Mayor Breed’s budget prioritizes public safety and downtown recovery | The city

Mayor London Breed outlines his two-year, $13.95 billion budget plan for San Francisco during a press conference in Union Square on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.

The assembly of police officers, downtown ambassadors and sheriff’s deputies behind San Francisco Mayor London Breed made as clear a statement as possible.

Breed on Wednesday presented a proposed $13.95 billion budget for the city over two years that aims to bolster police numbers, continue outreach programs to welcome tourists and fund businesses still struggling. to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When I traveled to promote San Francisco, people were talking about this city and how much they love it and how much they want to come here. But what they also talked about was their security concerns,” he said. said Breed, describing the budget proposal in a speech delivered in the heart of the city’s commercial heartland.

Breed’s budget priorities reflect the fear and discontent San Franciscans are expressing in public polls and at the ballot box in recent months.

The choice of Union Square as the stage on which to unveil its budget was a nod to the notoriety The City received after the massive looting of retail stores last November – and the swift and robust police response that followed. .

“People put us on a map, virally, like they’ve never done before,” Breed said. “But what they haven’t shown is our response to what happened here in Union Square – not just more of a police presence, but more of our incredible community ambassadors.”

Despite Breed’s declaration of an emergency, the same police response did not materialize in the Tenderloin neighborhood, a discrepancy Breed acknowledged and previously blamed in part on lack of police resources. The department has lost dozens of police officers in recent years, with about 200 vacancies at the moment. The trend is expected to continue as more officers retire, but Breed has charted a new course.

Breed’s budget proposal includes funding to hold four police academies in each of the next two years, which his office says could lead to the hiring of 220 new officers and increased pay departure of agents. As part of a $708 million police department budget — a $51 million increase from the previous year — the mayor also hopes to incentivize officers to stay, offering retention bonuses at five and 15 years of service.

“People want to come to the cities and counties where they’re being cared for, so that’s huge,” San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott told The Examiner. Still, he said it would likely take years for the department to fully recover from its staff losses.

“We just have to disconnect and continue to recruit hard and make this city and this department a place where people want to work,” Scott said.

The mayor stressed that investments in policing would not come at the expense of reforms. She touted developments in providing alternatives to policing, including crisis response teams capable of handling problems once left to the police to solve. The mayor also proposed adding emergency counselors to the city’s 911 call center who can answer calls related to mental and behavioral health issues.

Breed also announced $50 million in its budget to support downtown commerce, including $10 million in direct grants and small business loans. The mayor pointed to downtown revitalization — and the purported $10 billion economic benefit it is bringing to the city — as businesses grapple with the lingering fallout of the pandemic and work-from-home policies.

In all neighborhoods, the city’s hospitality industry has not recovered from the pandemic in the same way, argued Andy Chun, co-owner of Schroeder’s, a historic bar and restaurant in the Financial District.

Downtown, “workers have been slow to return and retail has also been slow to recover, along with the tourism business that we rely on,” Chun said.

“I was really thrilled to hear about the mayor and the city’s commitment to revitalizing downtown, and this budget goes a long way toward taking that first step,” Chun said.

Breed highlighted the city’s progress in addressing homelessness. The recent point-in-time count showed homelessness dropped 15% since the previous count in 2019, an outlier among Bay Area counties.

“We should be proud of that, but we know there’s still work to be done,” Breed said.

To continue this effort, the budget includes new funding for a new 70-unit cabin village in the Mission, like the line of cabins established by the city earlier this year on Gough Street. The budget proposal continues funding for three shelter hotels opened by the city during the pandemic, which were otherwise scheduled to close in late 2022.

Employees of the nonprofit organizations that run the city’s homeless services — including those who work in the city’s permanent supportive housing — should expect a pay rise, as should early educators.

Non-sworn municipal employees receive a 10% salary increase over the two-year budget cycle. City employees are raising a total of $171.5 million over two years, while nonprofit pay raises total $30 million.

“This budget rewards our workforce, providing a meaningful raise over the next two years to ensure they know how valuable they are to continuing to see this city function and thrive,” Breed said. .

The budget projects spending of $13.95 billion in fiscal year 2022-23 and $13.85 billion in 2023-24. By comparison, the budget for the current fiscal year projects expenditures of $13.45 billion.

Although balanced, Breed’s budget relies on the use of $153.4 million from city reserves.

The oversight board must approve a budget by Aug. 1, sending it back to Breed for final approval or a veto.

David H. Henry