Leadership & Governance
Federal and State Government Activity
San Francisco is home to several key regional federal headquarters. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit—the largest of the thirteen courts of appeals—is located in San Francisco. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco administers the federal banking for the twelfth district, its largest, encompassing nine western states. The United States Mint located one of its four facilities in San Francisco in response to the mid-nineteenth century California Gold Rush. In addition, the City serves as the headquarters for several California state agencies including the State Public Utilities Commission, the State Supreme Court, and numerous regional state offices.
San Francisco has the unique distinction of being the only consolidated city-county in the state of California. Governing both the City and County of San Francisco, the Mayor and Board of Supervisors exercise broad powers. The Mayor acts as County Executive and the Board of Supervisors acts simultaneously as City Council. Their jurisdictions extend beyond the technical borders of the City, most notably to SFO airport, just south of the City. In addition, San Francisco has one of the highest-quality water systems in the country, supplied by the Hetch Hetchy Valley and watershed in Yosemite National Park.
The local governmental structure for San Francisco is a “strong mayoral” system in which the mayor, as head of the executive branch, can sign or veto legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors. The Board is an elected body of eleven members that serve as the legislative arm of the government responsible for passing ordinances, resolutions and budgets. Eleven Supervisors are elected to no more than two consecutive four-year terms. Each Supervisor is elected by their home district to represent one of the eleven City districts. The Board self-selects a President who would succeed the Mayor in case of absence. San Francisco also makes use of direct ballot initiatives that allow citizens to vote directly on initiatives which concern them.
The Office of the Mayor executes or vetoes legislative initiatives passed by the Board and is responsible for proposing a yearly budget. Appointing individuals to City offices and commissions is also a primary duty of the Office of the Mayor. Some of the most coveted appointments must be approved by the Board of Supervisors. The Mayor is elected City-wide to no more than two consecutive, four-year terms. Mayor Gavin Newsom, originally elected in 2004, was serving his second term as Mayor until November of 2010 when he won the election for California’s Lieutenant Governor. The day Gavin Newsom was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor, San Francisco’s city administrator Edwin M. Lee took office and has since been elected to his own four-year term following the election on November 8, 2011.
The City Attorney, District Attorney, Assessor and Sheriff are all elected by the public. Furthermore, the City Public Utilities Commission has local jurisdiction over water and sewer services in the City. Finally, there are several other City appointed commissioners and commissions including the police, fire, City planning, transportation, building inspection, and small business commissions.
For more information, please visit www.sfgov.org.
Just over a third of the state’s grant-making foundations are located in the Bay Area, and more than half of the state’s total giving came from local philanthropic organizations. In particular, San Francisco has 835 grant-making foundations with collectively over $11 million in assets; this makes San Francisco the biggest city for grant-making foundations in the Bay Area with a share of 33.4%.
The number of foundations in San Francisco and the Bay Area continues to grow, along with overall assets and giving. Indicative of the City’s dynamic future and commitment to social giving, its philanthropic sector is characterized as “youthful” by The Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy at The University of Southern California. Only 28% of the existing foundations pre-date 1990. There are over 230 Bay Area grants of $1 million or more, and a total of $3.1 billion given. Education, the environment and arts, and culture organizations receive the most funding.
Corporate philanthropy rates are very high in the Bay Area. In 2016, the top 100 corporate donors contributed a total of $309 million in cash to local organizations in the Bay Area.
In fact, the top five companies on the list account for 40 percent of total donations, with a combined $127 million in cash giving. In 2017, Google was the largest Bay Area corporate donor, contributing over $50 million to local charities. The Sobrato Organization was the second highest, followed by Salesforce and Wells Fargo and Co. In addition, locally-based companies such as PG&E Corp., Intel Corp., Genentech Inc., Oracle Corp., Citigroup Inc., Adobe Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. were all substantial givers.