No veto for local-hiring legislation

Despite calls from business leaders and other Bay Area municipalities to veto the legislation, Mayor Gavin Newsom refused to sign one of the strictest local-hiring mandates in the country, effectively allowing the measure to pass.

The legislation, which was spearheaded by Supervisor John Avalos, requires construction contractors to hire San Francisco residents for city-funded projects. During the first year, contractors will have to hire locals to fill 20 percent of the hours worked, and the mandate would increase by 5 percent annually until reaching 50 percent in the seventh year.

The Board of Supervisors approved the legislation with an 8-3 veto-proof majority Dec. 14.

Newsom echoed the concerns of San Mateo County officials who say the mandate would negatively affect thousands of people on the Peninsula who work on city land such as San Francisco International Airport.

“San Francisco must be a responsible steward of this program,” Newsom wrote in a letter explaining why he will not sign the legislation. “Including provisions that provide some level of flexibility for regional projects is a first step. … We cannot act in isolation in this time of economic challenge: providing work for residents is a shared challenge of Bay Area communities.”

But the mayor also said he supports giving local workers more opportunities.

The mandate is expected to increase contract costs, but supporters say the expense will be dwarfed by the projected economic impact of more local hiring. The legislation originally required 50 percent local hiring within three years, which was scaled back. Also, a three-year review, when changes can be made, was established.

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