Westside Mayor's Forum Attracts Full House

Former Board President Angela Alioto
Board President London Breed
Supervisor Jane Kim
State Senator Mark Leno

In spite of forecasted rainy weather, an estimated crowd of over 300 people gathered to listen to four candidates vying to replace recently deceased Mayor Ed Lee at the June 5 election. Former Board President Angela Alioto, Board President London Breed, Supervisor Jane Kim and State Senator Mark Leno appeared together on the stage of the Irish Cultural Center at 45th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard on Wednesday, the 28th of February. Event organizers, The Irish Caucus of the California Democratic Party explained that minor candidates were not invited, because more than four candidates would make the program unwieldy. As spectators began to arrive, campaign staff and supporters chanted, waved signs and offered literature.

The forum began at 7 pm and the candidates found few things to disagree with each other about, but all agreed that the homeless crisis is out of control. The major departing point, however was what to do about it.

The question was addressed first by London Breed, who characterized it as a "mental health" crisis, one that must be resolved by taking "Conservatorship" from the DA's Office and putting it in the City Attorney's Office so homeless people can be treated like children's conservatorship. She argued that taking away the civil liberties of "the most challenging" homeless people to get them off the streets is the most humane thing to do. "We have to make uncomfortable decisions."

Jane Kim said 60% of $250 million dedicated to homeless goes to housing 10,000 people no longer on the streets through direct subsidies and SRO hotels. The approximately $100 million left serves the 17,000 people who enter our system each year. Not all are on the street, many sleep in their cars, or find temporary housing. 7,000 people, on average, are in our shelters and that means the expense is $4-10 thousand dollars each for services. Salt Lake City housed their homeless through its Housing First policy, and so can we. We need more shelters. She spent a night in a shelter and learned that we lock people up for 14 hours without any services and that people are much older and sicker than she had thought. She wants more nurses and medical services available.

Mark Leno said that 70% of our homeless were living in a home in San Francisco before they became homeless. So keeping people in their homes prevents the situation from getting worse. We shouldn't be treating people through the criminal justice system, it's not working. A mental health justice center is a better option than jail.

Angela Alioto faulted the current elected officials for dropping the ball on the Ten Year Homeless plan she put in place as Homeless Czar for Gavin Newsom in 2004. By 2011 "we housed over 11,400 in permanent supportive housing." This housing featured a crisis clinic on each ground floor. "We know what works," she said. "Shelters do not work, programs that put people through six months of mental health program then dump them back on the streets is throwing money away."We're spending $67,000 for every homeless person and that could be used to house people, Navigation Centers are also dead-ends - good for 120 days, then back out on the street." We need a coalition of the wealthy businesses, state, federal and local governments to sit down at one table and solve this problem."

Be sure to vote on June 5th.

March 2018

Candidates respond to questions in the "lightning round" at the District 7 supervisor forum at the West of Twin Peaks Council. Shown are Farrell, Yee, Matranga, Engardio and Young responding to the question: "Is your campaign taking public funds?" Photo: Bill Wilson

Supervisor Candidate Debate Highlights Differences

In front of nearly 100 community members, West of Twin Peaks Central Council hosted a forum for the five District 7 Supervisor candidates at the Forest Hill Clubhouse. Discussion topics included affordable housing, marijuana legalization, and neighborhood safety. With Proposition Q on the upcoming ballot, which could prohibit homeless tent encampments, the candidates were in agreement about one thing: the mentally ill homeless need to be a top priority.

During two-minute introductions, each candidate made their case for changes they intend to make once elected. John Farrell says he will challenge government spending, while newcomer Joel Engardio intends to ask tough policy questions. Ben Matranga and Michael Young, both San Francisco natives, similarly plan to be vigorous and energetic voices of the people at City Hall. Incumbent Supervisor Norman Yee, also a native, intends to bring beat cops back into the neighborhood.

An overflow crowd listened intently at the candidate forum at the Forest Hills Clubhouse

Balancing the budget was the first talking point and Young was the first to speak up. He proposes a look at pensions.

"Staff is the most expensive budget," Young says. His suggestion is a selective hiring freeze.

Matranga wants to take a closer look at wasteful spending, while Engardio, Farrell, and Yee intend to focus on revenue generating debts like the water department.

"The Mayor's Office keeps adding special project individuals, which has tripled in last few years," Yee says. "The budget is based on neglected infrastructure."

For Proposition 64, the legalization of marijuana, Engardio and Young take a liberal approach. In 2014, Supervisor Yee created zoning restrictions making it impossible to open dispensaries within 500 feet of a school or another marijuana vendor.

"I support the legalization of it," Young says. "It's the wave of the future."

"We have to make sure our neighborhoods are safe and people aren't lighting up in parks," Engardio says. He believes it can be regulated. "We can benefit from those tax dollars."

With Prop 64 still pending voter approval, one immediate issue facing the neighborhood is safety.

Farrell recently received emails for two break-ins. "This is unheard of," he says, proposing stronger relationships between businesses, neighbors and the police force.

Spectators who came late to see the debate at the Clubhouse were not able to be seated, or even standing room.

"When I came in they had no training of new police officers," Yee says. He believes District 7 is left out of heightened security because of low crime rates and has been fighting to get more officers assigned to the police station.

Matranga, who has the number one endorsement from SFPD, says the increase in staffing needs to happen now. "We know how long it takes to hire, train, get on the streets and> assign to different beats. We have to own that."

In addition to neighborhood safety, pedestrian safety is also a focus. A pilot project in Twin Peaks that closes off the eastern portion to vehicles will provide a safer experience for walkers and cyclists.

Engardio believes the project symbolizes tension between residents and tourists, calling the process unfair and not transparent.

"We can't ban access and cars. This needs to be done smartly and thoughtfully," he says.

Young adds that neighborhoods and community groups feel unheard at City Hall.

"This is a democracy," Young says. "We have to include everyone in the discussion."

In regard to affordable housing, Yee feels that District 7 is doing its fair share.

"There are three developments along Ocean Avenue," Yee says. "We have Mercy housing that was completed a year ago and Park Merced is going to produce additional housing and units. They are going to ram the Balboa Reservoir project down our residents' throats and I'm going to be totally against it."

"I hear from a number of seniors that say they want their adult children and grandchildren to stay in San Francisco," Engardio says. "It would be nice if there was a nearby condo where they could stay in their neighborhood." He says adding more housing for millennials and the elderly will be a win-win situation.

Meanwhile, Matranga points out that an elevator building is five stores or more, which he is against.

"It's too much density and would destroy character," he says.

"The bottom line is that it's the government's responsibility to provide low and moderate income housing," Farrell says. "I will bring more housing by identifying revenues."

Another type of housing discussed is Proposition Q that prohibits tent encampments on City sidewalks. All candidates are in favor of the ban, except one.

"I'm against this," Young says. "I would like to look at resources provided. No one aspires to be homeless. Nobody wants to be living in a tent on the street. If you provide the services, they will come."

Young insists that we be laser focused on the mentally ill, calling for more care beds.

"This Prop would put the burden on the SFPD," he says. "The mentally ill homeless will go into the justice system and impact the tax payers."

Farrell, who supports Prop Q, suggests a phone number where one could call and get homeless services immediately.

"These people have to be taken care of," he says. "We need to provide more funding to get people into housing. We have to get the homeless the mental healthcare they need and the city has the money."

Yee points to the new Department of Homelessness.

"I'm very supportive of what they're doing. They're talking to people that are putting up tents and helping them find resources. It's all about building housing that's affordable for them."

Engardio, also in favor of Prop Q, calls the tent encampments unsafe and unsanitary.

"We have to nip it in the bud now. One-third of homeless are mentally ill and suffering on the street," he says. "You can throw money on housing and job programs, but it won't help them. We need to focus on the mentally ill and move the needle somewhere."

Homeless encampments aren't the only unwanted newcomers to District 7. An influx of coyotes also became a topic of discussion.

"We have two options: to kill them or look at long term," Young says. "They have become habituated to humans and hazing is a tough sell in the short-term, but in the long term that's helpful."

"We can't mass kill them like the 1920s," Engardio says. "We have to follow the science. We need to look at the experts and come up with a humane plan."

Farrell is looking to Animal Care Control.

"If we kill them, they'll come back," he says. "Have them [Animal Care Control] educate people on how to deal with coyotes. Give them proper tools of hazing."

Matranga suggests a graduated scale of aggressiveness.

"When I talk to a mother who says that a coyote was on the school ground at 9am, then it's gone too far. We make ensure the children are safe and never harmed."

Tony Taylor is a San Francisco journalist.

October 2016

Let's Elect Our Elected Officials
- YES on Prop D

Dis really very simple — if a Supervisor position became vacant, then you, the district voters, would get to elect your interim Supervisor right away to fill out the term. Wait, you say. Don't we do that now? Well, actually, no. Right now the Mayor appoints the interim Supervisor, who serves until the next election. This appointment could last for a few weeks or, with the recent change in San Francisco election laws, up to two years.

What is wrong with this picture?

In an August 2016 public presentation, former Mayor Willie Brown stated that he told his appointees:
"You are free to vote any way you wish when you're elected. But if I appoint you, you only have one constituent — and that's me.”

First of all, the existing procedure violates the basic constitutional principle of separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislative branches. No other mayor of a major city or county in California does this, and even the Governor of California cannot unilaterally fill a vacant seat in the legislature.

Second, in terms of your own district interests, it gives the hand-picked appointee up to two years to vote the Mayor's way - which may not be your way - on the Board of Supervisors.

The loss of separation of powers in the case of appointments by a mayor is not just a hypothetical concept. In an August 2016 public presentation, former Mayor Willie Brown stated that he told his appointees,

"You are free to vote any way you wish when you're elected. But if I appoint you, you only have one constituent — and that's me."

Third, the existing mayoral appointment procedure gives the power of incumbency to the mayoral appointee. Incumbents generally have a head start over the other candidates through giving out favors, getting name recognition, and raising funds for their next campaign.

And, lastly, currently the Mayor can take as long as he or she wants in filling a position. This has resulted in long vacancies in elected offices. Some seats have remained vacant for months.

Opponents to Prop D say that there is no basis for recommending changes. Well, actually, there is. A little-known agency, the San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), produced a report back in 2013. This report was called "Study on How Jurisdictions Fill Vacancies to Elected Offices Between Election Cycles." The LAFCo Report analyzed equivalent jurisdictions to learn how elected-position vacancies are filled.

LAFCo found that the current ability of the San Francisco Mayor to unilaterally appoint a member of the legislative branch for the remainder of a term is inconsistent with practices in both large California cities and California counties. The report therefore concludes that:

". . . the City and County of San Francisco acts in a manner not consistent with the great majority of governing bodies. . . . More specifically, a governing body such as a Board of Supervisors, City Council, or Board of Education, holds the discretion to either call for a special election or make an appointment to the vacancy . . .

"When we look at California's most populous cities, we again see a departure from what is more normative of practices used for filling vacancies in public offices. Of the ten cities surveyed here, no other city among the most populous grants total discretion for appointments, let alone without strict time parameters for action necessary, to one individual."

Proposition D works to correct that specific imbalance of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches of our City government:

1. Prop D would require that the Mayor select an appointee for all vacant elected offices within 28 days.

2. For the Supervisor seats, Prop D would require that the mayoral appointee be TEMPORARY. A Special Election would be held within a short period of time in your district, so that you could decide whom you want to represent you right away.

3. The Mayor's TEMPORARY appointee would not be allowed to run in the Special Election. This would eliminate the power of incumbency and encourage an open election in which candidates from outside of City Hall have a chance of at least being considered.

Opponents to Proposition D say that a Special Election could cost "millions." Well, actually, they are wrong about that, too. According to the Controller, it could cost about $340,000 once every four years — that is $85,000 a year, approximately $.0009 % of San Francisco's annual $9.6 billion budget. The price of democracy was never so little.

When could this new policy be applied? Very soon - in January, either Jane Kim or Scott Wiener will be relocating to Sacramento — and the Mayor gets to appoint their replacement. In Supervisor Kim's slot, the appointee will hold that position until the next election in June 2018. Unless we pass Proposition D.

Please join a broad spectrum of groups supporting Proposition D - including the Sierra Club, The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, the San Francisco Democratic Party, San Francisco Tomorrow, and the League of Women Voters.

Let's elect our elected officials - please vote YES on Propositiovn D!

Larry Bush and Katherine Howard

October 2016

candidate picturesDistrict 7 Election for Supervisor Draws Challengers

While the final date for candidates for supervisor to file nomination papers is June 14th, these candidates for District 7 have responded to our inquiries.

Joel Engardio

San Francisco is changing fast. In District 7, we face unprecedented challenges. But what do we get from City Hall? Complacency. We need a new supervisor – a bold, responsive and independent leader.

If we want our kids and grandkids to stay in San Francisco, we need a forward-looking vision. I want to revitalize our commercial districts, stop the westside crime wave and be an advocate for homeowners and middle-income families.

Norman Yee, our current supervisor, voted against more police officers as crime spiked. He supported a proposed transfer tax on properties – a tax that would have hurt families. On most issues, it isn't clear where he stands.

When the San Francisco Chronicle endorsed me in ٢٠١٢, it said: "Norman Yee is a low-key politician whose campaign platform is a roster of tame ideas that show none of the boldness or specificity offered by Joel Engardio."

The choice is clear in 2016.

The Chronicle also said "Joel Engardio is rich with ideas" and "would be a worthy successor to Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, City Hall's astute fiscal hawk."

I'm a homeowner near Lowell High School. I've lived in San Francisco 18 years of my adult life. I work for a tech company that makes health care more accessible and affordable. And I have a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Learn more at www.engardio.com and read my award-winning Examiner column. Your #١ vote for Joel Engardio will let me put those words into action at City Hall.

415-577-6251 | info@engardio.com

John Farrell

I am running for District 7 Supervisor because I have the qualifications, experience, and dedication to make a difference. D7 is at a crossroads as our City population is projected to increase to 1 million. I will be a leader that stands up for our neighborhood values to ensure they are being addressed, values such as safety, affordability, preserving the character of our neighborhoods, and planning for future generations. Our current supervisor voted against an increase in police staffing as crime goes up. Further, City Hall must be made accountable. I know the workings of City Hall and that business as usual has got to change.

City Experience:

• Financial Director for Treasure Island Development Authority

• Assistant Assessor, Budget and Special Projects

• Senior Management Assistant for Port

• Mayor's Budget Analyst

• Senior Analyst for Harvey Rose, Budget Analyst for Board of Supervisors

• Park Director, Recreation and Parks

• Specialized in streamlining and identifying new revenue sources. Track record of generating millions to the City.

• 5th Generation San Franciscan. Grew up and raised family in D7. My family has been in public service for nearly a century. My grandfather was a Muni driver. My father is the retired Controller appointed by Joe Alioto. My uncle was a SFPD Sergeant.

• Neighborhood activist

• Small business owner/Real Estate Broker. Help families with affordable housing, in foreclosure, and displaced tenants.

• Education: St. Ignatius '77 | USF '81 B.S. Finance | GGU '86 MBA

• Endorsements: Judge Quentin Kopp (ret.), Former D7 Supervisor Tony Hall

Contact info: (415)218-6337 | johnfarrell4supervsor@gmail.com | www.johnfarrell4supervisor.com

Ben Matranga

I am Ben Matranga, a West Portal homeowner running for Supervisor to prioritize and address public safety and quality of life issues in our neighborhoods.

As a fifth generation San Franciscan born and raised in District 7 who met my wife in high school at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory, I want to keep our City livable for generations to come.

My priorities include:

Fighting to make sure San Francisco has enough police officers to meet the demands of our growing City.

Ensuring that our officers have the tools, training and equipment they need.

Supporting the active enforcement of quality of life laws that prevent camping on sidewalks and prohibit aggressive panhandling.

Using my experience in finance to root out waste, fraud and abuse to ensure that vital City services are funded.

Opposing tax and fee increases that squeeze working families out of the middle class.

Demanding that senior Planning staff meet on a regular basis with neighborhood leaders, not just developers.

Requiring, as a matter of law, that the Planning Department inform neighborhood organizations before introducing significant rezoning proposals.

Strengthening City Ethics laws by banning lobbyists from making campaign contributions.

Requiring reporting of special interest spending to influence City decisions.

Please join Fiona Ma, Barbara Kaufman, Angela Alioto and the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council (#2) in supporting our campaign.

You can learn more at benmatranga.com or by calling me at tel:415-484-5870"415-484-5870.

Norman Yee

I am honored to serve in the City where I was born, raised and have worked on behalf of, to represent the District 7 community I have lived in for 30 years. Becoming a grandfather this year, I am more aware than ever of the multi-generational needs of our residents, from seniors to families and young professionals. To start, we need to ensure that we are safe at home and when we're out in the neighborhood. Although more measures are needed, I have secured 12 additional police officers for District 7 precincts and added beat cops on West Portal and Ocean Avenue, and have been a leader on our City's Vision Zero initiative, particularly around pedestrian safety. I have been a champion of children and families' issues, and in a second term I will focus on improving our parks, increasing access to child care, and increasing senior services.

 I have ensured that District 7 received its fair share of city funding and have consistently dedicated funds for a Participatory Budgeting process for District 7 residents, allocating more than $1 million over 3 years for neighborhood improvement projects. I have, and will continue, to be your voice at City Hall to keep our neighborhood characteristics and support reasonable growth. I believe that my career working to improve the lives of San Francisco families, including the past four years as your Supervisor, will make me an effective representative for District 7. I hope I can count on your support this November.

contact@normanyee.com and www.normanyee.com

Mike Young

I'm a native son of San Francisco, a product of our public school system, and a Park Merced resident.

My education at Roosevelt Junior High and Lowell prepared me for degrees at U.C. Berkeley and Harvard. I served two years in the San Francisco Mayor's Budget Office, 10 years as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, and 10 years as a U.S. diplomat in South Korea, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Pakistan.

I believe in San Francisco, and believe I can serve our neighbors with strength and empathy at City Hall.

San Francisco seems at a crossroads. The stresses from success as a world-class city have resulted in increased crime and congestion. District 7 residents experience car break-ins and burglaries; traffic on our streets grows more crowded and dangerous, affecting adversely the quality of our lives.

As Supervisor, I will ensure we have adequate police protection in our district and that growth doesn't occur at the expense of neighbors in San Francisco's historic Westside, while enforcing fiscal discipline on our City's already swollen budget. I will be as close as a phone call or email away from everyone in our district. You'll find a real person, not a voicemail, in my office.

I will serve you with honesty, integrity, and compassion. I ask voters to grant me the opportunity to represent District 7 at City Hall and enhance the great history of San Francisco for the benefit of our neighborhoods, country, and future generations.


District 7 Candidate for Supervisor Mike Young was incorrectly identified as Mike Lee in our June introduction to D7 candidates.

The Westside Observer regrets the error and wishes him well in his campaign.

Thank you. 415-866-6470 | mike@votemike.org 

If more candidates file, we will make sure to give them equal time, if they contact us with their information. We have asked for a 250 word statement of intent, a photo and some contact information.

This election will take place on November 7th.

The June 7 Primary Election is not a part of the election for supervisors. The candidates in the Primary Election are for Judge and County Central Committees, as well as the initial election for State Senator. Ballots for this election are currently being cast at City Hall and by absentee. Please remember to vote.

June 2016

Election 2014

SF Voters’ Choices

San Franciscans went to the polls to provide direction to the city on many different topics, from taxes, on sodas and turf on playing fields to raising the minimum wage and a large transportation bond. With the uncertified results in, here is what the electoral landscape looks like.

… Measure I, to renovate the fields at the Beach Chalet with artificial turf, lighting, and bleachers was approved by a similar 55-45 margin. As we go to press, SF Park and Rec is already starting work on the project.”

In the five, even-numbered districts where supervisors were up for reelection, all five current supervisors (Farrell, Tang, Kim, Weiner and Cohen) won their contests handily, with only the District 10 race moving to a round 2 of ranked-choice voting.

On a statewide basis, Propositions 1 and 2, the Water Bond and Rainy Day fund propositions won easily, as did the Proposition to reduce certain criminal acts to misdemeanors (Prop 47). The propositions dealing with Healthcare (Prop 45), Drug Testing for Doctors (Prop 46) and Indian Casino Gaming (Prop 48) all were defeated handily.

In the District 17 Assembly race, a very tight race is showing that as of today, Supervisor David Chiu is holding a 2400 vote (2%) lead over Supervisor David Campos. In District 19, Phil TIng was re-elected. Former Supervisor Fiona Ma won her Board of Equalization election with 67% of the votes. Both Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu and Public Defender Jeff Adachi were re-elected, as they ran unopposed.

For most local voters, the numerous local measures on the ballot were some of the most hotly contested items on the ballot. Measure A (Transportation Bond) passed with 71 percent of the voters voting yes. Measure B (Match Transportation Funding to Population Growth) also was passed with 61% of voters approving. The Children and Families Measure (Measure C) was approved easily with 73% of voters in agreement. Measure D, approving health benefits for employees of the (now disbanded) Redevelopment Agency was also approved with 55% of voters voting yes. Measure E, the hotly contested proposed tax on Sodas and other Sugary beverages was defeated as 54% of voters voted against the measure.

In two real estate related measures, voters approved the proposed plans for Pier 70 (Measure F) with 72% voting approving. Measure G, the proposal to enact a Real Estate Transfer Tax on parcels sold within 5 years of purchase was turned down as 54% of voters voted no.

(It looks like artificial turf for GG Park)

The two measures that will determine the future of the western end of Golden Gate Park were decided by almost equal tallies. Proponents of keeping the natural grass playing fields in Golden Gate Park were rebuffed as Measure H, requiring the fields to be maintained in their natural grass state, was defeated by a 54-46 tally. The corresponding Measure I, to renovate the fields at the Beach Chalet with artificial turf, lighting, and bleachers was approved by a similar 55-45 margin. As we go to press, SF Park and Rec is already starting work on the project.

Measure J, raising the San Francisco minimum wage level was approved by 76% of the voters. Measure K, setting up a process to fund and build affordable housing, also won handily with 65% of the vote. The final measure on the local ballot, Measure L, attempting to implement a new policy directive for transportation management within SF, failed by a 61-39 margin.

The final ballot choices focused on the local School District, the Community College District and the BART District 8 Board Position. In the SF School Board election, Emily Murase, Shamann Walton and incumbent Hydra Mendoza were elected to new terms. Local parent Lee Hsu fell slightly short in his bid to be elected to the board. The Community College Board will also have new members, Thea Selby and Brigitte Davila will join incumbent John Rizzo, who was re-elected. The Westside will have a new BART Director as newcomer Nicholas Josefowitz unseated incumbent James Fang by approximately 4600 votes.

November 2014