After two years of allocating $0 towards implementation of the City’s much-touted Climate Action Plan (CAP), at the end of May the mayor guaranteed that crucial recent hires in the SF Environment Department (SFE) can keep their jobs (whew!) and continue the work executing many strategies outlined in the CAP - as well as applying for federal and state grants, leveraging millions more in emissions-reduction support.
But she left something out: funding for the staff and resources to allow the eagerly-anticipated Climate Equity Hub (catalyst for electrification of existing buildings ) finally to become reality. It’s needed as a source for renters, homeowners, landlords, chefs, business owners, workers, trainees, contractors, and others to access rebates, incentives, education, jobs: opportunities for all San Franciscans to benefit from the elimination of health-harming,climate-destroying methane (natural gas) from our buildings.
After weeks of emailing and calling the Supervisors (thank you, everyone who spoke up!), the month of June ended for advocates with Budget Public Comment Day at City Hall. A dozen of us from SFCEC visited the offices of all 11 Supervisors to lobby for funding the Climate Equity Hub. We concentrated on the five members of the Budget & Appropriations Committee, mired as they were in the high-pressure final hours of the add-back process. After the dramatic discovery that the Hub had been dropped from The List of still-negotiable budget asks, we upped our game, did some revisiting with newly-relevant talking points - and that evening the Hub was back on the list! Funding amount was much less than the Environment Department asked for - what else is new? - but it's something. The budget must be approved by the full Board sometime this month (July) and signed by the Mayor by August 1st.
...then maybe greenhouse-gas emissions-lowering climate action could at least be part of the bond? In May, the Supervisors' Budget and Appropriations Committee approved the Capital Planning Committee’s 10-year bond schedule, which at the last minute included adding $140 million to the $200 million Affordable Housing Bond scheduled to go on the March 2024 ballot.
The devil is in the details, and we want the $140 million to be used to electrify and rehab existing affordable housing, and/or to repurpose existing buildings as all-electric affordable housing. The latter would add to the affordable housing stock; the former would improve what we already have. New construction, of course, is already required to be all-electric. Money used on existing buildings would provide badly needed upgrades, insure cleaner indoor air, help to lower asthma rates, and reduce the planet-heating emissions caused by burning fossil fuels.
City departments are working together behind-the-scenes on such a possibility. In early fall, the Board of Supervisors will be voting on the specific bond proposal. Stay tuned for advocacy alerts!