Amy Farah Weiss Mayoral Questionnaire

Please describe why you are running for office.

We cannot stand by and wait for established politicians to do the right thing when City Hall has repeatedly stalled on addressing the encampment crisis, protecting our residents from displacement, developing affordable housing for our workforce, and supporting a balanced climate. We must take responsibility for our City, neighborhoods, communities, and planet and create an actionable and sustainable vision for becoming an Epicenter of Equity with a “Fair Share” economy:

  1. Transitioning 1,000+ people off of the streets into Safe Organized Spaces this year
  2. Balancing the budget and lifting all boats with a “tighten from the top” approachthat bolsters the base (especially during lean budget cycles)
  3. Building thousands of affordable housing units for our low-to-mid incomeworkforce, residents, and families while supporting small property owners and thebuilding trades.
  4. Making our streets and BART stations safer, cleaner, and more vibrant through jobcreation for mental health workers, artists/musicians, and underemployed residents
  5. Supporting economic justice and reparations to sustain and grow our AfricanAmerican community.
  6. Making SF a state leader in equitable access to cannabis for harm reduction andhealing
  7. Ramping up climate justice mobilization and CleanPowerSF in support of 100%renewable energy
  8. Investing in a city-wide broadband and Wi-Fi network to provide high speed,affordable internet access for all SF residents
  9. Move San Francisco forward as the first major city in the United States to implementa public bank
  10. Using technology to support voter engagement and open source democracy
  11. Creating an actionable local strategy to regulate the number and behavior of TNCs(Uber/Lyft) while developing a North Star of a locally-regulated platform that is pro- driver and pro-passenger.

Please describe your qualifications for office:

For 20 years I have worked in service toward individual, organizational, and collective well-being as an educator, service provider, strategist, community organizer, and nonprofit Founder/Director. I have work experience in the fields of mental health, transitional housing, homelessness, harm reduction, youth leadership/development, anti-displacement, sustainable business practices, neighborhood development, and organizational development. I know how to take a concept such as “end homelessness” or “develop affordable housing” and collaboratively implement community-focused solutions with a budget, timeline, and measurable outcomes.

After graduating with an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Organizational Development and Training from SF State in 2010, I developed a service-learning course in SF State’s MPA Program to support strategic planning, communications, and evaluation for nonprofit organizations and graduate students through SF State’s Public Administration Department.

In 2011, I joined neighborhood activists to prevent local businesses from being displaced by a Chase Bank and learned how to shape City Hall’s guiding policies for development as an advocate for social and economic equity. I founded Neighbors Developing Divisadero as a nonprofit, public-benefit corporation to develop a “strategic yes” to inclusive, enriching, and sustainable development.

My solutions-focused 2015 Mayoral campaign inspired over 79,500 San Franciscans to choose me as their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice candidate. After the election I founded
the Saint Francis Homelessness Challenge to develop and pilot community-integrated solutions to San Francisco’s encampment and shelter/affordable housing-shortage crisis and served as a Board Member and Operations Manager at San Francisco Community Land Trust. I have spent the past 2+ years repeatedly reaching out to City Hall, including my fellow candidates who are on the Board of Supervisors, to align together on policies to address the encampment crisis with an actionable plan to no avail

 

What are the three main issues you will focus on if elected?

  1. End the encampment crisis by creating a new rung on the housing ladder! Ensure that NO ONE is living on our streets without a safe organized space to belong in community that meets essential human needs. I have an actionable plan to transition 1,000+ people off of the streets into 20- 50 community-integrated Transitional Villages in the least restrictive, most autonomous setting possible for each individual in a way that increases both individual and community well-being, health, and safety at a fraction of the cost of the City’s current $30 million budget for SFPD and DPW response to encampments.
  2. Activate Empty Units and Develop Affordable Housing! Develop a comprehensive program through MOHCD that supports activation of empty units by 1) Expanding the DAHLIA system to create a tenant pool of SF workforce/families, 2) Working with small property owners to activate vacant units if property owners rent to SF workers at a maximum of 30% of income, and 3) Developing a vacancy tax/impact fee
    • Develop a program through MOHCD to support the financing and construction of hundreds to thousands of ADU’s (additional dwelling units within the existing building envelop) specifically for SF’s workforce and families with SFUSD students at no more than 30% of income while simultaneously supporting the building trades.
    • Develop complimentary financing mechanisms and subsidies at the state/local levels to include 50% affordable in up-zoned development (stratified at 15%-120% AMI) in alignment with our ABAG/RHNA goals
  3. Increase public health and safety through unarmed community programming. Increase funding for community-integrated unarmed crisis de-escalation programming (e.g. Concrn), arts and culture programming that supports community engagement and “eyes on the streets”, and bathroom access and street cleaning services (with economic opportunity for employment-challenged residents, e.g. Downtown Streets Team) in high- incident neighborhoods.

Housing and Homelessness

Do you believe San Francisco is facing an affordability and displacement crisis? If so, what do you think caused it and how would you address it?

The first tech boom of the late 1990s/early 2000s displaced thousands of low-income residents and tenants with imbalanced job growth. Unfortunately City leadership paved the way for a similar pattern after the global financial collapse of the late 2000’s, which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of low-income residents. San Francisco was at a crossroads in 2011 and we missed an opportunity to build up the base by developing creative strategies to support economic stabilization and address commercial vacancies on Market Streets. Now we have the opportunity to strategically and sustainably develop our economy and housing stock as a balanced system.

As Mayor, my housing priorities will be to:

  • Ensure that NO ONE is living on our streets without a safe organized place to belong in community that meets essential human needs.
  • Develop a comprehensive program through MOHCD that supports the activation of units that are being kept empty.
  • Re-introduce and promote David Chiu’s Right of First Refusal legislation – which CCHO was recently working on under the name of “Community Opportunity to Purchase Act” – to enable nonprofit housing providers to partner with the City’s Small Sites Program and Housing Accelerator Fund and acquire properties before they can be put on the market.
  • Develop a program through MOHCD to support the financing and construction of hundreds to thousands of ADU’s.
  • Work with affordable housing developers, Department Heads, and interdepartmental staff to implement the MOHCD-facilitated working group recommendations for streamlining the permitting process in order to build the tens of thousands of projects that have already been entitled by the City.
  • Develop complimentary financing mechanisms and subsidies at the state/local levels to include 50% affordable in up-zoned development (stratified at 15%-120% AMI) in alignment with our ABAG/RHNA goals.

What is your opinion on the zoning regulations in San Francisco? Do you believe that dense, urban infill development is environmentally beneficially?

I was happy to see that City Hall passed new legislation in mid-2017 to allow for additional dwelling units to be permitted City-wide without a conditional use permit in RH1 zoning areas.

I support dense, urban infill development IF it has sufficient inclusionary affordable housing (which we need to create new financing mechanisms/subsidies for) and truly has an accompanying transit-first plan that doesn’t lead to greater traffic congestion.

 

What neighborhoods do you think are best for the creation of new housing in San Francisco?

I support housing development in all neighborhoods, with a focus on transit corridors and the 37,000 parcels City-wide that can accommodate an additional dwelling unit within the building envelop.

Do you support inclusionary housing requirements for new housing developments in San Francisco? If so, would you support raising the inclusionary rate higher than the current agreement reached by the Board of Supervisors?

I am a proponent of developing new financing mechanisms to require 50% affordable housing inclusionary, especially for upzoned projects, with stratified amounts of 15-120% AMI. This is both economically feasible AND important for a healthy worker and resident eco-system.

There are quite a few ways forward for us to capture revenue for affordable housing development to finance and subsidize the 50% affordable requirement, including California’s multi-billion dollar budget surplus, the drastic decrease in federal corporate tax rates from 35% to 21%, and the upcoming state ballot initiative for Prop 13 reform. We should also be ensuring that every candidate for Governor is on board with investing considerable state resources into affordable housing development (as well as following in the footsteps of North Dakota and creating a State Bank that allows us to invest in our values statewide). My preference would be to create a program similar to San Francisco’s MOHCD Small Sites Program at the State level that provides zero-to-low interest loans to ensure that developers are able to pencil out a reasonable ROI. I also recently spoke with a tax credit and affordable housing expert at a SPUR event about the potential to create State Tax Credits that allow financing for stratified affordable (i.e. ranges of affordability from 15%-120% so that the project is financially feasible, rather than restrictions from Federal Tax Credits that only allow support for projects that are 60% AMI or less).

At the local level we can: 1) Work with pension funds – including SFERS that has hundreds of millions of dollars that they are poised to divest from fossil fuels, 2) Promote a public bank, and 3) Pass legislation to capture revenue from commercial properties for affordable housing development.

 

Do you support allowing safe injection sites in San Francisco? Would you support a declaration of a state of emergency regarding public drug use on San Francisco’s streets?

Yes, I support safe injection sites in SF. Drug addiction should be treated as a health and mental health issue and approached with a harm reduction model while working to stop the sale of meth and opioids on the black market.

On a related note, I worked at the Santa Cruz AIDS Project in the mid-2000s and in addition to being the outreach and education coordinator, volunteer coordinator, and food bank coordinator, I also worked shifts at the needle-exchange program. I have worked in the medical cannabis field as well and believe that equitable access to high quality medicinal cannabis and an emphasis on mindful consumption is also part of the solution for our opioid epidemic.

 

Economy & Jobs

Have you opposed any new major construction projects (Treasure Island, Shipyard, Parkmerced, Mission Rock, etc) in San Francisco over the past 10 years? If so, why?

I opposed the destruction of rent-controlled units at Parkmerced.

The Shipyard development should be halted until we are certain that we are not exposing residents to dangerous levels of toxicity, especially after recent findings that almost half of toxic cleanup at Hunters Point shipyard is questionable or has been faked.

 

Do you support a citywide mandated Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for public work or improvement projects, and if so do you support it at the threshold of over $1 million?

Yes. We need to invest in creating pathways to prosperity for local residents by growing the building trades and creating local jobs with living wages.

 

What do you propose as a solution to the problem of rising rents for local businesses?

As Mayor I will work with the City Attorney’s office as well as local/statewide advocacy organizations and legislators to explore available options for rent stabilization for local businesses. I will also work to develop policies that disincentivize property owners from maintaining empty storefronts with incentives for working with OEWD to activate storefronts with short-to-mid-term renewable leases and insurance while their property seeks a long-term tenant.

 

Do you support more economic development and job growth? Do you support the creation of more office space in San Francisco?

Since 2010, SF added jobs eight times faster than housing, which has led to massive displacement. I support balanced economic development and job growth that caters to our existing residents with pathways to prosperity for graduates of SFUSD, CCSF, and SF State. We cannot continue to create office space without linking it to local hire requirements. We must stop the displacement of PDR and ensure that 1986’ Proposition M is not undone in a way that exacerbates our housing crisis.

 

Do you support the recent compromise at the Board of Supervisors regarding retail cannabis licenses? Do you support allowing more retail cannabis licenses in San Francisco?

Yes. I was very impressed with the activists that led the charge to ensure that retail cannabis licenses will be reserved for equity orgs for the foreseeable future.

As Mayor I will work with the cannabis community and neighborhoods to ensure that our retail and consumption-site licenses promote mindful consumption and a career pathway for residents with employment barriers.

 

Which, if any, local tax measures have you supported in the past? Are there any you’d support or advocate for moving forward?

I support local tax measures such as the June 2018 Parcel Tax and June 2018 commercial gross receipts tax measures to increase salaries for SFUSD teachers and childcare workers. Real Estate sales and transfer taxes have also been valuable tools to keep our budget balanced in lean times as well as support important programming such as free City College.

I am a strong advocate for Prop 13 reform in order to make corporations pay their fair share of property tax.

As Mayor I will work with diverse stakeholders, including our large local and regional corporations, to capture revenue for affordable housing development, education, mental health services, and affordable wages in light of the drastic federal tax reduction from 35% to 21%.

 

According to the Brookings Institution, income inequality, has reached a point in San Francisco whereby the gap between rich and poor residents has been growing faster than in any other city in the nation. Explain what you believe the cause(s) to be and what do you see as short or long term remedies.

As mentioned previously, City leadership failed San Francisco residents by passing a Twitter Tax break and changing the tax code in order to cater to a certain type of economic growth at the expense of displacing hundreds of thousands of San Francisco residents.

As Mayor I will help ensure that CCSF and SF State programming and certification programs are directly linked to career opportunities for local hiring programs. These could include careers in renewable energy (CleanPowerSF), Health Care, the cannabis industry, building trades, childcare, technology, healing our encampment/mental health/addiction crisis, etc. I will work as Mayor to ensure that CCSF and SF State graduates are qualified candidates for positions in these local industries and are given priority in the screening and selection process.

I support revenue measures such as the June 2018 Parcel Tax and June 2018 commercial gross receipts tax measures to increase salaries for SFUSD teachers and childcare workers.

Transportation

Do you support the expansion of bus lanes and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on existing major city streets?

I am a low-income resident who solely rode a bike, walked, took Muni and BART for my transportation needs for nearly ten years in San Francisco. But last year I also started driving a truck for work and can testify firsthand that the red lanes and lack of turns on Mission Street make it undesirable for drivers. Red lanes are popping up throughout the City and are definitely causing pain to drivers of private vehicles, especially with the number of TNCs. But if we are truly to get to a transit first goal we must often make decisions that create challenges for the status quo. For instance, it’s hard to imagine the City and Bay Area without BART, but back in the 60s/70s there was a huge amount of pushback against BART development as a form of gentrification and displacement (which has merits in its arguments, because of the communities of color who were directly impacted by the original development).

As Mayor I would like to explore the development of a publicly/non-profit managed shared fleet of cars that would be required for new developments to discourage individual car ownership. City Care Share, the only non-profit car sharing service, recently merged with Get-Around, and we are in the infancy stages of bike share, electric bike share, and scooter sharing.

 

What is your opinion on ride-sharing services (Uber, Lyft, Chariot, Scoot)?

The City has horribly mismanaged the taxi industry and subsequent regulations of the tens of thousands of TNCs that congest our streets. Although we are somewhat hamstrung by the CPUC’s currently authority over TNC regulations, we should be exploring ways to target TNCs for behaviors that increase risk for cyclists and pedestrians. A recent 3-month SFPD report in 2017 showed that TNC drivers accounted for the bulk of moving violations for obstructing bike lanes, driving in bike lanes, illegal u-turns in business districts, illegal use of transit lanes, and failure to yield for pedestrians. Our north star should be the development of a locally-regulated pro- worker and pro-passenger transit platform that supports our Vision Zero goals.

 

Do you support policies to incentivize the use of modes of transportation other than private vehicles? If so, which policies in particular?

I support policies that incentivize the use of public transit and bike riding. San Francisco should look into programming that makes up for the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that now prevent tax-free bicycle commuting reimbursements and employer deductions for tax-free qualified transportation fringe benefits.

As Mayor I will also look into the feasibility of developing a locally-managed pro- driver/pro-passenger transit platform as well as expanding shared car ownership programs at new developments in order to discourage private car ownership.

Quality of Life

San Francisco currently has the lowest percentage of children of any major city in the United States. What would you do to make San Francisco more hospitable to families and children?

In order to make San Francisco more hospitable to families and children we must develop adequate levels of affordable housing, invest in our public education, and ensure that our streets are safe for everyone by investing in unarmed “eyes on the streets” and crisis de- escalation programming.

 

What will you do to promote greater public safety in San Francisco?

If I become Mayor we will have the opportunity to truly reform the Police Department through new appointments to the Police Commission and direct engagement and directives to the Chief of Police with a focus on de-escalation and full implementation of CIT, the creation of complimentary unarmed stewards of peace, harm reduction, and a restorative justice framework that aims to heal a history of racial and economic oppression. I look forward to getting up to speed on the current state of proposed reforms and am truly excited about the Mayor’s ability to support transformative healing and change through oversight of SFPD.

Since 2015 I have been promoting the development of an unarmed “Stewards of Peace” program as a complimentary arm of our public safety efforts, whether housed within or outside of the SFPD. I want our police force to be nationally renowned as de-escalation experts.

I will increase funding for community-integrated crisis de-escalation, mental health, and arts and culture programming in high-incident neighborhoods.

Recently there has been an increase in property crimes and “smash and grab” car burglaries. How would you address this issue?

I have heard my fellow candidates talk about pouring more money into the coffers of DPW and SFPD to address the symptoms of economic and racial injustice, but I know that we have increased funds already without getting the desired outcomes. I offer a comprehensive and outcomes-driven approach to healing the root causes of car break-ins. We can lower the amount of car burglaries by investing in unarmed “eyes on the streets” programming, addressing our shelter shortage crisis, investing in economic opportunities and pathways to prosperity for SFUSD and CCSF graduates, and putting a focus on investigation work via SFPD to target crime syndicates and high-incident areas.

 

Do you support allowing SFPD officers to carry tasers?

No. SFPD should be putting an emphasis on fully implementing crisis de-escalation methods before receiving an additional weapon. There has been only one article in the media comparing candidate responses on an issue thus, and it happens to be on taser reform: http://www.sfexaminer.com/mayoral-hopefuls-split-whether-arm-sfpd-officers- tasers/

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