Clocking in at just under 20 minutes, Mayor Ed Lee struck an upbeat tone during his proposed $8.9 billion city budget address Monday, highlighting investments in housing, police and fire staffing and Muni service.
With 4 percent growth in the budget, the mayor said The City is able to make “historic investments” thanks in part to “smart economic policies,” noting that just a few years ago San Francisco was facing massive deficits and high unemployment rates.
“With the success of our city we have a special opportunity to ensure the prosperity of our city extends to all of our city’s residents,” the mayor said, addressing the “city family” gathered inside of the City Hall’s board chambers. One of the mayor’s biggest challenges is the housing crisis, around which there is no shortage of heated debate.
The mayor seemed to take aim at the proposed Mission moratorium on market rate housing development which he opposes and is being voted Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
“We need to build more, quickly,” Lee said. “Over the next two years new market rate development is anticipated to generate more than $100 million in affordable housing fees that can be put to work to secure sites and build housing throughout the city.” He added that due to the 2012 voter approved Housing Trust, The City will also invest $79 million in below market rate development during the next two years. The mayor reiterated his promise to “deliver more than 10,700 low and middle income family homes” by 2020.
The mayor noted he is increasing to $6.4 million eviction-prevention funding “to make sure our long time residents can stay in their home.”
But some thought the mayor needed to do more than just increase spending. Supervisor John Avalos said the mayor’s “ideas for addressing the climate caused by the affordability crisis are lacking and are as strong as a rusty weathervane.”
A debate over spending priorities is already underway. Tuesday, for example, the Homeless Coalition will call for an investment in a five-year strategy to end family homelessness, estimated to cost $9 million. The largest portion of the $9 million would go toward rental subsidies for an additional 375 below market rate housing units set aside for homeless families.
The mayor said during his address that “we can rise to the challenge of ending family homelessness,” adding that he will turn to philanthropy to help with the “very complicated” issue.
Another issue that has long dogged mayors is improving Muni service. The mayor promised “a more reliable, safe, clean” Muni with a $72 million increase in transit spending, pushing Muni’s overall budget over $1 billion for the first time. The board’s budget committee will hold hearings on the budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1 in the coming weeks. It requires full board approval to pass.