The Sunset shows up when it counts
Since our last column, our world has again changed. The murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis has inspired an uprising across the nation and powerful protests calling for justice and solidarity. This is a long-overdue reckoning with the ways that our systems of law and order too often are also systems of racist violence and oppression. San Francisco is not immune to this, and George Floyd is one of too many lives lost to systemic racism, the same system that took the lives of Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Oscar Grant, and countless more.
In some ways this time we’re living in is unprecedented, with a global pandemic, social unrest, and an economic crisis meeting at once. In many other ways, this is not new, and the history of racism and inequities in health and prosperity is long and deep.
As we work to heal, we must address the root causes of this pain and suffering, and where our economy and systems of health, law and order are unequal and unjust, we must work together to change them, to imagine and build a fairer and safer future – for all of us.
And the Sunset has risen to this moment with historic actions, as thousands took to the streets, marching peacefully on the Great Highway or in organized bike caravans on 41st Avenue, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. These unprecedented actions show that our neighborhood shows up when it counts, and that these streets have taken on a new and important role in our civic lives.
Meanwhile, the City had to postpone some plans for re-opening as new COVID-19 transmissions rebounded and grew. We must redouble our efforts and our shared commitment to beat this threat, together, while making every effort to help workers and businesses, tenants and homeowners, to weather this storm.
We’ve made some important strides for supporting workers, and passed our Back to Work emergency ordinance this month. This groundbreaking legislation is built on a simple idea: when they re-open, businesses should rehire, not replace, their laid off workers.
Over 141,000 San Franciscans filed for unemployment insurance since February 25, and we need bold policy interventions to ensure fair treatment in rehiring. This ordinance provides that, and provides laid-off workers with information and access to support while they’re unemployed.
I’ve also extended our emergency law providing Public Health Emergency Leave, which provides an additional two weeks of paid leave to more than 200,000 San Francisco workers to take care of themselves and their family. And now, I’ve introduced a ballot measure to make Public Health Emergency Leave permanent, expand it to cover unhealthy air quality days during wildfire season, and keep this benefit in place to ensure San Francisco workers can take the time they need during emergencies, when they need it most.
Back in March, we passed a resolution I authored calling on the city attorney, state attorney general, and district attorney to take legal action against “gig” employers for flagrantly breaking the law by misclassifying their workers to deny them basic rights and protections like paid sick leave, minimum wage, and unemployment insurance, while spending millions of dollars trying to roll back labor laws and protections.
Since that resolution passed, all three officials have taken the action we called for, with City Attorney Dennis Herrera joining CA Attorney General Xaviar Becerra in filing suit against Uber and Lyft, and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin now seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties from DoorDash.
This legal action is overdue, and I thank them for it. This is an important step forward to protect the rights of workers and hold corporations accountable.
As we face a projected $1.7 billion deficit over the next two years, we cannot balance our budget on the backs of the vulnerable communities who rely on our programs and services now more than ever. At the start of a recession, with an exploding unemployment crisis, in the midst of a global pandemic, we have to be bold, and we have to be clear in rejecting long term austerity cuts to vital programs as a solution. It’s not a solution – not for City services, not for City workers, and not for the countless vulnerable San Franciscans who rely on them.
That means asking the corporations who are the most well off, who are most resilient to the current crises, and who too often have been given breaks or benefits in policy after policy, to pay their fair share. That’s what the Stock Compensation Tax does, and that’s why I’ve put it on the November ballot. Fiscal responsibility does not require us to be cruel, it requires us to be creative. Creative in advancing revenue strategies to strengthen our social safety net, protect our budget in the long term, and address the economic inequality and unfairness that are at the root of so many of our long-term crises, from homelessness to housing access to hunger.
I’ve also called for hearings to look into our crises of public corruption and housing affordability, to deepen our understanding of how best to move forward solutions.
And I passed resolutions advocating for state and federal action, including supporting Senate Bill 882 to reduce the prevalence of food insecurity and poverty among seniors and people with disabilities, supporting the HEROES economic recovery Act, and calling for federal support for social enterprise nonprofits like Goodwill and the YMCA.
Here in the neighborhood we’re proud to be launching the Outer Sunset Farmer’s Market and Mercantile on July 5 with a thoughtful and comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan! Join us weekly on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on 37th Avenue between Ortega and Pacheco streets, in partnership with Sunset Mercantile and People of Parkside/Sunset. We’re also excited to expand our Slow Streets network to Ortega Street and 20th Avenue, providing new spaces for safer biking and walking for families, and everyone.
Finally, we launched our second annual Summer YouthWorks internship program and are excited to have Sunset high school youth join our office to learn about local government and to support our office on neighborhood issues. Our interns are Brandon Bui (Lowell High School), Kristina Ghishan (Gateway High School), Laying Reyes (Lincoln High School), and Olivia Lamb (St. Ignatius High School).
As always, we’re here to serve you.
Categories: City Hall