Budget projections show deficits rising in S.F.

By Heather Knight : sfchronicle – excerpt

Everything about San Francisco’s budget is big — even, it turns out, its deficits. The booming center of tech and tourism isn’t quite so booming these days, and new budget projections show the city’s books over the next five years are out of whack to the tune of $848 million.

Even more mind-boggling is a new actuarial report on the city’s pension system. In just one year, the city’s long-term pension liabilities have shot up from $2.3 billion to $5.48 billion. That’s because returns on investments have been low, and life expectancies have risen, a problematic combination when you’re paying retired people…

Good time to start laying off the over-paid future planning staff and get down to the work of keeping the ship afloat instead of floating more bonds and other debt. Laying off high-paid staff is how the private sector handles it. Let’s see if City Hall can figure out how to keep the lights on today, by giving up on controlling the future.

While liberal cities await that potential doomsday scenario, the current monetary problems are much more mundane. Sales tax revenue and transfer tax revenue from the sales of property are both lagging. The sales tax measure that would have brought in $150 million a year for homelessness and transit failed in the November election.

City Hall should take a hint from the Clinton playbook and listen to the public. Quit spending millions of dollars trying to convince us we need to change. Listen to what we want. We do not want expensive sidewalk treatments and street closures that are killing our businesses, indicated by the economic slowdown many predicted, and why the sales tax lost. CITY HALL POLICIES ARE KILLING BUSINESS IN SF.

See below for the proof of what we have been saying for awhile. Healthy commerce depends on the healthy flow of traffic on our streets. Our businesses are suffering because of the traffic problems and employers are losing workers due to displacement.

And perhaps most problematically, the city’s pension fund is underperforming. The city assumes a 7.5 percent rate of return on its pension investments, but it has fallen way short of that the past two years. Two years ago, it earned 3.9 percent, and last year it earned 1.3 percent… (more)




San Francisco, two-party town

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

There’s not a lot of room in the center these days. Mayor Ed Lee has left this town so divided that we have two political parties.

I am increasingly coming to believe that San Francisco is now a two-party city – and oddly, we are seeing that reflected in the race to determine who will run the Democratic Party.

Republicans are almost entirely irrelevant in San Francisco (the last GOP office holder, BART Board member James Fang, lost his seat two years ago. There hasn’t been a Republican in any significant elected office in years). There’s a modest Green Party, which at one time counted among its members Sups. Matt Gonzalez and Ross Mirkarimi. Mirkarimi later became a Democrat…

But the real two-party system right now is between the progressive party and the Ed Lee/real-estate/tech mogul party. And this city has become so deeply divided that there is no room for anyone in the middle.

I give the mayor full credit for that.

In times of severe crisis, and this city is in a severe crisis, people don’t want to spend a lot of time on the nuances of political positions. They want to know – and they should know – whose side are you on?…

We used to get all sorts of candidates at the Guardian who come in and tell us that we should endorse them because they’d vote our position “most of the time.” That’s fine – you want people who think for themselves in public office, not people who just follow a script.

But when it’s more and more likely that the San Francisco so many of us care so much about is going to be gone in a few years, when the displacement of people and community-serving businesses and nonprofits has been unlike anything any of us have seen since the worst days of Redevelopment half a century ago, it’s hard to find compromise and middle ground.

That’s why there were so many 6-5 votes on the Board of Supes last year, before Aaron Peskin won and created a progressive majority. There are fewer 6-5 votes now, in part because it’s an election year and Sup. London Breed, who is facing a challenge from the left, has moved away from the mayor on some issues. (We’re going to see eight votes in favor of declaring a housing emergency, enough to override a mayoral veto).

But the board will be deeply divided again next year; we just don’t know who will be in the majority….

As I often say about class warfare, it’s not our fault: We didn’t declare the war. The one percent, the Republicans and Wall Street Democrats declared war on us. We’re just fighting back so we can survive.

The left didn’t create the division in this city; the mayor did that. Now people who can’t stand it anymore are responding… (more)

The degree to which some at City Hall have fallen is amazing. This week I realized just how bent the “newcomers” are on ridding themselves of us. I was shocked to learn of plans to remove old favorites such as the Swan Depot on Polk Street. Then I received a message from someone on Mission who told me every one is freaked over what the SFMTA did with that street. so… I wrote this OpEd: