San Francisco Mayor, Ed Lee, discusses the road repaving and street safety bond.

At an informal community meeting over chips and salsa at La Corneta Taqueria, at Mission and 24th streets, Mayor Ed Lee talked cops, jobs and pavement.

First up was pavement. He urged the crowd of about 30 local merchants — most of them members of the Lower 24th Street Merchants Association — to support the 2011 Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond, an upcoming ballot measure that would allocate over $248 million for the repaving of streets, but which will require two-thirds of the vote to pass this November.

“The streets have gone through decades of neglect,” said Lee, adding that the bond would not increase property taxes, a concern expressed by many of those in attendance. “We have to make sure we do something. If we don’t, it will cost five times more later.”

Even if the bond doesn’t go through, all of Mission Street is due to be repaved in the next year, Lee said. The money has already been allocated for the project, said Ed Reiskin, head of the Department of Public Works. PG&E already had plans to tear up and replace a gas line that runs below Mission Street, so it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Upon hearing this, the crowd burst into wild applause.

The topic of conversation drifted to the economic state of the city. Lee defended the city’s decision to give tax incentives to Twitter to stay in San Francisco.

“They are expected to go from 250 employees to 3,000 in the next three years,” said Lee. The city needs to start thinking about the future of its children, he added. Local hiring must be reflected in everything the city does.

Lee pointed to the America’s Cup as an example of how the city is raising revenue in other ways. “My goal is for the $3 billion expected from hosting the America’s Cup to benefit all the communities of San Francisco.”

“How will the Mission benefit from that?” someone asked. The World Cup will be held at the piers, they said, far away from the neighborhood.

Lee replied that he would make sure that the Mission benefits, then moved on, unexpectedly, to Saturday afternoon’s shooting of Kenneth Harding in the Bayview, which has sparked protests in the Mission and other parts of the city.

“We are sorry,” said Lee, “but we need to recognize we caught a bad guy.” Harding was a parolee sought by authorities in connection with a homicide, Lee said.

Throughout the meeting, Lee showed an uncanny ability to answer questions before they were asked. But at the very end of the meeting, someone raised the question that everyone has been asking: “Will Ed Lee run for mayor?”

“I’ve made no decision yet,” he replied. “I’m focused on this job right now.” Also, he said, he had promised a reporter from the Chronicle that he wouldn’t.

“Whatever decision I make, Ed Lee is not going to change.”

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Octavio Lopez Raygoza

Octavio Lopez Raygoza hails from Los Angeles. Lured by the nightlife, local eateries, and famous chilaquiles, Raygoza enjoys reporting in the Mission District. Although he settled in downtown San Francisco, he spends most of his time in the Mission.

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