Ten things San Francisco should fund -- and 10 things it shouldn't -- to create a fair, equitable, and forward-thinking city budget
Bike infrastructure The city has made strides in recent years to build out its bike infrastructure, but it still has miles of roadway left unsafe for bicyclists. The city identified many intersections and roadways in need of better bike infrastructure in its 2009 Bicycle Plan. Five years later, many of the identified "near term" projects still need big improvements: the Broadway tunnel; Golden Gate Avenue and Turk corridors; Division and 13th Street corridors; and "The Hairball" between Cesar Chavez and Potrero. Some of these improvements would cost the city $1 million or more, but others would cost as little as $100,000. Even the low-cost bike improvements languished since 2009, a clear failure.
A higher minimum wage In 2012, when San Francisco's minimum wage was $10.24 per hour and rents were lower than they are today, the Department of Public Health published a map showing how many minimum-wage jobs a toiling soul would have to work in order to afford a market-rate two-bedroom apartment in a given neighborhood. To live in SoMa? 7.4 jobs. The Sunset? 3.8 jobs. The Mayor's Office opposes increasing the city's minimum wage to $15 on the grounds that it would increase the costs of city contracts with nonprofit organizations to provide various city services. It's bad enough that the city has privatized essential public services, but to make the argument that the workers who provide these services aren't even entitled to a living wage is obscene.
Crucial infrastructure The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is desperately trying to come up with $625 million to replace 19-mile-long Mountain Tunnel, a critical conduit for city water from Hetch Hetchy that is in danger of imminent collapse, which would be devastating to residents of San Francisco and other Bay Area jurisdictions that rely on it. And that just one of many items on the long list of capital improvement projects — from failing sewer lines near our bayfront to overdue transportation infrastructure improvements — that get funded each year based on politically influenced budget decisions rather than what the city actually needs to be functional and forward-thinking.
Affordable housing When voters approved creation of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund in 2012, Mayor Lee and his allies in the business and development communities congratulated themselves on finally addressing affordable housing. The only problem was the city contribution of $20 million per year, eventually rising to $50 million annually, was a drop in the bucket compared to the actual need for subsidized housing construction. The city's Housing Element calls for 60 percent of new housing to be below market rate to meet the needs of city resident, yet less than 20 percent of housing in the pipeline is affordable. Even the mayor's grand promise to have a third of new housing built by 2020 be affordable turned out to be a lie, with the San Francisco Public Press recently reporting that he's counting rehabilitation of existing public housing units. Sup. John Avalos is now working on devoting more city funding in this budget to affordable housing and we hope the full board supports his efforts.
MISSPENT PUBLIC DOLLARS