SF Mayor London Breed announced her $13 billion budget Tuesday, with a surprise $157 million surplus, and a billion-dollar pledge to housing the homeless population.

It was just seven months ago that San Francisco was looking at a $1.5 billion budget deficit, and the unattractive options of laying off city employees, or just not giving anyone raises anymore, and the inevitable slashing of public services. But things have gotten a hell of a lot better over the last seven months! Biden’s stimulus package pretty much wiped out our deficit overnight, and the state of California is suddenly throwing surplus money around around like mad, and that largesse has bailed San Francisco out of deficit times.

Critics could argue that Breed had nothing to do with either of these developments, but she was in office when they happened, and she will get credit for steering the city through this unpleasantness. Hence the mayor was in quite a celebratory mood Tuesday afternoon when she announced a $13 billion budget, which the Chronicle points out features a historically large $1 billion to fight homelessness.  

You can watch her speech above, which in true SFGovTV fashion, starts with 18 minutes of dead air. When Breed does take the stage at Willie ‘Woo Woo’ Wong Playground in Chinatown, it is no accident that she appears in front of the largest in-person crowd we’ve seen for any official government address since the start of the pandemic.

“At least 80% of eligible people have been vaccinated,” she announced, referring to the SF vaccination rate (and those are first-dose numbers, but the fully vaccinated rate is still an impressive 66%.) “I can finally declare with pride and confidence that we are literally out of the woods — but keep your mask on.”

And amidst the justified joy over the city reemerging from shut-in COVID morbidity, Breed had welcome budget news too. “We are announcing we’ve officially balanced our latest two-year budget,” she said, on the heels of the Examiner’s mid-May news that the city now has a $157 million surplus.

This being San Francisco, City Hall will have no problem spending it. And the landmark news here is how, with the billion-dollar commitment (over the next two years), SF is fighting homelessness. Breed proposed 6,000 new housing placements within the next year through the purchase of more shelter-in-place hotel-style arrangements, new RV housing sites, and of course the old bus-ticket-out-of-town strategy.

“Yes, this is a historic investment for our city, but we have to be honest with ourselves,” she said. “If we’re going to see change on our streets, it takes more than money. We also have to have the will to make the change.”

Breed’s budget does not defund the police, and apparently funds them more, as she noted the city loses 80 officers per year. “In this budget, we are proposing two police academy classes to keep our ranks stable,” she said, adding the department is getting more diverse, with sizable increases in officers of color.  She also spoke to some manner of Office of Justice Innovation, which was not particularly fleshed out, and added there would be more street crisis response teams.

We would not be back in surplus times without all that cash from the state and the feds, and Breed played the loyal Democrat by name-checking all benefactors. She thanked “Gavin Newsom, who has led California and delivered for our workers and our small businesses and our most vulnerable residents through programs like Project Homekey. And thanks to the American Rescue Plan put forward by our president Joe Biden, our vice president Kamala Harris, and the speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, we don’t have a crushing budget deficit. Thanks to all those folks.”

The rest of the speech was the potpourri you’d expect; acknowledging small business’ struggles, condemning the attacks on Asian elders, talking up overdose prevention and the fentanyl menace. But it was a speech, it was not a set of numbers submitted on paper. And her budget does have to go through the Board of Supervisors, so there will likely be some drama there.

Breed did apply a mild nudge in that regard. “After we get this budget passed and we move these dollars into action, we are going to see real change, and things are going to look better and brighter than even before the pandemic,” Breed said, adding that she was “Looking forward to seeing this budget pass through the Board of Supervisors.”

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Image: Mayor London Breed via Youtube