Protect parks, police and business in SF city budget, residents say
Parks, public safety and small businesses dominated the discussion among west-SF residents at a meeting on the San Francisco city budget Saturday.
In a town-hall meeting at the San Francisco Zoo, officials including Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Carmen Chu and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd explained the City’s budget situation and asked residents of Districts 4 and 7 for their views on where to direct spending.
Lee said that while San Francisco’s budget situation isn’t as dire as it was as recently as last year, the City still faces some big challenges. Among other issues, state and federal funding is unpredictable, and the state has been pushing more responsibilities — and their associated costs — onto cities and counties.
San Francisco’s $6.8 billion annual budget faces an estimated deficit of $170 million in the upcoming fiscal year, and $312 million the following fiscal year. But this year, for the first time City departments are required to propose budgets covering the next two fiscal years at once.
Too many families with children are moving out of San Francisco, said Greg Syler of Friends of West Sunset Playground.
“More needs to be done to end this exodus,” he said, such as continuing to improve public parks, including those in western San Francisco such as Larsen Park on 19th Avenue in the Sunset District.
Angela Tickler of The Hard Wear Store on Irving Street told officials that even when a business owner really wants to be in San Francisco, the business climate makes it difficult to operate here.
“Small businesses in San Francisco are an expression of its individuality,” Tickler said. “But the city also puts us at a competitive disadvantage” with taxes and fees that drive up prices for customers.
“When you talk about making jobs, small business is the place to do that. Hamstringing us with a gross-receipts tax is not the way to do that,” she said.
John Zwolinski said it’s time to do something about ongoing crime in the west end of Golden Gate Park near the Murphy Windmill.
“That’s a problem that’s been ongoing for decades,” Zwolinski said.
Steve Ward also voiced a concern about open-space areas, asking for the landscaping along Lower Great Highway to be trimmed so that encampments of homeless people couldn’t be hidden in the bushes there.
About half of the City’s $6.8 billion budget is made up of various “enterprise departments” that are expected to raise their own funds to support their activities, such as San Francisco International Airport. The remainder is the pool of money that comes from taxes, fees and other sources and is used to fund all other City functions, from street sweeping and sewer maintenance to restaurant inspections, firefighting, and meal programs for seniors.
The mayor must present a proposed budget for enterprise departments by the first working day of May, and for other departments by the first working day of June. The Board of Supervisors Budget Committee holds public hearings on these proposals, and adopts a budget by the last working day of July.
Saturday’s meeting was hosted by Chu, who is also the chair of the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee, and Elsbernd. Archived district budget town-hall meetings are rebroadcast on San Francisco Government Television. See SFGTV’s website for a schedule.
Richmond District residents will get a chance at their own meeting about the city budget April 25, when District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar and District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague host a meeting at the San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park near Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way.
Find out more about how the San Francisco city budget process works and how to get involved: