San Francisco Online Advertising Charter Amendment, 2009

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The San Francisco Online Advertising Charter Amendment is a proposed ballot measure in San Francisco that would:

  • Require the City of San Francisco to adopt five-year budget plans.
  • Remove from the city's budget the approximately $450,000 in annual city advertising placed in newspapers and instead have the city post notices only on its website.[1]

The City of San Francisco's $450,000 annual advertising budget mostly goes to the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner. State law requires California's cities, including San Francisco, to use newspapers for official notices. This state law limits the impact that the proposed charter amendment might have. However, a bill is spending in the California State Legislature that would allow public agencies to stop paying newspapers to publish government legal notices. Anna Caballero is the state representative sponsoring the bill.


The amendment to the San Francisco City Charter is sponsored by Supervisors David Chiu, Ross Mirkarimi, John Avalos, and David Campos. This quartet of Board supervisors is described by the San Francisco Weekly as "members of the city's left 'progressive' wing."[1]

According to Supervisor Mirkarimi, "I think there has to be some innovation in upgrading our ability to reach out and spend limited dollars on advertising, and modernize the way we do it. The way we are doing it now is almost archaic."

"Internet Outreach Advertiser"

In 2008, in addition to the $450,000 spent by San Francisco on advertising in the Examiner and the Chronicle, it spent about $50,000 in advertising in various ethnic, gay, and other special-interest print media. This type of spending is required by a 1994 law, the goal of which was to make sure that minority populations saw government notices.

At a June 10 meeting, Avalos and Chiu said that some of the city's advertising dollars should also go to the Fog City Journal, BeyondChron, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The SF Weekly characterizes the three websites as "left-leaning sites with content that consists largely of smoke signals sent among left-wing political insiders."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 San Francisco Weekly, "Supervisors consider ballot measure to pull city ads from newspapers", June 22, 2009