What is the status of the Lombard Street project?
Lombard Street is one of the main gateways to San Francisco. A few years ago I kicked off a community process to reenvision Lombard Street and push our government to dedicate extra resources to the street in advance of Caltrans’ scheduled repaving in 2018. Specifically, we are looking at beautification, business development opportunities, and pedestrian safety upgrades.
Lombard is one of the main corridors on the city’s High Injury Network, as every year there are multiple crashes and pedestrian injuries, which are only getting worse as our roads get more congested. For months, our office has been closely collaborating with the SFMTA, Caltrans, the Office of Economic Workforce Development, and the Public Utilities Commission to implement needed safety improvements along this corridor.
The SFMTA Board of Directors has jurisdiction over the project and will be first hearing this issue in mid-January or February. If the project is approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors, near-term safety installations will begin in winter 2016 through spring 2017, the sidewalk and utility upgrades in winter 2017 through spring 2018, and Caltrans would begin the road resurfacing in winter 2018 through spring 2019.
For more information on the Lombard Street Safety Project, please visit sfmta.com/projects-planning/projects/lombard-street-safety-project.
What will be Aaron Peskin’s impact on the Board of Supervisors?
With the November election now behind us, we welcome a new colleague to the Board of Supervisors to represent the neighborhoods of District 3 with former Board President Aaron Peskin regaining his previous seat. Much has been made about a “progressive” and “moderate” divide that some felt has existed on the board before his election. But I can tell you from firsthand experience that all of our colleagues care equally about the city and the districts they represent and don’t let political labels stand in the way of doing what they think is right for their district and our city. One of the biggest lessons I learned early on at the Board of Supervisors was how to work across the proverbial aisle with my colleagues, and I look forward to partnering and working with him on issues and projects that are important to our city and neighborhoods — especially since we share district borders.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges that people in San Francisco will face in the upcoming year?
San Francisco is experiencing a strong and growing local economy, and low unemployment, but that success has also brought many challenges for San Franciscans of all stripes. I believe three issues will continue to dominate next year.
First, housing costs and the cost of living will continue to be a challenge for many San Franciscans. While December saw some softening, the San Francisco housing market remains hot. Decades of under-producing housing has exacerbated the impacts that many San Franciscans are feeling. We are doing everything in our power at City Hall to add more housing at all income levels to help keep pace with the housing demands that we continue to see and feel, but this issue was not created overnight, and it cannot be solved overnight, so I anticipate housing to continue to dominate headlines.
Second, homelessness will continue to be a challenge — both for those experiencing homelessness and for our city residents and visitors who are impacted. While our homeless numbers have not statistically increased, every neighborhood in San Francisco is feeling the effects, as traditional encampments in SOMA are being displaced due to new construction. In the Marina specifically, we have a growing issue around the Marina Safeway, Moscone Recreation Center, and Chestnut Street that I have dedicated significant budget resources toward, and we hope to see significant progress in the New Year. Despite what people are feeling in the neighborhoods, I am encouraged by our progress behind the scenes and pledge to continue to make homeless a top priority throughout my tenure in office.
Last, I believe all of the ancillary effects of San Francisco’s growing population will start to bubble up in 2016. From road congestion to MUNI overcrowding to overcrowded parks to challenges getting a restaurant reservation — these issues are starting to percolate across our city. In coming years we are going to have a significant discussion about a vision for the future of San Francisco, and I expect these and other related issues to play a significant role.
I was really disturbed by the death of Mario Woods at the hands of San Francisco police officers. What can the city do to balance police protection and individual safety?
The tragic death of Mario Woods and the accompanying videos released documenting his death have impacted many San Franciscans, and I know I was not alone in finding them disturbing. Our entire city must know that lethal force at the hands of our police department is an absolute last resort — it cannot be any other way.
Our brave men and women in the police department put their lives on the line every day that they put on their uniform and they dedicate their lives and profession to protecting and building trust with all of our communities. I believe that our police department is one of the most forward thinking, progressive forces in the nation, but we must never be afraid to reexamine current policies in the interest of public protection and individual safety.
With that being said, San Francisco deserves nothing less than a full and transparent investigation into the circumstances and facts surrounding the death of Mario Woods. I know our chief, our mayor, and all of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors support the independent investigations that are currently underway, and I personally believe that our police need more, not less, nonlethal options to deal with dangerous situations that occur on our city streets.