If there was a theme in 2010, it was jobs, jobs, jobs! Early in the year, voters ranked jobs and the economy as the city’s top issue in the Chamber’s annual CityBeat poll. Jobs and the economy continued to poll well during the year’s Congressional and Gubernatorial races. And in November, voters rejected measures that would have hurt job growth and voted in favor of government reforms. Clearly, when it comes to employment and the fiscal health of our city, San Francisco voters want solutions.
Unfortunately, jobs were not always the chief priority at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors this year. According to the Chamber’s year-end Paychecks & Pink Slips scorecard released Wednesday, only a slim majority of Supervisors (six out of 11) voted in favor of jobs and government efficiency more than half of the time. The report, which ranks the performance of the Board of Supervisors on their actions to create jobs, grow the economy and improve government efficiency, shows that over two-thirds of the Supervisors received lower scores this year – voting less often for jobs and government efficiency than they did in 2009.
More concerning than the ratings themselves, are the slim margins that allowed some of the year’s best opportunities for economic growth to move forward. Take for example the Bayview-Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment – the single largest job-creating project of the decade. While the development was ultimately approved in a 10-1 vote, the Board debated more than a dozen amendments to the project and rejected by a mere 6-5 vote two changes that would have killed the development. Five Supervisors would have rather seen the project killed than create the 10,000 permanent jobs and many other economic benefits expected from the development.
This same scenario played out on the 222 2nd Street project, with the same five Supervisors voting against the development even though it was ultimately approved. This economy-boosting project will convert a surface parking lot into a 26-story development providing 430,000 square feet of office space located near regional transit.
Slim margins can also be seen on key votes to make government more efficient. The Board voted 6-5 in favor of a motion declaring the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) in a fiscal emergency, mandating immediate cost savings measures benefiting the city. A power-grab Charter amendment taking away the Mayor’s authority to appoint the seven-member SFMTA Board of Directors failed by a single vote.
Jobs and economic growth must be a priority for the Board of Supervisors in 2011. Today, our city has 95,000 fewer jobs than it did in December of 2000 and more than 45,000 San Franciscans remain unemployed. Creating jobs will not be easy in a challenging economic climate and as the city deals with the looming $400 million budget deficit expected next year. But if San Francisco is going to emerge from the recession, our elected leaders must do better than 60 percent when it comes to job creation and economic growth.
As four newly-elected Supervisors join the Board in 2011, the Chamber is optimistic about the opportunities to improve the city’s economy and vitality. Working together with labor and other business organizations, we will continue to focus on policies that spur business growth and create jobs in the year ahead