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Kim prevails in 6-5 vote on street cleaning funds but faces mayoral veto threat

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A San Francisco Public Works compact street sweeper crosses Market Street at Golden Gate Avenue. Supervisor Jane Kim won narrow approval for additional funds for street cleaning, but Mayor Mark Farrell has said he will veto the appropriation. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

After a months-long effort, Supervisor Jane Kim’s proposal to boost funding for cleaning up San Francisco’s dirty streets was narrowly approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

But Mayor Mark Farrell said after the vote he will veto the funds because he wants to determine how best to increase services through the usual budget process. He must submit a city budget proposal on June 1.

“As I have said consistently, street cleaning will be a top priority for me in the upcoming budget and my proposal will be much more comprehensive and geared to meet the needs of every neighborhood in San Francisco,” Farrell said.

Kim, however, said she is still holding out hope for the plan.

“I’m trying to schedule a meeting with [Farrell] to convince him otherwise,” Kim said.

Kim’s proposal comes during a heated mayoral race when securing funding for street cleaning could potentially give her a boost over her opponents, including Board President London Breed. The money would go toward equipment and personnel.

Kim scaled back her proposal from $2.5 million to $1.1 million to shore up support, and it passed in a 6-5 vote with the backing of her progressive allies, Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Norman Yee, Hillary Ronen and Sandra Fewer. Breed proved to be the swing vote.

The board will take a second and final vote on the proposal next week and then Farrell would have 10-days to veto. It takes eight votes to override a mayoral veto.

“Our voters really don’t understand when our fiscal year begins and starts. They just want to see action now,” Kim said.

She and her allies on the board argued the situation on the streets was at a crisis point and there was no reason to wait for the usual budget process, which wouldn’t allow The City to begin increasing street cleaning services until August or September, instead of April or May. But that’s what opponents of the proposal said she should do.

In fact, Kim had a hard time even getting the proposal before the full board.

The board’s Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Supervisor Malia Cohen, voted 2-1 on March 8 to block the proposal from progressing to the full board for a vote. Cohen, who is supporting Breed for mayor, said it wasn’t about the mayor’s race but that she was opposed to spending more money mid-year on something that wasn’t an immediate emergency.

Kim, however, turned to a rarely used legislative process that allows a supervisor to bypass a committee by collecting four signatures. She signed along with Fewer, Ronen, and Peskin.

District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani voted against the proposal in committee and at the board Tuesday. “I don’t see it as extra money. I see it as money that could be applied to our budget deficit,” Stefani said, adding, “We really need to have a comprehensive approach to this problem.”

But Kim argued the board has often approved supplementals in the past for other needs, such as homeless outreach workers.

Ronen said that the conditions of the streets gives a sense of urgency for the funding. “Every day that areas of our district are kept clean makes a big difference in the lives of our businesses and our residents,” Ronen said. “It is something that our residents are demanding of us and rightfully so.”

The discussion over dirty streets will continue Thursday, the board’s Budget and Finance Committee will hold an informational hearing on street cleanliness, which was requested by Cohen.

Larry Stringer, deputy director of operations for Public Works, said that the added resources would go to areas of the city most in need, including the Tenderloin, SOMA, Mission, Western Addition, Richmond and Bayview-Hunters Point.

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