San Francisco, California

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San Francisco is a consolidated city-county in California.

San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 12th most populous city in the United States, with a 2009 estimated population of 815,358.[1] It is the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in the state of California and the second-most densely populated large city in the United States.[2]

In 1776, the Spanish established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for Francis of Assisi on the site.[3] The California Gold Rush in 1848 propelled the city into a period of rapid growth, increasing the population in one year from 1,000 to 25,000, and thus transforming it into the largest city on the West Coast at the time. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. During World War II, San Francisco was the port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, and other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States.

Today, San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination, renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Chinatown. The city is also a principal banking and finance center, and the home to more than 30 international financial institutions,[4] helping to make San Francisco eighteenth place in the world's top producing cities, ninth in the United States, and fifteenth place in the top twenty Global Financial Centers.


The website posts many budget documents,[5] including a 'Guide to San Francisco's Budget Process', which includes a summary of the budget and how it is created.[6]

The City's FY 2010-11 Annual Budget is $6.6 billion and includes funding for 26,721 positions as shown below by Major Service Area:[6]

Service Area # of Jobs  % of Jobs
Public Works,
Transportation &


Public Protection 6,318 23.6%
Public Health 5,838 21.8%
& Finance


Human Welfare
& Neighborhood


Culture &
1,810 6.8%

Public employees

Elected officials

San Francisco is a consolidated city-county, a status it has held since 1856. It is the only such consolidation in California. The mayor is also the county executive, and the county Board of Supervisors acts as the city council.[7]

Under the city charter, the government of San Francisco is constituted of two co-equal branches. The executive branch is headed by the mayor and includes other citywide elected and appointed officials as well as the civil service. The 11-member Board of Supervisors, the legislative branch, is headed by a president and is responsible for passing laws and budgets, though San Franciscans also make use of direct ballot initiatives to pass legislation.


Edwin Lee is the 43rd mayor of San Francisco.[8]

Board of supervisors

Member District Term Began
Eric Mar District 1 January 08, 2009
Mark Farrell District 2 January 08, 2011
David Chiu
(Board President)
District 3 December 04, 2008
Carmen Chu District 4 September 25, 2007
Ross Mirkarimi District 5 January 08, 2005
Jane Kim District 6 January 08, 2011
Sean Elsbernd District 7 August 05, 2004
Scott Wiener District 8 January 08, 2011
David Campos District 9 January 08, 2009
Malia Cohen District 10 January 08, 2011
John Avalos District 11 January 08, 2009

Other elected officials

Name Position
Phil Ting Assessor/Recorder
Dennis Herrera City Attorney
George Gascón District Attorney
Jeff Adachi Public Defender
José Cisneros Treasurer/Tax Collector

Administrative officials

A San Francisco organizational chart can be found here.

County administrator

The Office of the City Administrator has overall responsibility for the management and implementation of policies, rules and regulations promulgated by the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors and the voters.[9]

Mayor Edwin Lee, twice appointed by former Mayor Gavin Newsom and unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors as City Administrator, took the oath of office of City Administrator on June 22, 2005 and December 8, 2010. Pursuant to the 1996 Charter of the City and County of San Francisco, the City Administrator serves a term of five years. However, on January 11, 2011, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Mayor Lee to serve out the final year of former Mayor Newsom's term.[9]

In his last act as City Administrator on January 11, 2011, Mayor Edwin M. Lee appointed Amy L. Brown as Acting City Administrator. Ms. Brown previously served as a Deputy City Administrator since 2008 and as Director of Real Estate since 2006, reporting to City Administrator Lee. As Deputy City Administrator, she assisted in overseeing the City's General Services Agency, an Agency headed by the City Administrator, consisting of 20 departments, divisions, offices and programs, with a budget of $239 million and 656 full time employees.[9]


Below are some salaries for local public employees in the San Francisco area:[10]

Title Name Total Salary Unused vacation/sick pay/comp time Other pay Pension
Police Chief Heather Fong $528,595 $303,653 $37,067 $229,500
Deputy Chief Charles Keohane $516,118 $325,503 - (retired)
Commander Morris Tabak $425,558 $173,703 - (retired)
Commander Travis Gibson $355,000 - - (retired)
Commander Maria White $282,453 - - (retired & rehired)
Sgt. Mark Macaulay $286,152 ($140,908 in overtime) - - still employed
Battalion Chief (San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District) Michael Brown $289,349 - - retired
Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi $454,062 - - still employed
SamTrans and Caltrain head Michael Scanlon $407,642 pay package - - still employed
BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger $354,010 - - still employed
East Bay Municipal Utility District General Manager Dennis Diemer $420,400 - - position eliminated

Public pensions

See also: California public pensions

In the past decade the city's pension costs have increased by 66,733 percent.[11] The city's 26,000 public employee's pensions may bankrupt the city according to a study the a grande jury.[12] Currently, the pension is 97 percent funded and has a 7.5 percent growth rate, but the increasing cost of health care as gone from $17 million in 2001 to $140 million in 2009.[12] Shirley Hansen, an author of the report, said that health care costs will reach $1 billion within five years, and be 1/3 of the general budget.[12][13]

According to a 2010 report published at Northwestern University, San Francisco is one of the ten municipalities with the largest amount of unfunded pension liabilities. Nationwide there is $574 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for local pension plans, and this is in addition to the $3 trillion in debt facing state-sponsored pension plans.[14] The report states that the pension plans could be out of money as early at 2025.[14]

(number of plans)
Liabilities, Stated Basis, June ’09 ($B) Liabilities (ABO), Treasury Rate Net Pension Assets ($B) Unfunded Liability ($B) Unfunded Liability / Revenue Unfunded Liability per Household ($)
San Francisco (1) 16.3 22.6 13.3 9.3 266% 34,940
Los Angeles (3) 34.6 49.3 23.2 26.1 378% 18,193

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd on May 24, 2011 proposed a November ballot measure that would cap pension benefits, raise retirement ages and require greater contributions from workers. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has proposed similar changes.[15]

Retiree health care

California Common Sense released a study of the retiree health care finances of the 20 California cities with the largest budgets. With a $4 billion liability, San Francisco had the distinction of having the largest unfunded retiree health care debt on the list and zero dollars put away to pay for it.[16]

Transparency and open government

In 2009, former Mayor Gavin Newsom implemented two open government initiatives and Twitter 311, along with other web / phone apps that allowed citizens to interact with their government.[17] proactively discloses over 150 local government data sets to the public, while Twitter 311 allows people to report problems directly to the government.

In October of 2010, Newsom proposed that his Open Government Directive be passed as legislation, to ensure that the transparency practices continue. The legislation was supported by San Francisco's Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee, but will need the Board's approval to be put into place.[18][19]

In November 2010, a new Open Data law was approved by the Board of Supervisors. It requires all departments and agencies to make "reasonable efforts" to publish any data possible. The law built on previous executive orders from Mayor Newsom.[20]


See also: California government sector lobbying

For 2007 and 2008, the San Francisco Mayor's Office spent $1,424,248 on lobbying.[21]

San Francisco's Ethics Commission has 80 lobbyists registered on its website.[22]


San Francisco collects property taxes as well as business taxes. Taxes are payable online, and information is provided by the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector.[23]

City ordinances

The Board of Supervisor's recently approved an ordinance that forbids toys in Happy Meals by an 8-3 vote.[24]

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of California city websites
Budget Y
600px-Yes check.png
Meetings Y
600px-Yes check.png
Elected Officials Y
600px-Yes check.png
Administrative Officials Y
600px-Yes check.png
Permits, zoning Y
600px-Yes check.png
Audits Y
600px-Yes check.png
Contracts Y
600px-Yes check.png
Lobbying P
Public Records Y
600px-Yes check.png
Local Taxes Y
600px-Yes check.png

School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

In 2011 San Francisco earned a Sunny Awards for having a perfect website transparency score. San Francisco has also launched a data transparency portal to help citizens interpret the raw data.[25]

The good

  • Budget
    • Proposed and adopted budgets, as well as budget development information, is available.[5]
    • Budgets are archived to 1996.
  • Audit
    • Audits are posted and archived to 1998.[26]
    • Annual Salary Ordinances are posted and retirement and pension plan information is included in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.[27][28]
  • Meetings
    • Board of Supervisors meeting schedule, agendas, minutes, and video archives are available.[29][30]
    • Agendas and minutes are archived for more than three years.[31]
  • Elected officials
    • Contact information for the Mayor and Board of Supervisors is available.[32][8]
  • Administration
    • Contact information is available for the City Administrator and City Departments.[33][34]
  • Permits and zoning
    • Zoning maps and zoning information are available.[35][36]
    • Permit information is available.[37]
  • Management and audit reports for various City departments are posted.[38] Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports with Independent Auditor's Reports are also posted.[39]
  • Contracts
    • Vendor contract information is available.[40]
  • Lobbying
    • Information on lobbyists registered with the city is available through the San Francisco Ethic Commission.[41] The information discloses activity expenses, political contributions, contacts of public officials, and payments promised by clients.[42]0
    • Individual filings, including payments received, are available for lobbyists on behalf of the city.[43]
  • Public records
    • A Request Information form[44] is available on the city website along with Sunshine Ordinance information.[45]
  • Tax information is available through the Controller's Office and the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector.[5][36]

The bad

  • Lobbying
    • Membership in taxpayer funded lobbying associations is not disclosed.

See also


  1. Census Estimates
  2. 2000 Census Density Data
  3. Founding of San Fransico
  4. San Francisco Economy
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Finance and Budget
  6. 6.0 6.1 ['Guide to San Francisco's Budget Process'
  7. 'Does San Francisco Have a City Council?'
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mayor's Office
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 City Administrator
  10. San Francisco ChrRetiring S.F. police brass cash in on way out, Feb. 7, 2011
  11. San Francisco Weekly, Let It Bleed, Oct. 20, 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Cal Watchdog, San Fran Is Pension Ground Zero, Sept. 28, 2010
  13. San Francisco Chronicle, Civil grand jury warns of "pension tsunami, June 24, 2010
  14. 14.0 14.1 MacIver Institute, City of Milwaukee Pension a Ticking Time Bomb According to Northwestern Study, Oct. 12, 2010
  15. Bloomberg News, California cities carry out pension changes while Brown still negotiating, June 9, 2011
  16. The Examiner, Retiree health costs weigh on San Francisco, Aug. 8, 2012
  17. Mashable, San Francisco Government and Technology: How We’re Innovating, Nov. 2009
  18. Gov Fresh, A vote for open data in San Francisco, Nov. 8, 2010
  19. Information Week, San Francisco Mayor Proposes Data Transparency Law, Oct. 28, 2010
  20. "Fast Company," San Francisco Passes First Open Data Law, Nov. 9, 2010
  21. State-Level Lobbying and Taxpayers: How Much Do We Really Know?, Pacific Research Institute
  22. San Francisco Ethics Commission, Lobbyist Directory, Accessed May 10, 2012
  23. Treasurer
  24. New Hampshire Watchdog, Cow belching study, ban on toys in Happy Meals — government at work, Nov. 8, 2010
  25. San Francisco Examiner, New Web tool breaks down San Francisco government data, Sept. 18, 2011
  26. Audits
  27. Annual Salary Ordinance
  28. FY 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
  29. Board of Supervisors Meeting Information
  30. Board of Supervisors Meeting Information
  31. Meeting Archives
  32. Board of Supervisors
  33. City Agencies
  34. Office of the City Administrator
  35. Planning
  36. 36.0 36.1 Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector
  37. Permits
  38. Budget Analyst
  39. Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
  40. Purchasing
  41. Ethics Commission
  42. Lobbying
  43. Lobbyists on behalf of the city
  44. Public Records Request
  45. Sunshine Ordinance

External links