As we approach the end of 2015, there is much to be thankful for, from our streaking World Champion Golden State Warriors to our strong local economy and low unemployment numbers. The year 2015 has also brought many challenges. Our housing affordability and cost-of-living continue to increase, and we need to do more to ensure that the economic prosperity the city is experiencing helps as many San Franciscans as possible.
Housing affordability and the cost-of-living continue to be a top concern. As budget chair, I made it a top priority to advocate for more housing investments in our city budget and was able to secure a historic $25 million additional investment to help build new affordable housing; the voters also approved the $310 million housing bond, which I co-sponsored with my colleagues and Mayor Ed Lee. Additionally, I am a lead co-sponsor of a bill to update our inclusionary housing laws that will streamline the entitlement process to build more new housing quicker and incentivize more on-site affordable and middle-income housing units in market-rate projects. There is no silver bullet to our housing crisis, but we must continue to do everything in our power to build new housing units quickly, responsibly, and appropriately.
Homelessness in San Francisco continues to persist, and the most cost-effective and humane solution continues to be providing housing for the homeless. I secured funding in our budget for a District 2-specific homeless outreach team that will be focused on getting the district’s homeless into housing and services to help put them on a path toward self-sufficiency. I am close to passing legislation to help vulnerable individuals maximize the public benefits for which they qualify, saving the city valuable resources in the long-run. I also partnered with Bevan Dufty and Mayor Lee to support the innovative and successful Navigation Center, which is housing homeless individuals, and am co-sponsoring a bill to create a Navigation Partnership Fund that will encourage philanthropic giving from the private sector to open more Navigation Centers.
As property and violent crime have increased in San Francisco this year, public safety is a top concern to residents in every neighborhood. For years, our police and fire departments have been understaffed. Every year since I was elected I have secured more funding for new fire and police academy classes to have more public safety personnel out in our streets. During the year, I hosted numerous public safety town halls throughout the district, where I brought together the leaders of our neighborhoods, police, and district attorney’s office to discuss how we can reduce crime and keep our communities safe. I also met with PTA’s at Sherman Elementary and Marina Middle School to discuss public and pedestrian safety improvements to keep our children safe.
To address gun violence in San Francisco, I passed common-sense gun safety policies that will help aid police in their investigations and deter criminals from illegally obtaining guns in our city. I believe we need to do everything in our power to reduce gun violence to keep our communities and families safe.
When I first came into office, I revamped the San Francisco Shared Schoolyards Project to open up public schoolyards on weekends for the community to use and enjoy by privately raising funds to cover the costs of the program. The project was so successful that we announced we will expand from 28 participating public schools to 80 by the end of 2016. In a dense urban environment like San Francisco, I believe we have to do everything in our power to create more open space for our residents, visitors, and families.
As our city continues to grow, the use of our parks is at an all-time high, and our Recreation and Park Department is working tirelessly to address the nuts and bolts issues that our residents deserve and expect to see fixed. Unfortunately, funding for Rec and Park has not kept pace with the needs and issues that have to be addressed in our neighborhood parks. I introduced a community-driven funding plan for the June primary election — that will not raise taxes a penny — to fix a structural budget shortfall that has existed in the department since the Great Recession.
Our world-class parks and open spaces deserve a sustainable funding source to make the badly needed improvements and upgrades to everything from fixing the broken swing, adding more park rangers, and creating more programming options in our parks for our residents to access and use. This measure will guarantee improvements and upgrades to every neighborhood park in San Francisco. I hope to earn your support this June!
During the budget process, I secured funding to host the first-ever series of free District 2 Family Movie Nights in the Presidio. As a father of three, I firmly believe we need to provide more family services and programming opportunities to keep our city diverse and strong. After two family movie nights, we have seen the demand grow, with the last movie night bringing out more than 1,000 people. The movie nights will continue through June, and I encourage you to attend our next movie night on Friday, Dec. 11, at the Presidio YMCA.
Last, the Francisco Reservoir Project is moving along in a timely fashion. The agreement between the city and the Francisco Parks Conservancy will be up for approval by the Recreation and Park Commission and Board of Supervisors in early 2016.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016
Next year our office will continue to implement solutions address-ing affordability, homelessness, housing, broadband connectivity, and public safety. We are extremely proud of the work we were able to accomplish together this year and look forward to making 2016 another successful year.