While unemployed San Franciscans struggle to pay for food, rent and education, construction jobs on city-funded projects are overwhelmingly being filled by residents of other cities.
A city-funded analysis of San Francisco data related to 29 city-backed projects found that more than three out of every four hours of construction work were performed by someone from out of town.
Renovation of Balboa Street pavement, as an extreme example, took construction workers 11,778 hours to complete and city residents secured 12 percent of the work, according to the analysis published Monday by nonprofits Brightline Defense Project and Chinese for Affirmative Action.
Failure to hire locals has caused protests during the past year that shut down home- and library-building projects in the Bayview district — which is grappling with massive unemployment despite public projects under way — and a solar project in the Sunset district.
“Everybody else comes into our community and builds apartments and condominiums that we can’t afford to live in,” Bayview resident and activist Macio Lyons said. “We want to work, too.”
San Francisco relies on good-faith efforts by contractors to ensure that half the hours worked on construction projects are performed by city residents.
Other cities, including Los Angeles and Richmond, mandate minimum local staffing levels on projects that they fund, according to BrightlineExecutive Director Joshua Arce.
“The City’s local hiring approach, which relies on the good-faith efforts of contractors, has failed and reform is required,” Arce said.
The report’s authors said The City should mandate minimum hiring levels of San Francisco residents and penalize contractors that fail to meet those requirements.
Guillermo Rodriguez, who leads efforts within Mayor Gavin Newsom’s administration to improve hiring of locals, praised the groups’ recommendations.
“We need to work in partnership with the building trades,” Rodriguez said. “They really are the vehicle for supplying the work force.”
The Board of Supervisors will consider mandating local hiring levels if legally possible, according to board President David Chiu, who called the report findings “very disturbing.”
Conclusions from an analysis on city-backed projects:
5,249,915: Hours of city construction work analyzed
50 percent: Work supposed to be performed by city residents
24.1 percent: Work actually performed by city residents
75.9 percent: Work performed by out-of-towners
19 percent: Residents’ share of Central Subway utilities work
54 percent: Residents’ share of Sunset Reservoir solar plant work
3.7 percent*: Work performed by women
* Smaller project sample analyzed
Sources: Chinese for Affirmative Action, Brightline Defense Project