What can the city do about ensuring we don’t have to endure massive budget cuts at the next economic downturn? Do we have a rainy day fund? Is it sufficient?
As chair of our city’s Budget and Finance Committee for the past four years, I have made it a priority to fight for and secure record amounts of savings into our city’s budget reserves to protect against the next economic downturn. Each and every year under my leadership our budget reserves have grown, and I will continue to fight each and every year at the board to ensure we maintain those smart savings investments.
Our economy operates in cycles. We are currently going through the longest duration of economic growth in San Francisco history without experiencing an economic slowdown. Our city’s financial health is strong and growing because of our commitment to saving responsibly, but there is more we can and must do to fend off massive budget cuts that will affect vital public services that our residents depend upon. No one wants to experience what it was like in 2009 and 2010 when people were losing their homes and vital services like parks, police, and transportation services were being cut, and I have made fiscal responsibility one of my biggest priorities.
What should the city’s priorities be during the remainder of Mayor Lee’s term?
I believe our priorities as a city should be on reducing homelessness, enhancing public safety, building more housing, and working to improve the quality of life for all San Franciscans.
Homelessness in San Francisco continues to persist and was recently rated the number-one issue of concern citywide. There is no silver bullet for reducing homelessness. But making smart investments in housing programs and services that have been proven to save money over time is where we should continue to focus our efforts. With the newly created Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, the city for the first time is centralizing its homelessness efforts, and I am confident we will make the progress that our residents deserve and expect to see.
Public safety is also front-of-mind for all San Franciscans. Though violent crime continues to trend downward, we have a surge in property crime that we need to continue to address. We need more police officers walking beats in our neighborhoods, and thankfully we have more academy classes planned to get more officers onto our streets.
Housing and affordability and the cost-of-living issues also continue to persist. We are producing more housing and have more units in the pipeline than ever before. We have to continue to plan responsibly for appropriate growth and focus on community involvement in the development process to ensure we maintain neighborhood character and vitality. Along with affordability, improving the quality of life must be a constant focus. We are set to invest more in our parks system, resurfacing our streets, improving transit, and more neighborhood-focused programs and services — all areas that are important to making life in San Francisco more enjoyable.
I heard the news about Francisco Reservoir finally moving ahead with a plan. What will happen to it and how soon will it be completed?
Since I was elected in 2010, I have been working with the community and open-space and environmental advocates to turn the abandoned and dilapidated Francisco Reservoir in Russian Hill into a brand-new citywide park.
I am thrilled that we continue to push the Francisco Reservoir Park project forward, and that we recently just approved the next major milestone in doing so at the Board of Supervisors. The board just approved the agreement between the city and Francisco Park Conservancy that allows for the private fundraising and next phase in the public outreach process for input into the overall design of the park. Public outreach will continue throughout the year, and we expect construction to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2019.
We are making such fantastic progress on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To learn more about the project, or to get more involved, please visit the website, franciscopark.org.
I’m getting fed up with repair work and street work that disrupts my street. Is there any way we can know ahead of time what’s going to happen?
I hear from residents from District 2 and across the city about how the sheer amount of work on our streets is causing traffic congestion and disrupting our quality of life. I took those concerns and recently just authored and passed three pieces of legislation that seek to provide more advance and better notice to neighbors through modern means.
Now, all contractors will have to produce “construction parking plans” informing neighborhoods citywide of planned residential construction when their work will take up more than one parking space for longer than 30 days. Second, we recently approved my construction and building permit reform legislation that will give new powers to city departments to revoke permits from individuals who either are not completing their work in a timely manner, or not meeting the stated parameters of the permit they were issued.
Last, the board just recently approved my Neighborhood Notification Act, which will create San Francisco’s first online and centralized notification system. Soon, residents will be able to access any city notice on any issue that may impact their neighborhood. From wanting to know why your Muni stop was moved, to learning more about the construction work occurring on your block, I want our city residents to be proactively informed through modern means on their own time.