Scope and Contents
Title: San Francisco Select Committee on Charter Reform Records
Date (inclusive): 1978-1996
Date (bulk): 1994-1995
Collection Identifier: SFH 32
San Francisco (Calif.). Board of Supervisors. Select Committee on Charter Reform.
(2.0 cubic feet)
San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Documents the work of Supervisor Barbara Kaufman pertaining to the 1994 and 1995 charter reform committees. The records cover
work leading up to the new charter measure, Proposition E, which voters approved on November 7, 1995. Materials include charter
history, drafts and final text, reports, surveys, minutes and hearing summaries, public comments, a speakers manual, legal
opinions, campaign materials, press releases, and newspaper clippings.
The collection is stored offsite.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in
The collection is open for research. A minimum of 2 working days' notice is required for use.
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.
[Identification of item], San Francisco Select Committee on Charter Reform Records (SFH 32), San Francisco History Center,
San Francisco Public Library.
The San Francisco Select Committee on Charter Reform Records were transferred to the San Francisco Public Library by then-Supervisor
Barbara Kaufman in 1996.
Researchers are encouraged to see also the San Francisco Citizens Charter Revision Committee Records (SFH 33); San Francisco
Charter Commission Records (SFH 25); Jack Morrison Papers (SFH 24); and the San Francisco History Center's subject and card
files for related materials.
The charter is San Francisco's constitution. 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. Over time, numerous incremental charter changes made governing arrangements
more complex. Eventually, charter revision was attempted several times, resulting in little change. Charter reform was undertaken
in 1994 and 1995 by the Board of Supervisors, resulting in the 1996 charter.
Earlier, three charter committees failed to provide recommendations for revision. A fourth committee made recommendations
that appeared on the November 1969 ballot (Proposition E) but was defeated, 37 to 63 per cent. A reconstituted committee then
rearranged charter sections more logically, with no substantive changes. This recodification passed in November 1971 (Proposition
In 1980, an elected charter commission proposed a new, simplified charter to replace the existing charter that had been amended
over 500 times. The proposed charter would have given 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.
In 1993, voters again mandated (through Proposition N) a thorough review and revision of the Charter. In 1994, the Citizens'
Advisory Committee on Charter Reform was established. The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), which
supported Proposition N, was instrumental in the process. Several proposals were floated. Using the 1980 proposed charter
as a starting point, Supervisor Barbara Kaufman and Mayor Frank Jordan's proposals were merged into one document. However,
the Board of Supervisors declined to place a charter reform measure on the Fall 1994 ballot.
A new group was created by the Board of Supervisors in 1995, the Select Committee on Charter Reform, chaired by Supervisor
Kaufman. Kaufman’s legislative aide, T.J. Anthony, was significantly involved in the activities, as was SPUR. Like the 1994
proposal, the 1995 document was based on the 1980 proposed charter. Reform highlights included: shortening the 370-page document
to 88 pages; modernizing the charter by eliminating sexist language, guaranteeing diversity and inclusion in city government,
and protecting civil rights; merging the recorder and assessor functions; increasing government accountability; and giving
some of the chief administrative officer's (CAO's) authority to the mayor while replacing the CAO with a city administrator
with diminished authority. The measure, Proposition E, passed on Nov. 7, 1995, 58 percent to 42 percent, and the new charter
became effective July 1, 1996.
Scope and Contents
This collection documents the work of Supervisor Barbara Kaufman and the 1994 and 1995 charter reform committees. The records
cover work leading up to the new charter measure, Proposition E, which voters approved on November 7, 1995; and the implementation
of the new charter, which took effect on July 1, 1996. Materials include charter history, drafts and final text, reports,
surveys, minutes and hearing summaries, public comments, a speakers manual, legal opinions, campaign materials, press releases,
and newspaper clippings.
The collection is organized in five series: Series 1: Citizens' Advisory Committee Reports and Proposed Charter Text; Series
2: Select Committee Reports and Proposed Charter Text; Series 3: Ballot Measure Campaign; Series 4: Implementation; and Series
5: Reference materials. Within series, materials are arranged chronologically.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
San Francisco (Calif.). Board of Supervisors. Advisory Committee on Charter Reform -- Archives
County charters--California--San Francisco
Municipal charters--California--San Francisco