Looking back over this past year, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished together. I co-authored legislation mandating the highest affordability requirements in the nation; I pledged to take on the short-term rental industry, and we have passed commonsense regulations, which other cities are now considering to protect their housing stock. I placed a moratorium on converting our valuable single resident occupancy hotels (SROs), the only form of housing for some of our neighborhood residents living on fixed incomes. We passed citywide accessory dwelling unit legislation to create upward of 33,000 potential new units of rent-controlled housing. I’ve taken on “corporados” like Airbnb, the Academy of Art, and Millennium Partners, and challenged government excess and mismanagement. I passed campaign finance reforms to eliminate politicians’ slush funds. And this past November, with the support of 76 percent of the electorate, we passed a $261 million affordable housing preservation bond — without raising taxes. Indeed, Proposition C was the only measure on the ballot that actually addressed our affordable housing crisis — and the only measure requiring a two-thirds majority vote that actually passed. Finally, we roundly repudiated attempts by the San Francisco Association of Realtors locally to halt and eliminate affordable housing in San Francisco by saying no to Propositions P and U with a 2-to-1 vote. San Francisco remains a beacon of sentient thought.
The last year has brought much to celebrate and be grateful for. But last month’s election brought a reminder that there is still much work to be done. Senator Bernie Sanders summed it up in The New York Times last month: “I am saddened, but not surprised, by the outcome. It is no shock to me that millions of people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo. Working families watch as politicians get campaign financial support from billionaires and corporate interests — and then ignore the needs of ordinary Americans.”
Here at home, many of us were turned off by the outrageous amount of outside spending. Special interests poured a record $24 million into California lawmaker races, with the real estate lobby, large corporations, and charter schools flexing their political muscle — a trend projected to continue breaking records. In San Francisco, the dark money from tech titans like Airbnb was primarily used to bolster friendly choices in key supervisorial districts and on ballot measures. Voters struggled to wade through millions of dollars of negative noise and mixed messages. On the one hand, we were told that we could only solve homelessness by passing a regressive sales tax, even as a progressive tech tax revenue measure was shot down at the board. Some $750,000 was spent on demonizing the homeless with the ugly Proposition Q, because certain opportunistic politicians needed a platform for their vitriol.
The outcomes of Nov. 8 require an urgent recommitment to serving our city with a fierce love of community. It means no one gets left behind. It means we must fight harder than ever to protect the neighborhoods that have helped define us, and that we have helped to shape. It means that tech employees must work hand-in-hand with our tenant activists toward defeating the real Scrooges at the top of the corporate pyramid, be it Ron Conway or the Association of Realtors. It means that we have to prioritize San Franciscans over special interests. And in a nation now controlled by a far-right-wing Congress, it means standing united against attempts to punish San Francisco for its values and groundbreaking humanitarian policies.
I pledge to stand with my colleagues and the mayor to defeat just this kind of hateful and divisive assault. I’m ready and
I also wanted to extend a sincere thank you to the community members who worked together to ensure that seven supervisors ultimately supported a $100,000 emergency relief fund for the survivors and victims of the Italian earthquake. Our sister city of Assisi once came to our aid, and San Francisco is now able to support them in their time of need. The Italian consular general reiterated how moved he was at a special dinner at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club last month and asked me to thank our constituents for their generosity.
I also wanted to extend an invitation to come out to Great Star Theater in Chinatown for a special Dec. 8 screening of Company Town if you missed it at the Roxie Theater. We will be hosting a toy drive for the families of the Ping Yuen public housing projects and would love your support. Please contact Sunny Angulo in my office at 415-554-7450 for more info.
Best for the holidays and see you in 2017.