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City’s district dollars in focus: Budget add-backs help provide for smaller neighborhood needs

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George Washington High School is among one of the entities that will benefit from budget add-backs for the proposed fiscal year budget. Michael Ares/S.F. Examiner photo
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If not for the annual budget add-back process, the smaller needs of San Francisco’s neighborhoods may languish unresolved for years.

But the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors use the process to secure public funds for specific needs in the neighborhoods they represent. And who better to know? Part of the argument for district elections — instead of citywide elections — is for the diverse neighborhoods to receive equitable attention and public resources.

For example, without add-backs Washington High School might not get a new $100,000 batting cage. Or, maybe an afterschool low-income female soccer league in Mission would fall $50,000 short of funding. Crocker Amazon clubhouse
might never get a $5,000 replacement stove.

Those are just some of the 132 district-specific add-backs totaling $15 million the board made in Mayor Ed Lee’s proposed two-year budget, which totals $8.9 billion in the first year.

Supervisor David Campos, who represents the Mission, had the largest dollar amount of add-backs at $2.1 million, which may be expected given the turmoil over displacement of the Latino culture. Among the funding is $200,000 for the Latino cultural district along 24th Street and $100,000 for eviction prevention efforts.

The add-backs offer a glimpse into priorities and are signs of the times. There’s funding for computer training for youth, which has become a focus in San Francisco’s tech boom. But there are also efforts to offer jobs outside of tech, which is reflected in Supervisor Eric Mar’s $120,000 for manufacturing internships for students attending Washington and O’Connell High Schools.

There’s funding related to banning plastic water bottles and increasing urban agriculture. Funding also takes aim at San Francisco’s income inequality with resources for food programs and tenant eviction prevention.

Mar, who represents the Richmond, had 16 different add-back items, totaling $1.3 million. The biggest ticket items are $293,000 for Recreation and Park Department gardeners on the West End of Golden Gate Park and $250,000 for water bottle filling stations. Washington High will also get $100,000 for new baseball batting cages.

Mar said Friday “our district needs are often neglected by the mayor’s budget proposal,” which focuses on larger citywide issues. “I feel that each supervisor identified key district needs and was able to address them through the add-back process.”

Supervisor Mark Farrell, who represents the Marina and Pacific Heights, allocated $1.87 million for 15 items. His largest expense was for homeless outreach teams totaling $400,000 and $300,000 for pedestrian safety projects. Farrell also made a sizable investment in commercial corridors totaling $570,000, which includes $60,000 for benches and $200,000 for increased street cleaning along Buchanan Street.

The mayorally appointed Supervisor Julie Christensen, who represents the northeast, secured $1.1 million, which includes funding for repairs at Chinatown’s Woh Hei Yuen Park, Russian Hill’s Ina Coolbrith Path and the Macondray Lane stairs.

Sunset neighborhood representative Katy Tang had six items totaling $1.28 million. The largest spending was $500,000 for public art installation along the Great Highway and $400,000 for repairing Sunset Boulevard.

Board President London Breed, who represents the Fillmore and Western Addition, had 11 add-backs totaling $1.06 million. That includes $150,000 for needle distribution and cleanup for homeless youth, pedestrian lighting in the Upper Haight and a combined $734,000 in youth services such as art programs, gardening in public housing and computer training.

For the Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhoods, Supervisor Jane Kim, who had the least total dollar amount of add-backs at $720,000, prioritized tenant outreach for low-income residents with $230,000. Other spending was for safety measures like street lighting in the Tenderloin and food programs. The Bindlestiff Performing Arts Venue will receive $70,000 for deferred capital needs.

Supervisor Norman Yee funded four items totaling $825,000 with $300,000 earmarked for participatory budgeting, which allows residents to vote on how they want to spend that money. Some $250,000 went toward pedestrian safety education and $130,000 for youth arts programming.

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener secured the highest single amount for any add-back: $585,000 for transforming a parking lot into the Noe Valley Town Square. In total his add-backs were $1.55 million with other spending for digital literacy and the Corbertt Slope pedestrian path.

In District 10, Supervisor Malia Cohen secured $1.6 million, of which the largest share is $500,000. That will go toward homeless outreach services, known as the HOT team. The Bayview Opera House will get $300,000 and Third Street will see $300,000 worth of “activation” events.

Supervisor John Avalos secured $1.55 million for 14 items, which includes $300,000 for workforce training in the Excelsior. Another $135,000 goes toward domestic violence prevention for Filipina women.

The Board of Supervisors votes July 24 on the mayor’s budget proposal.

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