Those bright neon yellow- and green-jacketed street ambassadors are on the chopping block in Mayor Breed’s new proposed budget, as she’s calling to phase them out by 2026 to save a few dollars, but supervisors are furious because they think that program really works.

Let’s face it, there are no easy ways to close the $800 million deficit that the City of San Francisco is currently drowning in. Cuts will have to be made, jobs will have to be lost, and that’s just the ugly reality of things.

But it’s surprising that Mayor London Breed proposes to completely cut the Community Ambassador Program (CAP) according to Bay City News, considering Breed herself has championed this program, which  provides safety escorts, cleans streets, addresses crime, and reverses quite a few opioid overdoses, among other things.  

And a coalition across the SF Board of Supervisors is determined to override Breed and keep the program intact.

To be fair, Breed’s budget does increase some public safety staffing: obviously more cops, plus Breed proposes to bolster staffing at the Sheriff’s department, and add more nurses and first responders. But the 34 city-employed CAP ambassadors, and the $3 million they cost annually, would all be phased out by 2026.  

There would still be community ambassadors, but these would all be contracted out to nonprofits, who would provide the ambassadors. So sure, this likely means more money flowing to the well-funded but controversial Urban Alchemy. But overall, it probably means fewer community ambassadors.

"This is one of the last things that should be on the chopping block," Supervisor Dean Preston told KPIX. "So do we have to make cuts in our budget? Of course but we do not need to target a program like this that is a real source of pride and really so important for public safety and for positive interactions in our neighborhoods."

It’s not just Preston, and not just the progressive supe flank that routinely opposes Breed’s plans, who oppose the elimination of the CAP.  Preston is introducing legislation to keep the program intact, and among his five co-sponsors is Supervisor Joel Engardio.

"We have an extreme shortage of police officers especially out in the Sunset Taraval Station and they just didn't have the ability to patrol and monitor the area in the way the parents wanted them to,” Engardio told Bay City News, describing an incident at a neighborhood preschool that nearly went badly. “These community ambassadors in their yellow jackets showed up and walked around the preschool and gave peace of mind to the parents."

According to the Chronicle, Supervisor Myrna Melgar is also voicing opposition to Breed’s cuts to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), but she has not proposed any legislation to reverse those cuts at this time.  

Related: New Squad of Community Ambassadors Hopes To Clean Up Mission District Blight [SFist]