Stop Discrimination Against People with Disabilities
Why Our Neighborhood Association Says Vote Yes on Prop. I, No on J
by Frank Noto, SHARP SF
Editor's Note: All election recommendations are the opinion of the author, the Westside Observer does not endorse candidates or measures, and welcomes opinions to the contrary.
•••••••••• September 27, 2022 ••••••••••
As the pandemic winds down, our neighborhood association asks you to vote Yes on Prop I to reopen the Great Highway and John F. Kennedy Drive in GG Park on certain days, just as they were before their temporary closure in April 2020 due to Covid-19. Why?
The closures of JFK Drive, MLK Drive, and the Upper Great Highway are hurting many people, especially those with disabilities and seniors.Proposition I ensures all San Franciscans can have equitable access to Golden Gate Park and safely commute through the region.
The closure of these major roads is pushing traffic into our neighborhoods, turning residential streets into high-traffic roads and putting pedestrians at risk.
The Great Highway faces the risk of permanent closure that voters never agreed to. Proposition I guarantees it will remain open as an essential roadway used by 20,000 drivers per day in San Francisco.
We ought to share the road. Yes, some interests clearly benefit from effectively banning the disabled from key parts of Golden Gate Park. Should those beneficiaries have absolute priority over impacted neighborhoods and the disabled 365 days a year?
The City closed JFK Drive and the Great Highway to cars during the pandemic as a temporarymeasure, but now it's time to restore access for all. We must reopen the Great Highway and return back to the agreed-upon compromise for Sunday, holiday, and partial Saturday closures of JFK Drive to allow for use of the Golden Gate Park for all.
That's the quick summary, but now let's look at crucial details:
1. Vote Yes on Prop. I because theclosures of JFK Drive and the Great Highway hurt many people with disabilities, seniors, and families with toddlers. They can't easily access key parts of our park and beaches. Proposition I ensures people with disabilities can have equitable access to Golden Gate Park, just as they did previously.
That's why Self Help for the Elderly president Ani Chung supports reopening the Park for elders and the disabled, along with other organizations for people with disabilities such as The ARC San Francisco, Older Women's League, and the Gray Panthers.
Put yourself into someone else's shoes … or their wheelchair, or their walker. Because you will get old someday, if you are lucky. Someday, you may be disabled - perhaps when you least expect it.
Ask yourself, how are 90-year-olds or disabled children supposed to travel to JFK park attractions? The City has now banned disabled parking/travel on JFK near the waterfall, Dahlia Garden, Rose Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, the Holiday Lights show and other locations on JFK Drive every hour, every day of the year.
We don't trust the City to allow disabled access or fix the shuttle, after 50+ years of failure! Access is terrible in most places on JFK for elders with walkers or canes — requiring up to 2,500 feet of travel — and parking access for vehicles with wheelchairs is now entirely prohibited.”
We don't trust the City to allow disabled access or fix the shuttle, after 50+ years of failure! Access is terrible in most places on JFK for elders with walkers or canes — requiring up to 2,500 feet of travel — and parking access for vehicles with wheelchairs is now entirely prohibited.
The opposition brags that the City will be adding 20 new disabled spaces ½ mile away – whoopee! They are taking away nearly 1,000 parking spaces right on JFK and MLK in Golden Gate Park — including spaces for the disabled, elderly, caregivers, and others.
But those same opponents say there is a shuttle bus! Unfortunately, most disabled folks are not allowed on the shuttle. While cars have been banned on Sundays for more than 50 years (since 1967), the City government has yet to provide buses that accommodate wheelchairs. That's right, you can't enter the shuttle with most wheelchairs, or with a walker.
We don't trust the City to allow disabled access or fix the shuttle, after 50+ years of failure! Access is terrible in most places on JFK for elders with walkers or canes — requiring up to 2,500 feet of travel — and parking access for vehicles with wheelchairs is now entirely prohibited!
True, many healthy seniors are merely inconvenienced or discouraged from visiting. Even the DeYoung Museum, which has limited paid parking to those in the know from a poorly-designed garage with an entrance 600 feet away, finds attendance by the disabled and others down 40 percent with the closure. But while those with vigorous caregivers or electric wheelchairs technically could access a few nearby park facilities on JFK, in practice, few disabled individuals now visit these attractions at all.
2. Vote Yes on I and No on J to return to the previous compromise. JFK Drive will again be closed to cars on all Sundays and holidays and half of Saturdays, and open on weekdays. Let's reopen JFK to disabled parking and travel for all several days a week under the previously agreed upon compromise.
Vote Yes on I because the closures of JFK Drive and the Great Highway negatively impact many people with disabilities, including the 10% of San Franciscans who suffer from mobility problems. Pre-closure, hundreds of people with disabilities frequently visited JFK Drive facilities on many days, prompting the hiring of a mobility access coordinator. But since the ban on disabled parking and travel by the Board of Supervisors, days go by when zero wheelchair-bound people use JFK.
There are nine roads and more than 1,000 acres of open space in Golden Gate Park that are closed to vehicles. Why do we have to close access to the segment of the park that is most used by the elderly and people with disabilities?
Wait a minute, what is Prop. J? It's a "poison pill" measure, designed to overturn Prop. I as it relates to JFK Drive if the later secures a majority of votes.
Dressed up in positive language, Prop. J aims to obfuscate the issues and confuse voters. Unlike Prop. I, which was placed on the ballot by the signatures of thousands of San Franciscans and reopens the Park, only four members of the Board of Supervisors placed Prop. J on the ballot to confuse the issue.
No question about it, effectively banning the disabled from portions of Golden Gate Park does benefit some people. Should those beneficiaries have absolute priority over impacted neighborhoods and the disabled 365 days a year? We ask you to share the road with others.
3. Vote Yes on I because the closure of these major roads is pushing traffic into our neighborhoods, turning our small residential streets onto high-traffic roads, and putting pedestrians at risk.
Proposition I will move cars back to major roadways like the Great Highway. It will stop clogging up our local residential streets that are not designed for high-volume traffic. Prop I will reduce vehicle accidents and improve pedestrian and bicycle safety on neighborhood streets, by putting cars back on the Great Highway where they belong.
20,000 drivers per day used the Great Highway to commute to and from work, school, daycare, soccer practice, the Veteran's Hospital, and other essential locations. Where are those Highway cars going now? On our neighborhood streets. Proposition I relieves neighborhood streets and reopens the beach for the disabled and people who don't arrive on foot or by bicycle.
The Great Highway is the best example San Francisco has of a safe Vision Zero road, with zero deaths from car accidents in the last 17 years; the last time the SFFD responded to a collision on it was five years ago.
Have there been accidents or people killed on Sloat Boulevard or Lincoln Way, which see traffic diverted from the Great Highway?
Oh, yes! In contrast to the Highway's great safety record, the closure increased traffic collisions on nearby Vision Zero High Injury Network streets and boosted air and noise pollution close to our homes, shops, and pedestrians.
4. Proposition I will help prevent bureaucrats from permanently closing the Great Highway 24/7 in the future. Our measure requires the City to keep it open.
The City closed the roads to cars during the pandemic as a temporary measure, but now it's time to restore access for all. First, let's return back to the agreed-upon compromise for closures of JFK Drive on all Sundays and holidays, and partial Saturdays. Second, let's reopen the Great Highway so people can access the beaches and avoid congestion on neighborhood streets.
Opponents don't talk about the potential $500+ million costs of rebuilding the wastewater plant, rerouting the Great Highway, and constructing a buried seawall and building a park. Instead, their scare tactics argue that it will cost local taxpayers $80 million over 20 years ($4 million annually) to keep the current Great Highway open. The City has not adopted any formal plan to respond to coastal erosion. When it moves forward, it will require an EIR, a state Coastal Commission permit and funding. Whatever plan is arrived at may be needed to preserve the wastewater recycling plant at the beach as well. The City does not need to close any part of the Great Highway to permanently respond to coastal erosion, most alternatives are cheaper and simpler, and like most infrastructure, should be largely funded by State and Federal funds.
5. Permanent closure of JFK hurts our economy and jobs. With dramatically reduced DeYoung museum attendance, due in part because of the loss of parking, the City will be forced to either increase subsidies to the museum, or San Francisco will face reduced tourism. At a time when Downtown's economic viability is threatened, we can hardly afford to also jeopardize our tourism sector, tax revenue and jobs.
6. People who live in the outer neighborhoods like Bayview and the Excelsior also are handicapped by the permanent ban on vehicles. Traveling by transit to Ocean Beach or JFK from these neighborhoods can take more than 2.5 hours round trip to visit the park or beach. This is a special problem for Golden Gate Park and Museum workers who need to get to work and cannot afford to pay for parking.
Please vote Yes on I, and No on J.
Frank Noto is a board member of the Sunset Heights Association (SHARP), a 110-year old neighborhood association representing the Inner Sunset.
Does the Recall Vote Forecast a More Moderate Future for District 7?
What happpens after the Redistricting Task Force Packed D7 Conservatives Off to D4?
by Doug Comstock
•••••••••• July 19, 2022 ••••••••••
San Franciscans voted on the Recall of Chesa Boudin, Prop H, in the June 7 Primary Election with a ho-hum 46% turnout. D7 turnout was a bit stronger than the rest of the City at 54%. But, compared to other elections, whether from voter fatigue or indifference, voters did not seem to deem this one worth the bother. The election was carried out primarily by mail—over 90% of the voters put their ballot in the mail.
Some commenters considered the election to reflect a conservative trend in a city that is often regarded as one of the most progressive in the nation.
While most of the media focused on the recall, several other measures were rejected by D7 voters, including Prop A — Muni and Street Safety Bond, which chalked up 57% from D7 voters because it required 66% to adopt. Another ballot proposition restricting recalls—Prop C—was defeated by 58% citywide but by 66% in D7.
Cumulatively these areas voted approximately 76% in favor of the recall. On the other hand, with the acquisition of the Inner Sunset from progressive District 5, which voted approximately 61% against the recall, the future is in flux.”
District 7 strongly supported the Recall of Chesa Boudin, voting yes on Prop H by a 62.6% rout. It was not, however, the strongest yes on H district. That would be District 2 with 67.4%, followed by District 4 with 65.6%. But D7 was still in the running in 3rd place, while District 4 lagged behind with a 60% affirmative vote. DA Boudin was only supported in three Districts, 5, 8, and 9.
Boudin has not declared his candidacy for the November election, and no one has filed papers with the Department of Elections so far. Former Police Commissioner and civil rights attorney Joe Alioto Veronese has filed with the Ethics Commission and is raising campaign funds for DA, but other names that have been bandied about include former DA candidate Nancy Tung and Superior Court Judge Eric Fleming have not notified the Ethics of an intent to raise funds.
If Boudin should run in the November 8 General Election as many election mavens have postulated, the turnout is expected to be much higher than the recall turnout. Whatever happens in the DA race, many will be watching District 7 to gauge the will of the newly redistricted electorate in District 7.
The Future of Redistricted 7
The June 7th election was the last election to use precinct lines drawn following the 2010 census. Although the new 2022 US Congressional and State Assembly lines were in effect for this election, Supervisorial Precinct lines will not take effect until the November 8 General Election.
D 7 has typically been regarded as a conservative stronghold; due to Redistricting, it lost Lakeshore and Merced Manor—its most conservative areas—to District 4 and a portion of moderate Precinct 9753 along the southern side of Ocean Avenue to District 11. Cumulatively these areas voted approximately 76% in favor of the recall. On the other hand, with the acquisition of the Inner Sunset from progressive District 5, which voted approximately 61% against the recall, the future is in flux. It may be that the Recall election is a harbinger of a more moderate electorate to come. It’s inappropriate to speculate, due to the low turnout, that this election is a definitive indication of a significant turn in the electorate for District 7. The November 8, 2022 General Election should provide a clearer picture of its future.
Doug Comstock is the Editor of the Westside Observer.
July 19, 2022
Picking Up the Pieces
After the Redistricting Task Force Debacle, Westside Supervisors Clamber Over the Ruins to Connect with Constituents
by Doug Comstock
Supervisors in District 1, District 4 and District 7 shifted a significant number of voters in the redistricting process and need to mount impressive outreach efforts to acquaint themselves with their new constituents.
“The final redistricting map, adopted by the 2022 Redistricting Task Force (“RDTF”) by a five to four split vote on April 28, 2022 , is the result of a flawed and mismanaged redistricting process.” Task Force Member Hernandez-Gil wrote in his Report which was also signed by Members Michelle Pierce and Jeremy Lee, “The author of this statement cannot in good faith state the final approved map conforms to all the legal requirements.
“The final map needlessly splits (“cracks”) many marginalized communities of interest made up of vulnerable populations that should have remained in the same district for the purpose of their fair and effective representation. The final map does not fairly reflect the public input received at public meetings nor does it fairly reflect communities of interest in San Francisco, both fundamental statutory requirements to the redistricting process.”
The biggest change in the revised maps was in Supervisor Dean Preston’s District 5—with the acquisition of the Tenderloin.
Preston faces a whole new community of voters, but none of the westside supervisors can be complacent if they face re-election in ‘22 or ‘24. In a recent article, the Chronicle asked the question: Can Dean Preston Fix the Tenderloin’s Problems? While District 5 was the most radically changed district, the spillover affects several supervisors who have work to do with their new constituents on the westside as well.
Chris Bowman, a previous Task Force member and early district elections advocate agreed with Hernandez Gil’s assessment. “The final 2022 map and the fatally flawed processes by which it was cobbled together like Frankenstein's monster was a brutal frontal attack on the fair and equitable district elections plan of 1995 which gave every major stakeholder of the City an equal opportunity to be elected to or to be represented or to be heard on the Board of Supervisors. The 1995 plan which the Elections Task Force drafted and approved by a 9-0 vote, the voters ratified in 1996 by a nearly 57% margin, winning in 24 of 25 mega-neighborhoods (as defined by the Department of Elections), and whose districts had remained over 90% the same over the course of the 2002 and 2012 redistricting efforts.”
The moderates only need to flip one district from the progressive side of the aisle to preclude the veto power of the Board of Supervisors, taking into consideration the mayor's appointment of moderate Supervisor Matt Dorsey to replace progressive District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney. And the Redistricting Task Force handed moderates a perfect set up to do just that. ”
The moderates only need to flip one district from the progressive side of the aisle to preclude the veto power of the Board of Supervisors, taking into consideration the mayor's appointment of moderate Supervisor Matt Dorsey to replace progressive District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney. And the Redistricting Task Force (RDTF) handed moderates a perfect set up to do just that.
There were also significant changes to D2, where Supervisor Stefani lost moderate ground in Seacliff and Presidio Terrace and gained progressive voters from the Haight. That could be challenging for her as well. Supervisor Safai in District 11 is termed out, and his district remains relatively intact.
The Westside Observer examines the changes to westside Districts 1, 4 and 7 and the problems they present to the progressive majority on the Board of Supervisors.
District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar’s problem is compounded by the time-constraints of his November ’22 election, when he faces re-election in less than six months and the addition of the most conservative precincts from District 7, Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor make his race an uphill effort. But all three supervisors will need to step up their efforts.
District I – Supervisor Connie Chan
Supervisor Chan was elected with 37.5% of the vote in District 1 before ranked choice voting (RCV) rounds began to bring her up to 50.18%, at round six beating out Marjan Philhour by a mere 125 votes in 2020.
Prior to Redistricting, there were 43,141 registered voters in D1, 61.2% are registered Democrats and 7.8% Republicans. The Task Force added another 3,397 voters from Sea Cliff, West Clay, the Lake Street Corridor and Presidio Terrace (7.6% of the voters). This band of precincts, formerly in District 2, are registered as 59.4% Democratic and 9.6% Republican.
Seacliff to Presidio Heights
These precincts are more conservative than the rest of D1 according to the Progressive Voter Index a project of the Chronicle.
Measured by their opposition to Prop I on November 2020 ballot — the progressive increased transfer tax measure — these precincts voted significantly against Prop I. with 56% No votes— while Prop I was adopted overall in District 1 by 61%.
(Prop I raised the transfer tax on properties valued at $10 million or more. Reference to Prop I in 2020 (p. 122) may be a more accurate standard to determine the progressive bent of voters.
Prop I was proposed by Supervisor Preston and supported by Supervisors Haney, Mandelman, Mar, Ronan and Walton, and the SF Democratic Party. It was opposed by the Chamber of Commerce and SF Apartment Association—ad infinitum.)
In these precincts from Seacliff to Presidio Terrace, few households speak Asian-Pacific Islander languages—far fewer than in any other areas in District 1 according to the 2020 Census.
“To balance for population in District 2, the northern strip of Lone Mountain between Arguello and Masonic from Geary to Anza was transferred from District 1 to District 2.” Chris Bowman, veteran of many redistricting battles told the Westside Observer. “The partisan make-up of those 880 voters was 9.21% Republican and 61,58% Democratic. The net result is that District 1 will grow to approximately 45,658 registered voters, and the district will be 0.105% more Republican and 0.141% less Democratic than before.”
The Task Force only removed partial areas of Precincts 9133 and 9134 in the Lone Mountain neighborhood, the loss of this area to District 2 does not represent a problem for Supervisor Chan, even though she was the winner in these precincts, it was only by 13 votes over Philhour. The problem for progressives, however, may be indicated best by Prop I — winning by 58%.
“In our neighborhood,” Julie Pita, a Richmond political observer noted, “a relatively new neighborhood group called SOAR, short for Save Our Amazing Richmond, attempted to organize the residents (from District 2). During the last election, SOAR endorsed Chan’s opponent, Marjan Philhour. It created a rather complicated system for endorsing the supervisorial candidates; each one accumulated points. Chan was the only candidate to receive zero points from SOAR. Since then, SOAR has become a leading proponent of recalls, a regressive approach to endemic issues like homelessness, addiction, and crime. I don’t expect it to soften its approach to broaden its constancy; it was founded by Marie Hurabiell, a delegate representing the SF Republican Party and a Trump appointee to the Presidio Trust.”
“SOAR and GrowSF, a relatively new YIMBY group, are expected to support a Philhour candidacy. Even so, Chan is the incumbent. I predict Chan will keep her seat, in large part because progressives have a better ground game. More importantly, Chan has the support she enjoys in the Chinese-American community. (She is fluent in Cantonese, the first language of many Richmond District residents.)
District 4 — Supervisor Gordon Mar
The problem for progressive Supervisor Gordon Mar is not just the addition of 2,828 registered voters from “conservative” Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor that were transferred from District 7 to District 4, but the clock is running as he faces the looming November election. This presents a major problem that many campaign wonks consider insurmountable.
Before Ranked Choice votes were applied (RCV), Mar received 10,314 votes, only 36.3% of the vote, while second place Jessica Ho received 7444, 26.2% of the vote. He pushed past the 50% mark when 57% of third-place candidate Trevor McNeil’s votes brought him to 56.8%. McNeil’s 5,055 votes broke 1452 for Mar, and 1052 for Ho on the 7th pass.
The change in the number of registered voters added to District 4 which runs from Ocean Beach to 19th Avenue between Lincoln and Sloat, were 2,828 registered voters (an addition of about 6% more registered voters than the old District 4). They were transferred from District 7 to District 4 from Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor. Additional census blocks south of Eucalyptus which are unpopulated were also transferred to District 4 including Lowell High School and Lakeshore Elementary School, plus the northern portion of the Stonestown shopping mall.
“The old District 4 had 46,236 registered voters of whom 8.74% were registered Republicans and 55.53% were registered Democrats,” according to Bowman. The two neighborhoods added to the district are 14.21% registered Republican and 50.21% registered Democrats.” The new District 4 will consist of 48,502 registered voters, 9.12% Republicans and 55.11% Democrats.
“Given that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans, the new District 4 will be the least progressive of any of the eleven reconstituted districts,” Bowman warned.
Sunset Precincts Lost to D7
“The loss of four blocks of the Inner Sunset to District 7 from 19th to 17th Avenues between Lincoln and Judah, came to 562 registered voters who were 4.8% registered Republicans and 64.77% registered Democrats,” Bowman said.
The four blocks comprised Precinct 9409, which votes progressive according to the Chronicle’s index. It voted for Mar with 198 votes, while Ho received 102. The Prop I index, however, indicates a stronger progressive bent than the index. The precinct voted an overwhelming 68% in favor of increasing the transfer tax, while opponents came in at 32%.
Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor from District 7
The two neighborhoods added to the southmost border of District 4 is comprised of 14.21% registered Republicans and 50.21% registered Democrats. Prop I ballots indicate a strong moderate electorate. These three pricincts fotedd against Prop I by 62.3%
“It could spell trouble for the progressive incumbent if he is challenged by a capable Asian opponent who is well known and liked in the district and has a well-financed, organized grass roots campaign;” Bowman mused. This, particularly in the context that the two neighborhoods (which are 54% Asian) added to the district are zoned RH-1(d) and didn't want to be transferred from District 7 to District 4 in the first place. Judge Quentin Kopp was a district Supervisor for most of what is now District 7 between 1977-1981 and is not too amused that he and his wife will be registered voters in District 4 for the next decade.”
Kopp made his opposition clear to the Task Force, “This map removes our historic associations and homeowner groups and shifts them to District 4 with the Sunset District. The new boundaries violate the law as they ignore continuity, compactness, communities of interest and other key shared cultural and historic interests of our neighborhood. They consist of residences built after World War II chiefly by Fred Gellert. Except for Lakeshore Plaza, there is little commercial property, we are single family homeowners and renters … We have historically been under the umbrella of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council which was formed over 85 years ago to promote safety and improvement of our area of San Francisco.”
Jeffrey Rigo, a District 4 political observer who wanted D4 to expand farther east into the Inner Sunset told the Westside Observer that “it seemed a natural extension of 'the Avenues' and the best fit from a socioeconomic standpoint. But we weren't the only ones looking to the Inner Sunset.”
“Instead, the D4 boundaries moved south of Sloat - which seemed a foregone conclusion, as the five members of the majority on the RDTF made it clear from the beginning that this was their intention and they quickly shot down any efforts to consider otherwise. Thus, we ended up with some of the most conservative precincts in the city being added to D4, already one of the most conservative of the eleven districts. This, in spite of the fact that the Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor residents by and large made it clear they preferred to remain in D7.”
Time is running out for Supervisor Mar to engage the residents along his southern border.
“I believe Gordon Mar is doing the same thing Dean Preston is,” Rigo said, “reaching out to his new constituents to learn about their concerns and priorities and welcoming them to his district. I know the special interest group GrowSF - which is comprised of YIMBY and tech-real estate interests - is raising money and has already mailed flyers and put-up billboards attacking Supervisor Mar, using the school board and district attorney recalls as wedge issues. This seems to parallel the basic dynamic of the RDTF and really, the long-term overarching battle over land use.”
As for what needs to be done to be re-elected, he needs to keep doing the good work he’s been doing during these challenging times filled with controversial issues and demonstrating that experience matters.”
District 7 — Supervisor Myrna Melgar
Supervisor Melgar placed third with 7881 votes before the first pass of Ranked Choice Voting behind Joel Engardio (9272) and Vilaska Nguyen (8263). She pulled ahead of Nguyen on the third pass when many of the the votes of Emily Murase, the only other woman candidate were transferred to her. When the RCV process was complete she had 18,561 votes, while runner-up Joel Engardio had 16,370.
But it was not until the 5th pass that Melgar moved into the elected spot, when progressive candidate Nguyen’s votes moved substantially in her favor.
“The district used to be the conservative bastion of the City when it was first drawn in 1995,” Bowman said, but as the older post WWII generation of mostly White Catholic socially and fiscally conservative homeowners died off or moved out of the City, they have been replaced by younger, more racially, socially, and politically diverse homeowners who are still fiscally conservative but are moderate or liberal.
“Conservative Tony Hall was first elected District Supervisor in 2000, followed by the more moderate Sean Elsbernd in 2004 and 2008, and due to the vagaries of Rank Choice Voting, two left-leaning Liberals have been elected since them — Former President of the Board Norman Yee in 2012 and 2016 and the current Supervisor Myrna Melgar in 2020.
Surprisingly, Prop I, Supervisor Preston’s real estate transfer tax passed in D7 by 52%.
“As of April 28, 2022, the old District 7 had 46,782 registered voters of which 9.52% were registered Republicans and 61.08% were registered Democrats,” Bowman said.
“Losing the two most conservative neighborhoods in the City,” Bowman said “Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor, and adding 6,240 more registered voters from the Inner Sunset — all the way east to Arguello — who are only a couple of degrees to the "right" politically of the Haight Ashbury, e.g., 4.54% Republican and 69.94% Democrat (taking into account the loss of moderate voters along Ocean Avenue to District 11) means that the new District 7 will have 48,533 registered voters who are 8.69% Republican and 62.79% Democratic.”
Inner Sunset Precincts from District 5
The Inner Sunset voters elected tenant’s rights activist Dean Preston over Mayor Breed’s hand-picked candidate Valle Brown for Supervisor by a 61% majority. Inner Sunset progressive voters bested the voters in District 5 where Preston won outright by 52% over Brown. The Prop I measure also passed in these precincts by 2-to-1 majority—66.2%.
“The district might be a better fit for Supervisor Melgar than before redistricting,” Bowman said, “but she should anticipate opposition emerging from her political left by a coalition of renter groups from Park Merced, the John Muir Apartments, Stonestown, and the Inner Sunset — the latter neighborhood leaders who would have much preferred to have remained with District 5 or in a pinch District 4, but didn't want any part of being part of District 7.”
Savannah Blackwell, who lives on the Haight edge of the Inner Sunset was baffled when she was shuffled off to District 8 — hers is typical of feedback the Task Force heard from the Inner Sunset. “We live in an apartment building that is located two blocks south of Kezar Stadium. This area has always been part of District 5. The nearest commercial districts are Cole Valley and Upper Haight Street. That is where we shop and eat, and that is the community we have always considered ourselves part of.
“The map you adopted puts us in District 8. That does not make sense. We do not identify with the Castro/Noe Valley area. These neighborhoods are not within walking distance, and we do not go there to shop or eat. Residents living a couple blocks south of Kezar Stadium have never identified with District 8. We identify with District 5. You have cut us out of the community that we consider home. You have disenfranchised us…
“This map breaks up communities and neighborhoods with the obvious goal of diminishing the voting power of tenants who identify as progressive in San Francisco.”
“The biggest advocates for all the Inner Sunset going to District 7 didn't come from the merchants or neighborhood activists of the Inner Sunset, but from a handful of outspoken, misguided leaders from Sunset Heights and Golden Gate Heights in District 7,” Bowman exlained, “despite nearly unanimous opposition from the rest of the neighborhood associations of District 7 who favored splitting the Inner Sunset between Districts 4 and 7, with District 7 retaining Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor. Those activists, and the remainder of District 7's conservative and moderates (and for that matter the rest of the City, which needs a moderate voice and ideas to emanate from District 7) will have to suffer the results of their folly, in that District 7 will solidly move into the liberal camp and the prospect of District 7 electing a political moderate over the next decade will be between nil and null.”
Supervisor Myrna Melgar told the Westside Observer “I will be reaching out to folks in the Inner Sunset and meeting with the merchant's association folks for the Inner Sunset (Irving) corridor, the elementary schools, faith based organizations, and the institutions in the park (Botanical Garden, Academy of Sciences, de Young Museum, Japanese Tea Garden, etc). I am also meeting with Supervisors Mar and Safai to have a warm handoff for the many constituent issues my office has been working on in Merced Manor/Lakeshore Acres (including the Stonestown YMCA and Lowell High School) and Ingleside.”
South of Ocean Avenue to District 11
This area is comprised of Precinct 9749 and a southern chip of 9753 (which is mostly City College). These precincts are also near Supervisor Melgar’s home. The new borders also break up the Ocean Avenue Community Benefits District between the two districts.
These are progressive areas, indicated by the vote on Prop I — it won by 58%. Votes for Supervisor also showed the progressive candidate taking a big lead: Nguyen, 400; Melgar, 287; Engardio, 235; Murase, 148.
Many people believe that the RDTF broke the Voting Rights laws in adopting the current lines, including members of the Talk Force, but so far there has been no lawsuit filed by anyone to replace the final map.
Will the RDTF’s gerrymandering empower Mayor Breed, breaking the veto power that the Board of Supervisors maintains or even endanger the progressive majority on the board? Some hope so. November’s election is around the corner.
Doug Comstock is the Editor of the Westside Observer.
June 6, 2022
Rethinking the Recall Process
Prop C takes some of the corruption out of the recall process
by Doug Comstock
Just a darn minute—didn’t we just vote already? We did. Now we have to vote again! All these elections mean the taxpayer must foot the bill—the Newsom recall alone cost Californians $200 million.
San Franciscans have been called on to vote on three recalls in the last nine months, give or take a few days. The Newsom recall election was on September 21st, the School Board recall was February 15th, and now, June 7th, voters must go to the polls again to recall the District Attorney. And we still have a general election in November.
The right to recall elected officials (Prop 7), along with the right of registered voters to enact laws via petition and to nullify new laws via referendum (Prop 8), were all approved by the voters in California’s historic progressive sweep of 1911 which also included women’s suffrage (Prop 4). Props 7 and 8 had the declared intent “to weaken the corrupting power of private interests over the state's government.” The progressives, led by Governor Hiram Johnson saved the state from the monopoly stranglehold of the Southern Pacific Railroad, a stranglehold that controlled the state’s economy and its government up until that time. It was hoped that these reforms would protect “the people” from the wealthy special interests into the future.
Over time, those special interests have proven adept at using the same “people’s protections” to further their own interests. Recalls are expensive, and a few of San Francisco’s bitterest billionaires are using the power of their money to buy low-turnout elections when they disagree with the voters, not to stop corruption, malfeasance, or graft as it was intended, but to remove elected officials they disagree with.”
Over time, those special interests have proven adept at using the same “people’s protections” to further their own interests. Recalls are expensive, and a few of San Francisco’s bitterest billionaires are using the power of their money to buy low-turnout elections when they disagree with the voters, not to stop corruption, malfeasance, or graft as it was intended, but to remove elected officials they disagree with. This has become commonplace.
When the wealthy interests lose an election, they can simply pay signature gatherers (usually well-paid professionals) to trigger a special election, which is often sparsely attended, to enforce their opinions.
And, adding insult to injury, we don’t get to vote on the replacement for the recalled official. Instead, Mayor Breed, who has her own string of corruption problems, gets to appoint her cronies to replace the ousted member. Then with the advantage incumbency, these new appointees often win.
With over a hundred years of experience, “recall reform” is on our ballots and it is an opportunity not only to save taxpayer money by preventing a recall within 12 months of a scheduled election for that same seat, but Prop C also prevents corruption and nepotism by precluding appointees from running in the next election, which makes for an even playing field in the next election.
High-turnout, regular elections are our best weapon against bad governance, not the whims of wealthy special interests.
Vote Yes on C
Doug Comstock is the Editor of the Westside Observer.
May 9, 2022
Update on Redistricting
On Wednesday on the 13th of April Chair Rev. Townsend switched sides and the Task Force voted down the Final Draft shown below, they have missed their April 15th deadline. The Task Force has reverted to the "Blow-up" map or the "Healing" map (Map 7) shown above. They will meet at noon on April 21st to "work" on the map to adopt a Final Map.
The Task Force will begin its live line drawing with Map 7, available on the Task Force’s website, but the Task Force may also discuss and modify any map considered at an earlier meeting. During this April 21, 2022 meeting, the Task Force may adopt a new final draft map.
Turmoil Discredits the Redistricting Process
by Doug Comstock
Chaos ensues as San Franciscans struggle to descramble the maps muddle
The usually orderly process of redistricting in San Francisco has erupted into a war for the future of the City: progressives v. moderates, tenants v. landlords, Asians v. African-Americans. The struggle for power over the next ten years has very real consequences. While the Redistricting Task Force (RDTF) members have been generally silent regarding their political motivations, the public has been far more than outspoken.
As of press time, the map that is considered “final” was conceived in the early hours of the morning after a walk-out by four members of the Task Force, Jeremy Lee, Jose Maria Hernandez Gil, J. Michelle Pierce and Raynell Cooper. The remaining members drew and adopted its map by a 5-0 majority. Its deployment will likely be decided by the courts. It has some specific consequences for the Westside and many repercussions if the process is validated by an eventual court examination.
Many members of the public have asked the same question, “why are you doing ________ (fill in the blank)” without much substantive response from the members except some personal experiences, often from childhood.
The final draft has been adopted, and only technical changes are allowed to the map. Any “substantive” changes would require 72-hour notice to the public, which is not possible since the Charter requires that the final map be adopted by April 15th. That means only technical changes may be made; corrections to inadvertent errors due to faulty communications; minor clean-up is allowable; no substantive changes such as things that have already been publicly addressed and voted on, changes involving one or two blocks to “keep communities whole” may be allowed. No dramatic changes are allowed according to the City Attorney. The City Attorney has also advised the Task Force that any changes they envision should first be passed by their office to assure that they are appropriate and to prevent “unnecessary recesses” on the last day.
That could be the motivation behind all of this — create such a god-awful divisive plan and create so much anger that the voters would just throw up their hands and get rid of it altogether — thinking it’s just not workable.”
How did we get into this muddle?
“There were stalling tactics all along the Board,” said Bowman, “originally they wanted to get thorough representation for outreach, and that is understandable, underrepresented communities — Native American, transgender, immigrant communities — I get it. But there were issues with the outreach firm, which may not have been competent, but basically, they wanted to hear from the people. They wanted to hear from their people. To her credit Member Reiner really tried to push them to get a schedule together, but there was pushback from some members who only wanted to meet once a month, Chair Townsend reminded everyone that this was what they “signed up for’.” Then the Covid surge hit and things got derailed.
The first meeting of the RDTF was held on September 17th of 2021, and the 5-4 split was evident from the first vote for Chair. Member Townsend was elected Chair with the votes of himself, Member Castillon, Member Ho, Member Chasel Lee and Member Reiner. Member Jeremy Lee received the votes of Member Hernandez Gil, Member Pierce, Member Cooper and himself.
The RDTF is appointed by the Mayor (3 Members) the Board of Supervisors (3 members) and the Elections Commission (3 Members). This was designed to be an independent commission, but “this time it did not work. The Mayor got two bites of the apple,” Chris Bowman, veteran of years of redistricting battles, said, citing undue influence on the Mayor’s behalf on the Elections Commission to appoint Members Reiner and Chasel Lee.
The League of Women Voters began prodding the Task Force to hold neighborhood meetings remotely in November, but only at the January 3rd meeting were the first three meetings approved, at City Hall, at Third Baptist Church and at First Congregational Church. “They could have finished up the neighborhood meetings by Christmas, and begin with mapping iterations in January,” Bowman said.
“You wasted six months of my life,” Member J. Michelle Pierce said, “I honestly feel like you wasted my time. I wanted to start drawing maps in October, I still don’t see the justification for not line drawing in October, given how little we cared about what the public was telling us over all of this time.”
Delaying the Deadline
What would happen if the Task Force does not approve the map by the deadline? This was a subject of considerable testimony from the public (“A late map is better than a bad map”) and task-force members, including Chair Townsend who said “I don’t think we are finished yet.”
It is possible that the Board of Supervisors could, citing a Covid related emergency, delay procedures that could be affected by the delay of a final map. Public financing and the in-leiu nomination signature period for the November election could be postponed by an act of the Board. Such an effort by the Board would cause a headache for the Elections Department who would have to disqualify signatures of those who were no longer in the district.
Members of the public, who are aggrieved by unsubstantiated displacement from their district could ask for injunctive relief from the courts that would likely return the previously drawn lines for the November election, while a curse of action is contemplated. The courts could, as they have in the past, appoint a “special master” or a panel (likely of retired judges) who would hear testimony, or rehear current testimony and draw lines based on such evidence and impose them on the City. Or the special master could adopt a map submitted by the public such as the “Community Unity Map” or the “CSFN map or one of the RDTF’s previous iterations.” In the 1991 Redistricting, when Governor Wilson vetoed the “Burton Gerrymander” for Assembly districts, it landed in the courts, and a special master was appointed. After public testimony was heard, the 16th and 17th Assembly districts were redrawn by the special master. This changed the map so that the LGBT community was not split down the middle, and allowed lesbian candidate Carole Migden and subsequent LGBT candidates to be elected in the newly drawn district. But the redrawn plan was not instituted until almost three months later. In 2012 it was redrawn again and Asian candidate David Chiu was elected.
The public, through the petition process, or four members of the Board of Supervisors could put the matter to a vote and the electorate could set the map aside, but that would mean a substitute map would have to be considered as well, which could muddy the waters unless it were acceptable to a great majority of voters. It may not be legal to return to the current lines, at least on a permanent basis. The City has seen competing district election maps at election times before, in the ‘70s Redistricting was on the ballot, but three maps were offered at the same time, and the vote was split three ways. If the voters do repeal the RDTF map, it has to be replaced with something legal, and that complicates matters. The question would be, and there may be precedent on the state level, if the November election candidates for Supervisor would run using the current lines, or the new RDTF lines?
The nuclear option, and one which many say might be behind the chaos at the hearings, would be a petition, likely supported by the Real Estate interests, to get rid of District Elections altogether and return to Citywide elections. “That could be the motivation behind all of this,” one source close to the process confided, “create such a god-awful divisive plan and create so much anger that the voters would just throw up their hands and get rid of it altogether — thinking it’s just not workable.”
The Map We Have
District 1. While the Richmond has gained new voters from Seacliff and Presidio Heights, populations that had been well represented by their Pacific Heights Supervisor, they also lost blocks north of Lone Mountain, along Anza and Geary – mostly tenants and picked up about 15 blocks of tenant rich voters from the west end of the Panhandle. Since Connie Chan’s victory over Marjan Pilhour was close, many will be watching this race. Some sources have suggested that mayoral staffer Philhour has been behind the D1 acquisition of conservative Seacliff and Presidio Heights.
District 2. May be two or three points more progressive, they lose conservative Seacliff and Presidio Heights, lose conservative portion of Russian Hill who are mostly homeowners, and get the tenants south of Geary — down into what had been the Western Addition. Supervisor Stefani will have to run again in November.
District 3. Splitting the Russian Hill homeowners from this district leaves only the portion that is 12% Chinese means that this becomes a white majority district again. It is unlikely to elect an Asian candidate for another 10 years.
District 4. Gordon Mar barely won his election, and with the loss of Inner Sunset tenants, as well as adding the new conservative south of Sloat areas (these areas voted for Trump in higher numbers than anywhere in the City), it means that a moderate candidate could very well replace him. D4 is about two points more conservative, if he had acquired more of the Inner Sunset instead of less, he would stand a chance. His chances hinge on his support for development in RH1 neighborhoods, according to some observers, an option that is very unpopular in the district.
District 5. Dean Preston, who was clearly targeted in the shredding of his district into 5 districts, will likely survive. While the Tenderloin, his new territory of 29,000 people who have never voted for him, is almost entirely tenants, he has shown a deep interest in tenant welfare, and may easily win them over. This may backfire on the Mayor. Many eyes are on this 2024 race.
District 6. This depends on the Haney/Campos runoff for Assembly. If Haney goes to Sacramento the Mayor gets an appointment, a good choice, perhaps someone from South Beach or Rincon Hill, from the merchant community and a minority candidate that seat could well be secure in the new affluent D6. There are no heirs apparent.
District 7. Seven is no longer a moderate district. Eliminating south of Sloat, add in the Inner Sunset all the way to Kezar, Supervisor Melgar might be able to win it, but no one to her right. If tenants, especially those Inner Sunset voters who are disappointed in her leadership on UCSF expansion, were to join with Parkmerced tenants to mount a campaign from the left, they would still only be about 30% of the voters.
District 8. Very little changes for Supervisor Mandelman, especially since they carved out the two-block area where he lives so that he is still in his district. The addition of Cole Valley and Ashbury Heights are similar in political sentiment to Noe Valley.
District 9. There may be a horserace for whoever runs in 2024 when Supervisor Ronen is termed out. Replacing the Portola with Potrero Hill is a new ballgame. The new district is only 24.6% Latinx, but if a progressive like Tony Kelly from Potrero Hill were to run against another progressive from Bernal Heights, their votes could cancel each other out and the election could go to a Latinx candidate. This is another race where anyone could win.
District 10. With the elimination of 45% of Whites — Potrero Hill and Dogpatch out, Portola added, Supervisor Walton could still be re-elected in 2024. If an Asian favorite son (or daughter) from Visitation Valley or Portola were to challenge Walton, someone who could put those two competing neighborhoods together it is doable. But Walton must run in November and is an unknown candidate to his Portola residents. He won his election with 41% of the first-round votes in the ranked-choice system. But in terms of actual voters, the Potrero Hill-Dogpatch comprised 43% of the electorate in D 10 prior to the newly drawn map.
District 11. Supervisor Safai is termed-out and this change may be a positive for Avalos, though making a come-back is a very difficult, especially with a 56% Asian population. It is possible that an Asian candidate who could attract African Americans may win.
There is also the “Final Report” which has no specific deadline and may yet be subject to division among the members. Member Hernandez Gil has suggested there could be two very different reports.
Some districts will change, some will be unchanged, but the process has lost a great deal.
Doug Comstock is the Editor of the Westside Observer.
April 13, 2022
The Task Force has taken five days off. Saturday, April 2nd at 10am it resumes.
Redistricting Goes Off the Rails
by Doug Comstock
Chair Townsend's Solution to African-American Population Decline Will Likely Result in a Lawsuit
In the latest iteration of mapping, the residents of the Inner Sunset are stunned to find themselves entirely in District 7, while District 5 residents are likewise astonished to be split into three districts north and south of the Panhandle (Fulton to Parnassus) go to the Richmond's D1 while Cole Valley goes to the Castro's D8 and Pacific Heights' D2 comes within one block west of Alamo Square, but includes the swath between Divisadero and Masonic from Turk to Oak. Two blocks south of Hayes. In District 7, Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor will become part of Sunset's D4.
An Additional Voting Bloc for San Francisco?
Remarks by Chair, the Reverend Arnold Townsend, make it clear that there is a concerted effort to create an optimally Black District 5. The current D5 has a Black Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) of 9.14%. His vision is tantamount to an additional voting bloc, which is permissible under the Voting Rights Act, Article 2, under certain specific conditions. However, such a District would seem to disregard weeks of Community of Interest testimony. Though combining the Tenderloin (which currently is not majority Black — its CVAP is 14.54%) with majority Black areas in D5 (D5 primarily east of Divisadero has a Black CVAP of 12.93%) might make it more likely that the new contemplated District 5 with a Black CVAP of 13.49% could elect a Black candidate sometime in the future. Townsend opined that the Tenderloin may, in the future become majority Black. The Voting Rights Act (VRA) however, requires that such an action must be based on actual data revealed in the latest census, rather than conjecture. Nor dos the new district approach the 50% majority that would make it a viable voting bloc.
“By doing so,” said Chris Bowman, an inveterate redistricting scholar, “then the rest of D5 would be absorbed by D1, D2, D7, and D8, moving all four districts politically to the Left. Unfortunately, unless the new D5 became over 18% CVAP, which is currently the case for D10, it is unlikely there would be the critical mass of Black voters to elect a Black Supervisor, assuming the Black vote was united, which wouldn't be the case if two Black candidates — one from the Tenderloin and one from the eastern portion of the Western Addition didn't split the Black vote.”
What facts does the VRA require to warrant the authorization of an additional voting bloc?
1. Is there racial polorization? And,
2. Does the minority have less opportunity to elect a candidate of choice?
It is questionable whether there is a demonstrable division of opinion among African-Americans and other racial minorities in primarily Democratic San Francisco, but electability is unquestionable; District 5 recently elected an African-American Supervisor. (London Breed, who appointed a white Superviser to replace her when she became Mayor. )
The newly posted Memo from the City Attorney opines that the African-American minority does not meet the threshold for an addition voting bloc, i.e., “sufficiently large and geographically compact” as required by the VRA; if there were to be a new bloc only an Asian-American district that meets the threshold for an additional district, however such a district fails the electability test, to wit, they have elected Asian-American Supervisors Mar, Chan, Fewer, etc.
Is it the purview of the Redistricting Task Force to address populations in decline?
Voting districts typically do not grow populations. The more accepted methods for growth are affordable housing, homeownership opportunities, high tech job training and the jobs to go with it. Nor is it the mission of the Redistricting Task Force.
The Supreme Court recently rejected an additional majority district in Wisconsin.
“Under the Equal Protection Clause, districting maps that sort voters on the basis of race “‘are by their very nature odious.’” Shaw v. Reno, 509 U. S. 630, 643 (1993). Such laws “cannot be upheld unless they are narrowly tailored to achieving a compelling state interest.” Miller v. Johnson, 515 U. S. 900, 904 (1995). We have assumed that complying with the VRA is a compelling interest. Cooper v. Harris, 581 U. S. ___, ___ (2017) (slip op., at 2). And we have held that if race is the predominant factor motivating the placement of voters in or out of a particular district, the State bears the burden of showing that the design of that district withstands strict scrutiny.”
Losing Lakeshore, Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor to District 4
To offset the loss of territory in the Inner Sunset, and in spite of the record of testimony against it, the Sunset breaks up a significant section of historically allied West of Twin Peaks voters. This is where Quentin Kopp lives.
“Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor residents,” said Quentin, “face termination of their historic natural unity if the current Supervisorial redistricting plan is executed. Instead of remaining unified in District 7, the long-standing geographical unity since District Supervisor Elections were adopted foolishly in 1995, those brotherly neighborhoods will be banished to District 4, which comprises the Outer Sunset.”
“Breathtaking political gerrymandering,” said George Wooding, former President of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, “to split out Lakeshore, Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor — the most conservative area of conservative West of Twin Peaks — breaks it. And adding it to the Sunset District will be a problem for Gordon Mar or any moderate candidate to be elected. And it makes it difficult to elect a conservative candidate in District 7 — something San Francisco needs in order to balance the progressive Supervisors.” The conservative vote in D7 is further diluted by the addition of progressive Inner Sunset voters. “What that does,” Chris Bowman said, “is Dictrict 7 will no longer be conservative, it will be a liberal district and District 4 will become a moderate, not a progressive district. But in San Francisco its a matter of degree, Menshevic vs Bolshevics, any way you look at it, the balance of power that district elections was conceived to bring is completely broken by this Redistricting map.”
Another consideration concerning the additional Inner Sunset territory — including the entire UCSF campus — is the influence that a solitary Supervisor in charge of the UCSF's immense expansion plan and its surrounding neighborhood will bring to newly elected Supervisor Melgar. She has advocated for the plan, while Supervisor Preston, whose current territory includes the northern half of the campus, has been an outspoken opponent of the plan and who will now be relagated to the sidelines. The influx of a doubled workforce and their patients now becomes the problem of D1 Supervisor Connie Chan and D8 Supervisor Raphael Mandelman as well as D7's Myrna Melgar.
Whether the RDTF's mission succeeds or not, voter confidence in the fair distribution of voting power may be significantly harmed by this latest venture; District Election advocates fear it could engender a voter initiative to return to City-wide elections.
Doug Comstock is the Editor of the Westside Observer.
MARCH 27, 2022
The time to speak up is now — or you can hold your tongue for another decade
The Redistricting Puzzle: Growing Pains for D7, D4 & D5
by Doug Comstock
NOTE: the Task Force Will meet again today, March 25 at 3pm & tomorrow March 26 at 10am (see meeting instructions at the end of this article.)
As the public weighs in on the new lines that will determine who will be included in District 7, its surrounding Districts — District 4, District 5, District 8 and District 11 are making their voices heard. From public testimony so far, it’s clear that no one likes change. The Redistricting Task Force (RDTF) held hearings on Districts 4 and 5 on March 16th, followed by Districts 8 and 9 on March 18th. Districts 7 and 11 were heard last of all on March 21st. For those who require the word-for-word dialogues, SFGovTV lists them here as they are available.
“We’ve said this before, and we will probably say it again,” Ditka Reiner, Vice Chair said. “We look to you to give us input, this is a very difficult process, and the more information you give us — specific information — on what areas are of concern to you, what things matter to you, the more that information will be of use to us. Know that it is an iterative process, that whatever you see tonight is part of the process of getting to where we have to go. We started with the first map, and that map was something everybody got very upset about, but we knew we had start at 1% (equal population variance) so we could move further ahead, if we started at 5% we would have no place to go.”
We look to you to give us input, this is a very difficult process, and the more information you give us — specific information — on what areas are of concern to you, what things matter to you, the more that information will be of use to us.”
Maps 2A and 2B.
As of March 18th, the Task Force developed new tentative boundaries based on preliminary testimony from D4 and 5 only. The maps are labeled 2A and 2B. These are not the final maps, and they were developed based on 1A the preliminary map before testimony was given to the Task Force regarding District 7, District 8 and District 11. The new lines for Districts 4 and 7 were, ostensibly directed by RDTF members based on community input they had previously heard that would keep the OMI in District 11 in its entirety and a new division in the Inner Sunset between District 4 and 5 but removing District 7 from the mix in that area. District 7 reclaims Forest Knolls, Twin Peaks, Midtown Terrace, the Woods and Miraloma Park from District 8 in the 2A-B iteration as well as all of Lakeshore and Merced Manor from District 4.
It remains to be seen, as we go to press, what the new tweaks will be after the testimony has been heard from all the districts. But most of the testimony after 2A and 2B was favorable from District 7 residents. “Not much will change,” said George Wooding — who has been following redistricting battles for years — “what’s going to happen will be only minor changes from the 2A and B maps based on the testimony that was heard previously, a new iteration will come out. The key thing is to make a map with minimal changes, but the only map that really matters will be the final map. It looks like that map will only move about 12,500 people from their current districts citywide, and considering the 30,000 overpopulation that happened in District 6, that change is minimal.”
The Disputed Territories
The hottest topic of the last meeting was the Inner Sunset tug-of-war. District 7 will lose ground of its portion of the Inner Sunset if the 2A-B map holds. That change — based on testimony from Inner Sunset tenants and homeowners, who felt they had more in common with District 4 or 5 than with the largely homeowning hill-dwellers of District 7 — was apparently more convincing to the RDTF than testimony from shoppers in D7 who frequent the Irving Street corridor.
As the first speaker at the March 23rd meeting, Dennis Moscofian said, “I’ve lived in the Inner Sunset for 49 years … and you’ve made some changes that I think are wrong. D5 is a dynamic district of majority renters and mixed housing … in contrast to the neighboring, largely suburban D7. Decades of community activism have characterized District 5; it’s a common bond among many long-time residents formed from work to stop displacement and build affordable housing. It has historic ties to the Haight — community support fighting urban renewal, black removal, the freeway, sit-ins for employment, anti-war marches, the epicenter of jazz and rock music. It includes the Parkview Commons affordable housing, the new Kezar Stadium open to the community and keeping the Arboretum free to locals. A lot of effort by a lot of people. Map 2A and 2B wrongly disrupts the Inner Sunset by bissecting it at 7th Avenue; that’s wrong. I urge that D4 should stop at Funston, and it can grow by 12 square blocks.” (Lawton up to Funston, etc.) Eileen Bokin of Sunset Parkside Education and Action Committee (SPEAK), agreed that Funston should be the defining line between D4 and D7.
In the 2002 redistricting, D7 gerrymandered a bit of Woodland Avenue near the eastern slope of Mt. Sutro. It was aimed, critics claimed, to prevent Jane Morrison, who lived on Woodland Avenue from running for District 5 Supervisor. Jane, who Barbara Boxer called “the grande dame of San Francisco politics” died almost two years ago at the age of 100 having served as the Chair of the SF Democratic Party for several years. The 2002 RDTF finalized the gerrymander despite her testimony.
Laurie Liederman of the Inner Sunset urged the RDTF: “Like District 5, we are majority rent-controlled mixed with homeowners. Protecting long-term residents and housing affordable to working-class folks is paramount to D5 values. We have a long history of working with D5 residents on housing, transit, tourist and festival crowds in Golden Gate Park, preservation of public space and engaging with UCSF around development there … We have no history of alliance with District 4. Please keep us in District 5, west to Funston and south to Kirkham.” Also Ms. Liederman noted, that 2A and 2B “have sliced segments of Warren and Crestmont Avenues from D7 isolating them from their neighbors and putting them in D5. On those maps the slice of Crestmont is connected to the slice of Warren only by one of the longest and steepest stairways in the city. Both those slices should be restored to D7 and taken out of D5.”
Another bone of contention is the campus of UCSF at Parnassus. Walter Kaplan of Forest Knolls in D7 felt that the section of UCSF south of Parnassus should be in D7 in order to provide two Supervisors to manage the growth that is expected there. Former Planning Commissioner Dennis Antenore agreed, “if we have two Supervisors to help residents deal with the expansion, then if one is not responsive to the residents, we have another Supervisor to appeal to.” Mr. Antenore remains positive that the lawsuit against the proposed expansion will be upheld by the courts (the hearing is April 1st). “It is a very good lawsuit.”
While there was very little testimony from the public regarding the new lines that take territory from District 8 and adds residents down to Market Street to District 7, look for more testimony to appear regarding this change.
“I think they are not organized on that side of the hill — there is no neighborhood organization,” Chris Bowman, a veteran of many redistricting battles said. “Secondarily, I think the District 7 people are OK with it and the people who live in the neighborhood who are aware of it are probably OK with it. Demographically, that’s about as close a match as you can get. And, quite frankly, where else could you go? If you go south of Sloat you have to pick up 4000 more people, and that makes the problem worse. If you go north of Judah, then the D5 and Inner Sunset people object. If you go south of Ocean, the OMI people object, although I do think it could go all the way to Boswell. Mandelman should be very happy about that, because if they went the other route, it would come out of Diamond Heights or Glen Park — or both. And if that happens the area goes with Cole Valley and the Haight.”
City Hall denizens say that Supervisor Mandelman hopes to regain that territory for District 8.
D7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who was careful not to influence the process of the RDTF, said that she “watched the testimony,” she worried for the success of the Ocean Avenue corridor, especially involving the Community Benefits District and she noted that losing half of Ocean Avenue and Ingleside as far as Holloway had not been advocated by current residents of District 7. She was interested to see by that “the Ocean Ave Association, representing the businesses, has submitted a request to the redistricting commission urging that they want to stay in D7.”
Chris Bowman felt the lines for boundaries on Ocean were merely returned to their original lines (prior to 2012) and the Community Benefits District may not be a valid argument, since the benefits would continue regardless of the Supervisor, and the argument verges on specious. On the other hand, he thought that “the Black businesses are not on Ocean Avenue any longer — at one time, if you looked at the census data in 1970, it was about 65-70% African-American, but that has no bearing on the present.”
Map 2B seemed to meet with the approval of everyone on the board as of the last meeting. “I think they were happy about Sloat, they were happy with Ocean and District 11 being what it is, from 280 up to Taraval is pretty well set,” Bowman said.
“I anticipate there will be a final draft on the 9th (April) then a 3-day notice, then public comment, so a tentative final will be adopted on the 12th or 13th. Then they may do some final tweaking, like moving one block to the next block, but nothing major. They don’t have a lot of time.”
“Redistricting comes down to where people there is an affinity with other neighbors as well as where there is not one; that seems to me to be about 80% of the issue with redistricting.”
* * *
Doug Comstock is the Editor of the Westside Observer.
Something’s Gotta Give
Battlelines Drawn in District 7 Redistricting
by Doug Comstock
The 2020 Census disclosed that District 4 — with 72,784 inhabitants — has increased slightly from its 2010 resident population of 72,498, but it didn’t keep pace with the rest of the City and therefore needs to include about 2,784 more people to conform to the “equal population” limitations. D4 is bound by the ocean along its west side and by Golden Gate Park on the north. Expanding across Golden Gate Park on its northern boundary into District 1, though feasible, would not comply with the goal of “compactness,” but would comply with community guidelines, since the residents in the southwest of District 1 have similar interests. However, D1 needs to grow by about 6500 as well, not reduce
San Francisco has had some surprising changes since the current lines were drawn in 2011. These changes will affect political power at City Hall and could change which Supervisor represents us. Population increases due to increased housing projects in the SOMA area bloated the current boundaries that underrepresent District 6 significantly, with 30% over its mean population goal, i.e. approximately 23,000 people.
Every 10th year, after a Census has been completed, the City must redraw the political boundaries that determine who our Supervisor will be. The Redistricting Task Force (RDTF) has until April 15th to finalize the maps to adjust for population changes over the past decade. The RDTF is composed of three members appointed by the Mayor, three by the Board of Supervisors, and three by the Elections Commission. Although the nine-member San Francisco Redistricting Task Force held its first meeting on September 17, due to the 2020 Census delay, the state did not release the census data that determines the forthcoming alterations until September 20th, because California state law requires that the numbers be adjusted to reallocate inmates to where they lived immediately prior to their incarceration, thus, SF's adjusted population increased by about 1,000 people while Lassen County lost over 10% of its resident population because it is home to so many state penal institutions. What was released on September 20th was the "adjusted" 2020 census data. Though the information was late, it was not an unexpected delay.
So far, meetings have been digital, but last night, March 7, the Task Force held its first in person meeting. Six people testified in person to the Task Force and 41 phoned in to the public comment section. For more information on upcoming meetings, go to the RDTF website.
Besides the hard boundaries, such as the ocean, which constrains both D4 and D7, and the San Mateo County line, the Task Force is also constrained to keep “communities of interest” together. There are also natural topographies such as Glen Park Canyon, Golden Gate Park and I-280 Freeway which, arguably, divide neighborhoods. When the final maps are drawn, its total numbers must match within a 1% variance with the other 11 Supervisorial districts. In the end, 100% agreement is unlikely, and there are always disgruntled residents and groups. The magic number this decade is 79,545 residents in each district to conform to the “equal population” with allowances of up to 5% to keep “communities of interest” together, a variance that is allowed to avoid diluting minority voting power or to keep recognized neighborhoods together. The district limitation of 1% would equal 795 persons, at 5% it would equal 3,788 persons. Some confusion persists due to the original data released by the Census which many used to compute mapping and the adjusted numbers representing incarcerated residents.
Rather than create a draft map with 14 days for the public to respond to, then a semi-final map with the same public review period, then make final adjustments and approve a final map on 4/14, they've created a ‘moving target,’ which makes it difficult for nearly any member of the public to make timely comments on an ‘iteration’ which would have a shelf life of just 24 to 48 hours, before the ’iteration’ is replaced by the next ‘iteration.’”
Several submitted maps envision the Inner Sunset as a part of District 4. Others split the area between D4 and D7. The district that has been least effected by population variation is District 5; it is overpopulated by just 1.5% and could lose a few blocks to get back to equal. One such map, submitted by the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (CSFN) and designed by Chris Bowman would extend District 4 into a portion of the Inner Sunset that is 2,378 residents “primarily Asian” and adds the remainder 5,558 into District 7. A map submitted by Sunset Parkside Education and Action Committee (SPEAK) adjoins the entire Inner Sunset community into District 4. Another factor that assures D5’s loss of the Inner Sunset is the likelihood that it must absorb some of neighboring D6’s population explosion. The CSFN plan does just that, sending 6,228 residents from 9th Street and Folsom west to where the Central Freeway meets Market Street to District 5.
Contrary commentary from Laurie Liederman in favor of keeping the Inner Sunset in District 5, “Our identity in the Inner Sunset has long been in District 5 … I trust that the Task Force will give weight to those of us who are in danger of loosing our district identities. … If we are to be placed in another district due to population changes, it makes the most sense to continue the extension of District 4 into the Inner Sunset. … While I have heard the proposal from folks in Golden Gate Heights to absorb our neighborhood into D7, for those of us actually living in the Irving corridor of D5, there is a greater community of interests in common with D4 than D7. Folks who live in the flats rather than the hills are a mix of renters and homeowners with a substantial percentage of renters. This is not true of the District 7 hill area, which is predominantly homeowners. This is an important socio-economic consideration. … In short, if we cannot stay in our long-time home of District 5, District 4 is the logical place to put us.”
Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor
Several maps and considerable public testimony urged the RDTF to grow District 4 southward to include Lakeshore Acres and Merced Manor. SPEAK’s plan engulfs the area but keeps much of it in D7, adding the eastern area to D4.
Twin Peaks and Diamond Heights
Another area that shows some give and take, and engenders major resistance from Diamond Heights, who expressly wish to remain in District 8. In a letter to the RDTF, the Diamond Heights Community Association did just that:
“The synergies the DHCA has developed (with the DB Supervisor) would be lost or significantly reduced if all or a portion of Diamond Heights were removed from D8 to D7 and the voice of Diamond Heights at City Hall would be diminished. Diamond Heights has many issues in common with its D8 neighbors, Noe Valley and Glen Park. It is cut off from D7 by Glen Canyon Park, which forms a physical barrier to the west.” Callers echoed the same message.
Ocean Avenue and District 11 Expansion
A cluster of commentary from the public surrounds the likely changes in and around Ocean Avenue. In fact, CSFN’s plan began with the overriding goal to “make District 11 whole again.” In a letter to the RDTF (page 181), CSFN reiterated:
Restore most of the 1995 boundaries of the OMI and District 11.
After extensive consultation with community leaders from the OMI, Mission Terrace, the Excelsior, and Crocker Amazon. three portions of District 11 which were transferred to Districts 7, 8, and 10 by the 2002 and 2012 Redistricting Task Forces because District 11 was significantly over-populated at the time would be restored to District 11 under the CSFN plan. They would include Ocean Avenue to Holloway between Ashton and Harold and the triangle bordered by Ocean and Geneva, and I-280, from District 7; the triangle bordered by Tingsley, I-280, and Alemany from District 8; and south on Geneva to Carter from District 10. And this is all accomplished by District 11 growing from 94. 70% to just 100.31 % of the mean population for a district.”
Another deviation from the would add to D7 the eastern part of Sunnyside “by moving the boundary with District 8 from Congo and Joost east to Bosworth and the BART station.”
The Final Product
Though public commentary at the meeting dealing with District 11 was decidedly favorable to the CSFN map, the Ingleside Light’s Garrett Leahy reported that some residents wanted to deal with only one Supervisor. “Ocean Avenue once served as the boundary between District Seven and District 11. In 2012, the boundary was moved south to Holloway Avenue. Some residents asked the RDTF to move the line back to Ocean Avenue, halving the Ingleside’s main commercial corridor under the purview of two supervisors instead of just one.”
Other public comment favored the two Supervisor plans.
“I trust the Redistricting Task Force is doing a good job,” Supervisor Melgar said, “they are looking at all the data and listening to the public.”
“On March 2nd, the Task Force was scheduled to begin line-drawing, but instead delegated that initial task to its redistricting consultant with the proviso that the districts created be balanced for population within 1% of the mean.” Chris Bowman told the Westside Observer. “That so-called 'Iteration' will have been made public by the 9th (after press time), and on 3/14 the Task Force will adjust the lines or instruct their consultant to do the same for the meeting on 3/23. After 3/23, the Task Force is slated to do mapping at each of its nine remaining hearings.”
“Rather than create a draft map with 14 days for the public to respond to, then a semi-final map with the same public review period, then make final adjustments and approve a final map on 4/14, they've created a ‘moving target,’ which makes it difficult for nearly any member of the public to make timely comments on an ‘iteration’ which would have a shelf life of just 24 to 48 hours, before the ’iteration’ is replaced by the next ‘iteration.’
Many residents will anxiously await the release March 9th of tomorrow’s iteration.
Doug Comstock is the Editor of the Westside Observer.
Stand With the Pacific Islander Community Against the Recall of Faauuga Moliga
by Gaynorann Siataga
Please do not support the recall of Commissioner Moliga and vote No on C, because recalling Commissioner Moliga will do harm to the Pacific Islander community specifically, and the larger school community more broadly.
Commissioner Moliga is the first and only Pacific Islander ever elected to office in San Francisco. His election to the School Board has brought about tremendous change for our community, which has long been marginalized in the city. For the first time in our 100-year history in San Francisco the SF Unified School District and the City and County of San Francisco are substantively addressing the severe issues of inequity that we experience.
Under his leadership we finally have accurate data on the number of Pacific Islander students enrolled in San Francisco’s public schools. We were undercounted by 60% before he took office. Curriculum has been created that includes Pacific Islander studies, a Samoan Pre-K dual immersion program, and a series of pilot programs that make up a Pre-K to City College pathway for Pacific Islander students. An advisory council has been implemented that provides Pacific Islander parents the opportunity to have input in policies that impact their children’s education. During the height of the pandemic when schools were closed, Pacific Islander and Visitacion Valley students were provided a learning hub at the Samoan community development center.
Community members volunteered their time and money to try to thwart an ever-growing disparity between our community and others in San Francisco, where 73% of the Pacific Islander population lives in low-income housing and for whom the unemployment rate is nearly 22%.”
Prior to Commissioner Moliga’s election we were a community with needs far greater than the resources available. Community members volunteered their time and money to try to thwart an ever-growing disparity between our community and others in San Francisco, where 73% of the Pacific Islander population lives in low-income housing and for whom the unemployment rate is nearly 22%. However, in the last two years community members, with Commissioner Moliga’s support, have coalesced into non-profit organizations and are receiving funds that will significantly mitigate inequity in areas such as housing, health care, elder services, immigration, violence prevention and employment. My community is energized by these gains and excited that for the first time ever we are receiving funds from the Mayor’s General Fund budget. I firmly believe our recent success would not have been achieved without Commissioner Moliga in elected office.
I have also witnessed Commissioner Moliga dedicate himself to improving San Francisco’s public schools for every student, family, and staff member. He is and has been for the people, not just our people, for all communities. To date he has passed substantive resolutions retaining teachers in SFUSD by committing to building housing specifically for them, upgrading SFUSD’s transportation system, and improving the breadth and efficiency of wellness services to the public school community. His work in creating a better learning environment for all will save millions of dollars in an era where the SFUSD is consistently fiscally challenged.
What I have listed in this letter cannot come close to all that Commissioner Moliga has supported and contributed to. Further, our existence as proud Pacific Islanders has been recognized because we finally have someone that is about what is right and fair, and it has been a blessing for us that he is a Pacific Islander.
These are the reasons why I am asking all San Francisco residents to stand with the Pacific Islander community to oppose No on C and keep Faauuga Moliga on the School Board.
Drive-Up, Walk-In or Mail Drop - Voting Is Now!
The Department of Elections is making voting this year easier than ever. Early voting and ballot drop-off hours at the Voting Center are extended, and weekend hours are added. There will also be additional open ballot drop-off stations in the City starting October 31.
The outdoor Voting Center located at 99 Grove Street will be open every day through Election Day, Tuesday, November 3 as follows:
Monday-Friday through November 2, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, October 17–18, October 24–25, and October 31–November 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“Early voting offers San Franciscans a convenient opportunity to vote in person, drop off a voted ballot, get a replacement ballot, or get voting assistance in multiple languages.There are several ballot drop-off stations set up outside the Voting Center allowing for easy and convenient access for pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists. Starting October 31, the Department will open 11 additional drop-off stations in the City, one in each Supervisorial District. In Supervisorial Districts 1-2, 4-5, and 7-11, the drop-off stations will be located outside public library branches, in District 3 at the Portsmouth Square, and in District 6 at the Chase Center.”
Official San Francisco ballot drop-off stations are clearly recognizable, staffed by Department of Elections personnel wearing red vests, and importantly, ensure security of ballots returned by voters. At drop-off stations, voters deposit their voted ballots into sealed red ballot boxes that bear the official seal of San Francisco and are monitored by Elections personnel. Each voting day, all red ballot boxes containing voted ballots are transported by the Deputy Sheriffs to the Department of Elections. The Department of Elections maintains a complete chain of custody record for ballots returned by voters to drop-off stations, creating a chronological record of the collection, custody, transfer, and disposition of these ballots.
Need more information about the November 3 election? Voters May contact the Department of Elections by writing to email@example.com or calling (415) 554-4375. Department personnel will be available to answer election-related questions every day through Election Day during voting hours, with staff available to provide assistance in many languages, including American Sign Language.
Propositions A-L What's Up?
Proposition A Health and Homelessness, Parks and Streets
Prop A is unanimously supported by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors as an essential COVID-19 response. It proposes to take out a bond of $487.5 million to address homelessness, enhance parks, open spaces and recreation facilities, as well as improve the condition of our streets.
• $207 million for expanding housing and shelter for homeless persons, as well as substance abuse and mental health treatment.
• $239 million to enhance neighborhood parks, community gardens, playgrounds, etc. The balance is planned to fund greater accessibility to open public spaces, plazas and streets.
Supporters argue that City services are in crisis due to the pandemic. Homeless persons are especially in need of support and significantly in need of mental health and substance abuse counseling. Many deaths have resulted from drug overdoses. They also say that the measure would create jobs. There is notable support reported by the Ethics Commission for this measure from San Francisco and the Bay Area as well as San Franciscans for a Fair Recovery, Yes on A, B, E, F, I, J, K & L, whose contributors include Software Engineers Laksh Bhasin & Jeff May, Supervisor Dean Preston, and lawyer Michael Soloff.
Opponents argue this is the wrong time to add additional debt on homeowners and tenants for a complicated, long-term problem and are concerned that there is no oversight provided on the use of funds that could go into bureaucratic costs. The Libertarian Party and private individuals oppose Prop A. So far, no funds have been reported to oppose the measure.
Prop A requires a 2/3 majority to pass. Voting yes means you agree to increase taxpayer’s indebtedness to support this bond to improve city parks, public spaces, and homeless housing and services.
Proposition B Sanitation and Streets
Prop B amends the Charter to create a new Department of Sanitation and Streets and a Sanitation and Streets Commission to oversee it. The remaining Department of Public Works would be administered by a Public Works Commission, both would be removed from oversight by the City Administrator. The measure would also require an annual performance audit and cost and waste analysis for both departments.
The new department would oversee the disinfecting of streets, sidewalks, and public restrooms as well as maintaining public buildings and trees in the public right of way. Supervisor Matt Haney, the measure’s author argues that “San Francisco is one of the only major American cities without a Department of Sanitation. And infectious disease experts say that our streets are so dirty that our risk of infection is as high as communities in parts of the world suffering from extreme poverty.” A separate sanitation department, proponents say, would put more focus on keeping public areas sanitary.
The Controller’s Office estimates that 835 of 1,711 full-time employees currently working for Public Works would shift to the new Sanitation and Streets Department, which would also need to hire a department head, public information officer, and other administrative employees and would increase the cost of government from $2.5 to 6 million annually.
Board of Supervisors Prop B supporters joining Haney are: Mar, Peskin, Preston, Ronen, Safai and Walton, the BART Board Director, and Laborers Local Union 26, members include city street cleaners, street and sewer repair crews, and pest control workers. Significant monetary support comes from the Laborers Council as well as San Franciscans for a Fair Recovery, Yes on A, B, E, F, I, J, K & L.
Proponent arguments in favor say that non-citizen groups are not well represented in city government in spite of the fact that they pay the same taxes as citizens. Also, that City commissions should reflect our diverse population. Since 2015, Asian Pacific Islanders, Latinx, African Americans, women and LGBTQ individuals serving on boards and commissions has decreased every year. Proponents say greater diversity in government will create better policies that look out for all residents. Only one Supervisor declined to support this measure.
Other supporters include the Libertarian Party of San Francisco. They say non-citizens pay taxes just like other residents. Therefore, the government should represent everyone, and not discriminate on the basis of race or country of origin. Other groups in favor of the measure include the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club, the Chicano Latino Caucus, San Francisco Women Leaders, and several labor unions.
Though there is no Official Argument submitted to the Dept. of Elections, the San Francisco Republican Party argues that best way for immigrants to be involved in the government is to acquire U.S. citizenship, rather than serving on government bodies.
Prop C requires 50% plus one vote to pass. If you think we should allow non-US-citizen San Francisco residents to serve in these capacities, vote yes. Otherwise, vote no.
Proposition D Sheriff’s Department Oversight
Proposition D would amend the Charter to create an independent Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board to appoint the Inspector General and review uses of force by the Sheriff’s Department. It also creates an Office of Inspector General. Both will investigate misconduct within the Department. The Sheriff must consider, but not necessarily act on the Board’s recommendations.
Specifically, the Inspector General and a staff of investigators (one for every 100 employees) would investigate deaths of people in custody as well as the conditions of their detention or imprisonment. No one in the Inspector’s office or the Oversight Board will include a previous employee of a law enforcement agency or a labor organization representing law enforcement employees.
The City Controller’s estimate of the cost would be $400,000 to fund the Oversight Board and the Inspector General’s Office would cost $2 to $2.5 million.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for Measure D, to “stop injustices and abuse towards individuals in custody and staff and give voice to those impacted.” Supporters have raised $14,500 for the campaign, while there has been no fundraising in opposition.
The Controller maintains that there would not necessarily be no additional cost or saving, but points to the estimated annual salary and fringe benefit cost of an officer at apx. $155,000, and that allowing for reallocation, the Mayor and the Board would have additional discretion to use the funds set aside for any public purpose.
San Francisco’s Board President, Norman Yee, argues that the minimum staffing strains the budget and hasn’t made the City safer. A majority of the Board wants to dispatch more teams of social workers and counselors when it is appropriate to respond to calls seeking their skills, rather than police officers.
Prop E is opposed by San Francisco Taxpayer Association because amending staffing levels is a burden on taxpayers. The San Francisco Republican Party fears the Board will cut the number of officers, resulting in fewer police in our neighborhoods, increased response times and eliminate essential training programs while the City is experiencing higher crime rates.
Vote yes to make changes to the required minimum police officer levels. Vote no to keep things the way they are. This requires 50% plus one vote to pass.
Proposition F Overhauling Business Taxes
Proposition F is the City’s attempt to mitigate COVID-19’s economic crisis, including an estimated 100,000 jobs lost, by overhauling the city’s tax structure. It amends the Charter with respect to funds that are set-aside, and changes the City’s tax codes to “jumpstart the economy, create a fairer tax system and provide new revenue to recover from the pandemic.”
Prop F exempts most small businesses from the gross receipts tax, eliminates the payroll tax and transitions to a “more equitable business tax system,” and it cuts small business registration fees by 50%, but would increase taxes on all revenue from tech and real estate over three years. The Controller estimates additional revenue to the City would increase by $97 million, annually.
In an attempt to incentivize employment, it would, temporarily reduce rates for 2020-23 for industries impacted by the pandemic, including hospitality, restaurant, and retail sectors.
It also unlocks $700 million in untapped funds previously approved by voters—two tax measures affecting childcare and homeless services. If the City loses those legal challenges, currently in the Court of Appeals, it will implement tax changes to generate funds.
The Mayor and the Board of Supervisors unanimously support Prop F as well as neighborhood business groups, childcare centers, Parents for Public Schools, and firefighters, healthcare workers, educator unions and affordable housing advocates.
Opposition comes from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce who advise the city to use current resources more wisely, as well as the Libertarian Party, which opposes any tax increases.
One opponent notes that a ballot measure should not simultaneously be both an ordinance and a City Charter change, an argument that has some merit.
Funding for Prop. F is almost entirely from San Franciscans for a Fair Recovery, Yes on A, B, E, F, I, J, K & L. There is no fundraising in opposition reported to the Ethics Commission.
Vote yes to change the City's business tax structure, vote no to keep it the way it is now. Requires 50% plus one vote to pass.
Proposition G Youth Voting in Local Elections
Measure G is a redo of Prop F from November 2016, the Supervisor’s Charter amendment that was defeated, which proposed to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote on local municipal measures by 52.6-48.4% margin.
Research shows, the earlier someone casts their first vote, the more likely they are to become habitual, lifelong voters, according to Prop G supporters and that their families are more likely to get involved and vote as well. And they argue that decisions made by voters in local elections, such as education and transportation, directly affect this age group. San Francisco's Youth Commissioners argue that many 16 and 17 year-olds are work and pay taxes, and have concerns about laws that affect how taxes are spent.
The Mayor, ten Supervisors, and the School Board unanimously support the Prop G, as do many advocacy groups such as Coleman Advocacy for Children and Youth.
Opponents have a different view, saying these teens are children, legally, too easily influenced by other pressures. Some worry about the influence of social media and fear that young people lack the understanding and experience to make decisions that rules that affect everyone.
The San Francisco Republican Party expresses concern that, as minors, they may not go on a field trip, join the military, or marry without permission from parents, nor may they serve on juries, rent a car, purchase handguns, buy tobacco or alcohol because they lack good judgement.
The Controller says implementation would minimally affect the cost of government.
Major funding for Prop G comes from Yerba Buena Consortium LLC, aka developer John Elberling with nominal support from the Chinese Progressive Association.
Want 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections? Vote yes on prop G. To keep the minimum age at 18 years old, vote no. This requires a 50% plus one vote to pass.
Proposition H Save Our Small Businesses
Prop H amends the Planning Code and Tax Regulations Code to speed up the permit process to make it easier to open and operate small businesses in San Francisco, and It includes using sidewalks, parking spots for dining and pop-up retail for vacant stores and added flexibility to adapt to the pandemic.
COVID-19 has amplified the problem of rising rents on commercial properties, and while some businesses have reopened, there is considerably fewer shoppers. And small business owners frequently complain that zoning laws and review processes compound the delays in applications for permits to renovate or expand. Changes will include removing neighborhood notice requirements —a dozen specific changes are specified.
The Controller reports that Prop H “minimally to moderately increase the City’s costs to review, approve, and inspect the small business uses targeted by this ordinance.” But, he adds that if it is initiated successfully, “any increased business activity in the City’s neighborhood commercial areas may contribute minimally to the receipt of higher business taxes in future years.”
Both Republican and Democratic parties have indicated support, as well as Black, Latinx, Asian-American and women-owned small businesses. The opponent contends that neighborhood commercial district rules were developed and have been adjusted carefully over the years, and that once initiated by the voters, these changes will be difficult to undue when they are no longer needed. Also, there have been no public hearings before the Planning Commission, the Small Business Commission or the Land-Use Committee of the Board of Supervisors, bodies that are established to make the changes through the regular legislative process.
The campaign for Prop H seems well financed by donors, including Michael Moritz, Jason Moment, William Witte, Christian Larsen, Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, Recology, Dagmar Dolby and Boston Properties. There was no reported fundraising in opposition.
Vote yes if you support shorter review and approval process for permits and expanded flexibility for small businesses. Vote no if you think the City’s processes should be changed by the appropriate policy bodies rather than the voters. This requires a 50% plus one vote to pass.
Proposition I Real Estate Transfer Taxes
Prop I would increase the real property tax rates for sales transactions of properties valued at more than $10 million from 2.5% to 5.5%. Properties valued above $25 million would increase from 3% to 6%. The resulting revenues would, according to the Controller, possibly increase annual revenues by an average of $196 million.
It was proposed at the Board by Supervisor Dean Preston, and is supported by Supervisors Mandelman, Ronen, Walton, Haney and Mar. Their handbook argument states that it will only apply to transactions of large corporations rather than homeowner or small businesses.
Supporter San Francisco Democratic Party opines that these funds could build affordable housing or to help people who can’t pay rent temporarily. The Tenants Union and housing organizations concur, as well as small business owners such as Bi-Rite Market, City Lights Books, Sam’s Grill and the Booksmith, who raise the concern that the shelter-in-place has affected 166,000 people who work in SF’s small businesses and this would bring some relief.
Opponents of Prop I claim that the increased costs would hurt small businesses and discourage builders from constructing new affordable housing. San Francisco Chamber of Commerce claims owners will pass the taxes on as higher rents, further exacerbating business failures, and that City Hall should utilize the money they already have mor efficiently. And they warn there is no oversight on how the money will be allocated. SF Housing Action Coalition, the Hotel Council, Building Owners and Managers Assn. and real estate associations also oppose.
Prop H is funded by Dean Preston, Laksh Bhasin, Tenants and Owners Development Corp, Tides Advocacy, National Union of Healthcare Workers, SEIU and tenant and housing advocates.
Opposition is largely funded by BOMA, California Assn of Realtors, Chamber of Commerce, Clint Reilly, Oz Erickson (Emerald Fund), Essex Properties (San Mateo) and other landowners.
Want the City to raise property transfer taxes on sales over $10 million, vote yes. Leave it as it is, vote no. This requires a 50% plus one vote to pass.
Proposition J Parcel Tax for Schools and Teachers
Proposition J is a redo of Prop G of 2018, which won but was challenged and is currently in court because opponents claim it needed 2/3 majority to pass and the funds are subsequently on hold. Prop G won by 60% but fell short of the 66% plus one vote needed. This iteration, from the Mayor, repeals Prop G by amending the Business and Tax Regulations and Administrative Codes to substitute a parcel tax of $288 to raise teacher salaries and for educational improvements at SFUSD’s discretion. Parcel taxes apply to all real estate on the Assessor’s Taxation rolls except for properties owned and occupied by seniors over 65.
According to the Controller’s Office it would result in almost $48.1 million per year, and would replace the $320 per parcel levy, $32 per parcel lower than Prop. G.
The San Francisco Taxpayers Association, the sole opponent, argues that a parcel tax is unfair because it taxes “the Salesforce building and a two-bedroom building in the Mission” at $288 each.
It is funded largely by the San Franciscans for a Fair Recovery (see Prop A) United Educators of SF, Philip Halperin, Evan Williams, Sara Morshige Williams, Kathryn Hall, Susan Pritzker and Marc Benioff.
There is no funded opposition to Prop A.
Vote yes if you want to raise salaries for teachers now. If you prefer to have the courts to sort out 2018’s Prop G, vote no. Prop J requires a 2/3 majority to pass.
Proposition K Affordable Housing Authorization
Prop K authorizes the City to own, develop, construct, acquire, or rehabilitate up to 10,000 affordable rental units in the City under Article 34 of the California Constitution, it does not provide the funding however, that is provided by Prop I.
Article 34 of the state Constitution a segregation-era leftover from the ‘50s requires voter approval for any public body to develop low-income housing. Two years ago, the Senate unanimously repealed Article 34, but the Assembly failed to vote on the repeal before the deadline. If the state repeals Article 34, Prop K is unnecessary.
District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston introduced Prop J and it is supported by every member of the full Board of Supervisors and advocacy groups such as the Teacher’s Union, Bike Coalition, and Coalition on Homelessness as well as the Democratic Party. The Libertarian Party opposes Prop K because government, they feel, caused the housing crisis and cannot be a solution.
Funding comes from San Franciscans for a Fair Recovery, Yes on A, B, E, F, I, J, K & L and the Tides Foundation. No money has been raised to oppose it.
A yes vote on Prop K allows San Francisco to develop and own up to 10,000 new units of affordable housing. Funding is not included in Prop K. Vote no to prevent the City from developing and owning 10,000 units. It requires 50% plus one vote to pass.
Proposition L Business Tax Based on Comparison of Top Executive’s Pay to Employees’ Pay
Prop L, popularly known as the “overpaid executive tax” was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors. It amends the Business Tax Regulation Code to levy a fee on every company’s gross receipts at .01% where the highest-paid managerial employees make between 100 to 200 times the median salary of the company's San Francisco workforce. Managers making over 200 times median would bring .02%, 300 times = .03%—and up to .06% if the highest paid employee makes 600 or more times the median salary.
Only Companies that earn $1,170,000 in combined taxable San Francisco gross receiptswill pay this tax. The San Francisco Chronicle maintains that it would mostly apply to financial services companies. Bank of America, JP Morgan, Visa and Wells Fargo, but retail companies such as GAP, and food service companies like Chipotle, and telecom companies like Comcast would also be likely targets.
The Controller opines that Prop L would bring in $60 to $140 million a year to the general fund, but warn that revenues would be volatile because it applies to only a few companies whose gross receipts are uncertain, and because the tax might cause companies to flee from the city.
Initiative sponsor Supervisor Matt Haney and the Democratic Party, which also supports the measure, point out that businesses could avoid the tax by paying their employees more. They are joined by the Labor Council and unions, and the Democratic leaders of the City and State.
The Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce forecast business flight that would also shrink the City’s tax basis.
Financial support comes from San Franciscans for a Fair Recovery, Yes on A, B, E, F, I, J, K & L (see Prop A for major contributors).
If you support levying extra taxes on companies with overpaid executives and underpaid workers, vote yes. Vote no if you oppose it. Prop L needs 50% plus one vote to pass.
Issues in the District 7 Election for Supervisor
As families flee from SF, is Senator Wiener’s SB 50 proposal and/or the elimination of RH1 zoning in District 7 warranted? How can we encourage families to stay in the City or increase homeownership?
I oppose attempts to eliminate or rezone single-family neighborhoods. Gems like Forest Hill and Miraloma Park make the westside unique and must be preserved. I own a detached home in the Lakeshore neighborhood.
I support new housing that meets the needs of westside residents: elevator housing for seniors to age safely in place and ownership housing for middle-income families.
With community input, we can build housing along transit corridors served by trains that match neighborhood character (like the beautiful Art Deco apartment building on West Portal Avenue). We must create a westside plan to know where existing sewer, water and transportation infrastructure can support more housing. Read my full platform on housing at: www.engardio.com/housing
I don't support SB50 or any legislation that eliminates RH-1 zoning. I believe in local governments maintaining control of their own municipalities as much as possible. However, I'd be open to allowing the addition of one or two stories to one story buildings West Portal Ave or Ocean Ave in order to increase housing supply with minimal impact to neighborhoods.
To increase opportunities for home ownership, we need to both increase supply while reducing demand. Encouraging tele-commuting will allow workers to live outside the bay area. This will put downward pressure on home prices which will make it easier for families to afford homes.
As a District 7 native, I know that single family zoning is critical to keeping families in San Francisco. I oppose the State overriding local regulations to eliminate RH1 zoning. As Supervisor, I would work to ensure working class families can stay in San Francisco.
Upzoning without providing financing will allow only those with access to capital the opportunity to capture the value, fueling speculation. State law already allows more than one unit in RH1 lots but we are not seeing folks adding ADUs because it is an expensive and cumbersome process. I will work to provide options for homeowners particularly the elderly to adapt their homes by building ADUs, age in place, and make housing available to another family for rent or to own.
District 7 is composed of over 40 distinct neighborhoods, each with their own unique characteristics. Forest Knolls is very different from Lakeshore Acres and distinct from Monterey Heights. Westside neighborhoods primarily feature single family homes, an important housing option because it keeps families in San Francisco. I strongly support RH1 zoning and oppose "one size fits all" measures that take away local control of land use. I strongly support programs for first-time homebuyers as a way to promote housing security.
I believe in building housing at all levels, but I also believe in community planning. SB50’s biggest problem is that it removes a community's say in what is built in their neighborhoods. Many Westside neighborhoods are architecturally significant and culturally unique because they are made up of single family homes. SB50 ignores that and forces planning by axe rather than by scalpel. SB50 presents a false choice: we can build housing and protect the character of our neighborhoods.
Does the Planning Department’s “streamlined” Standard Environmental Requirements run counter to CEQA? Do you support it, and why?
While I support less bureaucracy and more government efficiency, I am disappointed that the planning department chose to initiate changes during the pandemic when the community could not gather to express their views and concerns. Not everyone has access to Zoom. Planning has said the streamlining is not meant to avoid CEQA environmental review, but the manner in which they tried to push it through with minimal public input does not instill confidence. Developments that will change our neighborhoods for generations deserve robust community-driven review.
I support any process that reduces bureaucracy and simplifies approval processes.
CEQA provides an important opportunity to study impacts of irresponsible development, such as landslides. I oppose the current SER proposal because the public will be shut out of the process and projects would be pushed through without discussion.
No. CEQA is an important tool. This proposal attempts to shortcut community process by assuming environmental impact, and requiring mitigation of those impacts upfront. The problem with this approach is that it gives staff all the power, and assumes that community input is not valuable. I disagree.
I stand with the Sierra Club opposing the SER Ordinance being pushed through now while environmental advocates and the public are struggling against a global pandemic. Although the Planning Department's estimate that the SER will reduce approvals for new developments by as much as 3 months is appealing, there must be full discussion on legislation that could undermine CEQA.
I oppose the SER Ordinance. As a general rule, I vocally oppose measures that reduce transparency and oversight, especially given the corruption at City Hall. SER would give the Planning Department and Planning Commission too much unilateral control over environmental issues. CEQA is one of California’s most important environmental safeguards and should be protected.
Do you support closing the Youth Guidance Center? (Yes or No) Explain why.
No. It is irresponsible to close the Youth Guidance Center without having an alternative to house youth who have committed serious crimes. Shipping young people to facilities in other cities is not an answer and could have a more negative impact on their rehabilitation. San Franisco’s Youth Guidance Center was doing a good job with its programs that focus on helping young people turn their lives around and become productive members of society. We should not give up on that.
No, the Youth Guidance Center is not only a correctional facility, but a rehabilitative and educational facility as well. It has unfairly been described as a jail for kids, which it is not. It helps reform juvenile offenders. If closed, juveniles would be sent to other locations out of city, farther away from their families.
No. We should not send incarcerated youth out of the county and away from their families. This would impede progress toward rehabilitation and is not cost-effective.
Yes. I have spent many years working with at-risk youth and good programs as alternatives to incarceration for this age population are far, far more effective to reduce recidivism rates and support these young people as they become productive members of society than incarceration.
No. Having visited YGC in support of youth many times, I have tremendous admiration for the probation officers, public defenders, and social workers who have dedicated themselves to support troubled youth. I do not support closing YGC until strong trauma-informed programs are fully in place and ready to help troubled youth heal from, in many cases, adverse childhood experiences.
Yes. I’m the only candidate with over a decade of criminal justice experience. While it had some good programs, YGC was a waste of taxpayer money. For years Juvenile crime has been dropping but we were spending $13M a year on a jail that remained, three-quarters empty. We can do Juvenile reform more effectively for a lot cheaper.
Would you support tent camps on public land? Is there any location in District 7 that would be acceptable for this or for a Navigation Center? Or should those who live on the streets be housed in hotels to limit the spread of the virus? Do we need increased oversight of non-profit service providers? Or do you have a different solution?
I oppose tent encampments in our parks, neighborhoods and on sidewalks. Navigation center locations should be based on demand and not the arbitrary notion that every district needs one. District 7 does not warrant a costly navigation center.
San Francisco spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on homelessness without seeing results.We must audit all contracts with nonprofits that provide homeless services and eliminate redundancies. We should measure programs for success and only pay for what works.
We should aim for efficiency and cost-effectiveness by centralizing homeless services at a large site away from our sidewalks, parks and neighborhoods. Senator Dianne Feinstein suggested using the Cow Palace and its vast parking lot as such a site. We also have large and unused piers.
We must be compassionate and provide the basic needs to keep people alive and healthy. This doesn’t mean we need to offer hotel rooms to everyone. We can meet humanitarian needs without offering something that might entice people to come to San Francisco. Read my full platform on homelessness at: www.engardio.com/homelessness-and-mental-illness
I will not support tent camps on public land. I don’t support failing programs such as Navigation Centers not only in District 7 but anywhere. In talking with business owners around the Bryant Street Navigation Center, it has exacerbated crime, homelessness, and drug use, not mitigated it. Placement of homeless persons in hotels has not been successful and I wouldn’t support that either. We absolutely need increased oversight of all non-profits that contract with the city. We need increased conservatorship programs to reduce homelessness.
City Hall has failed San Francisco in addressing homelessness. The City can’t continue to apply a one-size-fits all approach. As Supervisor, I would push for a more thoughtful approach that begins with a better triage system to ensure people get the specific help they need. I would only support a navigation center that is supported by the community. We need increased oversight of nonprofit service providers.
I support permanent supportive affordable housing for those experiencing homelessness. The small number of street homeless in our district can be housed in existing assisted living facilities and nonprofit facilities. During the pandemic, I support the option of housing folks in hotels. What District 7 needs is a safe parking site, with showers, waste disposal, and access to wrap around services.
I do not support tent encampments, a District 7 Navigation Center, or housing homeless individuals in hotels because these are temporary measures and we need permanent solutions. The Embarcadero Navigation Center reportedly cost $12.5 million to house 200 individuals temporarily. Instead, I support the $11 million Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool, a public-private partnership that pays to securely house 200 individuals in apartments. Women, seniors, and vulnerable individuals are unsafe in tents and cots. They require housing with a door and a key.
Tent encampments are inhuman and unhealthy. I believe the route out of our homelessness crisis is broad, systemic change -- our biggest enemy is the wasteful, ineffective status quo. I’m the only candidate who’s actually worked in our system and got people off the street. Navigation centers are meant to serve the people of a district. I'd be interested in exploring a navigation center that serves enrolled CIty College and SF State students, but the devil is in the details.
With burglary/robbery up by 30% over last year should some of the current funding for the Police Department be diverted to social services? (Yes or No) If yes, where should funding from the police budget go? If No, what changes, if any, in existing programs would you advise? Would you accept an endorsement and/or donation from the POA or Sheriff’s Association? (Yes or No)
I am vice president of the victim’s rights group Stop Crime SF. I do not believe in a literal defunding of the police. I agree with Governor Newsom and Joe Biden who talk about “reimagining” the police and making them better. We still need police to protect the public. When crime happens, we can’t forget about the victims. We also rely on police as first responders in mass shootings, terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
We should look at shifting how police do their work, based on the data. Every year, officers go on tens of thousands of calls for things like noise complaints and wellness checks on homeless and mentally ill people. We don’t need police with guns to answer those calls. There are better people for the job, like social workers.
Taking police off those calls will let officers put their focus on the most serious and dangerous crimes. Right now, a crime like rape is only solved 20 percent of the time. The clearance rates for assault and human trafficking are less than 40 percent. We need to make sure we have enough police to solve these serious crimes — and that they’re not distracted going on unnecessary calls.
We should recruit new police officers from diverse communities. And we should only employ police officers who will serve at the highest standard. I am not accepting donations from police unions, but will accept donations from individual residents who honorably serve the public as police officers. Read my full platform on public safety at www.engardio.com/crime-safety
No, we need increased funding for police services, not decreased. I'm open to social workers accompanying law enforcement, but I don’t think not having police present in law enforcement situations is a wise idea, for any situation can turn violent quickly which social workers will not be trained to handle. If we want to reduce police shootings and negative interactions, we need more training which will cost more money. I will accept endorsements and donations from SFPOA and SF Sheriff's Departments
I do not believe we should divert funding from public safety and I support reform efforts including more training, tools, and transparency. Police officers should not be responding to mental health calls for which they are not trained.
I have accepted support from the POA and Sheriff’s Association. Like many San Franciscans, I have family and lifelong friends that proudly serve our City in our public safety departments. I believe that reform will only be successful with the buy-in of the working men and women of these departments.
Yes. I would like to see the street ambassadors program greatly expanded. I envision this program could work closely with neighborhoods in emergency preparedness, street safety, and merchant corridors, to keep the peace and safety. Some of the funding could also be allocated to services that prevent violent and antisocial behavior, such as mental health and substance abuse prevention. I would not accept an endorsement or donation from the POA because this is a time of historical change, and as a Supervisor, I want to respond to the voices of the community without feeling compromised.
No. Given worsening crime statistics, I do not support defunding the Police Department. I do support redirecting police funding internally to expand community policing, outreach, and anti-bias training. In partnership with Police Chief Scott, I completed a 2-year study of the gender bias that sworn women officers in the SFPD experience. Promoting women and people of color into senior leadership positions will produce systemic change. To maintain independence, I will decline campaign support from the POA.
Our system is in desperate need of reform and part of that is making sure that we get funding right. I believe that requiring the Police to handle our mental health and homeless crisis is unfair to everyone involved. Reallocating both responsibility and funding for these issues to DPH makes a lot of sense. I work well with police for my job, but I don’t support their extreme union. I would not accept an endorsement or donation from the POA.
Is the District Attorney too lenient in pursuing various types of crimes or releasing prisoners due to COVID 19?
District Attorney Chesa Boudin is a public defender and prosecuting crime is not his priority. We already have an elected public defender and we don’t need two. The system only works if the district attorney focuses on prosecuting crime and the public defender mounts a robust defense. The tension is healthy. The process breaks down when things are lopsided in either direction.
Releasing at-risk prisoners due to the pandemic is decided by Sheriff Paul Miyamoto along with input by public health officials. Sheriff Miyamoto has done an admirable job under impossible circumstances by releasing non-violent prisoners and those near the end of their sentences to make the jails safer for remaining inmates and staff.
Yes, the DA often releases prisoners in favor of restorative justice, an ill-defined program that has produced questionable results. Releasing prisoners due to COVID was done prematurely. If we released COVID positive prisoners early into the community, we just facilitated the spread of Corona virus.
Yes. There should be consequences for violent crimes and those that significantly damage property. Police officers report that they are less willing to arrest suspects because of the DA’s policies. I do not support mass incarceration, but do think the DA can and should be more responsive to crime victims in our community.
Our District Attorney is doing exactly what he said he would do while he was campaigning. As a City we are still not in a place where we have built the programming needed to provide adequate and effective alternatives to sentencing. I commit to working on those.
Releasing prisoners due to COVID-19 for public health reasons is understandable because incarceration should not be a death sentence. At the same time, the City must support those who are released with stable housing and real opportunities to support themselves or law-abiding residents already dealing with widespread auto break-ins, car and parts theft, other property crimes, and, in some cases, assaults will suffer further.
Releasing certain people to stop the spread of COVID-19 is consistent with what 30+ DA offices are doing nationwide. Prisons and jails amplify the spread; social distancing is impossible and movement through facilities is high. Releasing people who can’t pay cash bail, compassionate releases for people with terminal illnesses, and cite-and-release policies for minor drug offenses is warranted during COVID.
Would you support new taxes to replace lost revenue to the City due to COVID 19? Is so, what type of tax?
No. How can we justify taxing residents who have lost jobs and businesses that are struggling through the pandemic? The solution is cutting City Hall’s budget, which is out of control and was already running a deficit during the boom times before the pandemic.
Cities can’t borrow their way out of a deficit the way the federal government does. The hard truth is that we need to cut government jobs and salaries — just like Mayor Newsom did in the Great Recession 10 years ago.
We have 40,000 city employees — one for every 22 residents. We added 14,000 city employees since 2010. Our population only went up by 80,000. This was never sustainable and now we are looking at a $2.5 billion deficit. We need to audit every program and only pay for the basics: clean stress, less crime and more efficient services. Read my full platform on fiscal responsibility at: www.engardio.com/budget
Absolutely not. We must focus on cuts to our budget before we drive businesses into the ground with new taxes.
We cannot afford tax increases right now. The City needs to spend its $12.5 billion budget more efficiently. My preference is to help small businesses recover from COVID-19 so they can put revenue in City coffers.
Yes. I support the proposed taxes to large corporations and those whose CEOs make 100 times more than the lowest paid worker.
Widespread economic hardship is not the time for new taxes. I served in the White House when Clinton and Gore, in the face of a $250B budget deficit, launched "Reinventing Government" that energized federal workers to identify cost-cutting measures. If each of the 4,800 SFMTA employees come up with one idea to save $500, the agency would capture $2.4M in savings.
Yes. I support big businesses paying their fair share during this crisis. I support Supervisor Haney’s Overpaid Executive Tax which generates $140M dollars for healthcare workers by taxing companies that pay their CEO 100 times more than their average worker, and exempts all small businesses. And I support Preston’s corporate real estate transfer tax on 10 million plus corporate properties.
What is your position regarding a take-over of PG&E?
The city has an extremely poor track record at running essential services. City Hall has failed at basic municipal duties like filling potholes and getting public transit to run on time. We read about corruption and mismanagement at City Hall as the scandals grow every week in the news. How can we expect City Hall to efficiently, effectively and ethically run our gas and electric services?
It's a horrible idea. I don't trust the government to run any business.
I have concerns about the City’s ability to manage the electricity and gas system. Purchasing a massive asset of this size could be beneficial to ratepayers, however, we will need to see how the PG&E emerges from bankruptcy. Given the City’s record managing other assets, I don’t yet have the confidence that the City could manage PG&E.
PG&E has been an irresponsible company. Their lack of regard for safety has caused misery all over our state. I support a municipal utility. The City of Alameda has had a municipal energy provider for many years, and their energy is greener, and cheaper per kwh.
PG&E is in bankruptcy with reportedly $30B in liabilities for unprecedented wildfire damage due to faulty and unsafe equipment. Clearly, the current investor-owned corporate model has failed but there are no clear alternatives. Using the Listen + Lead approach, I will explore the best options moving forward, including but not limited to locally controlled public power, a customer-owned cooperative model, a state takeover of power lines, or other model.
The most important thing that San Francisco can do to further green energy projects is to become independent from PG&E and develop our own public power. I support the work of Mayor Breed to push for independence. We can’t let the economic crisis that will follow COVID allow us to lose focus on building public power.
Does COVID’s work-from-home trend and our vacant downtown change your opinion about the need for Balboa Reservoir development? Parkmerced expansion? Apartment complex development on Laguna Honda campus?
The pandemic has not lessened the need westside residents have when it comes to senior housing to age safely in place near their neighborhood or middle-income housing for their adult kids and grandkid to remain in San Francisco. A reasonable amount of housing at Balboa Reservoir (with ample parking) could be helpful. But we shouldn’t give the public land away for a song! More housing at Parkmerced makes sense because it does not impact single-family home neighborhoods and a re-routing of the M-Muni train onto the property will help with transportation issues.
It does, and we need to rethink the demand that will exist now that working from home has proven to be feasible. A recent survey claimed that a significant percentage of tech workers would leave the bay area if they could, and now that working from home is possible, many of them will. We are already seeing this happen as vacancies have increased. Before we up-zone all of San Francisco which could have permanent, unintended, adverse effects, we need think about whether this is necessary.
Many of these projects have been approved by the current Board of Supervisors. I believe it is critical that the incoming Supervisor ensure that promises made to our community are promises kept, specifically in regard to the infrastructure and traffic mitigation needs stemming from these projects.
No. All those projects should go forward. Although we have seen rents go down by 11% in downtown areas since March, they have gone up in the Westside. We are still very far from solving our housing shortage, particularly housing for middle income families.
No, we still need all of these developments because they represent important additions to housing stock, especially affordable and family-friendly units. While single family homes are a mainstay of District 7, they have become prohibitively expensive. We need to expand options for middle income and lower income households, including units available for rental or purchase in higher density developments.
No. All of the developments above need to continue. There’ll be a time after COVID and it would be a mistake for our city to be unprepared when we have an inevitable rush of workers who need to be housed, including essential workers who need permanent and affordable housing. Development takes time and we need to keep moving forward.
Are increased bicycle lanes justified for District 7? Restricting driving lanes and parking spaces? Business use of sidewalks and parking spaces?
Young families in District 7 would like a safe way to ride bikes with their children to neighborhood parks. Commuters would like to ride a bike safely to a BART station. There is a need for bike lanes. But balance is key. We must remember that seniors depend on driving for their independence. Families also rely on cars to drive their kids to school (because the school board won’t allow neighborhood schools). We need to achieve this balance without disadvantaging seniors and families. Finding safe ways to get younger people out of cars will make the driving and parking experience better for seniors and families.
There are some roads in D7 which are wider than necessary, such as Junipero Serra Blvd and Ocean Avenue between 20th Avenue and Country Club Drive. Widening sidewalks or having bike lanes in these areas would not cause significant harm to traffic. However, not every street is appropriate for bike lanes, 19th Avenue is one example. I am open to use of business use of sidewalks and street parking spaces if supported by the businesses.
Many District 7 residents are of limited mobility and cannot ride a bicycle. There are certain areas such as Lake Merced and Fort Funston where recreational infrastructure such as walking and bicycle paths would be beneficial. The City must recognize that many seniors and families rely on cars especially given the unreliability of MUNI.
Yes. We must reduce our dependence on carbon producing fuel. Our kids drive less than we do. In 20 years, the next generation will look at our driving habits like we now look at leaded gasoline, plastic bags and styrofoam.
As part of my Listen + Lead approach, I will consult neighbors, cyclists, pedestrians, disabled individuals, seniors, merchants, and other stakeholders to determine the best locations for additional bike lanes, sidewalk uses, parking, and restricted driving lanes. While we do need to reduce greenhouse emissions, there must be accommodations for seniors, individuals with disabilities, families with young children, and others who rely on car travel.
I’m a dad who drives a minivan on the westside, so I understand how important parking can be for the families in our district, and I get angry when drivers are shamed. But as someone who’s kids bike, I want to make sure that bike lanes are safe. I don’t believe it's an either or choice. We can do both.
Please outline your educational and employment experience and how long you have lived in District 7, in San Francisco?
I am a proud product of public schools. I graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University. Then I earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Both degrees were on full scholarship.
I have lived in San Francisco for 22 years and held City Hall accountable as a journalist. My column in the San Francisco Examiner has won a dozen journalism awards. I’ve also worked for nonprofits to advance civil liberties and in the private sector for a healthcare tech startup.
I’ve lived in District 7 for nearly a decade with my husband Lionel Hsu. We first rented in Golden Gate Heights and now own a home near Lake Merced. Read my full biography at www.engardio.com/about-joel
I have lived in district 7 from 1983-1998 and 2014-present.
I'm currently a firefighter for San Francisco, since 2014. I have been a firefighter for the US Forest Service, Cal Fire, and the Bureau of Land Management. I have worked for San Diego Cal-Fire at a US-Mexico border fire station, I have been a volunteer firefighter for Compton CA, and I have worked in Alaska on a BLM hand crew. I have been in the US Marine Corps for 17 years, with deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Georgia (the country). I am also a member of Pile-Drivers local 34, having worked as a welder and laborer.
I was born and raised in District 7, and attended St. Ignatius High School where I met my wife. I have been an active member of the Greater West Portal Neighborhood Association and West of Twin Peaks Central Council.
Professionally, I have worked for over 15 years with entrepreneurs building affordable housing, hospitals and transportation networks. Today, I run a small business in San Francisco that helps connect underserved communities to affordable high-speed Internet, which is especially critical in this time of working from home and distance learning.
I have a Master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University. I have worked in nonprofits, labor and local government through my career. I was an aide to Supervisors Jose Medina and Eric Mar and the Director of Homeownership Programs for Mayor Gavin Newsom. Prior to graduate school, I worked as an organizer for the AFL-CIO and a researcher for the Carpenter’s Union local 210 in Norwalk Connecticut. For the past 10 years, I worked at MEDA doing business technical assistance and support for small businesses, and managed asset building programs, and then at the Jamestown Community Center, providing programs to low income at risk youth. My husband Sean Donahue and I bought this house in April, 2011. Sandy Gandolfo, from Barb and Co sold it to us, and we are grateful to have been able to raise our daughters here.
Raised in San Francisco, I graduated from Lowell and earned a doctorate from Stanford. My family has lived in the Lakeshore neighborhood of District 7 for over 15 years. Working under 5 Mayors over 20 years, I served as a City Commissioner, then a Department Head. I was twice elected to the Board of Education and served as President in 2015.
I graduated from University of Washington and worked at the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs as a legislative liaison, advocating for legal protections for API families. I moved to SF in 2004, graduated from USF Law, and have lived in or right near D7 for over a decade. I’ve been a criminal trial attorney for the last 15 years.
The City Employees Retirement System is facing an unfunded liability and liquidity crisis in the future, what do you propose to rectify this problem?
San Francisco’s unfunded liability is currently in the billions and will only balloon from there. This is an epic crisis that cannot be ignored. First, we have to stop growing City Hall. We added 14,000 city employees the past 10 years when our population only grew by 80,000. This is unsustainable.
We also have to face the hard truths that many other cities are facing. We must look at all of the following options cited by the Urban Institute to reduce the costs of public pensions:
-- Longer vesting periods, increased age and service requirements, limited cost-of-living adjustments, and increased employee contributions.
-- Moving new employees onto defined contribution plans, or hybrid plans combining aspects of both defined benefit and defined contribution plans.
We have increased the number of city employees tremendously over the last few years. We need to look at making workforce cuts to non-essential city employees. We will have to ask employees to contribute more to their retirement system in order to remain solvent.
Many District 7 residents are retired public employees that depend upon the health of our retirement system. It’s important that the City live within its means to meet its legal obligations to retirees.
Increase contributions, and in the future, be very vigilant about any proposed increases on the ballot, particularly retroactive increases, which is how we got in this mess in the first place.
The problem of unfunded pension liabilities is not unique to San Francisco. Tools to solve this common challenge include changing financing, coverage, contribution rates, retirement age, benefit formulas, and annuity factors among other variables, but reform requires the political will to tackle this long-term problem with short-term decisions that are politically charged. My long experience gives me the confidence and courage to do so.
These retirees are owed those benefits and the city should keep its word to them and their families. As Supervisor, I would hold the board accountable so that elderly public servants who worked hard for years under the promise of retirement are not cheated of their fairly earned retirement income.
Water and sewer rates continue to escalate dramatically. What will you propose to mitigate these increases?
The dramatic increase in water and sewer rates is largely due to inefficiencies by the public agency that handles water, sewer and power in San Francisco (the SFPUC). Residents are paying for a series of bonds ($5 billion for water system improvement and $7 billion for sewer system improvement). This is exacerbated by the bond-funded projects not being managed well by the SFPUC. Residents end up paying for ongoing delays and cost-overruns of each project, which means our rates increase far beyond the rate of inflation. Overseeing all of this is a five-member commission appointed by the mayor. They should be holding the SFPUC accountable and advocate for ratepayers. Our increasing rates shows this is not happening. The fact that federal authorities recently served a subpoena on the SFPUC in the widening City Hall corruption scandal will likely shine more light on why our water and sewer rates continue to go up with no oversight.
I would investigate the reason for this rate increase and perform an audit if necessary. I don’t necessarily believe in having a rate cap because there may be legitimate reasons for the price increase.
We should ensure that the PUC budget is carefully scrutinized. Extra employees making upward of $200,000 per year are funded by ratepayers. As Supervisor, I will tackle the corruption in contracting head on and end the pay-to-play culture in City government.
I will support water conservation measures, and support for water recycling by homeowners. Additionally, I will work with the PUC to encourage progressive rate setting and mitigate increases for families and seniors.
To improve efficiency, address sea level rise, and seismic safety, the PUC, in 2018, approved rate increases of roughly $10 per year for single family households leading to a 2020 annual rate of $126. Yet, the actual 2020 annual rate stands at roughly $300. Ratepayers require transparency and predictability in their utility rates. There must be a clear accounting of this dramatic increase at the Commission and the Board of Supervisors. Those who are in severe economic distress should be eligible for payment plans or forgiveness.
As Supervisor, I would support measures that limit water and sewer rates through legislation. Especially with more and more families working from home due to COVID, it’s imperative that District 7 has someone in City Hall fighting to make sure that our constituents aren’t taken advantage of, especially over public utilities.
Our City budget process allows various “add backs” that supervisors have used in administering their District. Do you favor this practice and, if so, what oversight would you propose to assure these monies will not be misused or politically disbursed but rather satisfy real District needs?
The “add back” process has been abused. An especially egregious example was when the police department had a $2 million budget surplus last year they wanted to keep to invest in more foot patrols. Instead, supervisors took that surplus away to spend on their own pet projects like a fourth office assistant. My group Stop Crime SF sent hundreds of letters to the budget committee calling this out and they eventually gave $1 million back for more foot patrols. More transparency is needed in the budget process so residents can see what is really going on and how their money is being spent.
I'd support programs such as the Participatory Budget Program which lets residents create and choose projects to fund in their neighborhoods
I support bringing needed resources to District 7, regardless of how the Board of Supervisors sets up the budget process. Our homeowners and renters pay taxes to the City and it is critical we get our fair share. I believe every contract should be competitively bid and not handed out for political reasons.
I would support a longer budget process that involves public review and public hearings of addbacks before they are incorporated in the budget and passed.
I have mixed feelings about addbacks. On the one hand, they are often awarded to the loudest constituent groups who may or may not advocate for the greatest community need. On the other hand, they can be used to fund neighborhood priorities. I am a strong proponent of participatory budgeting that has had a strong record of identifying important community needs in District 7.
Board President Yee’s participatory budget process, created for District 7, was a huge success. The whole city should move forward with a participatory budget process to ensure that any add back money that gets allocated to any district is used to satisfy District specific needs rather than to enhance political agendas.
The Dept. of Elections has listed 16 local measures for the November ballot. Have you taken any positions on these possible new laws?
Yet again, voters will see an alphabet soup of propositions on the ballot from the local and state level. The sheer number of confusing measures is a disservice to voters who should not have to spend hours figuring out what they mean. It’s also an abdication of the duty of lawmakers to act as representatives and get the job done legislatively instead of putting everything on the ballot. I will be researching all the measures and offering my annual “Ballot Explainer Parties” by Zoom this year from late August to early November. Learn more at www.engardio.com/ballot-explainer-parties
I do not support lowering the voting age, I do not support extending voting rights to non-citizens, I do not support removing minimum staffing for SFPD. I am reticent to vote for propositions, as they tend to be extremely binding, making them difficult to rescind or modify if there are unanticipated, adverse effects.
The Board of Supervisors should do its job, rather than forcing more than a dozen measures onto the ballot. I encourage you to check out the Westside Democratic Club’s endorsements, which are more in line with our community than the San Francisco Democratic Party. (https://westsidedems.com/)
I support the following so far:
Increase in the real estate transfer tax rate for properties over $10 million
Tax on businesses with disproportionate executive pay
Save our Small Businesses Initiative
Development of social housing
(This does not mean I oppose the others, many were submitted on the day of the deadline, July 24, so I have not yet had the opportunity to study them)
In advance of the July 31 deadline, there are already 20 local measures proposed for the November ballot. As I stated, widespread economic hardship is not a time for new taxes, so I'm opposed to the tax measures. I do support the Save Our Small Business Initiative which relaxes regulations on neighborhood merchants who are struggling to survive the pandemic.
I have endorsed all four of the Revenue measures:
1. Mayor Breed’s Capital Bond 2. Norman Yee’s Gross Receipts Reform 3. Dean Preston’s Corporate Transfer Tax 4. Matt Haney’s Overpaid Executive Tax
Do you support the concept of preserving our open spaces for future generations or would you support building revenue producing buildings on parklands? How do you define “open space?
We have limited open space in San Francisco. When City Hall asks people to social distance, residents need every bit of open space they can get to safely exercise, walk dogs and simply sit in fresh air. We can't give precious parkland space up for anything else. We should respect the environment while understanding that open space in an urban setting must be accessible for family and individual recreation. I am also committed to improving our mini-parks to provide more usable space. See the article I wrote about Triangle Park between West Portal and Forest Hill. This is an example of what we can do throughout District 7: www.engardio.com/blog/triangle-park
I do support preservation of open space. There is little of it left and we need to protect what remains. We have made many mistakes in the past when we developed land and destroyed several of our streams and ponds.
Yes. Our parks and open spaces in San Francisco are the cornerstone of our quality of life. They should always be a public resource available to every San Franciscan. I support the museums and other facilities that generate revenue, and oppose privatizing public parks.
Some revenue producing buildings on parklands provide enjoyable amenities to parkgoers as well as needed revenue. As long as there is a transparent process that includes public input, follows contracting rules, and provides for periodic performance review of operators, I support revenue producing buildings on parklands.
"Open space" is undeveloped land not intended for housing or commercial purposes that is generally publicly-owned and open to the public. District 7 is blessed with large swaths of open space, at Lake Merced, Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson, Mount Sutro, and parks at Sunset Heights, Midtown Terrace, and Sunnyside. I am committed to preserving these for current and future generations.
I support the preservation of our open spaces. I believe that District 7 is one of the most beautiful districts in our city and we’re lucky to have many open spaces that have been left untouched by developers. It’s important that we fight to maintain and protect our open spaces.
For almost 100 years San Franciscans have enjoyed pristine water from the High Sierra mountains through Hetch-Hetchy. Now the SFPUC has blended groundwater from beneath the City. District 7 is receiving more of this blend than other areas. What can be done to increase the quality of our drinking water?
The purpose of the blend was to diversify our water supply so we didn’t rely on one source in the event of a disruption due to an earthquake or other natural disaster. It was also meant to ease overuse of one source in the age of climate change. Yet farmland in the Central Valley still enjoys exemptions from conservation practices that cities adhere to. Compelling farmland to practice more efficient irrigation methods could have a more positive impact on the environment than any blend we are forced to use on the westside of San Francisco. This could let us have a greater share of quality drinking water than we are currently allowed.
I do not think there is much to do. We already test our water 100000 times per year. We must be careful, however, because excess pumping of groundwater might adversely affect waterways and lakes.
San Franciscans should not receive poor quality drinking water. The SFPUC should reverse the practice of blending drinking water.
San Francisco is blessed with high quality drinking water. The groundwater well project that was completed this past year by the PUC has provided an alternative water source. To ensure the quality of the resulting drinking water, we must continue to monitor and assess the success of the project regularly.
I will fight for our district to secure the same level of water quality as other areas and demand quarterly water quality reports to ensure that the water coming through our faucets never drops below established quality standards. I intend to partner with local newspapers like the Westside Observer to provide regular reports on issues such as water quality.
San Francisco is lucky to have the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, but we’ve become complacent in our reliance on it. Groundwater is safe and should be maintained. That said D7 shouldn't be disproportionately affected. I’ll fight to ensure that we don’t shoulder unnecessary burdens more than other Districts.
District 7 has no high-pressure water system like most of the City does. In the event of a large-scale disaster, the fire Department may not be able to protect west side homes. Can we count on you to require SFPUC to complete the construction of an Auxiliary Water Supply system (AWSS) in D7?
Yes, absolutely. As a firefighter, I know how critically important our AWSS is. We need to expand it and I am a big proponent of the expansion.
Yes. Proposition B in March provided the funding for an Auxiliary Water Supply and it should be implemented. Previously I served as the City’s first Street Safety Director where I led more than 13 miles of infrastructure projects across the City – and they were delivered on time and under budget. It’s important that the incoming Supervisor monitors the AWSS project to ensure that it’s done on time and under budget.
Yes, you can count on me to require the completion of the AWSS.
Yes. I will fight to require SFPUC to complete the AWSS extension to neighborhoods on the Westside. This is a basic safety issue that has been promised to District 7 residents for many years. To break the logjam, I will call for hearings, responses from the SFPUC and Fire Department, commitments and timelines to complete the project.
Yes. As Supervisor, you can count on me to require SFPUC to complete the construction of an Auxiliary Water Supply system for our district.
Seven Candidates File for District 7 Supervisor
The deadline, or nomination period to run for candidacy for District 7 Supervisor is now complete and six candidates have provided information to the public about their campaigns.
Of the Seven candidates who must complete the nomination process by the filing deadline, only six provided the Department of Elections with contact information, and the Westside Observer was unable to find infomation about Kenneth Piper, the seventh candidate. Information will be added to our website when it is available.
The Westside Observer is in process of compiling questions to the candidates which will be posed to the contenders to provide the public with side-by-side comparative information to distinguish each prospective Supervisor from the others. (Readers may submit requested questions to the editor for possible inclusion in the questionnaire.)
We must change the decades-long practice of City Hall ignoring the needs of families when it comes to housing, schools and quality of life.
We must radically rethink an out-of-control $12 billion budget. Every program must be audited and we should only pay for what works. I’m focused on the basics: clean streets, less crime and more effective services.
As vice president of Stop Crime SF, I’m also focused on public safety and victims’ rights. Everyone involved in the criminal justice system must be held accountable for doing their job to the highest standard.
I’m endorsed by former Sheriff Vicki Hennessy, Sheriff Paul Miyamoto, Assessor Carmen Chu and former Supervisor Katy Tang.
Stephen Martin-Pinto is a fifth generation San Franciscan. He is a veteran of the Marine Corps reserves with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Georgia and is currently a Major.
In 2014 he returned to San Francisco and is now a firefighter. He has served as president of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, secretary of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, and commissioner of Veteran's Affairs for San Francisco.
He is running on a platform of zero tolerance for crime and litter, aggressive expansion of MUNI metro, slashing fees and regulations for small business, fiscal responsibility, early foreign language learning in public schools, and the elimination of corruption in city government. He currently lives in Sunnyside with his family. www.stephenmartinpinto.com
I was born and raised in District 7 and as Supervisor, I’ll work every day for middle class families and restore independent leadership at City Hall. I will fight for our neighborhood values and ensure that our priorities of affordability, safety, quality of life, and planning for future generations are always advanced.
I met my wife at St. Ignatius and today we’re raising our daughter in West Portal. A 5th generation San Franciscan, I know first-hand that our neighborhoods are a truly special place — where neighbors look out for one another and where you can build a better life for your family.
Join Treasurer Fiona Ma and hundreds of neighbors supporting our campaign. Visit www.benmatranga.com or call me directly: 415-484-5870.
Myrna Melgar is a long-time Westside resident and experienced housing and economic development expert. She is running for District 7 Supervisor to be an independent champion for the Westside and deliver real results for our community.
Myrna has dedicated herself to public service, working in and out of government for the last 30 years to improve the lives of San Franciscans. She served as Director of Homeownership Programs for Mayor Gavin Newsom, Executive Director of the Jamestown Community Center, and President of the San Francisco Planning Commission. She expanded homeownership opportunities, supported small businesses and created much needed housing while protecting our neighborhood character.
Myrna lives in Ingleside Terraces with her three daughters and her husband Sean Donahue. www.myrnamelgar.com
Emily was twice elected School Board President. She led anti-bullying efforts, championed world languages, and initiated "Peace at Home" anti-domestic violence campaign for families of our students.
Appointed by then-mayor Gavin Newsom to become Director of Department on the Status of Women, she held that position for over 15 years. Her pioneering work included leading the family violence council, gender equity project, and anti-human trafficking work by the California State Legislature, National Association of Counties, U.S. Department of Justice, and United Nations.
A graduate of Lowell High School, Emily received her BA from Bryn Mawr, master’s from UC San Diego, and PhD from Stanford. She lives in the D7 Lakeshore neighborhood with her husband and daughters. www.emilymurase.com
Vilaska’s family fled the communists during the Fall of Saigon and lived in a refugee camp
before emigrating to Alaska. When he was born his parents named him after the Inuit word for
“Mainland.” Vilaska's dad was a longshoreman and his mom was a postal worker. They both
instilled in him a deep respect for public service.
Vilaska worked at the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs as a legislative liaison,
advocating for legal protections for API families before moving to the City to attend USF’s
School of Law. For the last 15 years Vilaska has worked in the criminal justice system as a trial
attorney in the PDs office, standing up for families and protecting their civil rights. www.vilaska.com
Questions Raised in Unusual Challenge to Superior Court Judges
While it is unusual that incumbent San Francisco Superior Court judges are challenged, they are required to run for election, just like our politicians. Westside voters on both sides of the contest in the June election have submitted these arguments Pro & Con:
Vote for Change in the Courts
by E. Leigh Moyer
Four very accomplished public defenders have decided to run for Superior Court Judge against incumbent judges in this year's June 5th election. As has been the case since 1849, Article 6 Section 16 of the California Constitution provides that trial judges have regular elections where challengers can run for the office. As a community, we decided that there is a public benefit from judicial campaigns, which give voters the opportunity to interact with judicial candidates.
This makes complete sense, since it is our superior court that is tasked to hear controversies that impact people directly each day. Judges decide our landlord-tenant, divorce, child custody, neighbor and many important disputes. What better way to hold these elected officials accountable, but through a democratic process?
In accepting the job, these incumbent judges have been aware that they must stand for election every six years. Remarkably, there has been debate as to the propriety of this election. Some have gone so far as to state that it is an "assault" on the judiciary. But the notion that democracy is an attack is nothing short of absurd if not un-American. Candidates for office do not threaten judicial independence by running for office in a democracy. The real threat here are the judges and lawyers who have resorted to criticism that undermine the very constitution they have sworn to uphold. The voters, and not past governors like Pete Wilson, should decide who their local judges are and whether they want the status quo or a change in their courts.
Having been a resident of the Sunset, I speak from experience. Currently, our auto break-ins are rampant (SFPD reported 30,000 in a year), recidivism is high, and victims of crimes often feel offenders are not held accountable. San Franciscans have repeatedly voiced their discontent with a money bail system that is unfair, where the wealthy are set free and those who aren't are not—despite having been charged with the same crime. Upon one thing, most San Franciscans will agree: what is currently going on in our criminal justice system is not acceptable—the courts are failing us. These experienced Public Defenders propose an alternative to the status quo.
Niki Solis, has 22-years of experience representing minors, supervising lawyers and handling complex litigation and trials in the adult courts. She currently serves on the Criminal Law Advisory Committee of the State Bar. She is an immigrant who was brought to this country at age one by her parents who put 7 children through catholic school. Solis graduated with honors from SFSU, received a scholarship to U.C. Hastings, has been a resident of this city for 29 years, is a mom of two boys and was vice president of the Fairmount Elementary PTA. Solis would be the first formerly undocumented judge in San Francisco history. After thorough vetting, she received the same "well qualified" rating from the Bar Association as her judicial opponent who is a nine year incumbent.
Phoenix Streets is a native San Franciscan who has tried more felony cases in the last two decades than any of the other 100 attorneys in the San Francisco Public Defender's Office. A Navy veteran, he was on active duty during the gulf war. He was raised by a single mother in a household of nine children. He is a resident of and has deep roots in San Francisco. His opponent lives in Piedmont, and was neither born nor raised in San Francisco.
Maria Evangelista, also a native San Franciscan, is a resident of Miraloma Park. She attended St. Joseph's Elementary school, graduated valedictorian from St. Paul's High School and with honors from SFSU. A child of immigrant parents, who came to California to pick grapes, Evangelista was one of the very first Mexican American women to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School. A 14 year veteran public defender, handling felony cases, she has been trained in the specialty courts: Behavior Health Court, Veterans Court, Drug Court, and the Community Justice Court. She is a current board member of La Raza Centro Legal, which provides legal services to the poor and working-class in areas of immigration and senior services. She is endorsed by Kitman Chan, the head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Her opponent lives in Marin and drives into San Francisco to make decisions that impact our San Francisco community.
These public defenders have garnered support and endorsements throughout the community. With deep roots in San Francisco, they have bravely stood up to challenge a failing system mired in dysfunction. Readers of Westside Observer and all San Franciscans would be well served in voting for change and for these public defenders.
E. Leigh Moyer, Westside resident, Communications Specialist, UC Berkeley
Westside Should Support Incumbent Judges
by John O' Riordan
The challenge to four incumbent Superior Court Justices has led to an unprecedented showing of support from local and statewide elected officials including Governor Brown, Senators Feinstein and Harris, and all four candidates for Mayor.
Andrew Cheng, Curtis Karnow, Cynthia Lee, and Jeff Ross are highly qualified and committed judges of the San Francisco Superior Court that are being challenged by four members of the Public Defender's Office in the June 5th election. Each of these four judges is incredibly qualified, intelligent, and committed to improving our San Francisco Communities.
Judge Andrew Cheng, has served on the court for nine years, after a career as a Deputy City Attorney and then an Assistant U.S. Attorney. At the U.S. Attorney's Office, he was promoted through the ranks, eventually serving as Chief of that Office's Civil Division. He has served at the Hall of Justice, presiding over criminal cases, and in the Civil Division, where he presided over a landmark trial resulting in a $3.5 million verdict against a landlord who wrongfully evicted a family from their home. Like his colleagues on the bench, Judge Cheng is well regarded by lawyers and judges alike. He has been involved in the community, volunteering after hours at a court-sponsored voluntary mediation program, and at a community forum where members of the public meet judges and learn about the court.
Judge Curtis Karnow practiced civil litigation at two prominent San Francisco firms before becoming a judge five-plus years ago. He heads the court's Complex Litigation Department, where he rules on some of the most challenging cases filed in the Superior Court. In one such case, he ruled in favor of San Francisco's City College and against the accrediting agency that was determined to shut the college down.
Judge Karnow wrote a seminal article about bail reform, advocating that persons accused of crimes be released based on whether they are dangerous, and not on their ability to afford a bond for bail set at high amounts. That article has been cited by state and federal judges in cases requiring judges to set bail at a level that is affordable, and to detain only people who are truly dangerous. In his spare time, Judge Karnow writes material to teach grade school and high school students about the law and our legal system.
Judge Cynthia Ming-Mei Lee has served on the San Francisco Superior Court for 20 years following her successful career as a leading prosecutor in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office. She was elected as the first Asian-American woman to serve as Presiding Judge of the entire court. At that time, the court was facing huge financial challenges, with dwindling resources. Under her leadership, the court emerged from the crisis stronger and enabled to continue its vital work on behalf of the public. Judge Lee was recognized by the Commission on Women for instituting mandatory domestic violence training. She also founded the Veterans Justice Court and co-founded a program to reduce truancy in schools.
Before he was appointed to the bench, Judge Jeff Ross practiced family law and was a criminal defense lawyer who headed his own firm and later practiced at a prominent larger firm with deep San Francisco roots. He worked without pay on civil rights cases with the ACLU, and represented defendants accused of drug crimes and worse, including a death row inmate in a highly complex appeal. He has served on the court for nine years and was the first judge to preside over the Veterans Justice Court, which has helped military veterans obtain housing, mental health, drug treatment and employment services, often resulting in dismissal or reduction of criminal charges against them. In his spare time, he founded the Law Academy, a program for underserved youth in our public schools that teaches them about the law, provides them experience working for legal employers, and gives them the vision and tools to pursue a college education.
These judges should not be re-elected because they are incumbents. They should serve another six-year term because each has executed their authority as judge to advance important social justice goals, while treating all with respect, exercising discretion appropriately, and applying the law.
San Franciscans are lucky to have a bench that reflects the full diversity of our community, and has dedicated, ethical and experienced judges like Andrew Cheng, Curt Karnow, Cynthia Lee, and Jeff Ross. That is why I am urging voters to keep our court free from the corrosive influence of politics by voting to retain these four excellent judges.
John O'Riordan, Westside Democratic Party
Westside Mayor's Forum Attracts Full House
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."
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.
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.
"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.
Let's Elect Our Elected Officials
- YES on Prop D
By Larry Bush and Katherine Howard
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
George Wooding's D-7 Candidate Questionnaire
Choose Your D-7 Board of Supervisors Favorite
By George Wooding
This may be a sneaky way to choose your new District 7 Supervisor. The Westside Observer conducted a similar blind survey four years ago, which was an eye-opener for many of our readers.
Despite your current candidate preferences — between candidates Norman Yee (our incumbent Supervisor), Benjamin Matranga, Mike Young, Joel Engardio, or John Farrell — this survey may cause you to select another District 7 candidate instead of your current favorite.
All of the District 7 Board of Supervisor candidates were asked identical questions. Responses to each question were limited to a maximum of 60 words. Candidates were not allowed to answer questions in a way that would allow readers to guess who they were.
No candidate's answer was edited or changed in any way, unless they inadvertently identified who they were. Only two responses by one candidate were edited to remove identifying information. Each candidate was assigned an alphabetical letter (A to E). The candidates keep the same letter throughout the questionnaire.
At the end of the questionnaire, you will be asked to pick your preferred candidate by selecting in order the alphabetical letter(s) of candidate responses that you liked the most.
Responses to Questionnaire
1. How will you reduce the increasing amount of crime in District 7 without increasing the cost of police protection?
A. Build a stronger relationship between police and residents via community forums, neighborhood watch groups, businesses, and schools. Promote education on crime prevention and safety. Utilize existing programs to support police and provide them with the equipment and training needed to do their job. Increase police patrolling. Offenders (especially high risk and repeat criminals) must be taken off the streets.
B. Increased and better police presence in the neighborhoods and for SFPD to prioritize beat patrol for officers. Would encourage a stronger relationship between police officers and business owners and residents. I would form a taskforce consisting of individuals from police personnel to community members and policy makers to create a police staffing plan for the future based on best practices.
C. When property crime is up, more police protection is worth the cost. Let's make sure we have enough police officers on patrol and look to other areas of the budget to make cuts. Years of low crime justified less police presence on the west side, but now it's time to prioritize the level of protection District 7 needs and deserves.
D. Demand the District Attorney prosecute crimes as felonies instead of misdemeanors when the option is available. Vehicle burglaries are less common in Daly City since Daly City prosecutes and punishes these crimes as felonies whereas San Francisco prefers to prosecute them as misdemeanors. We can and should do better.
E. Public safety is my top priority. I will fight to ensure San Francisco hires enough police officers to stop this neighborhood crime wave. I will fight to ensure that our officers have the right tools, training and equipment they need, including Tasers. I am proud to have worked with and earned the support of our City's public safety workers---Police Officers and Fire Fighters.
2. The San Francisco Natural Areas Program (NAP) plans on cutting thousands of non-native trees in the City and replacing them with native trees — mostly saplings. What are your thoughts on this?
A. I am against it. Over time our native trees have adapted alongside non-native ones and cutting them down now will affect the current ecosystem and its habitat. This is an unnecessary expense that wastes funds that could be otherwise used to provide essential City services and programs such as affordable housing, transportation, and family issues.
B. The NAP sets a very dangerous precedent for San Francisco and I am deeply concerned with the clear cutting of trees. We need a plan that removes dead and dying trees to keep our residents safe. This plan is a clear example of a long process that doesn't reflect the feedback that was received and results in very problematic recommendations.
C. If a tree is in danger of falling, cut it down. But NAP doesn't make sense. At what point in time is "native" defined? Go back far enough and everything was sand. It's also irresponsible to spend money on an evolutionary experiment in our parks when we have failing playgrounds. Recreation for people and pets should be the priority in city parks.
D. When practicable, we should live according to our environment's natural demands rather than work against it. A SLOW, gradual replacement of non-native species will preserve our city's aesthetics as we congruently return to our environment's natural state. Remember that, the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm was exacerbated by non-native, Eucalyptus trees whose oils fed the inferno that destroyed 3,000 homes.
E. I would like to learn more about the current state of the ecological health in our significant natural areas. Funding for important environmental stewardship must be provided to protect and preserve our parks. As our population grows, the uses of these facilities becomes much more frequent and we must ensure that all users benefit from our parks system.
3. How do you intend to increase affordable housing and middle-income housing in District 7?
A. I will identity overlooked revenue sources, hold City departments accountable, cut waste, and allocate funds to build housing. Support increasing height limits in commercial districts to build more affordable and middle-income housing. Allow legalization of in-law units, as long as they are up to code. Many already exist and provide housing without changing neighborhood aesthetics. Support expediting the permit/appeals process.
B. I don't believe in a onesize fits all approach to affordable housing. I want to see a significant investment in our down payment assistance loan program for first time home buyers allowing young families to get support from the city when purchasing a home. I strongly support at least 50% affordable and middleincome housing for the Balboa Reservoir housing development.
C. We can preserve single-family neighborhoods while helping families stay in San Francisco. With community input, let's build middle-income housing above retail stores along Muni lines. The new homeowners will revitalize commercial districts by demanding more amenities and we'll create housing for our kids. Seniors looking to downsize can consider an elevator building nearby and stay in the neighborhood they call home.
D. Before we build new housing at Stonestown and Balboa Reservoir, we need an honest conversation about the limits of affordable housing mandates without government subsidies. Private financing can only fund so much before going out of business; we would have to commit government resources to meet the remaining demand for affordable and middle-income housing.
E. My friends I grew up with can no longer afford to raise their families in the City where they were born. The basic bargain used to be that if you worked hard, your children and their children could look forward to a better life based on hard work and opportunity. Today, that compact is threatened by the increasing cost of living and lack of responsiveness at City Hall.
4. What are your top transportation priorities for District 7?
A. Safety, efficiency, and planning for future growth. Immediately address high injury corridors. Support Vision Zero. Design our streets to better support its traffic (including pedestrian and bicyclists) in a more efficient and safer way. Modernize MUNI, improve reliability, and ensure there are enough vehicles to support the system. Support the undergrounding of the M line and the Ocean Ave Corridor.
B. We need better service. We need more frequency on our bus lines. More reliable vehicle on those same routes. When changes are proposed we need clear and meaningful community involvement. We need to end the war on cars waged by the SFMTA. Finally we need better paratransit services which a lot of our resident use.
C. We must underground the M-line from West Portal to Daly City BART. This will serve new housing at Parkmerced and SFSU with more capacity (four-car instead of two-car trains). We'll have a real, end-to-end subway all the way downtown for a faster commute. This will solve the St. Francis Circle traffic tangle with above-ground trains and improve 19th Ave. congestion.
D. Crossing the metro tracks on 19th, West Portal, and Ocean is a risky adventure for pedestrians and cars. We should underground the metro and free up precious street space to accommodate more pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares and encourage slower vehicular traffi C. Maximize the use of refuge islands, raised surfaces, and traffic calming techniques.
E. I have worked directly to take on the City's transportation challenges and will prioritize pedestrian safety and improve MUNI reliability. At City Hall, I cut red tape and delivered more than 13 miles of street safety improvements on time and under budget. I will fight to make MUNI safer, cleaner and more reliable and reduce traffic congestion.
5. How would you handle District 7's coyote problem?
A. I will support providing necessary funds to the SF Animal Care and Control for their training in handling of this problem as well as educating residents in prevention and safety, and for purchasing hazing instruments needed to condition coyotes to fear people and minimize conflict.
B. The city needs to work with neighborhoods and neighbors to address the problem. The current "leave it alone" mentality is simply unacceptable. People need better information and better options to deal with coyotes. The city needs to work with neighbors to address their concerns and do a much better job at tracking and monitoring coyotes.
C. Just trapping and killing coyotes in District 7 won't work when more will trot over the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin County. We must give San Francisco Animal Care and Control the resources it needs to collaborate with counterpart agencies in other counties to find a scientifically informed, humane and sustainable solution to keep the entire Bay Area safe.
D. I favor "the harder right over the easier wrong". We must re-instill the fear of humans into coyotes by teaching neighbors "hazing" techniques: making loud noises and waving arms when encountering coyotes. This has worked in Denver, Vancouver, and Los Angeles. Killing coyotes is costly, dangerous, and studies show that coyote populations usually bounce back even after aggressive killing campaigns.
E. My campaign has knocked on over 10,000 doors and held nearly 20 house parties all across District 7 listening to neighborhood concerns. I have heard from numerous neighbors regarding an increase in coyote activity including very serious concerns about coyote incidents near our elementary schools. I support funding the Department of Animal Care & Control to have the expertise to fully and appropriately address this issue. This is not currently happening.
6. What are your top three (3) City budget priorities?
A. 1) Identify current revenue sources that have not been addressed. Review revenue practices to ensure all revenue sources are identified. 2) Hold City departments accountable, streamline and cut unnecessary expenditures. 3) Prioritize essential services and programs. Ensure vital City needs are met. Audit non-profit agencies and City contracts to ensure services are provided and necessary.
B. Public Safety, Pedestrian Safety and a fair share for District 7. We need more resource for SFPd. We need more investment to make our streets safer for pedestrians. We need to ensure that District 7 gets its fair share of resource for important capital improvements like sewers and road re-pavement and important programs like child-care and senior centers.
C. The biggest budget threats are the salaries of too many city employees (nearly 30,000!), unfunded liabilities that will balloon and a reliance on "set-asides" that limit accountability. At $9.6 billion, the budget has doubled since 2004. Nothing is twice as good. We need to investigate how our money is being spent, measure for results and only pay for what works.
D. 1) Police: by 2018 we will lose 400 police officers to early retirement. Current academy classes will produce only 200 more officers – we need more classes! 2) Housing: help hard working families avoid low-income status by creating more middle-income housing; this is good for our city's stability; 3) City government hiring freeze until we sort out the swollen city budget.
E. My top three budget priorities are public safety, addressing quality of life concerns, and funding vital services like road repaving, tree maintenance, and graffiti removal. The Board of Supervisors recently passed the largest budget in our City's history — $9.6 billion — yet it is not balanced and relies on tax increases to fund basic services. I will use my experience in finance to root out waste, fraud and abuse to ensure that real fiscal discipline and accountability is prioritized at City Hall.
Heard enough? Please pick your preferred candidate by selecting in order the alphabetical letter(s) of candidate responses that you liked the most. Then compare your preferred responses to the legend of names of D-7 candidates and their corresponding alphabetical letter revealed below.
Legend of D-7 Supervisorial Candidates
A. John Farrell
B. Norman Yee (Incumbent, D-7 Supervisor)
C. Joel Engardio
D. Mike Young
E. Benjamin Matranga
George Wooding, Westside resident and President, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
District 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.
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 | email@example.com
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.
• 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
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.
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.
firstname.lastname@example.org and www.normanyee.com
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.
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.
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.
Current Status Information: Now is the time to push hard to save Laguna Honda’s future. CMS has stopped discharges and extended funding until November 13. However, it may take months to qualify for recertification. We cannot depend on lawsuits by the City Attorney Chiu or the class action suit by former City Attorney.
PLEASE MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT AT THESE IMPORTANT MEETINGS
Laguna Honda Joint Conference Committee (JCC) • Tuesday, October 11 / 4 PM, at the Health Commission. In-person at 101 Grove St (at Polk), Room 300, or phone in.
Full Health Commission • Tuesday, October 18 / 4 PM In-person at 101 Grove St (at Polk), Room 300, or phone in.
Special Supervisors’ Hearing on Laguna Honda • Tuesday, November 1 / 3 PM In-person at City Hall, Room 250 or phone in.
Audit non-profit agencies and City contracts to ensure that services are provided ... especially those providing homeless services. ...revenue-generating departments need to ensure all revenue sources are addressed
Despite these commitments to ensure safe and minimally-stressful transfers ... it did not fully grasp the number and complexity of LHH patients. So, LHH was “pigeon-holed into rules applying to standard nursing homes.
City Leaders Value Saving Money Over Saving Lives and Property
by Frank T. Blackburn and Nancy Wuerfel
Mayor Breed remains blissfully silent on the need to extend adequate fire protection to approximately half the City, even though she has knowledge of Fire Department needs having been a fire commissioner in 2010.
Power plant emissions formed black soot on windows and doorways in their homes and triggered asthma attacks, headaches and nosebleeds in their children. Residents led the successful fight that ultimately closed the PG&E Hunters Point power plant in 2006
Culture of Silence" and Cover-up Plagues LHH Management
Gray Panthers Pounce on Laguna Honda Crisis
by Dr. Derek Kerr
Younger, behaviorally-complex patients gained priority for admission resulting in the displacement of elders and women. Excluding unmanageable patients would open up beds for those who need skilled nursing care.
Why is the proposed library at 100 Orizaba Avenue desirable? The proposed site has so many failings and the traffic problems are so enormous. Is there a hidden agenda with this proposed site that’s not being discussed?
The moderates only need to flip one district from the progressive side of the aisle to preclude the veto power of the Board of Supervisors, since the mayor appointed moderate Supervisor Matt Dorsey ... the Redistricting Task Force handed moderates a perfect set up to do just that.
Violent Thug Attacks, Robs Asian Visitor—Goes Free
Boudin's famed "puppy killer" strikes again
by Lou Barberini
Boudin and the judge circumvented diversion rules because violent criminals are “not eligible” for diversion programs. Why did Boudin send someone to drug diversion if they weren’t arrested for drugs?”
Changes in San Francisco’s 11 supervisorial district boundaries caused even the Chronicle and Examiner suggest returning to at-large supervisors; unfortunately, it seems legally impossible to this observer.
Over time, those special interests have proven adept at using the same “peoples protections” to further their own interests. Recalls are expensive, and a few of San Francisco’s bitterest billionaires buy low-turnout elections when they disagree with the voters...
Each student is tutored three times a week primarily outside of school time via an online, collaborative learning platform that offers intervention through guided reading lessons, gamification, and assessments.
Chair Townsend's Solution to African-American Population Decline Will Likely Result in a Lawsuit Redistricting's latest map has everyone on edge, scrambling to find out who their new Supervisor will be.
District 7 reclaims Forest Knolls, Twin Peaks, Midtown Terrace, the Woods and Miraloma Park from District 8 as well as all of Lakeshore and Merced Manor from District 4, but loses ground entirely in the Inner Sunset.
As additional funding for supportive housing services through programs like Project Home Key become available, radical reform of board and care programming and funding will be necessary to maintain and expand this crucial resource.
Donald Trump, disregards 42,000,000 Ukrainians by lauding Putin’s “genius” in invading Ukraine. I urge readers to divest themselves of any reverence or respect for Trump, a draft-dodger, who could demolish the Republican Party.
The failure to properly prepare all students, particularly Black/African American students, is the main culprit. While the lottery may increase diversity, it also increases the number of students at Lowell who are struggling.
SFPUC: Controllers Audit Reveals Compromised Bid Process
by Dr. Derek Kerr
Most contractors lagged in delivering community benefits and submitting required progress reports. And, once a contract ended, undelivered benefits were not recoverable. SFPUC had no policies to monitor compliance.
Ideally, police can stop “sideshows” before they happen with intel from undercover officers and by monitoring social media accounts that announce where sideshows will be. That was not evident in West Portal & 30th/Lawton incidents
There are procedures for closing a major highway, and that includes an Environmental Impact Report — how much more pollution would be caused by rerouting up to 20,000 vehicles a day through stop and go traffic ...?