San Francisco Board of Supervisors Affirms Commitment to Fine and Fee Justice in Budget

July 23, 2020

During the last recession, state and local governments dramatically increased the number of fines and fees imposed on people for minor traffic and municipal code violations, misdemeanors, and felonies.

That’s why we’re excited that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution affirming our commitment to fine and fee justice and prioritizing racial and economic equity in our City and County’s annual budget.  
The resolution was authored by Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, Chair of the Board’s Budget and Finance Committee, and affirms that the Board of Supervisors will: 

  1. Engage with the City budget through a lens of equity, including an examination of where investments and divestments are made; 
  2. Take a hard look at any new fines or fees that are proposed through the budget process; and
  3. Ensure that the City’s budget is not balanced on the backs of our most vulnerable residents.

The resolution states:  
"Our country is currently reeling from two viruses, COVID-19 and systemic racism, and the combination of these is causing widespread harm and disproportionately impacting communities of color and people living paycheck to paycheck."

"Our budget is a statement of our values and should embody our commitment to racial and economic equity by ensuring our most vulnerable community members are invested in rather than depleted of resources."

"We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past and increase our reliance on fines and fees, even if we are tempted to do so in tough budget times," said Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer

Like many other cities and counties across the nation, San Francisco is faced with a projected budget deficit due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. The City and County must close a projected $1.7 billion deficit over the next two years and all departments have been asked to cut their budgets by 10 to 15 percent.

The resolution also urges the passage of SB 555, that caps jail phone call rates and jail store/commissary prices to lift a financial burden off of incarcerated people and their families.

“With this ordinance, Supervisor Fewer and the Board of Supervisors have demonstrated their commitment to racial and economic justice for all San Franciscans,” said Lisa Foster, Co-Director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center. “Cities and Counties across the country should follow their lead."