We did it. We made it to another year. San Francisco closed out one of the worst years in modern U.S. history with another shutdown after a statewide surge in Covid-19 cases, but reemerged in 2021 with a renewed sense of hope.
On Jan. 20, we listened to inaugural speeches filled with optimism and compassion from competent and engaged leaders ready to meet this moment of challenge with urgency and commitment. We watched the first woman, Black and South Asian American be sworn in as vice president, my childhood friend and former classmate, Kamala Harris. Within the first hours of taking office, President Biden signed executive orders to rejoin the Paris Accord, halt construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, masks, and issue federal aid to struggling Americans.
SCHOOLS AND HOMES
Here in San Francisco, we were encouraged that President Biden signed an executive order committing to 100 percent FEMA reimbursement for our shelter-in-place hotel rooms for the homeless through September, which will keep homeless individuals safely sheltering in place while the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing finalizes a transition plan into more permanent supportive housing. I’m proud that three of those housing sites will be located in District 3, and that we are close to opening the city’s first Transitional Age Youth Navigation Center in Lower Polk, even amid pandemic setbacks. In addition, the recent announcement that San Francisco’s Covid-19 reproductive rate is back under 1.0 (at 0.99) means that we’ve successfully slowed the spread and will soon start reopening under California’s guidelines. The city has launched three high-volume vaccination sites, and pending supply of doses from the state, is hoping to vaccinate all of San Francisco by June.
When the SFUSD administration delayed finalizing a plan for phasing in a reopening of our schools, city officials, parents, and teachers banded together to demand reasonable movement based on science. Meanwhile, here in San Francisco our community-based organizations have stepped up to staff learning hubs from Chinatown to the Tenderloin. I am grateful to our Department of Children, Youth and Their Families; Recreation and Park; library staff; and afterschool programs that are doing double-duty to keep our kids safely engaged and learning.
With national press sounding the alarm about the imminent extinction of “America’s Chinatown,” the city has stepped in with emergency bridge funds to pay shuttered restaurants to make nutritious, culturally appropriate meals (over 300,000 of them over the next eight weeks) to feed low-income families and seniors sheltering in our Chinatown SRO hotels. Chinatown Community Development Center is fundraising to expand the emergency Feed and Fuel program, and you can support by donating at chinatowncdc.org. Thank you to those of you who have been ordering takeout and patronizing the legacy businesses in Chinatown, especially over the holidays. This is our Chinatown, and we’re not going to let it vanish.
I also want to thank those of you who joined our fundraising efforts to support the crabbing community that was burned out of their shed operations at Pier 45 at the start of the pandemic. We were able to raise almost $75,000 in private donations from loyal San Franciscans who weren’t going to let our beautiful crabbing community go under. With your support, they were able to procure new crab pots and prep them in time for Dungeness season. Please visit Fisherman’s Wharf or our amazing family restaurants in North Beach to get your Dungeness while it lasts.
Finally, I also want to thank the voters of District 3 again for electing me to serve a fifth and final term as supervisor. President Walton has appointed me to continue serving on the Land Use and Transportation Committee, as well as chair the Rules Committee. If you are interested in serving on a public board, commission, committee or task force, you can find a list of citywide vacancies and guidance on applying at sfbos.org.
It’s been such an incredibly difficult year. And we made it through together, like the City That Knows How, like the city that I know and love. Thank you for sticking together and sticking it out. We can and will recover, if we can keep this up.
See you in the neighborhood.