Thursday, January 21, 2010

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu Speaks to Chamber Members

Your BOMA San Francisco Advocacy Team attended a meeting with San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu on January 20, 2010 at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce to talk about his first year as Board President, his thoughts on the City's budget deficit, the challenges facing the greater business community and much more.  The following are the highlights from today's meeting:

The Greater Business Community 

Supervisor Chiu began his speech to Chamber members by stating that he understands the myriad issues facing the business community and appreciates our involvement in helping to promote good government practices that are beneficial to those who work and reside in the City and County of San Francisco.

Reflecting on 2009

Supervisor Chiu was elected to the Board of Supervisors in November 2008—and Board President in January 2009—and spoke at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce for the first time one year ago.  As such, he reviewed the objectives he set forth in his freshman year:
  • To “change the tone of conversation” and have an open door policy for the business community.
  • To work with the various factions in San Francisco, e.g., unions, business community members, non-profit groups, etc., to “tackle the 2009 budget deficit,” among other issues facing the city.
  • To streamline the copious level of business fees that business owners in San Francisco must wade through.  Indeed, as a former small business owner himself, Supervisor Chiu is no stranger to the fees and departmental labyrinth that one must navigate if they run a business in San Francisco.  There will be four measures heard at the Board Of Supervisor’s meeting on January 26, 2010 that are "soft goals," according to Chiu, which will set the tone for long-term reform.
  • To review the city’s contracting process.  As the largest local purchaser of goods and services, the City and County of San Francisco should be buying, first and foremost, directly from private sector vendors within San Francisco, not from merchants in the greater Bay Area.  The Supervisor is looking at this issue although he did mention that the cost to the city to contract out to the private sector is very high.  He looks to introduce a measure in the future to help streamline city contracts out to the greater business community.
2010 Budget Deficit

San Francisco is currently facing a budget shortfall of over $500 million dollars for the current fiscal year.  This is on top of an approximately $500 million dollar shortfall in the previous fiscal year.  Supervisor Chiu characterized his assessment of the budget situation by stating in 2009, the city's elected leaders “cut to the bone” to assuage San Francisco’s budget woes; in 2010 they’ll be “cutting bone.”  The Supervisor mentioned that he is reaching out for good ideas—and received a number of suggestions—from the business community on how to solve this issue of shrinking San Francisco’s government while protecting the core/essential services the city provides.

Ballot Measures - June 8, 2010 Election

Supervisor Chiu mentioned a few measures that are traveling through City Hall and may make it on the ballot for the June 8, 2010:
  • The Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond
    • Click here for the details
  • Budget Expenditures 
    • Supervisor Chris Daly's Charter Amendment that gives the Board of Supervisors the authority to force the Mayor to spend dollars appropriated for certain programs and services regardless of the budget consequences.
    • Supervisor Chiu is in conversation with Mayor Newsom on this and has not taken a position on this measure.
  • Labor Reform
The success or failure of these and other measures depends on the unions' reaction to the city's budget in the next few months, Supervisor Chiu stated.

Commercial Corridor Vacancies

Supervisor Chiu addressed the issue of vacancies in the city’s commercial corridors by stating that his staff is looking for solutions; none of the proposals suggested so far have been effective enough for him to take action.

The Economy

Supervisor Chiu suggested that his fellow members of the Board of Supervisors want to create jobs.  The primary question then becomes: what would those new private sector jobs cost the city?  Chiu stated that the case needs to be made to protect city jobs while showing the Board that a job created in the private sector helps the public sector.

Payroll Tax

The Supervisor mentioned the city’s payroll tax, briefly, and stated that the City is currently researching other municipalities’ actions on this issue and relative effectiveness of the tax in those cities.

BOMA San Francisco's Advocacy Team would like to thank Supervisor David Chiu for taking the time to speak to the members of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and to the Chamber for producing the meeting.  We look forward to working  with Supervisor Chiu on issues of mutual concern in the future.

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