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$248 Million San Francisco Street Repair Bond Measure Moving Forward

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Electric Muni buses make their way down Stockton Street in San Francisco's Chinatown District. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Electric Muni buses make their way down Stockton Street in San Francisco’s Chinatown District. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BarbaraTaylor_KCBS_0001r Barbara Taylor
Barbara Taylor is the long time San Francisco City Hall Bureau Chief...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — A bond measure to repair and improve city streets in San Francisco moved a step closer to making it on the November ballot Friday. The city’s Board of Supervisors voted to define how the $248 million measure, sponsored by Supervisor Scott Weiner would be funded.

Not all are on-board with Weiner’s proposal as it raises questions about whether bond money should be used for on-going government expenses.

Bonds were used to rebuild city hall after the Loma Prieta earthquake, the new Laguna Honda Hospital and currently to rebuild San Francisco General Hospital. They provide money to upgrade water systems and to build schools. Now the supervisors are poised to put the street-improvement bond on the November ballot, but Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said that’s bad public policy.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

“I’ve got concern about issuing debt to pay what I believe should be ongoing costs in our budget,” he said. Elsbernd added that he fully recognized the streets’ “desperate” need for dollars, but made it clear that he disagrees with using bond money as the way to pay for it.

Weiner retorted that Elsbernd’s philosophy on limiting bond money isn’t realistic.

“As much as we might want to [limit bonds], it is not possible given the 30 years that we’ve neglected our roads and allowed them to fall into this state of disrepair,” said Weiner.

Elsbernd on the other hand said bonds are fine to attack the backlog of streets repairs, but not for their continuing maintenance. This particular bond would pay to repave streets, replace sidewalks, put in curb cuts, and make streets more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

Supervisor Elsbernd noted that after a similar bond failed at the ballot box in 2005, street repairs proceeded on another track.

“I was told once that we could never do it— yet we did it— and when people are telling me again, ‘oh we’ll never do it’, I just don’t buy it,” he said.

Elsbernd said bonds should be reserved for big projects like rebuilding the Hetch Hetchy water system. Weiner countered that these street projects are capital improvements that will last decades.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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