San Francisco Mid-Market Arts Revitalization Signs, Proposition D (November 2009)

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A San Francisco Mid-Market Arts Revitalization Sign District, Proposition D ballot question was on the November 3, 2009 ballot in San Francisco, where it was defeated.[1]

Measure D came about through the local ballot initiative process, with signatures collected on petitions, as an initiated city ordinance. It proposed to change the San Francisco Planning Code to create a Mid-Market Arts Revitalization and Tourism Special Sign District on Market Street between 5th Street and 7th Street to "allow new general advertising signs that reflect the arts and entertainment character of the district; to develop a uniform program for the installation of signs in the Special Sign District that satisfy specified conditions for general advertising signs; and, to authorize and expend monies obtained by revenue sharing from sign receipts on non-profit or City-sponsored arts education programs targeted to youth in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods."

Under the terms of Proposition D, if a building in the district had one of the signs installed on it, the owner of that building would have received 80% of sign revenue -- if that building had a ground floor art-related tenant -- or 60% if the building had no such tenant. The rest of the money generated from Proposition D signs would have gone to fund some community services, such as a youth arts program.[2]

Election results

Proposition D
Defeatedd No53,99954.00%
Yes 46,008 46.00%
These final, certified, results are from the San Francisco County elections office.


Website banner of the "Yes on D" campaign

A number of business owners in the Mid-Market area were avid supporters of Measure D. They argued that the passage of Measure D would be an important first step in the revitalization of the district.[3]

Supporters included:

  • David Addington, owner of the Warfield Theater and Show Dogs. Addington said, "Proposition D will change this neighborhood back to what it was in 18 or 24 months, and people from all over the world will be drawn here because you won’t see anything we do here anywhere else in the world."[3] Addington has spent $190,000 to promote Measure D.[2]
  • Carolyn Diamond, President of the Market Street Association.
  • San Francisco Board President David Chiu and Supervisors Campos, Dufty, Maxwell, Elsbernd and Alioto-Pier.[4]

Arguments in favor of Measure D in the official Voter's Guide included:

  • It will help re-vitalize the Mid-Market district "by generating revenue through a special sign district on just these two blocks of Market Street."
  • It will help restore the historic theater district "which can help draw tenants and visitors back into theaters, galleries, stores and restaurants."
  • It will help combat blight and renew area tourism "by creating a safe, well-lit corridor for pedestrians between mid-Market and the Civic Center."
  • It will "provide funds for youth arts and education programs for Tenderloin and South of Market children."
  • It will "ensure neighborhood control by putting control over sign placement in the hands of the nonprofit Central Market Community Benefit District."


"SF Beautiful" opposed Measure D.[3]

Arguments made against Measure D that appeared in the official Voter's Guide included:

  • It is sponsored by "commercial interests."
  • If it passes, "massive, digital billboards" might be installed on Market Street between Fifth and Seventh.
  • "Digital billboards, measuring up to 500 square feet, would appear on building facades and rooftops. At one location alone, a massive rooftop sign could be erected 200 feet above street level."
  • In order to re-vitalize the district, it "requires political leadership that transcends an opportunistic initiative."
  • "The increased visual pollution could kill Mid-Market revitalization, too, while increasing the City’s carbon footprint."
  • "The extreme presence of billboards along those two blocks could destroy prospects for fully restoring the whole of Market Street, San Francisco’s grand boulevard, to a world-class standard."

Other opponents included:

  • Matt Smith, who said, "It's preposterous to assert that the main thing holding back the slummy part of downtown San Francisco is a lack of computer-controlled LED billboards."[2]
  • The South of Market Community Action Network.[2]

Political reporter Melissa Griffin suggested to her readers, "Vote against this if you agree that something must be done in the mid-Market Street corridor, but think this poorly written cash cow for sign companies and building owners is not the answer."[5]

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Proposition D: "Shall the City create a Mid-Market Special Sign District where new general advertising signs would be permitted, subject to certain restrictions?"[6]

External links

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