Mayor Breed Proposes Legislation To Save Time and Money on Small Public Realm Improvement Projects

Efforts to reduce costs and red tape stem from analysis requested by Mayor following bureaucratic hurdles revealed by Noe Valley Town Square bathroom project

San Francisco, CA —Mayor London N. Breed unveiled an innovative strategy today to expedite the delivery of essential municipal building projects, including the construction of restrooms and playgrounds, to neighborhoods across San Francisco. The plan promises to significantly reduce project timelines and costs, while cutting red tape.  

Legislation to be introduced to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday would allow City departments to harness the cost-savings of cooperative purchasing when constructing or renovating public facilities in projects under $5 million. Existing law allows departments to work together and with other cities to get group discounts when purchasing goods, such as vehicles or equipment. The proposed legislation would extend that capability to include construction.  The legislation would maintain existing contracting standards, including requirements around local business enterprises, prevailing wages, and project labor agreements. 

If passed, the legislation will streamline the construction process for the Recreation and Park Department, Public Works, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco Airport, Port of San Francisco, and the Public Utilities Commission. This streamlining will enable them to reduce time spent contracting and purchasing, while still meeting government requirements.  Over 86,000 government agencies nationwide participate in cooperative purchasing programs, including the State of California, City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, City of Burbank, City of Anaheim, City of Lancaster, City of Davis, and the City of Oakland.  

"San Franciscans expect us to swiftly and effectively deliver public projects that enhance our city's livability, accessibility, and joy," said Mayor Breed. "By challenging bureaucratic norms, we're opening avenues to expedite the completion of crucial city projects, such as restrooms and playgrounds, in neighborhoods citywide. The legislation, coupled with my direction to City Departments, will significantly decrease timelines and costs for small-scale projects while cutting red tape." 

Last year, after the cost for the state-funded Noe Valley Town Square bathroom highlighted the high level of requirements and process attached to smaller construction projects, Mayor Breed directed staff to find solutions to streamline project delivery and reduce costs for small projects. This legislation delivers on that directive.     

Also today, Mayor Breed instructed the Arts Commission to simplify its evaluation process for small projects. City projects with estimated construction costs under $1 million, which involve only modifications or additions to street furnishings such as streetlights, benches, and signage, will no longer require review. For projects with estimated costs between $1 million and $5 million, encompassing changes to street furnishings or structures smaller than 500 square feet, the Director of Cultural Affairs will determine whether administrative or single-phase review is necessary. 

Mayor Breed is further calling upon all City Departments to establish new interdepartmental protocols aimed at simplifying regulatory approvals.   

Recreation and Park officials recommended today’s actions after an estimate for the Noe Valley Town Square restroom drew sharp criticism for its lengthy timeline and high estimated cost. The restroom, which opens to the public today, was ultimately delivered for approximately $200,000 in City costs after the donation of a prefabricated model and installation.    

“The Noe Valley toilet flushed-out park advocates’ long simmering frustration with the lengthy process and costs of delivering small park improvements,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “We are grateful to Mayor Breed for this innovative approach which should relieve all City departments trying to tackle the small stuff quickly and efficiently.  In our parks, it means we can get needed amenities like restrooms, sports fields, skateparks, and playgrounds to San Franciscans faster and more cost effectively.”   

The proposed legislation will streamline numerous Rec and Park projects in the pipeline, including the renovation of Silver Terrace Playground and addition of a nature exploration area; installation of a prefabricated restroom in Precita Park in Bernal Heights; a new outdoor gym at Kelloch-Velasco Mini Park in Visitacion Valley; and the replacement of the turf field at Kimbell Playground in the Western Addition. 

“We thank Mayor Breed for the chance to work together to identify opportunities to streamline the Civic Design Review process to help deliver small scale projects quickly and efficiently,” said Director of Cultural Affairs, Ralph Remington. “This important design review process utilizes the expertise of local architectural and design professionals, along with feedback from community stakeholders, to ensure capital improvement project designs are of the highest quality and serve the best interests of the community.” 

“Public Works is committed to implementing smart and strategic solutions to save costs while delivering high-quality public projects and amenities for the people of San Francisco in neighborhoods across San Francisco,” said Public Works Director Carla Short. "This collaborative legislation moves us forward in advancing that goal.”


What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Executive Committee Meeting

December 18
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Hybrid: 401 Van Ness | Rm 125 and Online
Public Meeting

Visual Arts Committee Meeting

December 16
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 408 and Online
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

December 11
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 408 and Online
Public Meeting

Community Investments Committee Meeting

December 09
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 416 and Online