Every budget cycle, the Mayor’s Office delivers a draft budget to the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee.
Items in that draft budget are then trimmed or eliminated to create a pot of money for the supervisors to divvy up across the city and in their districts – all behind closed doors. Called the “add-back” budget, these funds can go toward a variety of city programs, ranging from playgrounds to nonprofit programming.
It’s a controversial process. The Civil Grand Jury suggested be put to an end. In 2011, Mayor Ed Lee tried to reduce the add-back by setting funding in advance. No matter, it’s here to stay. Let’s see how the supervisors of District 7 and District 11 made out this budget cycle.
District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee brought in $1,110,000 for 2016-17 and $550,000 for 2017-18.
$300,000 for both 2016-17 and 2017-18 will go toward Participatory Budgeting, a public process that allows residents to submit and vote on specific projects.
$250,000 for 2016-17 as well as $150,000 for 2017-18 will be used for Participatory Budgeting projects related to pedestrian safety and Vision Zero projects.
$65,000 will go to the San Francisco Zoo for a composter.
The districts playgrounds received $200,000 for 2016-17 and $100,000 2017-18. West Portal playground, which is moving forward in fundraising, along with Miraloma and Golden Gate playgrounds which are just beginning the process.
Senior services $75,000 for 2016-17 to activate more clubhouses, according to Yee’s Legislative Aide Jen Low.
The district’s commercial corridors – Ocean Avenue and West Portal – have $20,000 for 2016-17.
$40,000 for 2016-17 in supplemental funds will be for the West Portal neighborhood’s Dorchester median. “The San Francisco Public Utility Commission gave them a grant for the project but it wasn’t enough,” Low said.
Vintage lights on Rockaway Court by St. Brendan’s Church will be modernized with $160,000 for 2016-17
Yee supported these approved expenditures: early childcare and education; playgrounds and parks; Vision Zero pedestrian safety improvements; public safety and violence prevention; criminal justice reform; youth engagement and employment training; HIV/AIDS prevention and services; LGBT support services; senior and people with disabilities support services; food security; paid family leave support and outreach; homelessness support services and housing; environmental landscaping improvements; utility undergrounding; family and community festivals; youth and family job training programs; and mental health services.
District 11 Supervisor John Avalos, who has served as budget chair, secured $1,256,000 for 2016-17 and $496,000 for 2017-18.
“The supervisor wants to put money toward the district’s infrastructure needs to get attention from city departments,” District 11 Legislative Aide Beth Rubenstein said. “Add-backs are a way to call attention to problems.”
Sisterhood Farms on Brotherhood Way, a new community garden, received $50,000 for 2016-17 to continue construction for community area.
Crocker Farm, also a community garden, received $75,000 for both years to support building it. “Construction may even begin in October,” Rubenstein said.
Ridge Lane, a project to beautify an access road, received $75,000 for 2016-17 for ongoing construction of the next phase.
Pedestrian Safety received $100,000 for 2016-17. These funds, from the San Francisco County Transportation Agency, will go toward building bulbout and refuges on Geneva.
Persia Triangle streetscape improvement received $50,000 for 2016-17. There will be greening and seating at the corner, according to Rubenstein.
Jerry Garcia plaques on Mission near the musician’s childhood home received $10,000 for 2016-17.
Geneva Avenue median greening in Crocker Amazon received $50,000 for 2016-17.
A crossing guard program received $56,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
The historic buildings at 3545 Onondaga received $20,000 for 2016-17. “We’re trying to activate the building ASAP,” Rubenstein said. The funds will be used for research and cost estimation.
Beautification and economic development for Broad-Randolph corridor received $75,000 for 2016-17 and $65,000 for 2017-18. Those funds go toward supporting the Office of Economic Workforce Development’s Invest in Neighborhoods work there.
Transitional Aged Youth Workforce development received $75,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Cultural support for Chinese language job connector received $75,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Outreach to monolingual Chinese speakers in the OMI received $75,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Excelsior family resource building received $100,000 for 2016-17 for opening new facility on Mission Street.
Merced Heights playground received $125,000 for 2016-17 for preparation of replacement.
OMI senior services received $75,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Seniors services for Cayuga received $40,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Athens-Avalon construction project received $20,000 for 2016-17 to continue development of the hillside garden.
These last four are add-backs from last year. When the two-year budget is approved, second year add-backs often cut or reduced, according to Rubenstein.
Transitional Aged Youth Workforce development programming received $5,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Youth job training for architectural careers received $5,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Workforce development for Excelsior Asian Pacific Islander community received $10,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Community engagement for housing received $10,000 for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
This article first appeared in The Light’s September 2016 edition.