City Hall

City Hall – Supervisor Gordon Mar

Work to Stabilize Turbulent Times

By Gordon Mar

This continues to be an uncertain and unprecedented time for our City, our country and our democracy. 

As I’m writing this, we don’t yet know who will be elected president, or the outcomes of important races up and down the ballot across San Francisco, the state and nation. These are decisions that will impact us all for years and decades to come. 

We’re seeing a record turnout, with more of us than ever stepping up to cast our ballots as an expression of ourselves – our values, hopes, dreams, needs and fears. People everywhere are voting by mail or voting early, adapting to the realities of a pandemic that has disrupted voting habits along with the rest of our lives. Young people are organizing for the issues that will define their generation, from the climate crisis to the enduring crisis of racial injustice, and here in San Francisco, for the chance to vote themselves. 

The level of civic engagement is historic and has the power to transform our world for the better,  long after this election is over, if we all stay engaged and involved. 

The level of vitriol, hate and bigotry brought to light is also historic, and also has the power to transform our world for the worse if we allow it to fester and grow. Here in the Sunset, we’ve seen racism renewed. Antisemitic graffiti has appeared in our neighborhood, and incidents of anti-Asian racism continue to rise. Our neighborhood is not immune to the division gripping the country. We are not absolved from our responsibility to stand against hate wherever it exists, work against injustice where it endures, and to come together in compassion and the common cause of helping one another. 

I continue to be inspired by the thousands of people in our neighborhood doing just that. Working people are volunteering to distribute food and supplies to their vulnerable neighbors. Parents are juggling working from home with schooling from home – a challenge I know myself. Small businesses are adapting to serve our community in new ways. Nonprofits are rising to meet new needs and challenges. City departments are doing more with less, and faster than ever. Artists are creating new public works, like the installation on the Great Highway at Rivera  calling for hope, and the mural at the Far Out West community garden calling for climate justice and community resilience. All of us are collectively making the small sacrifices every day needed to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

And it counts. As new cases spike across the country, San Francisco stands as an outlier, and a powerful example of collective resolve. While other cities and states move to shut down more, our resilience and commitment to follow public health guidance is allowing us to re-open further, let more businesses open their doors and take more careful steps forward on the road to recovery. 

It hasn’t been easy, but it will only get easier if we keep our resolve and our commitment to follow public health guidance and take care of ourselves and others. 

Sunset residents can now order items for pickup at the Ortega Branch Library, restoring an essential service adapted for public health precautions. San Francisco has one of the best library systems in the world, and we’re thrilled Sunset residents can once again take advantage of this incredible public service! Hours of operation at the Ortega branch are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Also, San Francisco’s more than 180 public playgrounds are now open with limits on the number of children and adults who can enter based on the size of the playground, and limits on the number of children who can use playground equipment at once. Visitors of all ages must stay six feet away from non-household members, and everyone 2 and older must wear masks. To maximize the number of children who can play, only one adult may accompany each child. Eating and drinking are not allowed, and visitors should clean their hands before and after playing. Hand washing stations have been placed at the 51 playgrounds without restrooms.

This month, we held a town hall to launch Sunset Forward, a community-driven process to identify current needs and to craft a collective vision for a livable, diverse and thriving future in the Sunset District. Through the participation of residents, we hope to craft a community plan that will set local priorities on housing, transportation, and neighborhood businesses and services in District 4. If you live, work, study, worship or play in District 4, we want to hear from you, and invite you to learn more and participate at sunsetforward.com. 

We also launched the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Incentive Pilot Program in District 4 this month. This program is a City-funded effort by our office in collaboration with the San Francisco Planning Department and housing non-profit ASIAN, Inc. The pilot aims to assess the potential for ADUs (also known as in-law units, backyard homes, granny flats, etc.) to increase neighborhood stability and affordable housing with a focus on multi-generational families and low- and moderate-income homeowners. This incentive program offers a professional assessment of adding an ADU to your property and is available for homeowners in District 4. For any questions about the pilot, contact adu@asianinc.org. 

Last month, the Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution I sponsored urging the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) in its upcoming Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) to focus on San Francisco’s unmet needs for housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households. San Francisco has taken on much of the region’s housing development, and planning department data shows that we’ve overbuilt luxury condos and apartments over the past five years. Meanwhile, we’ve vastly underproduced new housing that is actually affordable to meet the needs of our moderate and low-income residents.

The Board’s resolution urges ABAG to focus on San Francisco’s unmet needs for housing affordable to low- and moderate-income residents. We need to prioritize addressing the housing affordability needs of our residents, and that begins with setting the right goals. 

Finally, we’re hosting more town halls this month to provide updates on tree planting and rain gardens on Sunset Boulevard, upcoming construction on 19th Avenue, and to get your input on the future of the Great Highway.

You can find more information on these town halls and recordings of all our recent town halls at facebook.com/d4gordonmar. 

And you can subscribe to our D4 Newsletter, sent twice a month, to stay informed about these and other events by simply emailing us at marstaff@sfgov.org.

As always, we’re here to serve you. 

Gordon Mar represents District 4 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He can be reached at (415) 554-7460 or marstaff@sfgov.org.

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