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Supervisor Matt Haney has been pushing for a November ballot measure that if passed would establish a new department and commission tasked with cleaning up San Francisco’s streets. The supervisor’s efforts are a step closer to paying off.

The San Francisco Board of Rules Committee Monday voted 2-1 to send the charter amendment to a full board vote. After gaining support from Supervisor Ahsha Safai last week, Haney, who sponsored the charter amendment, has now secured the six votes needed for ballot inclusion.

Haney said at a press conference last week that now is the time to ask voters to approve the Department of Sanitation and Streets as The City grapples with an alleged corruption scandal involving with its former Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru.

Aaron Levy-Wolins/SFBay Mohammed Nuru, San Francisco Public Works director, speaks at a tree maintenance program launch in Noe Valley in San Francisco, Calif. on Wednesday, July 19, 2017.

The measure would transfer street cleaning duties from Public Works to the newly formed department and would establish two new commissions — one to oversee Public Works and another that would monitor the new department. Both commissions would consist of five members.

Approximately 835 out of the 1,711 current DPW employees would shift over to the new department, a report from the Controller’s Office said.

Haney said Thursday:

“San Franciscans deserve clean and healthy streets and the only way we are going to get there is by creating a department with proper accountability, public input, transparency and focusing our resources and guiding expertise necessary to get the job done.”

The supervisor has made several measure amendments, including one that would allow the City Administrator’s Office and DPW staff to provide administrative support to the new department as a way to save costs.

Critics of the measure have objected to the increased annual cost associated with forming the new department, especially The City faces a projected $2 billion budget deficit.

Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who voted against the measure in committee, said last week:

“First, while I appreciate this proposal’s goal of increasing transparency and accountability in Public Works, I do have serious questions and concerns about its potential cost. As we know, The City is staring down a nearly $2 billion budget deficit over the next two years and in making decisions about our budget, we will have to take a hard look at which critical services will survive.”

Ching Wong/SFBay Street cleaners at Public Works use high pressure water jets to wash Golden Gate Avenue and Leavenworth Street in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, October 4, 2018.

Stefani proposed her own amendment that would have created just a commission to oversee DPW, but it was voted down by supervisors Hillary Ronen and Gordon Mar in committee.

The report from the Controller’s Office estimates the new department would cost between $2.5 million to $6 million annually, beginning in the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Haney said:

“This is a very small cost to create a structure that can actually get the job done, which will ultimately have a very positive impact on our city’s revenue and on the quality of life of our residents.”

The full board is expected to consider the ballot measure and voted during its July 21 meeting.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco for SF Bay. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn. Instagram: jeroldwashere.

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