San Francisco is an amazing city, and I love it. Nowhere in the world can match the character of our neighborhoods, beautiful open spaces, and cultural diversity. For almost two decades, I have been a dedicated member of our community. I am raising my family here, have been an active member of the Cow Hollow Neighborhood Association, and served the community working as a legislative aide to the past two District 2 supervisors. This month, I would like to take some time to reflect upon my last nine months as supervisor and why I am hopeful for the future of San Francisco.
Like you, I have felt the massive changes San Francisco has experienced in the last few years due in part to one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history followed by a growing economy, along with a nationwide opioid epidemic. The city faces many pressing challenges: a property crime epidemic, a homelessness crisis, a rising cost of living, and lack of street cleanliness, just to name a few. These are making it hard for people to stay in San Francisco and raise families here.
I will always remember walking down the street with my daughter and feeling heartbroken after she asked me why a man was living on the street and no one was taking care of him. Unfortunately, this experience is commonplace on our streets today, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s why my work at City Hall is focused on changes to help my family and yours stay in San Francisco.
As your supervisor, I have been able to take the first steps to address these problems. Public safety is one of my top priorities. We need more officers on our streets, and that is why I advocated for and secured 250 additional officers in this year’s budget. SFPD officers and command staff cannot solve the property crime epidemic in our city without additional resources. I have worked relentlessly with our police captains to increase police presence on our streets and target hot spots, and car break-ins are down 20 percent versus last year. I also recently held hearings on safety in our neighborhoods and on public transportation, like Muni and BART. Regardless of the time of day, residents should feel confident they can safely walk through our neighborhoods and ride our buses. The progress I have made is only a start; we still have more work to do.
The city needs to do a better job keeping our streets clean. I advocated for additional investments in street cleaning services, including four staff dedicated to keeping District 2’s busiest corridors clean — such as Union, Chestnut, Lombard, and Fillmore Streets. As part of this investment, I also requested an analysis of street-cleaning services to ensure we are effectively using current funds. Our city needs extra resources to deal with our dirty streets right now. However, we will not fully solve the street cleanliness problem without getting to the root causes of the problem, the thousands of struggling people living on our streets.
The greatest challenge San Francisco faces today is helping the thousands of homeless people, many of whom suffer from severe mental health and substance abuse problems, living on our streets and in shelters. San Francisco has had thousands of homeless for decades, but the problem feels significantly worse in the past couple years.
We need to get homeless people off the streets and into shelter faster. I look forward to working with Mayor Breed to create 1,000 new shelter beds and completing the 1,300 supportive housing units already in the pipeline. The people we see suffering on our streets also need help treating mental health and addiction as well. This is why I requested an audit of funding to nonprofits providing homeless services, am examining the coordination of services for these people between city departments, and will work with Mayor Breed to expand the use of conservatorship. We cannot allow people to enter a hospital only to end up back on the street hours later, and I am determined to ensure people suffering from mental health and substance abuse problems receive sufficient acute medical care before being released from the hospital.
In the past nine months, many people have come to me saying, “I love San Francisco, but I just don’t know anymore. I’m considering moving.” This has to and will change. I have and will continue to push for public safety, accountability, and progress. After serving as chief of staff to supervisors Farrell and Alioto-Pier, fighting for commonsense gun reform with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and advocating for my neighborhood, I know the effort and dedication needed to make substantive progress on challenging issues. I will continue to fight for the reforms needed to make our city safer and more beautiful. I do not know how to quit and will not until San Francisco is the amazing city we know it can be.