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Finding aid to the San Francisco Charter Commission Records
SFH 25  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Related Materials
  • Processing Information
  • Organizational History
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement

  • Title: San Francisco Charter Commission Records
    Date (inclusive): 1931-1980
    Date (bulk): 1979-1980
    Collection Identifier: SFH 25
    Creator: San Francisco (Calif.). Charter Commission.
    Physical Description: 2 cartons (2.0 cubic feet)
    Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin Street
    San Francisco, CA, 94102
    (415) 557-4567
    info@sfpl.org
    Abstract: This collection documents the work of the San Francisco Charter Commission, which met from 1978 to 1980 and put forth a new city charter on the November 4, 1980 ballot. The measure, Proposition A, failed. Materials include charter history, drafts and final text, reports, surveys, minutes and hearing summaries, public comments, a facilitator's manual, a speakers manual, legal opinions, campaign materials, press releases, and newspaper clippings.
    Physical Location: The collection is stored offsite.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.

    Access

    The collection is open for research. A minimum of two working days' notice is required for use. Please call the San Francisco History Center for hours and information at 415-557-4567.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], San Francisco Charter Commission Records (SFH 25), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

    Provenance

    Transferred from the San Francisco Charter Commission as it disbanded in 1980.

    Related Materials

    Researchers are encouraged to see also the Jack Morrison Papers, 1962-1988 (bulk 1966-1969, SFH 24), the San Francisco Citizens Charter Revision Committee Records, 1968-1972 (SFH 33), the San Francisco Select Committee on Charter Reform Records, 1978-1996 (bulk 1994-1995, SFH 32), and the San Francisco History Center's subject and card files, and to check the library catalog for related materials.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Tami Suzuki in 2008.

    Organizational History

    The charter is San Francisco's constitution. The San Francisco Charter Commission was established as a result of voter approval of Proposition L in June 1978 ("Declaration of Policy: Shall the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco act to call an election to choose charter commissioners, who would thereafter prepare and propose a revised City and County Charter for subsequent approval by the voters of San Francisco?") and Proposition X in November 1978 ("Shall a Charter Commission be elected to propose a new charter or to revise the charter?"). These measures each called for the election of 15 commissioners, who were elected in November 1978. The commissioners were charged with proposing a new charter or revising the existing charter that was adopted in 1932 and later amended over 500 times.
    The first city charter was adopted in 1898, creating a "strong mayor" form of government. Reformers in the 1920s succeeded in voter adoption of a new charter in 1932, establishing a chief administrative officer to direct most of the city's departments. Under this charter, power was diffused throughout the city. Over time, numerous incremental charter changes made governing arrangements more complex.
    Charter revision was attempted several times--including three failed attempts--but resulted in little change. A fourth committee made recommendations that appeared on the November 1968 ballot (Proposition E) but was defeated. A reconstituted committee then rearranged charter sections more logically with no substantive changes. This recodification passed in November 1971 (Proposition R).
    The main principles of the 1979-1980 commission's proposed document were to simplify the charter and make it an enabling document, to give authority to the responsible official, make different branches of government plan priorities cooperatively, and fix responsibility and structures between branches of government, in addition to holding elected officials responsible. Over a nearly 2-year period, the group conducted over 70 public hearings, 2 surveys, and a public education program, and prepared 2 drafts and a final version.
    Among other things, the proposed new charter, Proposition A, gave more authority to the mayor, reduced the chief administrative officer's term from 10 to 4 years, reduced the controller's term from life to 6 years, required that women be included on each commission and board, and gave greater status to the Human Rights Commission.
    Proposition A failed, 46 percent to 54 percent, on Nov. 4, 1980.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection documents the work of the San Francisco Charter Commission, which met from 1978 to 1980 and put forth a new city charter on the November 4, 1980 ballot. The measure, Proposition A, failed. Materials include charter history, drafts and final text, reports, surveys, minutes and hearing summaries, public comments, a facilitator's manual, a speakers manual, legal opinions, campaign materials, press releases, and newspaper clippings.

    Arrangement

    The collection is organized into 5 series: Series 1: Meetings; Series 2: Reports and Charter Text; Series 3: Public Education and Participation Program; Series 4: Yes on A Campaign; and Series 5: Reference Materials. Within each series, materials are organized chronologically.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    San Francisco (Calif.). Charter Commission. -- Archives
    County charters--California--San Francisco
    Municipal charters--California--San Francisco
    San Francisco (Calif.)-- Politics and government.
    San Francisco (Calif.)--Charters