After three days of behind-the-scenes negotiations, a budget deal was struck Wednesday between the Board of Supervisors and the mayor with $25 million of changes to the $8.9 billion budget proposal for next fiscal year to fund homeless resources, child care and food services.
The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, led by Supervisor Mark Farrell, came to the agreement Wednesday afternoon, bringing to a close what is among the chief duties of the board each year.
In total, the committee voted on $44 million of funding changes to the mayor’s two-year budget submission comprising some 198 different items, encompassing everything from $300,000 for immigration legal defense to $265,000 for capital needs at the San Francisco Zoo to $1.5 million for child care slots for low-income families.
As the local economy shows little sign of slowing down, there are revenues to make greater investments in city services, like police and Muni. But San Francisco’s income inequality and soaring rents has translated into some deep needs for below-market-rate housing, eviction protections and other services like child care and feeding the hungry. Those needs were reflected in the committee receiving funding requests totaling more than $30 million by one coalition of nonprofits for next year alone.
“After tough negotiations, this budget reflects the values of all San Franciscans, and places top priority on affordability, public safety and reducing homelessness,” Farrell said. The committee voted 5-0 to send it to the full board for a vote.
Additionally, Farrell announced The City would borrow more money against the voter-approved 2012 Housing Trust Bond to have an additional $25 million to spend on the construction of below-market-rate housing.
But while there was much praise of the budget during the committee hearing, there wasn’t lack of controversy swirling around. Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, alleged about $1 million requested for tenant eviction defense was denied because of politics, pointing to November’s District 3 supervisor race between the mayor-appointed Supervisor Julie Christensen and former District Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is vying to get his seat back.
Tenant advocates have sided with Peskin in the race. The added money, Friedenbach said, would have provided defense for every tenant facing an eviction. “The tenants of San Francisco shouldn’t be held hostage by the petty politics of the Peskin-Christensen race,” Friedenbach said.
That allegation was denied by the Mayor’s Office. Farrell also denied the charge. “That’s not accurate,” Farrell said. He responded saying, “As it related to some of the eviction defense asks there was concern from a number of colleagues both around the past effectiveness of these organizations and second of all a frustration that some of them have been here over the past few months demonstrating on certain political issues — whether it be organizing around the Mission moratorium or other things.”
After the committee hearing, the mayor said in a statement that the proposal “invests in the people of San Francisco and uses this time of great prosperity in our City to make sure people in every neighborhood benefit.” The mayor’s two-year budget proposal totals $8.9 billion next year alone.
The relatively early committee approval is seemingly another sizable political victory for Farrell, who has served since 2013 as budget chair, the most influential committee assignment.
Supervisors sitting in on the committee hearing praised various aspects of the budget. Supervisor Jane Kim praised funding for the continuation and expansion of the Tenderloin Pit Stop, which is a program that places temporary toilets on city streets. She also praised the $6.6 million for a 24-hour medical respite for homeless persons and more funding for nurses in shelters.
Supervisor Scott Wiener, who serves on the committee, praised the $585,000 added to realize the Noe Valley Town Square Project. Supervisor Norman Yee, another committee member, lauded items such as an investment in Vision Zero. “What we did this year was strike a real good balance,” he said.
The full board is expected to vote July 21 on the budget proposal.
Board of Supervisors President London Breed said, “We’re really fortunate in this city to have such a booming economy and it’s helped us increase investment to areas that are very important.”
To look at the budget’s add-back list, click Addbacks Budget and Finance Committee FY 15-16 and 16-17_FINAL