Unforeseen political fights have created bumps in the road for a $248 million bond this November, which Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials are banking on to keep city streets from deteriorating further.
Two influential political forces in town — the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce — are either refusing to support Proposition B or threatening not to. Neither group has objections to the bond measure itself, but instead are upset about other ongoing political battles.
The trades council took the rare position of going neutral on the bond measure because it includes hiring requirements under a local hire law adopted last year that the labor union fiercely opposes.
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has threatened to not actively fund-raise or campaign for several ballot measures, including the streets bond, if Supervisor David Campos’ proposal amending the Health Care Security Ordinance is approved. Business advocates say it’s a $50 million hit on companies and will cost jobs. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on Campos’ legislation Tuesday.
The bond measure requires two-thirds support to pass, not just a simple majority. If it fails, The City’s funding for street resurfacing will drop to about $20 million instead of $75 million for the next three years. That means bumpier streets and more potholes.
Michael Theriault, secretary-treasurer for the trades council, said the labor group was put in an “awful position.”
“We’ve never agreed with that [local hiring] ordinance, so we don’t think it’s appropriate for us to advocate for work under it,” Theriault said.
Supervisor Scott Wiener, who is advocating for the streets bond, called the trades council’s neutral position a “mistake.”
“This is going to create a lot of jobs,” Wiener said. “They should be supporting it.”
As for the chamber’s threat, Wiener said that “there is a lot of political posturing going,” but in the end he expects the chamber will remain behind it.
On Friday, Steve Falk, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the organization “isn’t walking away” from campaigning for the road-repair bond and other ballot measures yet, and is hopeful the mayor will veto the Campos legislation should the board approve it. Falk added that Campos’ proposal, backed by the San Francisco Labor Council, has created something of a chilling effect.
“It throws a very large damper on business enthusiasm to financially help other measures,” Falk said.
San Francisco’s streets scored 64 out of 100 on the pavement condition index, according to the Department of Public Works. That means they are worn out and in need of work or will quickly deteriorate and cost a whole lot more to repair. With the bond money, The City said, streets will improve to a score of 66. But without the bond money, the score will drop to of 61.
In November, voters are being asked to approve Proposition B, the Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond
$248M Total amount of bond
$148M Amount of bond earmarked for street repaving
$7.3M Amount for street structures — retaining walls, stairways, et al.
$22M ADA sidewalk improvements
$50M Streetscape, pedestrian, bike safety improvements
$20.3M Traffic signal improvements for Muni
Source: Department of Public Works