South San Francisco, CA October 6, 2022 by Natalie Wheatfall-Lum
The state of childcare in South San Francisco has always been largely inaccessible and unaffordable. The city’s preschool program is immensely popular but underfunded, having a waitlist of over 700 families long which is around a 4 year wait. And the cost of private preschool has risen to over $1800 per month per child. In addition to this, there is a shortage of childcare workers as they are not paid a living wage. Currently, they make an average of $17/hr.
To solve this issue, Measure DD was drafted through a coalition of local childcare experts, education leaders, representatives from the South City mothers’ club, and childcare teachers. This coalition met over a period of an entire year to draft a plan that worked for everyone and would leave no community behind. Unfortunately, the No on DD campaign, led by large multi billion dollar corporations, are waging an extremely negative and dishonest campaign against the hard work of our community.
Here are the facts:
South San Francisco drafted a comprehensive childcare master plan, but it does not include a method of funding nor a timeline of implementation. Measure DD provides the funding that will allow the city to properly implement the recommendations of the childcare master plan.
Measure DD was placed on the ballot through the community. It is a citizen’s initiative, meaning the campaign gathered nearly 6,000 signatures of South City residents to qualify the measure for the ballot. In fact, this is the first citizen’s initiative in the history of the city, and all signatures were gathered through volunteer efforts.
Measure DD will ensure high quality, safe care for all our children. All childcare providers in the state of California MUST follow the state health and safety code. This is not an option. “License exempt” care does not mean unlicensed. “License exempt” care applies to relatives caring for relatives, parent coops, and government agency run care. The SSF Childcare Master Plan states: “A healthy child care ecosystem includes a blend of center-based programs, family child care homes, exempt care options and places parent choice, quality programming and well-supported providers at the center.” The No on DD’s attack on “license exempt” care shows that they lack an understanding of childcare policy.
Measure DD has multiple layers of public oversight. Written explicitly in the measure is the creation of a public oversight commission composed of South City community members who will provide oversight over the use of funds and ensure high quality care. Quarterly audits are also required for Measure DD.
Measure DD will raise childcare teacher wages to a living wage. Currently, the entry level wage for a childcare worker is $16/hr, meaning many see this as a temporary job and not a profession. This measure will raise that to approximately $36/hr. For comparison, kindergarten teachers earn $43.37/hr. When our teachers are paid a living wage that allows them to live in the areas they serve and stay in the profession, the quality of our childcare will increase as well.
The opposition says that this is a huge tax, but also that there isn’t enough of it! Both arguments are incorrect. This tax is nothing new, it is a $2.5 per square foot per year parcel tax only imposed on commercial office properties above 25,000 square feet. The same tax passed in East Palo Alto in 2018 (Measure HH) with nearly 80% of voters voting YES. East Palo Alto’s businesses are doing fine and developers are still building commercial offices in the city. The South San Francisco study has stated that this will be enough to fund preschool for all after all buildings are completed in the pipeline. In fact, there will be a $300,000 surplus as reported by the city. And in any case in which there is a shortage of funds, the measure ensures that South San Francisco residents and low-income families are prioritized.
The tax does NOT affect small businesses or homeowners, it only applies to commercial office properties over 25,000 square feet—the largest corporations in South City so they pay their fair share. This means that restaurants, supermarkets, auto shops, warehouses, and so on will not be affected. If there is a case of a mixed use property (lets say a property with both housing and biotech), the city manager has the authority to set an appropriate and fair tax rate.
The NO on DD campaign is being funded by large corporations and their lobbyists. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, $50,000 of which is from Genentech, have been thrown towards sending our residents dishonest and misleading mailers and social media ads about Measure DD. The opponents of DD also hired a Republican law firm this summer to try to keep the measure off the ballot—but they failed. This is nothing new. Genentech has spent the last 30 years in litigation with San Mateo County, trying to avoid paying $190 million in property taxes. The County attorneys have said Genentech’s actions are “often without merit and have created a backlog for county officials.”
Measure DD is endorsed by experts in the field of early care and education—the San Mateo County Child Care Coordinating Council (4Cs), South San Francisco childcare workers with UDW Child Care Providers United and AFSCME 829, a majority of the San Mateo County Board of Education, South San Francisco School Board President and Vice President John Baker and Mina Richardson, and South City Mothers’ Club President Nadia Bick.
Measure DD is also supported by many members and organizations in the community including: The San Mateo County Democratic Party, Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte, the SMC NAACP, SSF City Councilmember James Coleman, San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, County Community College Trustee Maurice Goodman, the SMC Latinx Democratic Club, and the Peninsula Young Democrats.
Please join our community, and vote YES on Measure DD.