Please describe why you are running for office.
I am running for mayor because I am a dedicated, public servant who is heartbroken at the current state of our city. As a born and raised San Franciscan who raised a family here, I know just how special our city is. I could not tolerate another day of seeing long-time San Franciscans being pushed out of the city because they can no longer afford to live here. I could not tolerate another day of seeing tent encampments in the shadows of skyscrapers containing the most influential and successful companies in the world. I could not tolerate seeing needles in playgrounds next to children. I’m running for Mayor because San Francisco deserves better than the status quo, and I know I can do it.
Please describe your qualifications for office.
As President of the Board of Supervisors, I wrote the Sanctuary City Law, the Needle Exchange legislation, passed the first medicinal marijuana law, authored the first tobacco-free legislation in the country and created a blue ribbon committee to keep the Giants here in San Francisco.
As the chair of the Ten Year Plan on Homelessness, I brought together groups as ideologically far apart as the Coalition on Homelessness and the Hotel Council to put into effect a plan that helped move 4,850 San Franciscans off the street and into permanent, supportive housing.
I have the experience, passion and integrity to do this job and do it well. My experience is unmatched in this race and I will rise above the divisive politics in City Hall that have prevented us from finding forward thinking solutions on the challenges that affect us all.
What are the three main issues you will focus on if elected?
Homelessness, Housing, and Neighborhood Safety.
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?
Anyone would have to be blind to answer negatively to the first part of this question. I’ve seen my own friends fleeing the city, I’ve made the loss of our distinctly San Franciscan culture a cornerstone of my campaign. The reason is that we have not met our responsibilities in constructing new housing to match our record of job creation, both as a city and as a region. To correct that I would honor Mayor Lee’s commitment to build 5,000 new units per year while also pushing for more development. Particularly housing for low and middle income residents. Providing more middle income housing will enable our teachers, families, and first responders to live in the city where they work and remove an enormous source of stress from their daily lives.
We need to build housing and expand public transit with coordinated and intelligent strategy. We must expand transit access when building new housing. We must be open to building new housing by prioritizing density over raising height limits on new construction. In doing so, we will make serious progress in creating more affordability and reducing displacement.
What is your opinion on the zoning regulations in San Francisco? Do you believe that dense, urban infill development is environmentally beneficially?
Absolutely. It’s impossible to both believe in mitigating climate change by reducing our reliance upon carbon and not fighting for denser urban living environments.
What neighborhoods do you think are best for the creation of new housing in San Francisco?
For too long, we have asked the Eastern neighborhoods to bear the load of all development in San Francisco. We need to start prioritizing development along transit corridors in the Western half of the city like Geary St, 19th Ave and West Portal for example.
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?
Yes to the first, no to the second. We must not take any action that makes it harder to build here in San Francisco. We are experiencing a full-fledged housing crisis, and the answer to that is building more, not less.
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?
As the author of the original Needle Exchange legislation, I am strongly in support of safe injection sites in San Francisco. However, I think we need to return to the original intent of the law, which is that it is an exchange. In recent administrations, we have prioritized the distribution of clean needles, which is important, over the collection of used needles. The result, we see scattered all over our streets every day.
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?
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, I have always been a champion for organized labor, because I recognize that collective bargaining is what guarantees a high quality of life for our middle class.
What do you propose as a solution to the problem of rising rents for local businesses?
City Hall has not done enough to combat the unreasonable rents that are being demanded by landlords and the high vacancy rates we see along our merchant corridors. As mayor, I will bring together members of the Board of Supervisors, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, local merchant organizations, small business owners, and landlords to combat those two issues. I will be open to exploring changes to zoning which will allow different types of businesses to move into spaces currently zoned only for retail establishments. I think we should also take a harder look at establishing a vacancy tax on commercial properties. If considered, we must ensure that any vacancy tax established is an incentive, rather than a punitive measure. We should also consider tax incentives for landlords who support local businesses. Finally, we need to hold the Department of Building Inspection accountable and ensure they are working with building owners to bring more habitable spaces to market.
Do you support more economic development and job growth? Do you support the creation of more office space in San Francisco?
Yes and yes. However, I will insist on constructing dense environmentally friendly housing and modernizing our public transit systems to serve the workers who will occupy any newly created office space. We cannot have one without the other.
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 and yes. The cannabis industry is here to stay and the city must ensure new businesses are supported, but also ensure those businesses exist within a regulatory framework that is both fair and in the best interest of the public. We also must be careful to not regulate the cannabis industry and the income it provides away from San Francisco and to a different municipality.
Which, if any, local tax measures have you supported in the past? Are there any you’d support or advocate for moving forward?
During the past few election cycles I have supported local tax measures I felt were necessary to move the city forward (see below).
In Nov. 2016 I supported Prop A – School Bonds, Prop K – General Sales Tax, Prop V – Soda Tax, and regionally Prop RR – Bart Bond. June 2016 – Prop A – Public Health and Safety Bond
Nov. 2015 – Prop A – Affordable Housing Bond
Nov. 2014 – Prop A – Transit Bond and Prop E – Soda Tax
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.
The major cause of current income inequality is the high cost and lack of housing. There are other factors in play, but San Franciscans disproportionately spend more of their incomes on housing than on any other expenditure in their lives. If the costs of rents came down, income inequality would be reduced. To remedy the issue we must commit to building more housing of all types. We can make significant strides in alleviating the affordability crisis and income inequality by building more housing at all levels.
As mayor, I will honor Mayor Lee’s commitment to build 5,000 new units per year. Particularly housing for low and middle income residents. Providing more middle income housing will enable our teachers, families, and first responders to live in the city where they work and remove an enormous source of stress from their daily lives.
We need to build housing and expand public transit with coordinated and intelligent strategy. We must expand transit access when building new housing. We must be open to building new housing by prioritizing density over raising height limits on new construction.
Do you support the expansion of bus lanes and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on existing major city streets?
Yes, we need more efficient transit infrastructure to connect all parts of our city and allow for equitable growth in all districts.
What is your opinion on ride-sharing services (Uber, Lyft, Chariot, Scoot)?
First, we need to recognize the fact that these companies are using our infrastructure without paying their fair share. And this is a uniquely San Franciscan problem! Other municipalities are having no issues leveraging fees and taxes for using their roads, why shouldn’t we? That revenue can go to creating protected bike lanes, funding projects like Better Market Street and others. But we also need to come up with policies that allow those private companies to share our infrastructure, such as designated drop-off and pick-up carve-outs that would eliminate dangerous double-parking and congestion.
Do you support policies to incentivize the use of modes of transportation other than private vehicles? If so, which policies in particular?
Yes, see above. Also, the biggest incentive to get people to give up their private automobiles is the creation and maintenance of a 21st century public transit system. We must begin to put that in place with a rapid expansion of BRT lanes and ferry service, followed by new subways and at least one additional BART tube. The system is broken and building nw transit is mired in red tape. As mayor I will promote policies and regulations that cut the red tape so San Franciscans can get around the city without the use of a private automobile. Build it and they will come.
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?
As the only candidate for Mayor who has raised a family in the city I take this question very seriously. There is no doubt that we need to make the city more affordable and hospitable for families. One way is to further incentivize developers to take advantage of the option to build dense family housing under HomeSF. Other avenues for creating a more family-friendly city are the creation of modern transit systems and additional open space. As mayor I will get behind all three in order to retain and attract more families.
What will you do to promote greater public safety in San Francisco?
I will ensure we increase the number of police officers in our communities. In addition to supporting SFPD’s mission I will work with the department’s leadership and community leaders to bridge the gap between them in order to create trust and working relationships those groups. Increasing foot, bike, and mounted patrol officers throughout our neighborhoods will also help to build trust while lowering crime rates.
Recently there has been an increase in property crimes and “smash and grab” car burglaries. How would you address this issue?
Over the past few years, we have seen a significant uptick in car break-ins and property crime and there is no end in sight. The SFPD needs to put measures in place to reduce crime such as more security cameras (city owned and privately owned), adding more officers on foot patrol, bicycles, and more mounted police.
I will also put pressure on the District Attorney to prosecute the criminals terrorizing our neighborhoods and work with the City Attorney to find ways to hold criminals accountable with civil penalties.
Do you support allowing SFPD officers to carry tasers?
Yes. Moreover, I am the only candidate who has been consistent on this issue since it was first mentioned. Matched with proper education and training, we must provide our law enforcement agencies with all the tools we can to help them do what we ask them to do: protect and serve.