A $400 million bond measure to finance public safety infrastructure upgrades in San Francisco was put on hold today while the city’s Board of Supervisors decides whether to add $25 million in streetlight improvements to the measure.
The bond, planned to go on the June ballot, would finance the relocation of the medical examiner’s office and the Police Department’s forensics and traffic units to new seismically safe buildings, the upgrades of dozens of police and fire stations and the improvement of the city’s Auxiliary Water Supply System.
Two-thirds of San Francisco voters would have to approve the measure for it to go into effect.
However, before the board could vote to put the measure on the ballot, Supervisor Scott Wiener proposed today to add the funding for streetlights.
“Throughout our city, we have huge problems with reliability of streetlights,” Wiener said, noting that one recently fell and damaged a car in his district.
“These are assets that have just been ignored,” he said.
Board president David Chiu expressed reservations about adding the funding at the last minute to a bond addressing earthquake safety and said the streetlights are under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
Wiener responded that the SFPUC does not have adequate funding to replace failing lights so the city’s voters need to step in.
“The department has been completely unable to care for this asset,” he said.
Other supervisors said that inadequate street lighting was a public safety issue that would be appropriate for the bond measure.
A vote on the measure was delayed until next week so the board can decide whether to add the streetlight funding.
San Francisco voters previously passed a bond measure in June 2010 to upgrade other public safety offices and build a new Public Safety Building in Mission Bay to house the Police Department’s new headquarters.
The police headquarters and other department units, as well as the medical examiner’s office, are all currently located at the Hall of Justice, a six-story building at 850 Bryant St. that has been deemed seismically unsafe.
More information about the June bond measure can be found online at http://www.sfearthquakesafety.org.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News