San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim plans to bypass the usual protocols of government in order to get her $2.5 million "clean streets" proposal heard before the full Board of Supervisors next month.
The plan was voted down during a budget committee hearing last week; however, Kim tells the Investigative Unit she has the support of three of her fellow supervisors to take advantage of a rarely used legislative tactic that could force the entire board to vote on the proposal, despite the plan failing to gain enough support during the committee process.
"Every year we have increased our budget for street cleaning services, and every year we are not meeting the demand as it increases.," Kim said. "It's just completely unacceptable that our children have to walk around needles and feces."
Kim proposed spending $2.5 million in surplus city funds to bolster the amount of staff and equipment at the city's Public Works Deparment. Her plan calls for an additional 20 street cleaners, an 8 percent increase to the city's current total of 248 positions. Two additional two street sweeping machines would also be added as part of the plan.
"It's irresponsible of me to support a one-off spending proposal while we're trying to build a holistic, transparent, priority-driven and balanced budget," said Supervisor Malia Cohen, who chairs the Budget and Finance Subcommittee.
Cohen, speaking during last week's committee hearing, voiced opposition to Kim's proposal and insisted that such a spending proposal go through the stanfard budgetary process, the next round of which won't be approved until July. Bypassing that process, she said, should be done only for emergencies. "This particular request does not quite reach that threshold," she said.
"I think the conditions of our streets are a state of emergency," Kim told the Investigative Unit. She points out that the board has used leftover budget funds to pay for urgent services like HIV care, homeless outreach teams, and lawyers for unaccompanied youth.
In a 2-1 vote, Kim's proposal failed to garner enough support to move on from the committee hearing to the full board. Supervisors Catherine Stefani and Malia Cohen voted against the measure while Sandra Lee Fewer voted in favor.
Kim now intends to utilize a rarely used strategy to circumvent the committee''s lack of support. If she gathers support, and signatures, from three or more supervisors, she can invoke Board Rule 3.36, which allows her to bypass the budget committes and bring her proposal directly to the full board. Kim intends to introduce the proposal during the April 3 board meeting, which would allow for a vote on the plan on April 10.
Clean streets have become a rallying cry in Kim's campaign for mayor. Her campaign website includes the banner "Jane Kim Means Clean Streets."
Frankie Gonzalez manages Cafe Roma on Bryant Street and blames the amount of nearby filth on what he describes as about a 15 percent drop in business over the past three years.
"We pride ourselves on getting good ratings and stuff, but it’s hard to keep it clean when you walk in on the dirty streets and then you track it inside the store," he said. "We have to bleach the floors and stuff like that at night."
Gonzalez spots needles and filth nearly every day around the coffee shop, which rests within Kim's district, which includes SOMA and the Tenderloin.
"I have so many customers that mail order our coffee because they don't want to come to San Francisco any more," said Lisa Dedes, who co-owns the coffee shop with Gonzalez.
"We pay our taxes. They should be cleaning up."