Issues $487.5 million in general obligation bonds for capital projects for: mental health, substance abuse and homelessness programs; parks and recreation facilities; and street improvement, maintenance and repair.
What the Measure Would Do
Proposition A would authorize the City and County of San Francisco to issue general obligation bonds totaling $487.5 million for numerous capital projects in three major categories: mental health, substance abuse and homelessness; parks, open space and recreation facilities; and street maintenance and improvements.
The measure would fund a number of capital projects across the three categories, and is largely framed as an investment in employment and economic recovery in the context of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The bond would direct:
- $239 million to parks and open space, including $25 million to renovate the Japantown Peace Plaza, $30 million to double the space of the Gene Friend Recreation Center in the South of Market area, and $29 million to create a waterfront park at India Basin. This also includes a $54 million project to renovate Portsmouth Square in Chinatown.
- $147 million to permanent supportive housing, transitional housing and shelters.
- $60 million to projects addressing mental health and substance-use disorders, including construction of a new Behavioral Health Access Center for mental health and addiction services, among other facilities.
- $42 million dollars to streets, with three quarters going toward paving and the remainder toward curb ramps and structures like stairs and retaining walls.
The projects funded by this measure are recommended in the city’s 10-year capital plan. Prop. A also meets the city’s policy that new bond debt is taken on only as existing debt is retired and thus does not raise property taxes above 2006 rates. The Citizens’ General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee would review how the bond money is spent.
This measure was proposed by Mayor London Breed and, after some modifications, was approved unanimously for the ballot by the Board of Supervisors. With a large number of priorities in the city’s 10-year capital plan competing for bond funding, city leaders generally put bond measures forward in a deliberate sequence to cover the full range of issues (e.g., housing one cycle, parks another). Although this measure contains several different types of projects, the unanimous Board approval reflects a general consensus on the measure’s priorities and package of projects.
As a bond measure, Prop. A requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
The projects identified in Prop. A generally benefit low-income communities, communities of color, people without homes and people who have disabilities. Proposed major parks and recreation projects are located in SoMA, Visitation Valley, Chinatown, India Basin and Japantown. Public open space amenities are especially important to an equitable city during the current public health emergency, when struggling communities are further disadvantaged by having less access to open space, mobility and school-based services. Funding for improved streets and curb ramps directly benefits those with disabilities and limited mobility. In addition, these projects would generate jobs in our current and severe economic crisis that furthers the burdens faced by those who already have the least.
- This measure funds important housing, public health, open space and streets projects, many of which directly benefit low-income communities and people of color.
- Prop. A would create an estimated 5.93 jobs per million construction dollars during a severe economic downturn.
- The measure would provide public open space that is critical to enabling health, safety and social resilience during this and future public health crises.
- This measure is a fiscally responsible use of the city’s bonding capacity, constrained to keeping property taxes at or below 2006 rates.
- The measure lacks a clear set of criteria for its selection of projects, with some projects appearing to be included for political support.
- As with all expenditures, funding these projects means other worthy priorities would have to wait for subsequent rounds of bond funding.
Although this measure includes a wide range of seemingly unrelated projects, they are beneficial to the city and would particularly benefit vulnerable populations and communities impacted by systemic racism. The investments funded by Prop. A support SPUR’s vision for an equitable “15-minute city,” where neighborhoods — including public spaces — are designed for safety and belonging and where residents can easily take care of their regular activities without the use of a car.
Overall, this measure is a fiscally responsible use of the city’s bonding authority and is likely to provide meaningful economic stimulus, job creation and social support during a time of prolonged economic and public health crisis.