Finally Waking Up? Mayor London Breed joins GOP-led effort to overhaul Prop. 47

San Francisco Mayor London Breed is joining a Republican-led campaign to roll back parts of a law that aimed to reduce jail populations but that critics say has emboldened thieves. 

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Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle

Breed on Thursday threw her support behind the proposal to increase jail time for dealing large quantities of fentanyl, make it easier to charge drug dealers with murder, and increase jail time for repeat thefts and organized retail theft. San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan also announced his support for the measure Thursday morning.

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They’re among a wave of Democrats this year who are backing efforts to overhaul or reform Proposition 47, a 2014 law approved by voters that reduced punishments for drug possession and theft of property worth less than $950.

Breed said she initially supported Prop. 47. But she said she’s seeing some of the unintended consequences of the measure as she tries to crack down on illegal drugs and thefts in San Francisco. 

“Our goal is not to keep people locked up,” she said. “But when there are no real consequences for crimes that are committed in this city, that’s a real problem.”

Breed, who is campaigning for reelection, is under pressure to combat what many residents view as a scourge of crime in San Francisco, even though data shows some of the characterizations of lawlessness in the city are exaggerated.

Supporters of the proposal she’s backing are collecting signatures to place it on the ballot in November. They must collect more than half a million signatures by April 23. The campaign’s top donors are Walmart, Target, Macy’s and a powerful California prison guards union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

California Republicans have long been the harshest critics of the law and have repeatedly tried to overturn it. They argue it has emboldened people to steal without fear of consequences. The initiative’s chief proponent and campaign chair are both Republicans. Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin (Placer County), who introduced an unsuccessful measure as a state lawmaker to roll back Prop. 47, hosted an event last week encouraging supporters to sign the petition to put the measure on the ballot. Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and Assembly Member Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, have also announced their support. State Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, has contributed $15,000 to the effort, according to campaign finance filings.

Supporters of Prop. 47, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, argued that reducing jail time for lower-level offenses would be good for communities and save the state money that could be used for education and other government programs aimed at keeping people from committing crimes in the first place.

Newsom reaffirmed his support for the measure last month when asked about efforts to revamp the law. He pointed out that the $950 threshold for felony theft in the law is actually one of the lowest in the country. Texas, for example, has a minimum felony theft threshold of $2,500.

“Everyone is rushing to reform Prop. 47 to raise the threshold,” he told reporters at a news conference last month. “That’s not the fundamental issue.”

Instead of reforming Prop. 47, Newsom said the state needs to do more to crack down on organized retail theft, which he said has become a major problem.

Newsom is also taking a more tough-on-crime approach to governing, recently sending more state police officers to crack down on theft and violence in Oakland and drug dealing in San Francisco. Last month, he called for lawmakers to send him legislation to increase punishments for people who steal, including by making it easier for police to arrest suspects even if they did not witness them stealing and imposing harsher penalties for car thieves and people who resell stolen goods. He’s also calling for changes to the law that would make it easier for prosecutors to show a person met the $950 threshold for stolen goods.

Though most Democrats have backed Prop. 47, there has been some support for overhauling the proposition among the party’s moderates for years. But the endorsement of the ballot measure by Mahan and Breed indicates distaste for the law is growing among Democrats. They join San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, a fellow Democrat who said the law needs to be changed during his State of the City address earlier this month.

“That law may have made sense at the time,” he said. “However, since it was implemented, we’ve seen criminals exploit these reforms.”

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle


  1. What’s the matter? Mayor Breed getting flack from her donors that are watching their city go to hell?

  2. Otis R. Needleman says

    Please…the ONLY reason Breed is doing this is because she is up for re-election. She is not worthy of being re-elected. Don’t forget her antics during the ‘pandemic’ – rules for thee, but not for me! Worst SF mayor ever.

  3. Casual Observer says

    San Mateo County has a Reusable Bag Ordinance that prohibits single-use carryout bags at retail stores within unincorporated San Mateo County and within cities that have adopted the Ordinance. As of January 1, 2015, reusable bags or bags made of recycled content paper may be provided, but only if the store charges a minimum price of 25 cents per allowable bag.

    Next they will probably charge customers $.25 for each bag they bring in and use.

  4. let this communist fascist racist satanic democrat CLEAN UP HER OWN CITY. They were warned this crap would happen, but had no time for ‘conservative’ REASON……..ya can’t fix stupid, so don’t ask ME for money to clean up your own crap!!!

  5. Perhaps the thieves, when caught, can spend minimum time in a cell and maximum time in an orange jumpsuit with a big black letter “T” on it for “thief” cleaning up/hosing down city streets of human waste, needles, and assorted trash. One day of this for every $100 of value stolen.

  6. I agree with Otis R. Needleman. However, it is an excellent start to have an initiative that will increase jail time with increased bail costs. Also, during jail time, criminals need to do some work time to clean up our streets of trash.

  7. If the $950 threshold is left place then “and associated damages and costs” should be added to it. “Costs” could be interpreted as added security, surveillance systems, and a range of other things. Damages would include broken windows (particularly vehicles), display cases, repairs, etc.

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