Another bloody budget - Page 3

Newsom's latest budget slashes social services and would leave a long legacy of deficits

|
(6)
Mayor Gavin Newsom released his city budget proposal June 1, downplaying its most adverse impacts
PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

"If timely, effective, and coordinated mental health treatment is not provided to indigent and uninsured residents who are not seriously mentally ill, those residents are at risk of becoming seriously mentally ill and hence requiring more expensive and comprehensive mental health care from San Francisco," according to the ordinance, which was passed in June of 2005. Newsom's budget proposes changing this legislation to enable cuts to those services, which would result in 1,600 people losing treatment, according to Friedenbach.

Unfortunately, advocates for the poor has gotten used to this ritual of trying to restore cuts made by Newsom. "There are some sacred cows that seem to survive year after year, and then we're left fighting over what we can get," said Randy Shaw, executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC).

The Central City SRO Collaborative, which supports tenants living in single-room occupancy hotels in the mid-Market Street area and is operated through THC, is slated to be cut by 40 percent along with three other similar programs — a replay from last year when the mayor proposed eliminating funding and the Board of Supervisors restored the cut.

"I think you'd see more fires, more people dying from overdoses. You'd see really bad conditions," Jeff Buckley, director of the program, told us of the potential consequences of eliminating the inspections and resident training that is part of the program.

Funding was also eliminated for THC's Ellis Eviction Defense Program, the city's only free legal defense program with capacity to serve 55 low-income tenants facing eviction under the Ellis Act.

 

THREAT TO RENTERS

One of the most controversial proposals to emerge from Newsom's budget is a way for property owners and real estate speculators to buy their way out of the city lottery that limits conversion of rental properties and tenants-in-common (TICs) to privately-owned condos if they pay between $4,000 and $20,000 (depending on how long they have waited for conversion), a proposal to raise about $8 million for the city.

"I went back and forth because I know the Board of Supervisors can't stand this," Newsom said as he broached the subject at the June 1 announcement. "I still don't get this argument completely. Except it's a big-time ideological discussion. It's so darn ideological that I think it gets in the way of having a real discussion."

Yet Ted Gullicksen, director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, said the argument is quite clear: making it easier to convert rental units into condos will accelerate the loss of rental housing in a city where two-thirds of residents are tenants, in the process encouraging real estate speculation and evictions.

"It will encourage TIC conversions and evictions because it makes the road to converting TICs to condos that much easier," Gullicksen said. "It's going to be a huge gift to real estate speculators."

Newsom press secretary Tony Winnicker disputes that impact, saying that "these units were going to convert anyway, whether next year or six years. This merely accelerates that conversion without altering the lottery to protect jobs and services."

But Gullicksen said the proposal obviously undermines the lottery system, which is the only tool tenant advocates have to preserve the finite supply of rent-controlled apartments, noting that even if the condos are later rented out, they will no longer to subject to rent control. That's one reason why the Board of Supervisors has repeatedly rejected this idea, and why Newsom probably knows they will do so again.

Avalos said he and other progressive supervisors will oppose the proposal, despite the difficulties that will create in balancing the budget. "It's kind of like putting a gun to our heads," Avalos said of Newsom's inclusion of that revenue in his budget.

Comments

Well, everyone better get used to these budgets because it's going to be much worse next year and the year after. The truth is SF simply can't afford to continue programs and services that are not required by federal or state law. The money is not there and will not be there in the future. Spending $200,000,000 a year on "homeless services" is insane. A very large number of our local "homeless" have no reason to be here in the first place and are going to have to find some other place to fleece. We're out of money. A lot of people used to having the city taxpayers subsidize everything are going to have to either pay for things themselves or find somewhere else that can afford to pay. We can't as we are out of money. A lot of people used to having the city hold their hand as they wander through life are going to have to go it alone. We can't afford it anymore.

There are not going to be new taxes. Not in this economy. SF, like the state, is going to have to learn to live with a lot less government and a lot less services. We're broke.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 9:19 am

Yes, you're right. It's true. We've been living way beyond our means and wasting unsupportable amounts on a luxury we just can't afford any more: the ruling class.

Posted by Michael Lyon on Jun. 13, 2010 @ 3:18 am

Guest, you're right. We're living way beyond our means, wasting unsupportable amounts of money on a luxury we just can't afford any more: the ruling class.

Posted by Michael Lyon on Jun. 13, 2010 @ 3:20 am

Well, Guest, let's work with the scenarios you mentioned. How much money would be left over in the SF budget if first priority is given to mandated programs and services and basic city services? How can it be determined fairly who will benefit from the largesse (such as it is) of government and who must suffer without? I'd welcome a discussion of how and why city government should prioritize in tough economic times that reaches a middle ground between "as little government as possible except for property protection's blank check" and "as many government programs as people ask for."

And please, let's stop using aid for the homeless as the rationale for cutting back on all government social services. That's just an excuse to make one feel less guilty about the Board of Supervisors' making some terrible and painful decisions.

Or we could try to increase the pool of moneys available to city government to make the lives of as many citizens as possible better. If people are willing to buy million dollar condos to live in San Francisco, that says to me they have an equal responsibility to pay their fair share of the city services that make this city such a desirable place to live.

Newsom clearly is not interested in any ideas for solving the city's budget shortfall that doesn't fall somewhere within his agenda. I suspect this year's budget like previous years was crafted after the Mayor had an orgy with his Official Milton Friedman Sex Doll (TM). Because what Newsom wants to do in his budget would have given that vile Chicago Boy economist a good stiffy.

Posted by Peter on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

With a line like " I suspect this year's budget like previous years was crafted after the Mayor had an orgy with his Official Milton Friedman Sex Doll (TM). " how do you expect us to take anything you say seriously?

Of course, this does help illustrate that the SFBG is priced at exactly the value of its services. The laws of economics prevail.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 11, 2010 @ 7:08 am

This article ignores the elephant in the room -- the City spends way too much on public employee pension costs, healthcare costs, and wages. Until that spending is cut, there is never going to be enough money for the projects cited in the article. And the voters don't want to vote for new taxes when their money is going to finance sweetheart pensions.

Posted by Patrick on Jun. 13, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

Also from this author

  • Police provide explanation of Bernal Heights Park shooting at emotional town hall meeting

  • San Francisco's untouchables

    Is San Francisco trying to help the homeless -- or drive them away?

  • Draining the tank

    Students push UC system to divest from fossil fuels, joining an international movement gathering soon in San Francisco