SF city employees get pink slips

February 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
More than 200 people who work for the city of San Francisco received layoff notices on Friday. It's part of the mayor's strategy to bridge a widening budget deficit in the city.

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The hundreds who received those notices will be on the city payroll until the end of April and then they are out of a job. Many knew this was coming, but that didn't make the news any easier.

To find one of the 262 San Francisco city employees who got a pink slip, you had to go to Golden Gate Park. That's where Jake Hall continued to teach his tennis class as if nothing had happened.

"I'm still in shock, it happened [Friday] so I'm in shock. I've been here for 13 years and I don't know what I'm going to do," said Jake Hall, with the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department.

This latest round of layoffs has hit the Recreation and Park Department the hardest. Of the hundreds who were laid off, 78 came from Rec and Park, 52 from human services, 46 from public works and 28 from building inspection. The cuts will save the city nearly $32 million and help bridge next year's budget gap that's projected to be as much as $565 million.

The mayor's office says the public won't notice much of a difference in services. Many of the public works employees, for instance will be able to reapply as part time.

The Department of Building Inspection, meanwhile, apparently doesn't need as many employees because the number of construction permit applications in the city has dropped.

"We're trying to prioritize the services we want to preserve, and at the same time, eliminate the position where we might have redundancy or where we can make departments more efficient," said Joe Arellano, the San Francisco mayor's spokesperson.

Even so, city employees are having a hard time processing this latest round of layoffs and those who are safe this time, fear they'll be targeted in the next round.

"I'm a single dad with two kids going to school. We don't own a home. We live from check to check, I mean it's catastrophic," said Lou Maunupau, a San Francisco Rec. and Park Department employee.

Layoffs also hit the D.A.'s office. Ten people total in that department. The mayor's office says if budget projections for next year continue to trend downward, then more layoffs are likely, but the hope is that some of that will be offset when the city receives money from the federal stimulus package.

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