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Jane Kim street cleaning plan swept away in committee

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A pile of trash is seen on a sidewalk near the edge of Jane Kim's supervisorial district on Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

A proposal to increase funding for street cleaning services by San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim was rejected by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Sub-Committee 2-1 on Thursday.

The proposal would have invested $2.5 million in surplus funds from the current budget year to hire more street cleaners to address complaints from residents who use The City’s 311 system who request cleanup of human waste, needles and other garbage left on the streets.

Under the rejected proposal, $1.6 million would go to hire more street cleaners and $230,000 would go to the Tenderloin Neighborhood Litter Reduction and Workforce Development Grant, which provides street cleaning services for in the Tenderloin five days a week. The funding boost would allow them to work seven days a week.

The proposal would also allocate $560,000 for Public Works to buy two street sweepers and $100,000 to pay for supplies such as brooms, shovels, pickers, bags, chemicals, uniforms and personal protective equipment.

Kim said that, back in 2011, there were 40,000 calls made to 311 for street cleaning requests:

“In 2017, that number almost doubled to almost 80,000.”

In just the first six months of the current fiscal year, 311 had received 50,000 calls for street cleaning requests and is on track to receive 100,000 calls by the end of the fiscal year, said Kim.

Kim is running for mayor and has made a campaign promise to keep The City’s streets clean.

Despite Kim’s pleas to her colleagues and from the public, supervisors Malia Cohen and Catherine Stefani voted no while Supervisor Sandra Fewer voted in favor of the proposal.

Cohen, who chairs the budget committee, said she knows the streets are dirty and hears the complaints but would rather not go through a budget supplemental during the middle of the fiscal year unless it was an emergency.

Last week, the committee approved a budget supplemental for the Public Defender’s office and nonprofits to hire additional attorneys and resources to help immigrants detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Cohen said the budget supplemental to the Public Defender’s Office rose to the “high, strict standard of an emergency” as ICE agents arrived late last month.

Kim’s proposal did not meet the standard, said Cohen:

“This particular supplemental request does not quite reach that threshold particularly because we have a commitment with the mayor’s office to engage in this process to fund this level.”

Melissa Whitehouse, budget director for Mayor Mark Farrell, said that funding for more street cleaning resources was a “very, very high priority for him.”

Whitehouse said the committee will be able to see the proposed budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and can decide then if the funding is accurate or not.

Whitehouse cautioned approving a budget supplemental during the middle of a fiscal year:

“…We’re doing it a time when we’re not considering all the trade-offs.”

Kim argued that the committee had previously approved a number of budget supplementals in the last couple of years, including those supported by both Cohen and Kim. Some of those supplementals included funding for HIV treatment and care services and for The City’s Homeless Outreach Team.

Kim said:

“I just don’t understand why those items are distinct from street cleaning today especially based on what we are hearing from our residents.”

Cohen said she had already warned all the supervisors that the budget committee would not consider budget supplementals through a memo with the exception of the one for immigrants approved last week because the request had come before the meme she had sent the memo out.

While Kim’s street cleaning budget supplemental was not approved, Kim’s legislative aide Ivy Lee said Kim will submit a form to the clerk’s office at the next Board of Supervisors meeting with signatures from four supervisors, including Kim’s signature, to pull the item from the budget committee and have the item heard at the full board.

This story has been updated with new information. 

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