San Francisco Lawmakers Move to Establish $50 Million Reparations Bureaucracy 

The Office of Reparations would oversee distribution of a proposed $5 million to every black person in city

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
March 22, 2023

San Francisco lawmakers this week proposed reallocating $50 million of taxpayer funds to establish an Office of Reparations that will ensure the city's black residents receive payments, which may amount to $5 million per person.

San Francisco supervisor Shamann Walton on Tuesday proposed creating the office to ensure the city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee’s vision is implemented after it makes its final recommendation in June. Walton, who launched the committee in 2020, was joined by his fellow progressive supervisors Hillary Ronen and Dean Preston. It is unclear when the Board of Supervisors will vote on Walton’s proposal.

The pitch will likely quash any remaining skepticism that San Francisco’s representatives aren’t serious about the city’s radical and highly unpopular reparations plan. Last week, the full board of supervisors voiced support for a draft plan to pay $5 million to each of the city’s black residents. The proposed office would increase financial strain on the city, which faces a $728 million budget hole that the mayor warns will likely get worse as businesses and taxpaying residents flee.

In addition to $5 million in reparations, the committee has proposed subsidizing real estate that would allow San Francisco’s black residents to purchase homes for as little as $1. The committee has also proposed establishing 250 years of $97,000 in annual payments to today’s low-income black families and clearing all debts held by black residents.

San Francisco lawmakers condemned taxpayers’ objections to the task force plan as racist last week, as reparations supporters urged policymakers and the public not to get "bogged down" about the costs. The proposal in its current form would cost each San Francisco household nearly $600,000, according to analysis from the Hoover Institution.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman criticized his constituents’ anxieties as an "overheated and irrational response" to the reparations task force proposals.

"To those of my constituents who lost their minds over this proposal, it’s not something we’re doing or would do for other people," Mandelman said. "It’s something we would do for our future, everybody’s collective future and the generations to come."

The State of California is in the process of advancing its own reparations plan, which could yield payments of $360,000 per eligible resident. The state’s reparations task force has yet to settle on a figure or determine which of California’s 2.5 million black residents would be eligible.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is set to vote on the reparation’s committee’s final recommendations in September. Legislators’ vote on the draft plan was delayed for a month after Walton got stuck in Colombia, where he partied at a local Hooters.