SAN FRANCISCO—On Thursday, May 31, SF Mayor Mark Farrell presented his two-year balanced budget, proposing an $11 billion framework for Fiscal Year 2018-19 and an $11 billion framework for Fiscal Year 2019-20. According to a press release from the Mayor’s website, the two-year budget features major additional investments for four key priority areas of Mayor Farrell—homelessness, street cleanliness, public safety and programs that support an equitable and diverse city.
The Mayor’s budget maintains historic funding levels for long-term infrastructure projects such as street repair, park improvements and seismic upgrades, and commits the City to sustainable fiscal practices, which have led to San Francisco receiving record ratings.
“We are taking bold and innovative measures to address the most pressing challenges of today while building the foundation for a strong and successful San Francisco for our next generation of residents,” said Mayor Farrell. “My budget will invest in programs that work—we will move residents out of the depths of homelessness and into safe, stable homes, we will clean up our streets and sidewalks, we will improve public safety in communities throughout San Francisco and we will ensure that our City budget remains in strong fiscal health.”
“The Board of Supervisors has prioritized clean streets, homelessness and housing, and public safety in our budget process,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen, Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. “I’m pleased that our emphasis on these themes is reflected in the Mayor’s budget, and look forward to reviewing the details in Budget Committee.”
Addressing Homelessness and Street Behavior
To fight San Francisco’s homelessness crisis, Mayor Farrell’s budget will fund measures that prevent residents from falling into homelessness and provide permanent exits from homelessness including $4 million for nearly 200 new permanent supportive housing units across San Francisco in the next fiscal year. With the additional investments, San Francisco will have close to 7,900 total permanent supportive housing units, the most per capita of any major city in the country.
While working to support individuals in exiting homelessness, the budget will invest in prevention and diversion programs. The budget is expected to double the annual support of the Homeward Bound program by adding $1.2 million in FY 2018-19. The initiative reunited nearly 900 individuals with loved ones and family members last year.
Mayor Farrell’s homelessness funding package develops on current investments to open and operate four new Navigation Center facilities at an annual cost of $15.2 million. A national model, Navigation Centers are shelters that offer counseling, services and other assistance for residents trying to break the cycle of homelessness, poverty and addiction.
Other key investments include $1 million for rehousing programs for Transitional Age Youth (TAY), and the creation of two new access points that provide resources, support and services for families and residents struggling to stay out of homelessness.
Along with investments in homelessness initiatives, Mayor Farrell’s budget will include major funding for programs that support behavioral health and drug treatment programs. In May 2018, Mayor Farrell announced $6 million in funding over the two-year budget to create a dedicated drug addiction street team, a first-in-the-nation program to bring the opioid treatment buprenorphine directly to people suffering from addiction.
Committing to Clean and Vibrant Neighborhoods
Mayor Farrell will fund a broad street cleaning program, investing nearly $13 million for improvement projects and equipment over the next two years. In regards to neighborhood cleaning, the budget will add 44 new cleaners, with the workers split up evenly among San Francisco’s 11 Supervisorial districts. Mayor Farrell will include funding for a new street cleaning program in the SoMa District that will operate five days a week.
The budget will fund the creation of five new Pit Stops—staffed facilities that provide safe and clean public toilets in high-need communities—while expanding the hours at five other Pit Stop sites. In addition, $3.4 million in new equipment investments over two years, allowing San Francisco Public Works to purchase new state-of-the-art street cleaning vehicles. Earlier this year, Mayor Farrell revealed the creation of a dedicated team of public health professionals, with a particular focus of picking up discarded syringes. The needle cleanup team focuses their efforts based on resident complaint data.
Mayor Farrell announced that San Francisco’s Fix-It Team—an interagency unit that responds to quality-of-life concerns—will increase from 25 zones to 35 zones, providing more opportunities for the group to address issues such as graffiti, broken streetlights and overgrown bushes.
Improving Public Safety and Emergency Responses
The budget includes a strategic plan to bring on 250 additional sworn personnel to the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), with 130 officers in the police academy in the next year. Public safety improvement investments feature $7.5 million for 130 new police vehicles and $3 million for Controlled Electrical Devices, commonly referred to as Tasers.
In addition to supporting new hires and equipment, the budget allocates $1.7 million to support efforts of the SFPD’s ongoing police reforms. In 2016, the SFPD entered into a voluntary agreement with the United States Department of Justice to carry out 272 reform measures, many related to use-of-force operations. The SFPD is collaborating with the California Department of Justice to finish implementing all the reforms. Mayor Farrell will provide $1.5 million over 2 years to add four new positions to the Department of Police Accountability, the agency that audits police use-of-force and officer misconduct policies.
Budget investments include $1.6 million over two years to provide additional staff within the Department of Public Health to improve sexual assault coordination and provide more resources to sexual assault survivors. The Mayor will invest $8 million in new funding over 2 years for the Department of Emergency Management to train 90 new dispatcher recruits, ensuring that staffing levels are met to support the department’s goal of answering 90 percent of 9-1-1 calls within 10 seconds. The San Francisco Police Department will receive $1.5 million in funding over the next 2 years to staff a Medical Assistance Response Team, which will rapidly respond to medical service calls in the Tenderloin and Civic Center neighborhoods.
Supporting an Equitable and Diverse City
The budget includes significant investments for underserved communities, including $7.6 million in funding over the next two years to provide legal representation to immigrants facing deportations, among other legal and social support programs. Seven million dollars will be invested on criminal justice reform programs, including initiatives to expand pretrial release and weekend rebooking measures and efforts to end onerous local fees.
The Mayor’s budget will continue to support small businesses and residents from underserved communities seeking employment and training opportunities. The budget provides funding for business loan programs, advanced manufacturing training and the Gleaneagles Citybuild Academy, which offers career pathways for local residents.
The two-year budget includes programming of $20 million in soda tax revenue to address health inequities. The funding will support health education, physical activity and food access programs in underserved communities, which have disproportionately elevated levels of obesity and heart disease and have been the subject of marketing campaigns from soft drink companies.
Preparing Responsibly for the Future
San Francisco’s Capital Plan will be fully funded for two straight years. Mayor Farrell will dedicate $304 million in General Fund allocations for long-term improvement projects, ensuring that San Francisco is responsibly prepared for the future.
The funding commitment includes over $100 million for street resurfacing projects, a historic level of investment for San Francisco Public Works to repair sidewalks, install curb ramps and repave streets, among other projects. The Capital Plan includes historic funding levels for the Recreation and Park Department to repair and replace fences, irrigation systems, playing fields and tennis and basketball courts.
Other major undertakings funded by the Capital Plan include an expansion to the city’s 9-1-1 call center, the Hall of Justice administrative exit and the Islais Creek Bridge rehabilitation project.
The two-year budget includes $449 million in rainy day reserves, a record level of contingency funding for San Francisco. The $449 million has the city in reach of meeting its goal of 10 percent of General Fund revenues in reserve, representing a remarkable improvement since the last economic downturn in San Francisco. The credit rating agency Moody’s awarded San Francisco an Aaa rating earlier this year. That is the highest rating in Moody’s system and the highest rating ever awarded to the region.
The City Charter requires the Mayor to submit a balanced budget proposal by the first working day in June. To deliver this two-year consensus budget proposal, Mayor Farrell collaborated with the Board of Supervisors and heard directly from community leaders and residents, and met with residents, nonprofit organizations, City Commissioners, labor organizations, business owners and advocates to discuss priorities and address concerns.
Mayor Farrell’s balanced two-year budget fulfills many of the commitments and priorities outlined by former Mayor Edwin M. Lee, who passed away on December 12, 2017.