Mayor London Breed's 2021 Budget Signing Speech

Delivered on July 29, 2021

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We have today with us the Budget Chair, Supervisor Matt Haney; we have members of the Board of Supervisors including Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, Supervisor Gordon Mar, Supervisor Myrna Melgar, Supervisor Connie Chan, and Supervisor Ahsha Safai. 

After all of the hard work that we did to get to this point, I will say that we all have a budget that we can be proud of. 

No, everyone did not get what they want; and yes, we wish we had more resources to do more. 

But at the end of the day, we worked together, and we should be proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. 

In addition to members of the Board of Supervisors, I want to thank our Budget leader, our Director, Ashley Groffenberger, for your hard work, you and your team, and also Sophia Kittler—Sophia, thank you for helping to facilitate this process, because I know it wasn’t easy. 

I also want to thank our Controller Ben Rosenfield for his hard work. 

Although the legislative budget analyst continues to take away my money, I can’t help but say how much I appreciate Harvey Rose and his team and the work they continue to do for this City, so thank you to them. 

Thank you to all the legislative aides and so many people who work countless hours. 

To many of the advocates and folks who really care about making sure San Francisco makes the right investments. 

And before I go any further to talk a little bit about those investments and sign this budget, let me just say that here in San Francisco, we have a reason to be concerned. 

There is a reason why we’re all showing up with masks here in City Hall. 

We see this Delta variant really taking flight. 

Right now, at least 77% of San Franciscans are fully vaccinated, and that is absolutely incredible. 

We should be proud. 

But there is clearly more work to be done. 

Kids under the age of 12 can not be vaccinated at this time. 

We know that fall is starting, and kids are expected to go back to school on August 15th. 

We have a commitment from the School District that that will occur. 

But a lot of folks are going to have to be masked. 

We’re going to have to protect our children. 

People who are hospitalized now are younger than they were at the beginning of this pandemic. 

We have to think about what is happening with this Delta variant and the need to make sure that we do our part. 

Yes, we are looking at mask mandates for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. 

Yes, we are looking at mandatory vaccines for folks who are not necessarily just City employees. 

We are looking at those with the City Attorney’s Office now. 

As soon as we have the details of what we are able to do, we will do them.  

We do not make these decisions lightly. It is very difficult to try and move people in one direction when we just felt like we came out of this pandemic in a way that we can celebrate. 

But the celebrations can’t completely start until more people are vaccinated, until we’re out of the woods where we don’t have any more people dying as a result of COVID-19. 

And just to give you a perspective, over the course of this entire pandemic, we have had not more than 600 deaths. 

San Francisco is one of the densest cities in the country, yet we’ve had one of the lowest death rates in the country. 

That is number one. 

Number two, we anticipate that if we do absolutely nothing, and we continue down this path, we can be assured that at least 300 people will die within a short time period. 

What does that tell you—this Delta variant is very, very deadly. 

I want to appeal to other members of San Francisco—our employees of the City and County of San Francisco, and others—please, get your vaccine and let’s continue to reopen our City and reopen our economy. 

Now, that is what these budget investments are about. 

In fact, we wish we didn’t have to put money aside to deal with this pandemic. 

But in this budget, $380 million—hopefully some of it will be reimbursed by FEMA—however we are prepared to make this investment because we know testing and access to vaccines is important. 

We know that healthcare and treatment for those who are hospitalized is important. 

We have to make that level of investments and continue to move our City down the road of recovery. 

In this budget, we have an unprecedented investment in homelessness and shelter and mental health beds and resources. 

$1 billion over the next two years, to deal with one of the most challenging problems that we have faced as a City. 

It’s important to make sure that we get people off the streets, we get them housed, and we get them into treatment. 

We did not take the decisions that we made to make these investments lightly. 

We should be really proud of what we have invested. Now let’s make sure these dollars work to change the conditions that we see on our streets. 

But it’s not just about housing. 

We were in the Haight Ashbury community yesterday, and there is a woman there who has been homeless for years, who has struggled, and who refuses to go indoors even though we have an option for her to go indoors. 

Our Street Crisis Response Team, our Street Wellness Team, our Street Overdose Teams—these are groups of people who are equipped to handle crisis situations. 

We are investing heavily in resources to try to deal with not just homelessness but the conditions that you see on the streets. 

We have got to help people and meet them where they are, because it is not easy. It is very complicated. It is challenging. 

The City has adjusted to meet those needs, so investing in our response and investing in our various neighborhoods in places where we know tourists will continue to come to visit, additional police academy classes, ambassadors, folks who are eyes and ears on the streets as we deal with some of the issues around crime. 

Then, making sure that our communities are not forgotten. 

We know that this has been a really hard year for the API community around the violence and the attacks that have existed. 

Investing heavily in not just the community organizations that serve so many of our seniors but Ambassador and escort programs in this particular community. 

Investing heavily in the community hardest hit because of the pandemic—our Latino community. 

Making sure that food security is provided for the Latino community but also other parts of San Francisco. 

Also, continuing our promise to the African American community with the Dream Keeper Initiative. 

Making sure that homeownership and resources are available to this community that has been challenged for many generations. The systemic racism that existed in this country requires a response that is aggressive and that is going to change the outcomes of that community in the City and County of San Francisco. 

So many great investments. Everything that makes sense to do, we did it. 

Rental assistance. Assistance for our small businesses. Thinking about our recovery and making sure that we make the right investments. 

I want to also say, that when we look at this budget, over $13 billion, it’s not just one thing or a few things that we’re paying for. 

This $13 billion includes our enterprise departments. It includes our Airport. It includes our public utilities commission, which runs our sewer, water and power systems. It includes our Port. It includes our public health system—we have our own County public health system unlike any other in the state of California. 

A lot of expenses are associated with this budget. 

But there are a lot of incredible investments. 

What I have said to Department heads and what I say to non-profits and anyone else who receives resources from the City and County of San Francisco, is that every single dollar has to make a difference for the people of this City. 

The people of the City are counting on us with these investments to make sure that the sidewalks are clean. To make sure that when a crime is committed, that the perpetrator is held accountable. To make sure that housing opportunities are provided for those who are struggling with homelessness. 

To make sure that our kids are back in school but more importantly with our $132 million investment in early childhood education that those who are low-income are able to get access to childcare, and those people who are right above that threshold who may not qualify for a low-income subsidy can also receive some additional support for childcare in San Francisco. 

Yes, these are investments that we can be proud of. 

And the people of San Francisco are counting on us to make good on our promises to deliver with these investments. 

I am hopeful that we will see a better San Francisco as we begin to implement a number of these policies and investments throughout the year. 

I want people to see and feel a difference in our City. 

I want them to feel when they walk outside the sidewalks are clean, and that’s just a given. 

That there isn’t someone having a mental health breakdown, but if there is, they have someone they can call to get that person help. 

I want to make sure that when we make these investments, that we are held accountable to deliver for you. 

So with that, I want to thank everyone again for their hard work on making this budget a reality. 

I want to thank the people of San Francisco for entrusting us with the ability to make these decisions.