By almost every measure, San Francisco’s economy boomed during Mayor Ed Lee’s six-year tenure, adding jobs, companies, housing and office space. Of course, that also exacerbated the city’s well-known issues: income disparity, congestion and transportation, and lack of affordable housing.
When San Francisco city officials explain why their annual budgets are so huge — this year’s totals $9.6 billion, an all-time record — there are usually two explanations.
First, new residents are swarming into San Francisco like seagulls to AT&T Park, and they’re expensive. The new residents, not the seagulls. The second? We’re a city and a county, which means we’re responsible for just about everything.
But on closer inspection, neither explanation holds up completely. For starters, the city budget has soared in recent years, far outpacing the population growth.
In 2010, the budget totaled $6.4 billion in a city with 805,000 people, meaning the city spent nearly $8,000 per capita. Six years later, the $9.6 billion budget is paying for services for 865,000 residents, or $11,100 per capita. Inflation explains a little of that increase, but certainly not all of it… (more)