Skip to main content
Politics & Policy

A political melee is brewing over Breed’s $360M bond measure

A split image with a woman on the left and a man on the right, both appearing serious and focused.
Board President Aaron Peskin on Monday criticized Mayor London Breed's infrastructure funding plans. | Source: Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard

A $360 million bond measure could ignite a political firestorm between Mayor London Breed and one of her chief political rivals as the race for the city’s top seat nears. 

On Monday, Breed laid out an ambitious plan to pay for infrastructure improvements, including $167 million for the city’s hospital systems, $50 million for family homeless shelters, $70 million for street safety and paving, and $25 million for the upkeep of city plazas. The plan needs eight votes at the Board of Supervisors before it's placed on the November ballot.

But Board President Aaron Peskin—who’s challenging Breed in November’s mayoral race—pilloried the mayor’s proposal on Monday, accusing her of putting money into projects as a way to simply grab votes.

In an interview on Monday, Peskin said that the focus of the bond measure should be the hospital systems—and cast the other funding proposals as window dressing.

“Every dollar that we don’t spend on significant capital needs exponentially increases our costs as vital building systems continue to fail,” he said. “The bottom line is doing nice vanity projects that may garner votes abandons the capital plans and accepted findings that we have to attend to our critical needs.”

People converse outside a hospital with a large sign that reads "Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center".
Part of Mayor London Breed's plans announced Monday include improvements to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. | Source: Camille Cohen/The Standard

Peskin could play a decisive role in whether the bond measure goes forward as proposed. Not only is he president of the Board of Supervisors, but Peskin also sits on the city’s Capital Planning Committee—which also needs to approve the mayor’s allocations. 

Peskin said the committee will make a decision in May on the bond measure.

The disagreement over the bond proposal could be a sign of things to come as Breed and Peskin compete for votes in a crowded mayoral field that also includes former interim mayor Mark Farrell, Supervisor Ahsha Safaí and nonprofit founder Daniel Lurie. Earlier this year, the mayor and Peskin battled over a housing bill that Breed later vetoed. The board ultimately struck down Breed’s veto.

The mayor’s bond plan includes fixing up the Chinatown Health Clinic, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Laguna Honda Hospital. Specific improvements would include adding seismic retrofits at General Hospital, increasing psychiatric services and ensuring the recertification of Laguna Honda. 

Outside of the hospital systems, the mayor intends to push funding toward site acquisition and renovations for family housing and shelter. The city oversees 330 units of family shelter and transitional housing, along with 2,300 units of family housing. Advocates in recent weeks have pushed for the city to address family homelessness more rigorously as migrant families enter the city.

The mayor’s proposal also calls for money to be injected into street safety, including improvements to crosswalks and sidewalks. In March, a family of four was killed in West Portal in a tragic wrong-way car accident, an incident that has, at least temporarily, put street safety up the agenda. Plans to improve the West Portal intersection are currently up in the air as local residents in the neighborhood have criticized recently announced restrictions on where cars can turn and drive.

Breed also intends to push money toward the Harvey Milk Plaza terrace in the Castro District, along with Hallidie Plaza’s space and elevator at Powell Street Station on Market Street. 

Two police officers stand by a taped-off urban area near a plaza entrance with palm trees and a clear sky.
Harvey Milk Plaza could get a face-lift under Mayor London Breed's $360 million bond proposal. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

“This bond will invest in our critical infrastructure and advance projects that create jobs and prioritize important civic needs,” Breed wrote in a statement on Monday. “It will create safer streets and smoother roads, deliver welcoming and vibrant plazas and public spaces, support families, and strengthen our public health institutions that serve all of our residents. This is how we build a stronger, thriving San Francisco.”

San Francisco voters have approved a number of bonds in recent years aimed at housing and infrastructure. The 2020 Health and Recovery Bond put $488 million into treatment and supportive housing for homeless residents, parks and recreation facilities, and street improvements. 

The last bond measure approved by voters was March’s Proposition A, which put $300 million toward affordable housing and was placed on the ballot by Breed. The ballot measure on Monday would need a two-thirds majority to pass.