San Francisco Mayor London Breed is backing the GOP initiative to strengthen penalties for shoplifting

(Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed is backing the GOP initiative to strengthen penalties for shoplifting

California Politics

Anabel Sosa

February 8, 2024

Democratic Mayors London Breed of San Francisco and Matt Mahan of San Jose have expressed support for a tough-on-crime effort to reform Proposition 47, a controversial initiative that reduces some drug and theft crimes to felonies.

The measure, called the Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Retail Theft Reduction Act, wants to reform a 2014 law


by increasing penalties for fentanyl dealers and repeat organized retail theft rings, and by providing mandatory treatment for drug users, according to the proposed ballot initiative.

In San Francisco, we are making progress on property crimes, but the challenges we face related to fentanyl and organized retail theft require real changes in our state laws, Breed said. “I fully support this measure and know it will make a meaningful difference for cities across California.

These approvals come in the weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters during his budget presentation in January that changing Proposition 47 would not curb the wave of high-profile shoplifting in the state. Instead, the Newsom administration has proposed six ways legislation could expand criminal penalties for organized theft without bringing the issue back to voters. Newsom agreed that stricter enforcement is needed and has called for more arrests in these cases.

This week, Newsom also assigned 120 California Highway Patrol officers to fight crime in Oakland.

Proposition 47, the 2014 voter-approved ballot measure that Newsom supported, reclassified some drug and theft offenses as felonies and increased the amount for which theft can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor from $400 to $950. Newsom often points out that some of the country’s most conservative states, including Texas, have a higher threshold for felony charges.

Breed’s announcement comes as she is running for re-election, facing low approval ratings and as property crime in the San Francisco Bay Area has been on an upward trend in recent years.

In 2022, San Francisco had the highest property theft rate of any California city, according to data from the Public Policy Institute of California, a leading independent group that researches crime trends and policies. Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Mateo also saw increases.

Mahan told The Times in a telephone interview that he was less aware of the governor’s plans and was instead more focused on the results of this bipartisan effort.

“The Legislature will be limited in what it can do without the voters,” Mahan said.

He warned that if Proposition 47 is not reformed now, there could be support in the future to repeal it entirely, which he said “would be a mistake.” Mahan said he witnessed firsthand a theft at a local supermarket.

“That sense of no responsibility is damaging to our society,” he said.

Greg Totten, CEO of the California District Attorneys Assn. and campaign co-chair, said lawmakers in Sacramento have tried and failed to address the issue since 2015.

“We believe the responsible approach to this is to move forward with the ballot measure,” he told The Times.

said Totten

that’s the most crucial part of it

the measure

in connection with shoplifting

would make a third conviction for theft of property a misdemeanor,


extend the law to a series of thefts of items with a total value of more than $950, and also make those who “act in concert” liable.

The proposed ballot measure has attracted 360,000 signatures, already more than half of what is needed to qualify for the November ballot.

In 2020, voters rejected Proposition 20, a ballot measure that would have reversed Proposition 47 by increasing some criminal penalties.


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