Office of the Mayor's Priorities on 12/11/14

We’re not sure if it’s subtle positioning, posturing, or simply a work in progress, but as a plugged-in tipster notes, “Job Creation” and “Public Safety” have just been removed from the list of “Priorities” on the Office of the Mayor’s website and only “Housing” remains under the tab.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Hola

    Removing public safety? Has Ed walked through the Mission lately?

    • Posted by cfb

      Crime has spiked a bit since 2012, but it’s still at low levels compared to the last 45 years. It hasn’t been this low since the early/mid 1960s. Crime shot upwards by a huge amount in the late 1960s and in the 1970s, and stayed high to some degree or other (compared to most of the 60s, all of the 50s, and probably any time in the city’s history aside from the lawless gold rush days) until 2009, when violent crime–especially murders–dropped big time. As for the Mission, it still has tons of problems of course, but it’s way less sketchy than it was 10 or 20 years ago. This may be a surprise to some people, but in the early 1990s for example, SF had a violent crime rate not too far off from places like New Orleans, Oakland (SF even had a higher violent crime rate than Oakland in 1990), NYC (remember this was when NYC had a bad reputation/high rates for crime), and was routinely worse-off than cities like Houston, Memphis, and Cleveland…hell, from at least 1985 through 1996 SF had a higher violent crime rate than Philadelphia. To be fair, those cities almost always had higher murder rates than SF (SF peaked at around 20 murders per 100k residents for much of the 1970s, and a couple times in the 80s and 90s…high, but not crazy high for a US city), but SF ranked so high/poorly mostly due to having a high robbery rate. SF (like most other US cities) is a lot less rough these days than it used to be. The murder rate is 1/3rd what is was in 1993.

      My point being, given how much crime has dropped, and given how ridiculously expensive housing has gotten due to decades of under-building combined with the current tech boom, I think it’s OK for now if the mayor gives priority to housing over public safety. It’s not like that means the cops will stop doing their jobs anyways.

  2. Posted by brooder

    What about infrastructure. Not so good, as the storm showed again

    • Posted by eddy

      Barely a storm and we have flooding, sink holes and mass power outages. Good job SF!

      • Posted by Anon

        “barely a storm” = no way. SF infrastructure isn’t good enough, true. But the storm was the second highest 24 hour rainfall in SF’s recorded history.

        • Posted by eddy

          No it wasn’t.

          “The 3.4 inches that fell in downtown San Francisco registered as No. 11th wettest day in the city dating back to 1849, according to Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services. ”

          Embarrassing that this storm caused these sort of city wide delays. Need major infrastructure improvements. All power lines should be buried. Massive upgrades to water management. More intelligent use of time tearing up streets to get it all done.

  3. Posted by Live Smart

    How’s this easy fix for the mayor: immediately incentivize the landlords of existing vacant housing (esp. those units under rent control) by allowing market rate increases for five years. No building permits, Environmental reviews, financing issues, or public hearings involved.

    • Posted by BetterSF

      The only solution for SF housing lies in the California State. The only solution is for Caliornia to learn from Massachusetts and pass a “Rent Control Prohibition Initiative”. That’s the only way to solve SF’s housing problem. Mayor can not be blamed for housing problems (Ed is probably the best mayor people can ask for). Housing problem was caused by rent control, which was supported by many San Franciscan politicians.

      Massachusetts Rent Control Prohibition Initiative, Question 9 (1994)

      The Massachusetts Rent Control Prohibition Initiative, also known as Question 9, was on the November 8, 1994 ballot in Massachusetts as an initiated state statute. It was approved.

      The initiative prohibited rent control for most privately owned housing units and nullified certain existing rent control laws.

      This proposed law would prohibit rent control for most privately owned housing units in Massachusetts, and would nullify certain existing rent control laws, except that cities and towns would be authorized to adopt a restricted form of rent control for a six month period, after which compliance by property owners would be voluntary.

      The proposed law would prohibit any city or town from enacting, maintaining or enforcing any law that requires below-market rents for residential properties. It would also prohibit the regulation of occupancy, services, evictions, condominium conversion, or the removal of the unit from rent control, if such regulation was part of a system requiring below-market rents. Existing state and local rent control laws would be nullified. The proposed law would not affect publicly owned or subsidized housing, federally assisted housing, or mobile homes.

      Cities and towns would be authorized to adopt rent control for a six-month period on housing units that have a fair market rent of $400 or less and that are owned by a person or entity owning ten or more rental units. Such rent control could not include the regulation of occupancy, services, evictions, condominium conversion, or the removal of the unit from rent control. The city or town would have to pay the owners of rent-controlled units the difference between the controlled rent and the fair market rent. After six months, owners of rent-controlled units would not be required to comply with the rent control regulation or with any other such regulation that the city or town might adopt in the future.

      The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 1995. The proposed law states that if any of its provisions were declared invalid, the other provisions would remain in effect.

      • Posted by Not Bashing

        This would be a huge game changer, for sure! I realize there would be some short term pain, due to displacement of long time tenants. But the end result would be lower rents and housing costs for everyone, in very short order. Perhaps it could happen at the state level…

      • Posted by actionless action

        As recently as 2008 California voters rejected an initiative to phase out rent control. The vote split more than 60:40, with a million vote differential.

        The experience in Boston and Cambridge is a deep caution against such a rash act as the 1994 MA law.

        • Posted by Not Bashing

          I can’t say I am familiar with what happened in Boston. can you elaborate?

  4. Posted by Grace

    What about cleaning the filthy city? What about the countless homeless camps set up on the embarcadero and Justin Herman plaza? What about the third world condition of our roads?

    • Posted by Spencer

      The roads seem like they haven’t been touched in 20 yrs. they are a disgrace

      • Posted by Futurist

        And yet SF has a huge DPW workforce, well paid and with good pensions.

        The roads are not that important, apparently.

  5. Posted by Grace

    This mayor and his staff have created a city environment that has the lowest quality of life for its residents in decades. Certainly someone will step up to run against him and his right hand advisor.

    • Posted by R

      Sounds pretty subjective… especially as more money has been spent on improving roads, bike/ped infra and parks than probably any other time in the last 50 years. I’d argue that, though it might have a pretty high cost of living, it also has one of the best quality of living metrics of any other comparable city, along with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Sounds pretty alright to me.

    • Posted by cfb

      I dunno about that, and I say that as someone who has lived in SF for decades. SF is safer overall compared to the last 45 years, and many areas are a lot cleaner and more upscale than they used to be. There’s more income inequality, but there’s also a lot less crime…so I guess you could say that for the upper classes, quality of life has mostly gotten better (less crime and grit, more neighborhoods appeal to them now), while for the lower classes it’s gotten better in some ways (less crime and grit), and worse in others (constantly increasing/ultra-high housing prices making life harder, or pushing them out of the city).

      Though if you consider a growing population and increased development to be a quality of life issue (like our sizable NIMBY population), than yes…SF is at its worst quality of life ever, because it’s at its highest population ever and is in the middle of the biggest building boom since the 1970s/80s. That would be a dumb way to look at it though.

  6. Posted by mfantasia

    After selling out the middle class and completely discarding the lower class he thinks this feeble attempt will correct it all. You’re a sell-out Ed Lee, a predictable politician that can be bought and sold.

    Thanks for ruining San Francisco.

    • Posted by R

      Curious; how do you think a mayor could have better addressed / work for middle + lower class? In basic terms…

  7. Posted by Spencer

    Can we add a bullet point for public transportation? Our is horrendous and it won’t get better with a bunch of new housing and a few errantly placed bike lanes. I would prefer we keep the housing shortage and rising prices, spend all that “housing money” on usable subway system, then expand housing down the road. All these new people need to have usable public transport

    • Posted by Not Bashing

      Agreed. Public transportation should be at or near the top of the list.

  8. Posted by rinconmike

    I think the mayor is doing a great job. San Francisco is lucky to be having this boom. Get over it!

    • Posted by actionless action

      this boom is lucky to have san francisco. they did a wondrous job on the mayor, for a hand puppet. ftfy.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Yup. Lee’s benefitted from circumstance. Other than the Twitter tax break, I’m hard-pressed to find policies that I think were useful or appropriate. Public transit is ludicrous, and money is being wasted on pie-in-the-sky planning visioning exercises while existing parks and infrastructure fall apart.

  9. Posted by Indeed

    “We don’t have violent crime, only quality of life issues…if you dont like it move to the suburbs” SF progressive Board of Supervisors.

  10. Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

    SF is definitely in the best shape from a liveability standpoint that I’ve seen in the last 25 years. A huge economic and property boom certainly helps. But it is still shameful that so many problems persist (infrastructure, grime, etc.).

    Money is not an issue. We have an $8 billion budget. Chicago, with 3X the population, only has an $8.9 billion budget. Not saying that Chicago is perfect, but SF clearly is uber-wasteful in its spending and is not getting its bang for the buck. Primary culprit is the multi-billion dollar non-profit social services industry. I’m all for high spending on social services, but SF does it in an extremely ineffective and wasteful manner. There is zero accountability, and zero consideration for whether the dollars to such groups actually have any positive impact.

  11. Posted by Anon

    Jobs came in. Public safety? Crime is down but there’s a killing every week in the Mission these days, while it continues to gentrify wildly. There’s a huge disconnect, there.

    No, Lee sucks because he does not address infrastructure. The roads suck. Overhead electrical wires should be obsolete. Transit is not good enough. Schools are not good enough. Homeless remain a huge problem.

    This RE boom should be adding quite a windfall. New property tax marks are the golden goose. What on earth does he do with the money?

    • Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

      I just went the the SF Controller’s web site and downloaded the proposed FY 15-16 to 19-20 five year financial plan. I’m going to work my way through it, but Im no financial wizard. Hopefully somebody who’s better with the numbers can download the PDF as well and pull out some relevant info on how the budget is split between services including infrastructure and transportation.

      • Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

        Spoke too soon. I did find this:

        FY14-15 Total Budget by Major Service Area
        – Public Works, Transportation & Commerce: 37%
        – Community Health: 22%
        – Public Protection: 15%
        – Human Welfare & Neighborhood Development: 12%
        – General Administration & Finance: 10%
        – Culture & Recreation: 4%

        Total FY14-15 budget: $8.6 Billion

  12. Posted by Beatrice Plotter

    ^^ This number does not bother you?! Seems like there are countries which could and have made better use of these funds, no? Try living in those counties and see if your quality of life is better and then report back.

  13. Posted by BetterSF

    Current SF mayor is great. However some supervisors are terrible, they continuously propose some low quality and problem creating policies. All the housing problems were caused by those supervisors and their mentors.

  14. Posted by Paul

    Housing is very important – but so is transport. MUNI is ridiculous. It is often faster to walk rather than ride the bus. Our poor transportation system really affects quality of life in the City.

    • Posted by actionless action

      Mayor Lee’s unannounced fitness program: “often faster to walk rather than ride the bus”

      • Posted by Beatrice Plotter

        Because the soda tax failed? Mayor Lee is a brilliant unintended strategist. Must follow in his footsteps.

        The recent private developments have helped eased the housing crunch in the sense developers believe there isn’t much upside left to build more rental housing. So now, the trend seems to be back to building more condos for sale. In a couple of years, you’ll see rental prices come down a bit from their skyhigh perches. Of course, reasonably-priced rentals will get snapped up quickly.

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