Local-hiring law to boost work force 

Out-of-work San Franciscans are in line to benefit from one of the most aggressive local-hiring laws in the nation.

The City’s goal to have half the jobs on public construction projects go to those living in San Francisco has long fallen short, averaging about 20 percent.

But on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 to require construction contractors to hire locals, building on a similar law in effect in Cleveland — the only other law of its kind. During the first year, contractors will have to hire locals to fill 20 percent of the hours worked, and the mandate would increase by 5 percent annually, until reaching 50 percent in year seven.

“During the Depression, we saw how government was able to put many people back to work through publicly funded construction projects. We have a great opportunity to do that here in San Francisco,” said Supervisor John Avalos, who introduced the legislation. During the next 10 years, up to $30 billion in capital spending is expected.

Supervisors Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu and Michela Alioto-Pier opposed it. Alioto-Pier said the proposal was “a step in the right direction,” but the Controller’s Office had suggested “more cost-effective ways” to make it work.

The mandate is expected to increase contract costs, but supporters say the expense will be dwarfed by the projected economic impact of more local hiring.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who will likely leave office Jan. 3 to become lieutenant governor, remains noncommittal. He could veto the bill, which would take eight votes to override.

“The mayor supports stronger local-hire requirements, but the details on legislation with this much potential cost impact matter a great deal,” Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said.

Labor leaders had blasted the local-hiring mandate for being unrealistic. They said it failed to account for the numerous factors that lead to having a majority of the skilled work force living outside the boundaries of San Francisco. The legislation originally required 50 percent local hiring within three years, which was scaled back. Also, a three-year review was established, when changes could be made.

The board is scheduled to take a second and final vote on the ­legislation next Tuesday.

IN OTHER ACTION
In an 11-0 vote, legislation introduced by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier was approved that requires the Police Department to make annual reports on meeting the goal of collecting rape kits within 72 hours of the reported incident, testing evidence within 14 days and examining other DNA samples from the crime scene within a certain time frame.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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