to step back. Do not allow homeless camps in Golden Gate Park, especially since many are mentally ill, drug addicted and/or recently released from incarceration. Once you give someone the right to inhabit the park, it will be very difficult to take it away months later. Just like the hotel rooms. You can’t expect to put homeless people in hotel rooms and then expect them to leave. This is wrong. The City has plenty of land all over the state to consider. 

It is time to recover and we will. It will take time but we can do this together.

United we stand – we are not going to fall.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

April-May 2020

John Farrell
Coronavirus Aftermath – What Does Our City Do Next?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having huge impact our City finances. City Hall has a projected deficit in the current fiscal year of up to $288 million. The upcoming fiscal years are projected from $528 million to $779 million for FY 2020-21 and from $444 million to $612 for FY 2021-2022. Prior to this pandemic our city’s basic issues such as safety, housing affordability, homelessness and drug infested streets seemed worse than ever and we were short on police, MUNI drivers, nurses, etc… Further, the FBI picked up MS-13 gang members in our city and we read about entrusted City Hall officials abusing their power.

The Mayor and related departments have addressed this pandemic head on. I want to thank them and all medical staff, police and fire, garbage collectors, MUNI drivers, volunteers and everyone who stepped up in making our city run during this tumultuous time.

quote marks

... City Hall will have the daunting task of grappling with balancing the City’s budget and addressing our city’s priorities such as housing, public safety and homelessness.

It is hard to believe that in January the US had the strongest economy in the world and was winning the trade war with China and suddenly a virus develops which is now devastating the US economy.

By the way, did you know that 97% of all antibiotics in the US come from China, as well as 80% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients used to make drugs. We need to start producing these products here in the US.

This pandemic will be over soon and City Hall will have the daunting task of grappling with balancing the City’s budget and addressing our city’s priorities such as housing, public safety and homelessness. While we all have been requested to shelter-in-place, this gives time for City Hall to reflect and formulate a game plan to address these issues and getting our city’s economy back on track.

City Hall has a golden opportunity to develop this game plan to ensure our vital services are met as our economy has been devastated by this virus. We need to just get through this next budget cycle and then once completed, direct the Budget Analyst’s Office in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office to conduct a zero-based budget. We need to also address how to minimize the losses of our city businesses affected by the virus, especially our small businesses.

We need accountability in our city government. City Hall needs to utilize our city resources more effectively and efficiently, to cut waste and consolidate departments, programs and services where applicable, to eliminate those that are low priority and not cost effective, and reallocate funds to departments that are justified. City Hall needs to prioritize essential services and programs to ensure they have sufficient funding before lower priority programs are funded. We need to audit non-profit agencies and City contracts to ensure that services are provided and determine if they are necessary. We must ensure that City contracts are entered into with the utmost integrity. All revenue generating departments need to audit their practices to ensure all revenue sources are addressed.

I grew up in the greatest city in the world. I am tired of reading about what a mess it is now. Let’s get back to basics.

I wish you and all your family all the best during these trying times. We will get through this together. God bless.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

April-May 2020

The California New Deal - Care for the Homeless

John Farrell walking his dogs
John Farrell walking his dogs

I am a fifth generation San Franciscan but can’t believe what I have been seeing over the last several years. Last month I was walking my dogs up Pacheco Street and woman in her early thirties in a windbreaker walked up to me and started talking. As she talked she became incoherent as she rambled about her being sexually abused when she was younger and about her brothers in the army using iPhones to listen to our every word. As she started becoming crazier and crazier I crossed the street to get away and protect my dogs. She started spitting at me and yelling profanities and that she wanted to kill me.

The prior week a man walked into the Marina Safeway and crapped in the aisle where the toilet paper was. Our personal property crimes are the highest in the nation, people are shooting up on the streets and drugs sold without consequences. We are losing conventions and our City is known around the world as the “Poop City.” This is becoming the norm in our city unless the quiet majority starts speaking up. Yes I am talking to you.

quotes

As she started becoming crazier and crazier I crossed the street to get away and protect my dogs. She started spitting at me and yelling profanities and that she wanted to kill me.”

A year has gone since our governor took office, and President Trump has been continuously criticizing him and state leaders for failing to fix the homeless problem, threatening to provide federal intervention. Our governor just created a new homeless plan to spend more money, identify state land for shelters, designating 100 state fleet trailers for temporary housing, and calling for a study of the causes of homelessness in CA by the State’s Health and Human Agency working with the University of California researchers.

Let’s save the state at least a couple of hundreds thousands on a homeless cause study. Here is how we got there and here is how to fix it.

In 1963 President John F Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act that transferred the responsibility of mentally ill patients from the state to the federal government. This was to create a network of community mental health care centers where mentally ill people could live in the community and rveceive the care they need. However less than a month after signing the Act he was assassinated.

In 1965 Congress enacted Medicare and Medicaid, which provided benefits to mentally disabled people living in the community but not for those in psychiatric hospitals. State legislators encouraged discharging patients from mental hospitals, since costs for care were then incurred by the federal government.

When Ronald Reagan became governor in 1967 the number of patients in state mental hospitals had dropped to 22,000 from the peak in 1959 of 37,000. This reminds me of Juvenile Hall, which is being closed due to the drop in occupants, even though it would be packed if our laws weren’t changed making felonies now misdemeanors. Reagan signed the Lantermann-Petris-Short Act ending institutionalizing patients against their will. This was a disaster, as the number of patients at mental hospitals fell to 7000 by 1973 as mentally ill people exited the hospitals only to enter the criminal justice system. Even today people blame Reagan for what is happening on our streets even though we are on our 7th Governor since then and any of those could have done something.

Now let’s look at the homeless today, where the majority are those with mental illness and drug addiction. Like many other counties in our state, there has been a dramatic increase in homelessness since 2017. The number of homeless people in our City has increased by 17% since 2017, which includes a large increase of people living in RVs, despite our City’s efforts creating hundreds of new beds and spending over $300 million annually on the homeless population, not including costs of Police, Fire, Department of Public Works, and Public Health Department.

The City’s current approach to homelessness isn’t working. Jeff Kositsky, the Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (DHSH), reported that the numbers are bad. He also reported that their data tracking shows that for every person who exits homelessness, three fall into it. Further, 75% of our City residents believe homelessness has gotten worse since 2017 per a Controller’s survey.

How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? We cannot just ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do to stop this. It is inhumane to continue allowing this on our City streets.

We need to create a California New Deal which would:

Provide programs and housing for the homeless. From 1933 to 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt enacted the New Deal which was a series of programs, public works projects, financial reforms and regulations. This was a respond to the Great Depression. Programs provided support to farmers, the unemployed, youth, elderly and poor. Our homeless crisis is “the Great Depression of our Society.” Our homeless are broken and we need to help them back on their feet and not just let them exist and become another death statistic. Frederick Douglas put it the best, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Our homeless are broken.

We must enforce our quality of life issues and no longer tolerate the defecation, drug abuse, mental illness and any other dysfunctional behavior on our streets. We need to provide the resources to enforce quality of life issues and provide the treatment to those in need.

We need to build Specialized Treatment Facilities where doctors, counselors and caseworkers are available along with the treatments, and where sick people could learn how to live life again and be provided job training and therapy in one place. Eventually these people would be able to leave and be on medication to cope with their addiction.

For example, Providence, Rhode Island has a successful program that has saved lives and helped those drug addicted called the “Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)” program. First thing they do in Rhode Island is they enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get there drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility these individuals in the MAT program line up to get their medication. The MAT program provides counselors to help and build a relationship with the inmates while they are there and as they return to the outside. The program has been successful in saving lives. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested since it saved their lives.

Our roads and infrastructure throughout our state needs repair and we need to cut back trees throughout the state to avoid major fires. We can help build many broken people by providing the training and jobs. Many just need the opportunity.

California’s economy is larger than any other state in our nation and if it was its own county it would be the fifth largest economy in the world. Our City is our country’s second-most densely populated major city after New York. We have more billionaires per person in our city than anywhere else in the world.

We have an affordable housing crisis in our state but our legislators are focusing in on building more and more high density units like in the recently failed SB50 which had major effects on San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego and less on other regions that have the land to build. We need to build more housing outside our major cities. Everyone can’t afford to live in San Francisco and there is plenty of land around our state to build all the housing we need.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Saleforce stated about the effects of capitalism: “Yes, profits are important, but so is society. And if our quest for greater profits leaves our world worse off than before, all we will have taught our children is the power of greed.”

There is a lot of goodwill in these tech companies as well as others. These philanthropic companies are concerned and care about our City and State problems. If we have a business plan to address our homeless situation throughout our City and State I know these companies along with many others would rise to the occasion to assist our brothers and sisters in need.

Enough talk. Time for action.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

February 2020

Let’s Get Rid of Ranked-Choice Votingillustration

Another election has passed and it is too bad we had to deal with this ranked-choice voting (RCV) scam as votes are split and not everyone’s vote counts in the end. This is a flawed system which in most cases elects a candidate without a majority vote of the total votes cast, and is unconstitutional.

The whole facade of RCV was to save the City money by switching from a run-off election to RCV, since voter turnout for run-off elections was typically lower. This is a scam. The main purpose of RCV is to manipulate the voting system to confuse voters and split the vote.

A prime example of how this RCV system failed is this past election for District Attorney (DA). First off, congratulations to all the candidates for stepping up to make a difference in our City, whether you believe in the candidates’ ideas, or not.

quotes

... there were 22,415 exhausted votes, reflecting over one third of the votes that did not rank either Loftus or Boudin, which cost Loftus the election.”

Per the Department of Elections, there was a 41.63% voter turnout. There were 193,168 votes cast in the DA race as follows: Chesa Boudin had 68,792 (35.61%), Susy Loftus had 60,002 (31.06%), Nancy Tung had 37,347 (19.33%), and Leif Dautch had 27,027 (13.99%). After the rankings were completed, Chesa Boudin received 86,696 and won by 2831 votes over Susy Loftus who had 83,865 votes. Chesa Boudin won with 44.9% of the total votes cast (86,696/193,168).

Now let’s get to the real problem of RCV. Of the total 64,374 votes for Nancy Tung (37,347) and Leif Dautch (27,027), there were 22,415 exhausted votes, reflecting over one third of the votes that did not rank either Loftus or Boudin, which cost Loftus the election. In other words, these votes didn’t count. Not having your vote count is unconstitutional.

If we did not have this RCV boondoggle, there is no way Chesa Boudin wins over Susie Loftus in a run-off election. As in this case, a single progressive candidate won against three moderate/conservative candidates by having those candidates split the vote. This would not happen in a run-off, as the top two candidates would face off.

The people who came up with this flawed RCV system were fully aware that not all voters will rank everyone. Let’s face the fact that voters will not typically rank anyone other than their preferred candidate, and possibly another candidate. The end result in most cases is a candidate who is elected without a majority vote of the total votes cast, as in this DA case. This is wrong.

By the way, I went through the RCV results since inception and many elected Board of Supervisors members would not have won in a run-off election. No surprise there.

It is essential that an election be fair and just to keep our democracy alive and well. Run-off election results are fair all the time. RCV results are not, as history shows. The system is manipulating and confusing to voters.

We need to return to run-off elections between the top two candidates. This gives the voters an opportunity to vote for the person they prefer most, or the lesser of the two evils, whichever applies, and everyone’s vote counts. This RCV system becomes more confusing as residents in our City turn over. The Department of Elections will always have to train voters on this RCV system every time there is an election. You never had to be trained on a run-off election.

I urge everyone, especially the quiet majority, to wake up, to contact the Mayor’s Office to place an initiative on the next ballot for the voters to decide whether to continue this failed RCV scam.

By the way, I get a kick because RCV was to save taxpayer monies by eliminating run-off elections, and then our City decides to provide public financing for elected positions. Nearly $20 million of your tax dollars has been spent so far on candidates running for elected office in our City since inception of public financing. Don’t you think this money could be better spent elsewhere? I do. But that’s a discussion for another time. Let’s first get rid of RCV.

I wish you and your family all the best this holiday season. God bless.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

December 2019

homeless man rests by his possessions

No More Turning a Blind Eye

John Farrell
John Farrell

You have read or heard in the media all over our nation that San Francisco is a mess - a haven for crime and homelessness. Sure we are not the only troubled city in our country but it hits home to me. This is my home. I am a fifth generation San Franciscan and appreciate our City. Every time I cross the Golden Gate Bridge and see that beautiful city landscape I am in awe.

If you live on the Westside you know how lucky we are. Over the past several years though, we have experienced a dramatic increase in break-ins, and we are seeing more and more homeless on our streets, many mentally ill and drug addicted. Also an increase in those living in RV’s and vans, such as near SF State, and several months ago there was a number of home invasion robberies that targeted our Chinese families. These issues need to be addressed before they get further out of hand.

quotes

Next time you see a policeman, muni driver, fireman, teacher, nurse, or other public servant, thank them. They are the ones in the trenches making this City run day after day.

But nothing compares to the extent of the crime, drugs, homelessness and overall filth our visitors, residences and businesses have to deal with every day on our Eastside, such as in the Financial District, the Civic Center and Tenderloin neighborhood to name a few. San Francisco has the highest crime per capita in our nation, and the number of homeless in our City has increased by 17% since 2017 despite our City’s efforts creating hundreds of new beds and spending over $300 million on homelessness annually.

In August there were several attacks on our waterfront, including the well-publicized and vicious attack by a mentally ill man on a young woman named Paneez Kosarian outside her apartment complex. Superior Court Judge Christine Van Anken released the man against the request by our District Attorney since she believed he was not a threat to the community. Subsequently, Judge Van Anken changed her ruling and the man is now being held in custody pending trial after she had the opportunity to see the security video of the attack and learned of new allegations against the man involving threats with a knife.

Coincidently, this apartment complex on the waterfront where the attack occurred is across the street from the proposed navigation center that has the neighbors in an uproar. This attack doesn’t help the City’s case, since the City’s is building it whether the neighbors like it or not.

Prior mayors like Joe Alioto, Diane Feinstein, Art Agnos and Frank Jordan made decisions on what they believed was in the best interest of the City whether you agreed with them or not. You never felt the City was losing its direction, like it has over recent mayors. It is now in Mayor Breed’s hands to take the bull by the horn and lead our City. I am rooting for her.

Everything in life is cyclical. And with changing economies and with uncertain presidential policies, we need to address these crime and homeless issues and develop future plans to ensure all vital services and programs are met. I am tired of hearing we don’t have enough teachers, we don’t have enough police, we don’t have enough emergency operators, we don’t have enough muni drivers… I can go on. It’s great being number one but not in property crimes per capita among our nation’s 50 biggest cities. Further, there is no excuse for the dirty and drug infested streets throughout our city. This has got to end. We have a City budget of $12.3 billion, $1 billion more than last year.

In my articles in May, June and July I focused on addressing our homeless crisis by enforcing our quality of life laws while showing compassion and providing services, especially to mentally ill and drug addicted people who need our help. Our City’s current approach is not working and we need to look at alternatives as mentioned in these articles.

This is the greatest city in the world. We have great people working in our departments and I ask all to rise to the occasion and give your input, if you haven’t already, on how we can better serve our City. I ask all who live, work and visit our City to respect each other and to respect our City. Respecting each other and each other’s property, and keeping our streets, parks, and beaches safe and clean starts with each and every one of us. If we can do this, than millions more can be spent on services and programs, especially for those in need of assistance in our City.

We need to appreciate our blessings and how precious life is; and understand and be sensitive to our differences, especially in these volatile times. Hatred, in any form, such as racism, bullying, domestic and sexual violence; child, senior, LGBTQ or any type of abuse and animal cruelty is unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and must be disavowed.

Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

If we work together there is nothing we can’t accomplish and along the way make a positive impact in people’s lives.

Next time you see a policeman, muni driver, fireman, teacher, nurse, or other public servant, thank them. They are the ones in the trenches making this City run day after day. The same goes for our veterans for their service to our country.

It’s easy to turn away hoping that things will get better but they will only get worse, especially for these individuals who need our help and for our residents and taxpayers who rely on our government to address our crime, drug, filth and homeless problems for the health and safety of our City.

No more turning a blind eye.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

September 2019

A New Approach to Homelessness

First: Let’s admit there is a problem. The City’s current approach to homelessness isn’t working. Jeff Kositsky, the Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, reports that the new homeless numbers are bad. The number of homeless in our City has increased by 17% since 2017 despite our City’s efforts creating hundreds of new beds and spending over $300 million on homelessness annually, not including the costs of City services such as Police, Fire, Public Works, and Public Health Department.

Even though Mayor Breed plans to open more shelter beds and permanent supportive housing by the end of this year, 75% of our City residents believe homelessness has gotten worse since 2017 per a Controller’s survey. Further there is a homeless surge at SFO as increasing numbers of homeless people are going to the International Terminal seeking shelter.

quotes

We need to audit the current $300 million annually spent on homeless services ...We need to put homeless service providers on alert that we are going to make them accountable and justify their funding. No more feeding at the trough.”

Second: Be compassionate. When my grandmother passed away in 1987 her last words were “Take care of the poor.” She lived through the Depression and had a tough life but always smiled and was positive. She had wonderful sayings and one was “Never judge a person until you have walked in their shoes.” How I miss her.

Many of us are broken at sometime in our lives. Luckily many of us have had someone there to pick us up. We need to be there for those who don’t. Frederick Douglas put it the best, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Our homeless are broken. We look away when we see them. What if that was your brother, sister, mom, dad, friend, etc. In God’s eyes, that is your brother and sister.

Third: We need to reevaluate our current programs and formulate a game plan for the future. Mr. Kositsky said “for every person who exits homelessness, three fall into it.” Since our City has no rules and homeless can come and do as they please, we need to enforce our quality of life laws while providing services, especially to mentally ill and drug-addicted people.

We need to look at viable alternatives and successful programs. For example, Providence, Rhode Island has a successful program that saves lives and helps drug addicts. The “Medication Assisted Treatment” (MAT) program. First, they enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get their drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility these individuals in the MAT program line up to get their medication. There are three opioid blockers (Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol) that are FDA approved and work to get people off heroin and save lives. The inmates choose what blocker they want to use. These blockers stabilize them physically to handle the emotional work needed to address the disease of drug addiction. MAT provides counselors to help build relationships with inmates and as they return to the outside. It’s saved lives. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested.

What if we built a specialized facility to utilize our resources and knowledge to fight this problem? A place where doctors, counselors and caseworkers were available along with the treatment that we know works to save lives. Where sick people could learn how to live life again and be provided job training and therapy in one place. Eventually these people would be able to leave and be on medication to cope with their addiction.

The majority of homeless are over 40 years old. As our society ages, more and more people need skilled nursing facilities (SNF). The reduction in SNF beds has provided another crisis in our City. In 1999, voters approved Proposition A to rebuild the 1200 SNF beds and 140 assisted living beds at Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH). In 2008, LHH cut its SNF beds to 780. The City knew there was a shortfall in SNF beds, and instead of building more and ensuring LHH rebuilt the 1200 as approved by the voters, the City reduced SNFs. This needs to be revisited and more SNFs need to be made available for our aging society.

Fourth: The City must stop spending like a drunken sailor and cut the waste. Over the past several years our City has flourished and our tax revenues have increased substantially due to tourism and the tech industry, and as buildings continue to go up like crazy. The Mayor’s budget is $12 billion, which is $1 billion more than it was last year.

We need to audit the current $300 million annually spent on homeless services, including all those provided by our City departments. We need to utilize these resources more effectively and efficiently, to eliminate those that are not cost effective and to reallocate funds to those homeless programs that are justified. We need to put homeless service providers on alert that we are going to make them accountable and justify their funding. No more feeding at the trough.

I am a private citizen and I am not running for any public office. Like many of you, I just want to resolve our homeless situation. We need to look at other alternatives now. I don’t have all the answers but I do know that if a program such as MAT works, than don’t reinvent the wheel. Let’s see what we can do to implement the MAT program here. If you agree, contact the Mayor and Supervisors to look into the program. If you have other suggestions to address our homeless crisis, let me know. Hopefully, together we can turn this around.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

JULY 2019

Is San Francisco Dying?

New Homeless Population Report Shocks (Part II)

Well the new homeless figures are in and it is not good news. The number of homeless people in our City has increased by 17% since 2017, which includes a large increase of people living in RV’s, despite our City’s efforts creating hundreds of new beds and spending over $300 million annually to address homelessness. By the way, this $300 million annually does not reflect the costs of City services currently provided by our City Departments such as Police, Fire, Public Works, and Public Health.

A preliminary report using federal guidelines of January’s one-night street count reported 8,011 homeless in our City, but this will increase when the more complete count is released in July, since federal guidelines don’t account for many types of homelessness such as those in jail, hospitals, and health treatment centers. The federal count in 2017 was 6,858, and subsequently increased 641 to the 7,499 reported by the City. So we can assume the 8,011 will increase to over 8600.

homeless count chart

Since 2017, the number of people living in vehicles increased by 45%, while there were reported decreases of 14% in the number of homeless veterans and 10% in homeless youth. Sheltered homeless increased by 13% due to the increase in shelter beds, and the number of homeless families remained the same. Other counties also increased in the number of homeless over the past two years. Santa Clara increased by 31% to 9706 and Alameda increased by 43% to 8,022. The only county to reflect a decrease was Marin County by 7% to 1,034.

quotes

We cannot just ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do to stop this. It is inhumane to continue allowing this on our City streets.”

“I’m really disappointed in these numbers,” said Jeff Kositsky, the Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (DHSH). “I can make no excuses. These numbers are bad, and we have to own that.” Mayor Breed also found the numbers disappointing and noted, “Unfortunately it’s not a big surprise.” She said “Certainly there is more we need to do, but at the end of the day this is a challenge that exists in the entire state of California. We need more resources from the federal and state governments for housing and we need to build housing faster.”

Mayor Breed plans to open more shelter beds and permanent supportive housing by the end of this year. Further, Mayor Breed is proposing ballot measures this November for a $500 million bond for affordable housing, and a rezoning of City properties (excludes Recreation and Park properties) for teacher housing.

Let’s stop a minute. Mr. Kositsky reports that the numbers are bad. He also reported that their data tracking, and 75% of our City residents believe homelessness has gotten worse since 2017, per a Controller’s survey. Also, there is a homeless surge at SFO as increasing numbers of homeless go to the International Terminal seeking shelter.

So here we are in a spiraling, out of control situation—we are losing the battle. So what do we do? Do we continue playing the same game in the second half of which is not working and face sure defeat, or do we adjust our game plan during halftime and come out with a new vigor and take the bull by the horns. I’m for the second.

How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? We cannot just ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do to stop this. It is inhumane to continue allowing this on our City streets.

We need to look at other alternatives and successful programs around our country. For example, Providence, Rhode Island has a successful program that has saved lives and helped those drug addicted. It is called the “Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)” program. First thing they do in Rhode Island is they enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get there drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility these individuals in the MAT program line up to get their medication. There are three opioid blockers (Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol) that are FDA approved and work to get people off heroin and save lives. The inmates choose what blocker they want to use. These blockers stabilize them physically to handle the emotional work needed to address the disease of drug addiction. The MAT program provides counselors to build relationships with inmates while they are there and as they return to the outside. It has successfully saved lives. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested since it saved their lives.

Mr. Kositsky reported that for every person who exits homelessness, three fall into it. How do we prevent more homeless from coming to our City, since our City has no rules and homeless can come and do as they please? We need to enforce our quality of life laws while showing compassion and providing services, especially to mentally ill and drug addicted people who need help.

What if we built a specialized facility to utilize our resources and knowledge to fight this problem? A place where doctors, counselors and caseworkers were available, along with the treatment that we know works, to save lives. Where sick people could learn how to live life again and be provided job training and therapy in one place. Eventually these people would be able to leave and be on medication to cope with their addiction.

In December, I proposed a resolution to tackle our homeless and quality of life crisis by providing a small portion of the Candlestick Park site for a larger Navigation Center and temporary parking lot for 500 RVs, to offer the homeless respite from life on the streets by providing room and board, while case managers work to connect them to relatives, income, public benefits, health services, shelter and housing. The temporary RV lot would help the approximate 1,100 people living in them. This would result in a higher quality of life in our City by providing safer and cleaner streets, and substantially reduce the costs of City services currently provided by our City Departments including the Police, Fire, Department of Public Works, and Public Health Department.

I was listening to a District 5 candidates’ debate. Candidates were saying that affordable housing at the McDonald’s site at Stanyan Street won’t be built for 5 years. Why not build a navigation center there in the meantime since there is a need in the Haight. Since navigation centers are temporary it would be demolished when the affordable housing project breaks ground in 5 years. Park Police Station is right there to ensure safety.

The majority of homeless are over 40 years old. As our society ages, more and more people need skilled nursing facilities (SNF). The reduction in SNF beds has provided another crisis in our City. In 1999, voters approved Proposition A to rebuild the 1200 SNF beds and 140 assisted living beds at Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH). In 2008, LHH cut its SNF beds to 780. The City knew there was a shortfall in SNF beds, but instead of building more and ensuring LHH rebuilt the 1200 as approved by the voters, the City reduced SNFs. This needs to be revisited and more SNFs need to be made available for our aging society.

The 2017 homeless count reflected 91 homeless in District 7. This amount is expected to increase and the majority are from those living in RVs and vans such as near SF State. Many of the supervisors want navigation centers in all the districts. I heard the City is considering a navigation center at Lake Merced Circle. This number of homeless does not justify a navigation center in District 7. Laguna Honda Hospital is a skilled nursing facility that should be able to handle those homeless in need in our district.

Instead of City Hall proposing to tax companies’ IPOs, or continuously dumping bond initiatives on our taxpayers, have our tech companies donate to just causes like providing funds for more SNF beds at LHH. or providing funds for navigation centers with their company names on them. There is a lot of good will in these tech companies, as well as others. These philanthropic companies are concerned and care about our City problems.

We need to know how much is currently being spent on homeless services, including all those provided by our City departments. We need to utilize these resources more effectively and efficiently, to cut waste and consolidate programs and services where applicable, cut those that are not cost effective and reallocate funds to those homeless programs that are justified.

In regard to additional funds, I highly recommend that all revenue generating City departments audit their processes to ensure all revenues are being addressed. I know we can bring in hundreds of millions more that is not currently being addressed.

These are just a few options for our City to consider. It’s easy to turn away hoping that things will get better but they will only get worse, especially for these individuals who need our help, and for our residents and taxpayers who rely on our City government to address this problem for the health and safety of our City.

Contact the mayor and supervisors and let them know how concerned you are about the current homeless situation and that we cannot continue with business as usual. Our current process is not working and we need to look at other alternatives now. Let’s be creative. The future of our City and posterity depends on it.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

JUNE 2019

Is San Francisco Dying?

If you have an hour to spare I highly recommend a YouTube video called “Seattle is Dying.” It asks the question “What if Seattle is dying and we don’t even know it.” It is about people who are compassionate but no longer feel safe in their City, no longer feel they are being heard. It is about lost souls who wander the streets with no home or reality chasing a drug that, in turn, chases them. It is about the damage they instill on themselves and the fabric of their City. There is a seething, simmering anger that is boiling over into outrage. Property crimes are out of control. This story is about a beautiful jewel that was violated and in current crisis, and of people falling out of love for their home. Sound familiar?

quotes

How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? That is the big question. We cannot ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do.”

Seattle is a place where people who grew up in it don’t recognize. Numerous residents, business owners, and city employees talk about their disgust. Seattle police fear retaliation that could cost them their jobs and pensions if they speak out. One officer said “Yes, I am frustrated because I am … told NOT to enforce the law.” Another officer noted, “People come here because it’s called Free-attle and, if they come here, they will get free food, medical treatment, mental health treatment, a free tent, free clothes and be free of prosecution for just about everything, and they are right.” Another noted, “…it started with the legislature decriminalizing felonies and dumping convicts onto the streets.” Sound familiar?

A concerned resident said Seattle is a different place from the one he grew up in and it is really sad. He is so embarrassed that he doesn’t want friends to visit. While it is one of the most beautiful regions in the world but looks like sh—. He even started a Facebook site called, “Seattle Looks Like Sh--.” It’s not meant to be funny, it’s meant to be sad. Check it out.

There is a disconnect between City of Seattle officials and the frustrations of residents and businesses. It’s not legal to live on the sidewalk but it is allowed. How bad is the property crime rate in Seattle? It was ranked second per capita in our nation in 2017. Only one other City was higher, and that was our home, San Francisco.

I listen to friends and neighbors complaining about people shooting up on our streets, even shooting each other up. I have called the police numerous times on people sleeping on our City streets. Once a man was totally out cold and the officer on the phone asked me to go up to him to see if he was still alive.

My daughter called me when she came home to her apartment in the Castro and found a disturbed man on her stairs. She told a policeman on Market Street about him, but he said it was not his jurisdiction. I came over and we waited for him to leave.

I went to Safeway on Taraval Street and parked in the upper lot. There was a homeless man in a sleeping bag next to the stairs and elevator. When my wife drives up Santiago Street, she sees the same homeless woman there. I read on Nextdoor that a neighbor’s car was broken into or a package taken. As I write this a neighbor’s car was stolen last night. You never heard of anything like this on our side of town 5 years ago. I can go on.

I am rooting for our new mayor since she has her hands full and is trying to figure out who she can trust. We have an $11 billion dollar budget but still MUNI is a mess, streets are congested and continuously being worked on and we need affordable housing. Further, the City continues to dump bond initiatives on our tax payers but it is never enough.

How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? That is the big question. We cannot ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do.

Seattle, like San Francisco, struggles with the same problems, but an answer may have come from Providence, Rhode Island. It is called the “Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)” program. First thing they do is enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get their drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility they line up to get their medicine. There are three opioid blockers (Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol) that are FDA approved and work to get people off heroin and save lives. The inmates choose what blocker they want to use. These blockers stabilize them physically to handle the emotional work needed to address the disease of drug addiction. The MAT program provides counselors to help them return to the outside. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested. It has saved lives.

What if we built a specialized facility where doctors, counselors and caseworkers were available—along with the treatments that we know work, where sick people could be provided job training and therapy in one place. Eventually they might be able to cope with their addiction.

In December I proposed a resolution to tackle our crisis that would provide that a small portion of the Candlestick Park site for a larger Navigation Complex, and a temporary parking lot for 500 RV’s to offer respite from life on the street and providing room and board while case managers work to connect them to relatives, income, public benefits, health services, shelter and housing. The temporary RV parking lot would house about 1,100 people. This would result in a higher quality of life in our City by providing safer and cleaner streets, and substantially reduce the costs of City services, including Police, Fire, Public Works, and Public Health.

Homeless and Supportive Housing’s (DHSH) 2017 Point-In-Time count reported that 7,499 people experience homelessness on any given night. Of those 4,353 are living on the streets. Further, the Director estimates that 500 RV’s are parked on our streets every night with 1,100 people living in them—up from 387 per the homeless count in January 2017.

We are all broken at some time in our lives. Luckily, many have had someone to pick them up. Our obligation and compassion to care for the mentally ill and drug addicted, our veterans, our seniors, our disabled, and our homeless youth who are nearly 50% LGBTQ and 13% HIV positive. Further, 2100 students in our public schools are homeless, and nearly 400 homeless people died on our streets in the past three years. It is inhumane to continue allowing this.

“Is San Francisco Dying?” No. Our City has come to that proverbial fork in the road and we are in crisis mode. I have seen changes over the years, but nothing like it is now. It is time for all of us to look at the problem straight on. The future of our City and posterity depends on it.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

MAY 2019

Flintstone House
Photo courtesy of Angela Alioto Law Offices

Yabba Dabba Do It!

Everyone loves the Flintstones! They’re the modern stone-age family. From the town of Bedrock. They’re a page right out of history. If you don’t have a smile on your face right now then kick yourself.

The Flintstones have been a family favorite for nearly 60 years. Inspired by “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, the Flintstones first broadcast in Sept 1960. The Flintstones have brought joy to generations over the years through reruns and spinoffs, memorabilia like games, comic books and toys, and even cereal and vitamins, to name a few. How many out there have chewed a Flintstones vitamin when you were a kid? I did. Are you smiling yet? Aren’t memories wonderful. The good ones, of course.

quotes

Keep the Flintstones House with Fred and all intact! We need as much joy in this world as possible.”

If you have driven home on Highway 280 then you have seen the house located at 45 Berryessa Way in Hillsborough that is referred to as the Flintstone House. This multiple dome-shaped home was built in the 1970’s and resembles a stone-age home like you would see in Bedrock.

Last year it was purchased. The new owner has taken it a step further, adding Fred and Wilma and dinosaurs in the yard and a “Yabba-Dabba Doo” sign. The property’s new decor hasn’t set well with town officials and the new owner is now in court. It is now being called an eyesore, and town officials are asking a judge to declare it a public nuisance. There are other permit-related issues involved as well.

Let’s put this all in perspective. Many people will say, “I know it is all in fun and if this was Halloween it would be great. But how would you like to live next door the Flintstones House every day with dinosaurs in the yard?”

You can call it what you like. Whether an eyesore, an architectural gem, or the Flintstones House. Your choice. I call it the Flintstones House. But no matter what you call the house, it is not your ordinary home. This has been called the Flintstones House since the 1970’s. Those who get upset with the house remind me of people who buy a home by a school and complain about the children’s noise.

When you are driving home, how many of you look for the Flintstone House on your way back into our City? I do. I wonder how many of you have thought when you were driving by the home that they should put a dinosaur or Fred out in the yard. I sure have.

Keep the Flintstones House with Fred and all intact! We need as much joy in this world as possible.

Before I close this article let’s sing one round.

Flintstones - Meet the Flintstones

They’re the modern stone-age family

From the town of Bedrock

They’re a page right out of history

Let’s ride with the family down the street

Through the courtesy of Fred’s two feet

When you’re with the Flintstones

you’ll have a yabba-dabba doo time

a dabba-doo time—You’ll have a gay old time.

Wilma!

Are you smiling now!

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

APRIL 2019

A Tax Break for PG&E?

Why is PG&E getting a $9 million annual tax break and why do we still need the State Board of Equalization?

In June 2017 Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that stripped the State Board of Equalization’s (SBE) powers and duties, reduced staff from 4,800 to 400, and reassigned staff in the collection of sales and excise taxes to a new California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. This was due to an investigation by the State Department of Justice that accused SBE employees and members of mismanagement, which included putting $350 million in sales taxes in the wrong accounts.

The SBE, which is an elected board of five members, also gave up its role hearing taxpayer appeals to a new Office of Tax Appeals, leaving the SBE to advocate for taxpayers and to continue setting rates for gas taxes and pipeline levies, and ensuring county assessors fairly appraise properties for tax purposes.

quotes

Based on an annual franchise fee of approximately $5.4 million per the Controller’s Office audit, PG&E should be paying the City at least $1.1 million annually in property tax to our City for the franchise fee…

But who is going to make sure that the SBE fairly appraises properties for tax purposes?

Most properties are reappraised upon ownership transfer, or completion of new construction per Prop 13, by county assessors’ offices. However, privately held public utilities, such as the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), are appraised statewide by the SBE. These utility properties are not subject to Proposition 13 and are annually reassessed at fair market value.

The SBE values utility companies like PG&E based on a historic cost less depreciation and/or an income approach. Per the SBE, their annual appraisal does not reflect an amount for the franchise fee even though it’s supposed to. What does this mean when the franchise fee is not reflected or assessed accordingly? Loss of tax revenue to our City and a tax break for privately held public utilities.

Utility Fees collected in SF

Let’s take PG&E as an example. In 1939, the City granted PG&E and its successors two franchises to use city streets to transmit, distribute, and supply electricity and gas. The City further gave PG&E the right to use power and gas lines on public property “in perpetuity.” In consideration for the two franchises, PG&E annually pays a franchise fee to the City based on a percentage of gross receipts from the sales of electricity and gas in the City. The franchise fee rates are 0.5% for electricity and 1% for gas.

Per the Controller’s Office Franchise Fee Audit of PG&E dated Nov 16, 2016, following are the franchise fees paid to the City in 2013 and 2014:

Based on an annual franchise fee of approximately $5.4 million per the Controller’s Office audit, PG&E should be paying the City at least $1.1 million annually in property tax to our City for the franchise fee (based on a 1.1723% 2018 tax rate on a $92.8 million assessed value). This $92.8 million assessed value reflects the present value of the $5.4 million annual payment to the City over 35 years @ 5% interest rate. Since the PG&E franchise agreement is in perpetuity, I used 35 years, which reflects a transfer of a fee simple ownership per the CA revenue and Taxation Code.

However if we assess the franchise fee based on fair market, which is the appropriate way to value utility properties, then the assessed value would be substantially increased. For example, San Diego Gas and Electric currently has a 50 year franchise executed in 1970 for 3%. Los Angeles has a franchise agreement on a year-to-year basis at 2%. San Jose is 2.3%. Berkeley is 5%.

If we used a fair market franchise fee of 5% then the assessed value would be approximately $770 million. This $770 million assessed value reflects the present value of a $44.8 million annual payment (5% fair market franchise fee) over 35 years @ 5% interest rate. This would result in approximately $9 million annually in property tax to our City for the franchise fee (based on a 1.1723% tax rate on a $770 million assessed value).

PG&E’s franchise fee is subject to property tax but is not reflected in the annual appraisal by the SBE. By the SBE not assessing the franchise fee at fair market value our City is losing approximately $9 million annually.

The Assessor’s Office should work closely with SBE staff to insure a fair market franchise fee assessment is accounted for in the SBE’s annual appraisal of all privately held public utilities. This would result in property tax revenue to the City from just PG&E of approximately $9 million annually (based on a fair market franchise fee of 5%). The Assessor has the authority and should also consider going back at least 8 years and issue escapes (appraising values missed in prior years and then the Tax Collector will bill accordingly) in order to recoup this missed franchise fee reflecting approximately $72 million (8 x $9 million) that would have been collected by our City if this franchise fee was appropriately valued by the SBE at fair market.

Keep in mind we are just reviewing the property tax revenue from the franchise fee of PG&E. There are numerous companies with franchise fees that should also be appraised, which would result in addition millions to our City annually.

The SBE has become a place where termed out politicians go to remain relevant. It is time the SBE be eliminated and the remainder of its diminished duties and oversight be transferred to other existing agencies, resulting in streamlining and costs savings.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

March 2019

Click here for older columns by John Farrell (Please view on desktop computer for best experience while we convert our older files to mobile).