San Francisco road-repair bond cruises to ballot 

A $248 million bond to fix San Francisco streets after decades of neglect was placed on the November ballot Tuesday. Now the hard part begins: convincing voters to approve it.

City officials are counting on the bond’s approval to invest $53 million more into street repairs next fiscal year alone and to put San Francisco on target to have better streets, not worse in the coming years.  

Mayor Ed Lee’s bond proposal was placed on the ballot Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors in a 9-2 vote. It has a tough road ahead for passage, however, needing a two-thirds majority to pass.

Lee has said the bond is one of his main focuses and praised the board’s decision to place it on the ballot.

“If we wait, city taxpayers could end up spending as much as five times more to fix our streets and prevent potholes,” Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey said. “It is clearly the time to invest in our infrastructure. Today’s vote shows an enormous amount of support and shows that the city has prioritized street reconstruction and pedestrian safety.”

The bond, however, has its opponents, which might not bode well for its passage.

“I don’t believe we should be funding street improvements with debt,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell, who voted against the bond along with Supervisor Sean Elsbernd. “It’s bad public policy.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who “strongly” supports the bond measure, said that it was unrealistic for The City to pay for road maintenance with existing resources.

“We have hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance on our roads,” Wiener said.

“This is a not situation where we can just pay to bring our roads up to par out of our general fund. As much as we might want to do that it is not possible given the 30 years that we’ve neglected our roads and allowed them to fall into this state of disrepair,” he said.

The interest on top of the borrowed $248 million will total $189 million, according to Budget Analyst Harvey Rose’s street bond report. The property tax for a single-family home assessed at $500,000 will average $37.33 a year for 24 years. The bond is timed to coincide with the expiration of other city debt so those who pay property taxes won’t experience a tax increase.


Road to improvement

The $248 million Road Repaving and Street Safety General Obligation Bond was put on the Nov. 8 ballot.

  • $148.4 million: Street repaving
  • $22 million: Construct 1,900 curb ramps, improve sidewalks
  • $7.3 million: Repair bridges, guard rails, tunnels, stairs
  • $50 million: Installation of pedestrian, bike safety improvements
  • $20.3 million: Upgrade traffic signals along popular Muni routes

Source: Mayor’s Office

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