New report measures city departments on effectiveness

On any given day, a San Francisco resident may look around and wonder if they are getting their money's worth in city services – after all, 52 percent of the government's budget is from property taxes and fee revenue.

For many, crime and cleanliness top the list for most important government functions.

The Department of Public Works showed some improvement last year. For example, response to graffiti service requests within 48 hours hit 97 percent, a significant improvement from three years ago when it was 64 percent, according to the City Controller's Office city services performance measure report for fiscal year 2012-13.

With 48 city departments at a combined budget of $7.35 billion, gauging the effectiveness of these agencies is a tall order, but the City Controller's Office is required by the charter to track and measure the impact of services.

Those looking for smoother roads may be glad to hear that Public Works repaved 521 city blocks last fiscal year. That's up from the previous year's 346 and the 427 in 2010-11. Drivers and bicyclists may also be happy to hear that the department has increased pothole repairs for a total of 16,065 last fiscal year, up from the previous year's 11,693.

Residents may notice a little more green around San Francisco. Public Works planted 374 street trees last fiscal year, compared to 266 the year before.

One service decrease, according to the report, was mechanical sweeping. As measured by curb miles, 143,768 were swept last fiscal year. That's down from the 146,363 the previous year. About half of San Francisco's residents think neighborhood streets and sidewalks are clean enough, which is about the same as two years ago. A figure for fiscal year 2011-12 was unavailable.

Another concern in neighborhoods is crime. Less people feel safe when out at night than in previous years. “Only two in five residents feel safe walking alone in their neighborhood at night, a seven percent decline since 2011,” the report said.

That may have something to do with the fact that last fiscal year property and some violent crimes increased. “The total number of serious property crimes reported in October 2012 was the highest rate reported since prior to January 2008 at a rate of 490 per 100,000 population,” the report said. “Similarly, the total number of serious violent crimes reported in June 2013 was the highest rate reported since prior to January 2008 at a rate of 84.9 per 100,000 population.”

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