SAN FRANCISCO—Mayor Edwin Lee announced his plans for the city in the 2014 State of The City Address on Friday, January 17. Mayor Lee addressed issues including transportation, education and housing. The address was made at the construction site of Lennar Urban’s The Shipyard which is currently under construction near the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood.
The Mayor addressed important factors concerning the city. He indicated that San Francisco is the nation’s number one large county for job growth, by adding jobs in every sector which included technology, health care, construction and manufacturing; more than 42,000 jobs were created since 2011. Unemployment rates have dropped to 5.2 percent currently, compared to 9.3 percent when Mayor Lee first took office.
Wi-Fi service will continue to be provided to residents in commercial corridors, as well as a push to increase the minimum wage beyond the current rate $10.74. Mayor Lee is working to save City College by asking for funding from the State of California. The IPO Strategy known as, Identify, Predict and Organize, is the public safety campaign that is expected to continue to battle crime in the city. Homicides are down more than 30 percent from last year because of the new strategy.
Plans are to hire and train more responders, which include 911 dispatch operators, firefighters and police officers. Implementing San Francisco’s version of “Laura’s Law” to help the homeless and mentally ill that expand and make permanent this kind of strong Public Guardianship program. Mayor Lee will ask the Board of Supervisors to adopt a required resolution allowing our City to fully move forward with Laura’s Law, and work with the Superior Courts to educate judges about the positive benefits of this program. Mayor Lee will work with other Mayors and a statewide coalition to propose changes to state law in Sacramento that will boost our local ability to implement a public guardian program that works.
The Mayor also discussed his 7-Point Housing Plan, which includes the construction of more than 30,000 new and remodeled homes throughout the region, with at least 1/3 of those homes being made affordable to those earning a median income less than $77,700. The seven-point plan includes the following:
1. Protect our residents from eviction and displacement, including Ellis Act reform.
2. Stabilize and protect at-risk rent-controlled units, through rehabilitation loans and a new program to permanently stabilize rent conditions in at-risk units.
3. Revitalize and rebuild public housing, by continuing HOPE SF commitments and improving thousands of other Housing Authority units.
4. Double the downpayment loan programs, which helps recipients address the upfront hurdles of becoming a homeowner, and create more middle income homeownership opportunities, particularly on land under public control.
5. Build more affordable housing, faster, which will require more funding, but also new tools that spread the burden of its construction from the City to our private partners.
6. Continue to build market rate units, especially rental units, to address the demand crisis that has built up form years of not enough housing.
7. Make construction of new housing easier – both in City departments, with more staff and less process; and in the neighborhoods, by giving those neighborhoods the infrastructure they need to thrive with growth.
In regards to transportation, Mayor Lee indicated the San Francisco Transportation 2030 Task Force will recommend for 2014 to bring voters a $500 million general obligation transportation bond focus and introduce a measure to raise the local vehicle license fee. He has also asked the SFMTA Board of Directors to suspend Sunday meters at the start of the new fiscal year. The SFMTA was responsible for introducing the pilot program to fund free Muni passes for low-income youth, a program that Mayor Lee has made permanent for the SFMTA next two-year budget.
With education, Mayor Lee addressed the expansion of Mayor’s Middle School Leadership Initiative, which is aimed at improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education in the SFUSD, but also includes middle schoolers in all K-8 Schools including Bessie Carmichael, Lawton, Paul Revere and others. For 2014, Mayor Lee is proposing to fund the school district with more than $66 million for public schools and than $27 million for universal pre-school.
This November, the Mayor is asking for voters to renew the Children’s Fund and the Public Education Enrichment Fund, with assistance from the SFUSD will lead to a world class public school system beginning with pre-school all the way to college.
“The State of our great City is still vital and strong – as strong, financially and economically as we have ever been in our history – and this same robust economic recovery and renewed confidence in our future provides us with the resources and resolve to move forward with an ‘affordability agenda’ as our priority for the days ahead,” said Mayor Lee. “We remain focused on creating jobs, building housing, improving our transportation system, and making sure our youth have a world class education. We will continue to ensure that San Francisco remains a place where people from every background can call home.”
By LaDale Anderson