The holiday season is the perfect time to give thanks for all we are fortunate enough to have and recommit to the goals that will move us forward. I am thankful to be raising my family in San Francisco, to work with friends and neighbors who care deeply about our community, and to represent such a vibrant, inspiring, and engaged part of our city. With that in mind, this season is a chance to reflect.
Before we get into everything the new year will bring, the elephant in the room is the fact that the makeup of the Board of Supervisors will change, and we will also have a new district attorney in 2020. Although I did not support the incoming District 5 supervisor, nor the district attorney-elect, I remain committed to my style of politics, which is grounded in civility, kindness, and empathy. I will continue to respectfully hold space for those with different opinions and will approach issues with an open mind. I will, however, be unafraid and unequivocal when advocating for policies and priorities that keep our neighborhoods safe, and I will do everything in my power to advocate for the resources to make that a reality.
I’ve written about public safety in this column before, so when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, it should come as no surprise that continuing my advocacy for public safety tops the list. I’m grateful for our achievements over the past two years — together, we have successfully fought to add 250 additional police officers to our force, and we have protected over $1 million in the Police Department’s budget to keep foot patrols on our streets. But a quick walk around the block makes it clear that our work is not done yet — not even close.
In 2020, we can look forward to finally reviewing and acting upon the SFPD staffing study which I expect, will show us what we already know: The Police Department is under-resourced. While it is clear from the conditions of our streets, parks, and open spaces that we need more police officers, this study will give us another tool in advocating for increased police staffing levels. I am confident that Mayor London Breed will continue to support our law enforcement needs, but if City Hall continues to resist fully staffing the department most responsible for public safety, I am not afraid to take the fight to the ballot.
We must work to increase police staffing levels while making sure that police officers have the tools they need to do their jobs. This year, I voted against legislation at the Board of Supervisors to ban the use of facial recognition technology in San Francisco, because I thought it could have been another useful tool for preventing and solving crimes. Yes, there were potential issues with the technology, but the outright ban was a disservice to law enforcement and residents.
Nevertheless, anyone who has seen the police cars our officers are driving around in knows that we cannot lose sight of the basics, either. Next year’s city budget process will provide another opportunity to advocate for cars that our officers can patrol in, rather than take back and forth to the repair shop.
I also look forward to continuing to clean up our streets in the new year. This year, we are finally installing new, much needed trash cans in our merchant corridors and hotspots, and I will continue to press Public Works to make sure they are maintained to the highest standards. While others have put forward proposals that would only increase spending and layers of bureaucracy, I know we can address the root causes of our dirty streets and relieve the symptoms we see every day, without simply adding red tape.
In large part, this means addressing unacceptable street behavior. Instead of layering new commissions on top of new advisory bodies, I support Mayor Breed’s proposal for a measure on the 2020 ballot that will provide funding for mental health resources. This bond would provide funding for capital and ongoing expenses such as building and maintaining new mental health beds, for example — without raising taxes.
But anyone who has seen the vast sums that San Francisco spends on addressing the conditions on our streets knows it’s not just about money. I will keep fighting for additional tools, like expanded conservatorship laws, that will help provide the right type of care for those who cannot care for themselves, because it will never be compassionate to let people die on the streets.
Finally, I am committed to improving the experience of owning and operating small businesses. We have heard too many stories of people who decided to leave the city — or even abandon a great idea for a small business before it opens — because of the difficulties imposed by city bureaucracy. San Francisco is a challenging environment for so many reasons, but rather than accepting this and then making it even more difficult, we should do everything we can to make it easier to own and operate small businesses.
That’s why this fall I’ve been working with the city attorney’s office to craft a Small Business Bill of Rights, with the goal of reducing fees and administrative obstacles that make it nearly impossible to own or operate small businesses. I have had enough of vacant storefronts, store-closing sales, and — most important — feeling like we’re losing what makes San Francisco special.
In 2020, we will not let what we see on our streets, the too often glacial pace of change, or the results of one election get in the way. We will not stop fighting for the city that we know and love. We will not let up.
When I became supervisor, I made a commitment to be your neighborhood voice at City Hall, to cut through the noise and deliver results on the issues that matter most. I am proud of what we have accomplished together so far. This year, as we reflect on the people and communities we are so thankful for, we must resolve to make next year even better. We must also resolve to acknowledge that we won’t always agree with one another, and when we do disagree, we will do so respectfully — we will prove that civility in public discourse is another thing San Franciscans refuse to give up on.