From tackling congestion at one of our major tourist hotspots, to preparing for the next major disaster, to creating a beautiful new open space for families, we’re addressing some of San Francisco’s greatest needs right here at the neighborhood level.
Given the challenges our city faces, it’s easy to lose sight of our progress. But in spite of those who say that the politics make solving our challenges too hard to even attempt, we must remember we can achieve great things when we work together as a community. That’s why, in this month’s column, I’d like to highlight the progress we’re making together.
On Monday, March 16, we’re launching the Lombard Street Site Management Plan to provide much needed relief to the Crooked Street. Ballooning tourism at the site over the past two decades has led to increased congestion and, unfortunately, property crime targeting both tourists and residents. Although our community was dealt a big setback in October with the veto of AB 1605, which would have allowed for the creation of a pricing and reservation system for the Crooked Street, we were undeterred.
Our new plan, which I funded in the most recent city budget, will provide increased staffing, training, and coordination to the street — all without requiring state approval.
Beginning this month, we’re adding mobile staff to the eastern and western halves of the street, where crowd control, auto burglary, and quality-of-life concerns are most acute. In addition, we’re placing stationary staff on Hyde and Leavenworth Streets to usher visitors out of areas unsafe for enjoying our iconic views and taking photographs. And, in response to heightened calls for service during long weekends, staffing is set to double around Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day.
I’ve worked for years with community stakeholders to address ongoing issues and develop the new plan, and we’re all looking forward to alleviating the growing stress on this neighborhood.
On a broader scale, one of my top priorities is to make sure that our community remains a safe place to live, from raising a family to retirement, so — on the 30th anniversary of Loma Prieta — I announced my Resilient District 2 initiative.
The images and videos from Australia’s wildfires shocked us all, and large earthquakes in Puerto Rico have reminded us how important it is for San Francisco to be prepared for the next major natural disaster, whether that’s a wildfire, an earthquake, or even a PG&E power shutoff. That’s why I’ve been working with the Neighborhood Empowerment Network to make sure that all of District 2 — from the Marina to Cathedral Hill, Russian Hill to Seacliff — is ready.
I have always believed that the best way to achieve change is to work with the community. Since last fall, I’ve been convening groups of neighbors, community-serving organizations, and subject-matter experts to build cohesion and resilience in our neighborhoods. The most resilient communities are places where people know and care about their neighbors, and I know our early investments will pay dividends in the next disaster.
Finally, after more than a decade of work, I’m thrilled that later this year we will celebrate the opening of the brand-new Francisco Park on the site of the former Francisco Reservoir.
The reservoir was constructed in 1859 to serve San Francisco’s growing population in the wake of the Gold Rush. Nearly two centuries later, we’re experiencing another population boom, and it has never been more important to invest in our public open spaces.
In 2008, as a legislative aide to former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, I wrote a resolution preserving the former Francisco Reservoir property for public recreation and open space. Over the following 11 years, and with the leadership of former Mayor Mark Farrell, our community pulled together and raised over $20 million to fund the park, and we finally broke ground in 2019.
When Francisco Park opens later this year, we will have transformed nearly five acres of unutilized space into a beautiful neighborhood amenity for all to enjoy, in one of the most densely populated parts of San Francisco. I’m so excited about what we’ve accomplished together, and I can’t wait to bring my kids to Francisco Park!
All of this is not to suggest that we don’t face incredible challenges when it comes to property crime, homelessness, drug abuse, and the skyrocketing cost of living. We do, and facing these challenges requires our intense cooperation. I remain laser-focused on the fact that our criminal justice system is in disarray, the fact that our Police Department is under-staffed, and the fact that we all deserve better.
But we must also be sure to take stock of our progress, the power of community, and the achievements we have realized by working together. By ignoring the negativity and divisiveness at City Hall and insisting on change necessary to live in a city we can all be proud of, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish when we work together.