Myrna Melgar Interview
Supervisor Elect Myrna Melgar talks to Westside Observer, Ingleside Light and West Portal Monthly about the issues and future in District 7
An Interview with Supervisor Elect Myrna Melgar

Interview with Editor Doug Comstock, Westside Observer (WSO), Alex Mullaney, Ingleside Light (ISL), and Glen Golmas, West Portal Monthly (WPM)

NOTE: This text is summarized, not a word-for-word translation. Watch the actual interview at: (She joins the conversation about three minutes in).

WSO: Will you be sworn in on January 8th as usual?
MM: There will be a ceremonial swearing in—it’s not official, it’s more for the community— on January 7th at 10 am. Former Treasurer Susan Leal will swear me in, she is someone who is important to me. On the following day there will be a judge to swear us all in. It will all be on Zoom.

WSO: Will you actually go into the office on the first day?
MM: I might just go in for the Zoom meeting, I have already gone in to set up the office. I’m so very lucky to be able to keep Jen Low and Erica Maybaum, who are so very knowledgeable.
I will be moving into Supervisor Stefani’s previous office, so it will be right next to the Board Chamber. I guess it’s considered less desirable (I have the least priority) because it’s right across from the meeting room and the chamber — so a lot of people just go there for general information. But I think it’s a good thing. When I worked at City Hall (as an aide to Supervisor Jose Medina) I just loved being there—it’s such an historic building, and so much of life happens there.

WSO:  Any preference for President of the Board?
MM: I can’t really tell you that, but I can tell you what I’m looking for, and that’s someone who is fair. In our diverse City I want someone who helps us. All the Supervisors have different assets, and we need someone who will bring out the best in all of us. I want someone who can work with the Mayor’s Office and with the colleagues on the board.

WSO: Do you have any preference for committee assignments?
MM: Yah, Land Use and Transportation Committee. And also, I want to serve on the Joint City, School District and City College Select Committee, it is really important right now as we move toward school reopening. Then as a third I would like the Government Audit & Oversight Committee.

ISL: Did you work for Susan Leal when she was a Supervisor?
MM: No, I worked for Jose Medina. But she was on that Board, along with Tom Ammiano, Sue Bierman and Barbara Kaufman.

WSO: The immediate concern for Supervisors is the virus and its impact on the local economy and the resulting deficit, can you share any specific thoughts to deal with these problems?
MM: Yes, a couple years ago there was a Prop C,  for Children and Youth that was passed. And Supervisor Yee has been working on funneling that money to child-care providers, and I will continue that work, because child-care and early education are important since—if kids have no place to go—parents can’t work, especially women, who bear the brunt of that. There are some state and federal sources for assets to cash that we are tapping into; for low-interest loans and grants, the criteria is actually fairly low for small businesses. We may need a public-private partnership to expand the businesses that are eligible. We need as many supports as we can so people can survive. We can expand the shared-space programs and transportation must improve if we are going to have any kind of recovery. Then, once we have the vaccine and begin to recover, there is a role for the city to incentivize people to get out—to patronize local businesses. We need our fair share of arts funding to get people to come out, for the businesses. There’s another area of work that involves the schools. I’m confident that we can come together to support the district to allow the kids to go back to school and provide proper safety for everyone. We need to have a plan by February enrollment, or we will lose a lot of students to the private system—which will have impact on the budget for years to come. There is a roll for the City to work with private philanthropy to enrich our school system and make them so attractive that people want to stay.

ISL: Slow streets were roundly panned by 200-240 residents, do you have any plans to speak with MUNI about slow streets?
MM: Yes. Sometimes agencies have a cookie-cutter approach to programs, but neighborhoods are so different, that it just doesn’t work. D7 has been a little more car-dependent than others, but there’s also a role for Supervisors to play to roll-out a plan, but also, it’s about public education, I think people can’t wrap their heads around it. I’ve been interested in closing—on Sundays—the stretch of Ocean Avenue between 19th and Junipero Serra, allowing the restaurants to have outside service, bring some art—that could be a version—one day a week, not just closing it off and forgetting about it.

ISL: City College is in my district, and as a sometimes employee there, it’s an economic engine for the Ocean Avenue corridor, what can the Supervisors do as it faces a budget crisis?  
MM: This is a two-hour conversation – but there are infrastructure improvements that we should be collaborating on, such as the retaining wall on Ocean Avenue that is terrible and the overpass that nobody uses. We need to work with the county transportation authority to consider the institution’s plans because we are interdependent with the college to support business on the street. Prop K transportation money needs to be used with Ocean Avenue, City College and Balboa Station, it’s all one corridor.

WSO: During your campaign for Supervisor you were considered “progressive” in your positions on most issues. Does your election indicate that the voters of D7 are moving to a more “progressive” point of view? The old guard is still there, but they don’t seem to be winning elections lately.
MM: The city as a whole has been moving towards a more progressive position. But not everyone votes based on ideology. Folks who have very strongly held beliefs on both sides tend to think that everyone thinks like they do—right?  I know that a lot of the votes transferred—what got me into 2nd place and ultimately into first—were from other candidates. I got twice as many votes from Ben Matranga as Vilaska did, and Emily’s votes transferred to me at twice the rate as they did to Joel. Emily is a more conservative candidate, but I know a lot of women voted for Emily number 1, and for me 2nd because they wanted a woman supervisor. So, gender is a thing too. There are other things like being a mom, having kids in public schools; there are a lot more things than ideology. But I think the City, not just the district, is moving to a more progressive point. Demographically the district is changing, there are more Chinese voters, more Latino voters and there are younger families, so people’s points of view do progress.

WSO: The proposal to build housing on Laguna Honda campus has met with opposition from open space as well as public health advocates because, though the original proposal for 160 units was determined to be too big, yet the chosen developer has proposed building up to 375 units and the site elevation is problematic and too isolated for seniors. What is going to happen there—do you have any inside information?
MM: I don’t, and it’s an issue I haven’t looked at closely, I know Supervisor Yee was working on this. I think senior housing on Laguna Honda makes sense. But I think we need to look at that whole stretch of land, including the Youth Guidence Center. There’s also that stretch of public housing that has been transferred to the Mission Economic Development Agency and that is scheduled to be rehabilitated. So, there’s a lot of opportunity to think through what we are going to do with this land for something that the community needs, that is sustainable and something that is good for the folks that live there. There is an opportunity to shape that project, but not just that project, but to think through the entire corridor in terms of transportation and amenities. Now, to go grocery shopping people have to go up that hill, to Mollie Stone’s. We can think about development of amenities and social services on the ground floor, there is some room to develop good planning there.
WSO: By “amenities” are you thinking of a grocery store or something like that?
MM: A grocery store is possible, but in District 7 we don’t have a comprehensive senior center. I truly want that. We have a growing senior population, Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) is one area in the City where we are lacking, but also lacking—just the companionship, congregant meal programs and other social services. There’s a bunch of support that seniors need, both to age in place and also when they get to the point where they need more skilled support. We need to think, not project by project, but as a little village where people can access the things that they need to make it successful. We know that seniors who have community support do better healthwise.
WSO: Can you assure that the transportation will be there? Because if the Department is going to transfer 500 of their employees to one of the old LHH wings, then you are building housing for 375 seniors—that’s 800 people in the same location who need transportation, and you’re taking out parking to do it, how are people going to get to and from?
MM:  This reinforces what I am saying, we need to plan for the entire area, not just the project. There’s also, just across Portola, the School of the Arts, and that’s moving to the Civic Center, so the county transportation authority needs to look at planning for the whole area, not just one project and involve the community into what our vision is for the next 50 years. As one Supervisor I can’t promise you, but I will push really hard to make sure we plan comprehensively and that the resources are spent in a strategic way.
WSO: Would you speak up for a separate CEQA for the project, rather than depending on the original one for the Laguna Honda rebuild?
MM: To be honest, I have not read the EIR for that project and so I would have to see if it is adequate or not. I just don’t know.

ISL: The planning department and the supervisor’s offices are doing outreach for housing right now. How are they doing so far?
MM: I have not participated in that, so I don’t know how that is going.
WPM: In Sweden, because of COVID 19 and a lot more people working from home, as well as a lot of people leaving the cities, they discovered that as much a 1/5th of the workforce is likely to continue working from home. So, they are looking at converting office space to housing. San Francisco is already the densest City in the US, so can we adapt office space to meet our housing needs?
MM: We’ve already done some of that, a few. But I want to be careful of doing that without data. Where we have zoned for office, we have deliberately thought about amenities, infrastructure, transportation, sewer, water, etc. Those assumptions may not be the same as for housing. Even though it’s a space, it could be apples and oranges or it could be a solution, I just want to be thoughtful and deliberate about it. I think along business corridors, we could allow for second-floor offices, which we don’t now in D7. Having a lawyer on the second floor, with little foot traffic might work together with a restaurant on the first floor, that kind of interaction might work. But I think we should add more housing on the commercial corridors. It has worked on Ocean Avenue because the residents shop and go to the restaurants. Neighborhood serving retail in the age of Grubhub and Amazon is different than it used to be. So we need more housing to make everything work together.

WSO: Despite an aging population we have a shortage of accessible nursing home care for seniors in San Francisco, there are no plans to increase skilled nursing capacity either at Laguna Honda, or UCSF (despite massive expansion plans by UCSF). Seniors face transfer out of county for Subacute SNF Care, post-acute SNF rehab care, and tragically, for long term care for chronic illnesses like advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. Please give us your thoughts, how we can take care of our seniors?
MM: We have a Medical Services Masterplan, which says that we want more Skilled Nursing Facilities—but just because we say it doesn’t mean we do it. What we need is some kind of incentive, because, over time, the economics of skilled nursing have worsened. Not just the acute skilled nursing, but everything in between. So, for example, the MOU for the UCSF Expansion might be an area for negotiating more SNFs. We have some leverage right now, though they are not under zoning jurisdiction, before the MOU goes to the Regents for approval. 

WSO: Could UCSF expansion include negotiations to increase general SNF and sub-acute SNF in an MOU and do you support having the Board of Supervisors hold a public hearing on the UCSF-CCSF MOU BEFORE the MOU is part of the Long-Range Development Plan considered by the Regents?
MM: Yes.

WSO: There is a broad public perception that the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors, the SOTF and the Ethics Commission have remained complacent in the face of widespread corruption and growing scandals in city government, requiring the US Attorney, the FBI and the Criminal branch of the IRS to take the lead in “cleaning house.” Do you see a role for the BOS in correcting this situation; if so, what specific steps do you propose they take?
MM: I want to be careful not to stray out of my lane, about an ongoing investigation, but the appropriate players are law enforcement. I do think, and this is why I want to be on the Audit and Oversight Committee, that there is a vacuum in terms of our system. Having worked in government and non-profits my entire life, and been through countless audits, I can tell you that, when things go wrong it’s because there is a lack of rules or enforcement of rules. There’s a lot of accountability that is not there, there’s a lack of transparency, there’s nepotism, there’s no proper training. When the MTA can’t bring projects in on time and within budget, such as the Crosstown Tunnel and they have problems with sexual harassment among employees, I see a correlation. When your buddy is hired rather than a more qualified candidate, that is corruption, I think. That flourishes when there are not systems of accountability and transparency. In private companies, sexual harassment training, for example is implemented as a standard. In this City, only managers are trained. It is appropriate for the supervisors to make policy in that area, to set rules, hold hearings and hold departments accountable. And this kind of "getting into the weeds" is something I like to do. But US Attorney Anderson is doing a good job and I trust he will do it appropriately.
WSO: Do you feel MUNI needs a separate, and special, dedicated funding source, so as to prevent the drastic cutbacks now in force?
MM: I do.
WSO: You have indicated support for CEQA and concerns about SB50, could you share your thinking about RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation) and Wiener's newly introduced bill SB10?
MM: First, I want to say how much I respect Senator Wiener.  But I see things a little more nuanced. That’s why I didn’t support SB50, and this exclusionary zoning we have today was the result of both zoning and financing. Just upzoning will not fix the problem without financing. I think it creates more speculation. I have said to Senator Wiener that I want to see accompanying financing if there is going to be any upzoning. I don’t believe the market will just take care of it. On one side we need the money, but on the other we also need the community’s input. How are you going to know what the community needs if it’s not the people who actually live there having a say so? RHNA is a useful marker for putting numbers into what we need and how we relate to other cities around us. We are using the RHNA numbers in the Capital Plan to measure how much affordable housing, middle-income housing and market-rate housing we need. However, for decades, we haven’t produced enough middle-income housing. As the District 7 Supervisor, I am very interested in focusing on that, component, and I think it will help the city as a whole. We have a great neighborhood here and I think more middle-income housing will make for a more sustainable district.

WSO: Regarding the recent attempt by the BoS to cancel the Marina Time's contract to publish public notices — should neighborhood newspaper's editorial views determine whether they are granted City contracts?
MM: Absolutely not, it’s a first amendment issue.

ISL: You have some ideas about DBI, what can we expect related to that?
MM: I do not put any blame on the staff at DBI, but if you go to Oakland and apply for a permit, you can do it online and it brings up the history of entitlements on the property, all the building inspections, the violations—everything in one place. It is amazing. It’s ten-year-old technology yet we don’t have that here. That opens the way for corruption to seep in. Papers can get lost or be altered, etc. You can expect me to support the department to bring their service into 2021. And a system that is integrated with Planning, Fire and Health Departments so it’s easier for the public to access, and it’s transparent. Another area is the code. The supervisors often clean up the zoning code, but they don’ do the same for DBI. Things that are OK with the planning code may not be OK with the building code. That clean-up makes it work together and gets rid of redundant requirements and it is something that I want to do.

ISL: Office hours have not been consistently held by your predecessor do you have plans for holding office hours and outreach to the community?
MM: I do want to do that, and after we get the vaccine, and we can all get together safely, I will establish consistent hours and I want to create a system online that shows where we are because this is such a big district, if we pick the Inner Sunset, the Merced Triangle will be so far away.  I would like to be in the district more than at City Hall.

WPM: Looking at the edge of the City, we have the Cliff House closing, discussions about whether to open the Great Highway, and then the erosion problem between Sloat and Skyline; what should we be looking at in terms of the edge of the City?
MM: It’s been a battle against nature for decades, and the Army Core of Engineers has done a lot of studies about what we can and cannot do there, I want us to invest wisely, and picking a fight with mother nature seems rather futile.

WPM: Have you been in Contact with the efforts to rescue Edgehill? Regarding the land-swap?
MM: I have assured the Department of Real Estate that I am  very interested in going forward with that.

WPM: Have you heard about the rash of porch pirates that has been going on around the neighborhood?
MM: It doesn’t surprise me, people are shopping online and people are desperate. We are vulnerable because much of our housing stock has porches, not locked gates as in other parts of town. When I talked to Chief Scott about property crimes and enforcement. He is thinking in terms of foot patrols, which is unlikely to solve the problem in residential corridors like ours. We spoke about Taraval Station, which has had recent leadership problems and he assured me that he would keep me informed. I don’t know that I have an answer to the problem.

WSO: Thank you much for your time Supervisor Elect.
MM: Oh, Thank you.


December 30, 2020

Commissioners React

The Fix Is In: Herrera’s SFPUC

A Public Farce—the Blow by Blow

Few doubted that political intrigue propelled their deal. Less well known is how the SFPUC’s own search for a new General Manager (GM) was upended.

Check it out

Pacific Rod & Gun Club

Swings Not Guns for Lake Merced

From 1934 through 1994 lead pellets as shot resulted in about 27 tons of lead in the lake per year. Lead pellets and targets containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons ...

Check it out

Great Highway

Open the Great Highway

Social distance necessity has subsided, but a closed-door effort never to reopen the Great Highway fostered by the Bicycle Coalition and the allied groups inveigh willing collaborators.

Check it out

NASA images

All Wet

Water users aren't out of the woods ... recycling, purification, groundwater, maybe desalinization, and conservation schemes are coming—guess who pays?

Read More ...

Wanna Cabin in Yosemite? Fuggedaboutit.


Perks, Privileges and Mistrust in the “City Family”

Former City Attorney Dennis Herrera runs an SFPUC immersed in mistrust. Can he impose fiscal and ethical discipline?

Check it out


Chron & Ex Say Only Six Shoplifts a Day in SF?—LOL

On the day of Neilson’s 6-per-day article, a guard at one Walgreens caught 23 shoplifters by himself—he averages 15 shoplifts per day

Check it out

The Voting Center at City Hall
Walk-in socially-distanced Voting Center across the street from City Hall
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.


Sign for Ballot Drive-up
Convenient Drive-up is at City Hall at Grove Street

“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.”

Drive-up vote center
Election workers are ready for you

A list of official San Francisco ballot drop-off stations can be found at

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 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.  

October 2020

Propositions A-L What's Up?
Propositions A-L
Voters need to decide for themselves how to fix the broken City of San Francisco

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.

The City plans to repay the bond, including principal and accrued interest of $960 million, within 30 years, through property taxes beginning next year. Owners of a $600,000 home paying an annual property tax increase of $83.13, half of which landlords can pass through to tenants.

$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.

Prop B would create two new expensive and bloated bureaucracies of political appointees opponent Larry Marso maintains, and sets no new standards that will assure cleaner streets, including areas of homeless encampments. The SF Republican Party also opposes the measure faulting City Hall for poor management of the existing Department of Public Works. Ethics commission reports no fundraising filing activity opposing this measure.

Vote yes on Prop B if you want a special department of sanitation and streets. To keep the Public Works Department in charge, vote no. Requires 50 plus one vote to pass.

Proposition C Diversity on Boards

Proposition C amends the Charter to allow any City resident of legal voting age to become a member of a board, commission, or advisory body without being required to prove they are citizens of the U.S. 

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.

Opponents argue that the Sheriff’s Department already has an Internal Affairs Unit as well as a Training Unit. The San Francisco Taxpayers Association  takes exception to the added cost.

Proposition D requires 50% plus one vote to pass. So, vote yes for additional oversight of the Sheriff’s Department or vote no to keep the status quo.

Proposition E Police Department Staffing Levels

Proposition E would change the Charter to remove the minimum staffing level of 1,971 full-time police officers imposed by the voters in 1994. Instead, the Police Department would be required to submit a report and recommendation regarding police staffing levels to the Police Commission every two years. The commission must consider, but need not adopt the recommendations.

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.  

It is supported by the mayor, the Board of Supervisors, the school board, as well as the teachers union. 

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 receipts will 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.

October 2020

Issues in the District 7 Election for Supervisor
Candidates for D7
One of these candidate will represent you for the next four years.

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?

Joel Engardio


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:

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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.

Stephen Martin-Pinto


I support any process that reduces bureaucracy and simplifies approval processes.

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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.

Joel Engardio


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.

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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:

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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. 

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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)

Joel Engardio


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

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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

Ben Matranga


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. 

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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.

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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:

Stephen Martin-Pinto


Absolutely not. We must focus on cuts to our budget before we drive businesses into the ground with new taxes.

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


Yes. I support the proposed taxes to large corporations and those whose CEOs make 100 times more than the lowest paid worker.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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?

Stephen Martin-Pinto


It's a horrible idea. I don't trust the government to run any business.

Ben Matranga


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. 

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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.

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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. 

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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.

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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. 

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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.

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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. 

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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.

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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.

Stephen Martin-Pinto


I'd support programs such as the Participatory Budget Program which lets residents create and choose projects to fund in their neighborhoods

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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. (

Myrna Melgar


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

Vote 16

(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)

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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:

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


"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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


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.

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


San Franciscans should not receive poor quality drinking water. The SFPUC should reverse the practice of blending drinking water.

Myrna Melgar


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.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


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?

Joel Engardio


Yes. The Civil Grand Jury investigated this issue last year and I wrote about it in my award-winning column in the San Francisco Examiner. Learn more at

Stephen Martin-Pinto


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.

Ben Matranga


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.

Myrna Melgar


Yes, you can count on me to require the completion of the AWSS.

Emily Murase


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.

Vilaska Nguyen


Yes. As Supervisor, you can count on me to require SFPUC to complete the construction of an Auxiliary Water Supply system for our district.

August 2020


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.)

Joel Engardio

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.

Learn more about my
and background:

Stephen Martin-Pinto

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.

Ben Matranga

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 or call me directly: 415-484-5870.

Myrna Melgar

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.

Emily Murase

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.

Vilaska Nguyen

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.

JUNE 2020

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

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

June 2018

Westside Should Support Incumbent Judges

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

June 2018

Westside Mayor's Forum Attracts Full House

debate photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be sure to vote on June 5th.

candidates for Mayor

March 2018

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

Supervisor Candidate Debate Highlights Differences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

candidate questionnaire

"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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yee points to the new Department of Homelessness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farrell is looking to Animal Care Control.

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

Matranga suggests a graduated scale of aggressiveness.

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

Tony Taylor is a San Francisco journalist.

October 2016

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

balance graphic

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

What is wrong with this picture?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larry Bush and Katherine Howard

October 2016

George Wooding's D-7 Candidate Questionnaire


Choose Your D-7 Board of Supervisors Favorite

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:

September 2016

candidate pictures

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.

Joel Engardio

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

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

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

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

The choice is clear in 2016.

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

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

Learn more at 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 |

John Farrell

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

City Experience:

• Financial Director for Treasure Island Development Authority

• Assistant Assessor, Budget and Special Projects

• Senior Management Assistant for Port

• Mayor's Budget Analyst

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

• Park Director, Recreation and Parks

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

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

• Neighborhood activist

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

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

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

Contact info: (415)218-6337 | |

Ben Matranga

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

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

My priorities include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Requiring reporting of special interest spending to influence City decisions.

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

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

Norman Yee

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

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

Mike Young

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Thank you. 415-866-6470 | 

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

This election will take place on November 7th.

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

June 2016

Election 2014

SF Voters’ Choices

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

(It looks like artificial turf for GG Park)

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

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

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

November 2014

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