San Francisco supervisors have reached a city budget deal that dedicates tens of millions of dollars in new funds for affordable housing and other progressive priorities while avoiding major cuts to investments that Mayor London Breed proposed for the police and the city’s economic recovery.
In all, the Board of Supervisors’ budget and appropriations committee agreed to add more than $127 million into Breed’s spending plans for the next two fiscal years, which total about $14 billion annually. The deal, approved after midnight Tuesday morning, also authorizes a separate $112 million in debt financing that will help pay for land acquisitions for affordable housing and nonprofits that serve the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
Supervisors freed up the funds in part by making cuts to various city department budgets. But they did not implement some of the most controversial changes they had considered, including the possibility of scaling back Breed’s plans to hire 220 police officers — to fill vacant jobs. They also agreed to preserve the ranks of community ambassadors with the nonprofit Urban Alchemy who patrol the streets of the Tenderloin and Mid-Market. Funding for the ambassadors was a critical piece of Breed’s plan to help make San Francisco more welcoming to visitors, accounting for more than half of the $47.4 million the budget will spend on promoting economic recovery.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen, the budget committee chair, led the marathon negotiations with Breed’s office and her fellow supervisors. Though Ronen did not support everything in the mayor’s proposals, she ultimately preserved most of Breed’s policy goals after securing millions of additional dollars for housing, food security and the various nonprofits that contract with the city government.
“As with everything, we had some disagreements with the mayor on aspects of the budget, like the amount of ambassadors and the amount of increase for the police department. But in the end, it felt like what we were able to restore in terms of services for the people that are struggling in San Francisco was more important than holding a hard line that ends up being almost symbolic in the end,” Ronen said. “What we were able to accomplish in this budget is to get real material wins for the most vulnerable San Franciscans.”
Breed’s spokesman Jeff Cretan said the mayor’s office was pleased with the results of the budget deal, which is expected to be voted on by the full board July 12.
“From our perspective, the mayor’s priorities remain largely intact. We’re pretty satisfied with that,” Cretan said. “Supervisor Ronen worked with us to craft a budget that met some of the goals she and her colleagues had while recognizing that the priorities the mayor set forward were really important for the city.”
Supervisors had a list of more than $1 billion in programs to which they could consider adding funding as they negotiated the proposed budget Breed introduced at the beginning of June. Ultimately, they whittled the list down to about $58 million over the coming two fiscal years, including various initiatives to provide food to the neediest San Franciscans, housing subsidies and services for the LGBTQ community. The mayor agreed to spend an additional $69 million to advance a range of other goals, including to help cover rising business costs for nonprofits that work with the city.
The budget deal also advances a top priority for Supervisor Dean Preston.
Preston had pushed for a big increase in spending on affordable housing , hoping to take advantage of real estate tax revenue generated by Proposition I, a 2020 ballot measure he sponsored. Preston and Breed had disagreed over how to spend money from the tax, which goes to the city’s general fund. Two weeks ago, he unveiled a $135 million budget request based on recommendations from the Prop. I oversight body.
While the $112 million in debt financing that the committee approved doesn’t meet everything Preston had asked for, it goes a long way toward his affordable housing goals. The money includes $40 million to acquire land for affordable housing development, $20 million for repairs to existing public housing, $12 million for homes to house teachers and $10 million for elevator repairs at aging single-room occupancy hotels.
Preston told the budget committee that it was approving a “historic deal” that will deliver “a tremendous amount of new affordable housing.”
Additionally, the debt financing includes $30 million for land acquisitions that Supervisor Connie Chan had sought as part of her proposed API Equity Fund . The fund, also supported by Supervisors Gordon Mar and Aaron Peskin, is intended to help buy property for nonprofits that serve an estimated 250,000 low-income Asian and Pacific Islander residents.
“This was a really nice way to both meet Supervisor Preston and Chan’s top priorities without taking away any money that we needed for all of the other board and community priorities,” Ronen said of the debt financing.
J.D. Morris is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter:@thejdmorris