By Supervisor Gordon Mar
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Lunar New Year!
As we ring in the Year of the Ox, we’re hopeful for health and wellness in the year to come. Last year we held the Sunset’s first neighborhood-wide Lunar New Year celebration, and while we wish we could have gathered together again this year, we’re celebrating all the same.
Black History Month and Lunar New Year are two extremely important extended celebrations of our City’s diverse cultural heritage.
Last month was a time of commemoration, community building, and reflection, not only for our African American and Asian American communities, but for all of us. And, despite the pandemic, we are finding new ways to honor these important traditions. This is also an opportunity for fostering understanding and solidarity across cultures and communities, which is more important now than ever.
To honor this, we hosted a virtual roundtable with community leaders for a vital dialogue on cross-racial solidarity, celebration and resilience. I’m grateful to the hundreds of neighbors who watched and participated in this important discussion, and all those who joined us to safely celebrate Lunar New Year at the Outer Sunset Farmers Market and Mercantile.
In the midst of the unprecedented health pandemic over the past year, we’ve also been challenged by a historic reckoning on racism. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police sparked a national uprising under the banner of Black Lives Matter, giving renewed urgency to long-standing demands to end police brutality and systemic racism. During COVID, we’ve also seen a troubling epidemic in violence and hate targeting Asian Americans nationally, with a quarter of the 2,800 incidents documented by Stop AAPI Hate occurring right here in the Bay Area. COVID-19 itself has also revealed or exacerbated long-standing racial disparities in health outcomes and economic security.
I joined community leaders for a rally to condemn violence and racism against Asian American communities, and I called for a hearing to examine recent incidents of racially targeted violence and the rise of anti-Asian racism. We deserve answers on what City agencies are doing on crime prevention, investigations, victim services and providing public safety resources.
We need strategies to reduce crime – for everyone – and to provide support for victims. We need to invest in long-term prevention-based solutions to end cycles of violence, and promote community-building and healing. We must stand together for safety and justice; knowing that one without the other is not possible. We know we are safer when we are more connected. We are more resilient when we stand together.
And in the Year of the Ox, there’s real hope for healing with COVID-19 transmissions down significantly, thanks to our collective resolve and the increase in vaccine supply. With the lifting of the Shelter-in-Place order last month, more businesses are open and more activities are allowed. We recently held an informational meeting with the City’s COVID Command Center on vaccine access — you can view that, and all our virtual events at Facebook/com/d4gordonmar/videos. For the latest updates on the City’s public health orders and vaccine availability, visit sfgov.org.
Last month, we launched two Community Hubs in the Sunset District serving 45 children in grades K-6 at the Sunset and Ortega branch libraries. This pandemic exposes the digital divide and lack of access to a reliable learning space for many students. Along with the District 4 Youth and Families Network, we’ve been advocating for the west side to be part of this citywide initiative serving the highest needs families during distance learning so that students are in safe, digitally supported environments during the school day. I am grateful to the Department of Children Youth and Families for making this possible. Safe reopening of our schools as soon as possible remains our highest priority, but the 80 Community Hubs continue to provide critical support to 2,000 of our City’s most vulnerable children.
I initiated a historic landmark designation for our beloved Trocadero Clubhouse inside Stern Grove, thanks to the advocacy of Parkside Heritage, which was formed to address the neighborhood’s underrepresentation in the City’s official inventory of historic buildings. It is important that we look at historic landmarking through the lens of different experiences in all parts of the City, including the Parkside, and not just the realms of the most elite. I hope the landmarking makes neighbors feel more connected to our history, highlighting that we share more in common than we think. Despite our differences, it’s the story of seeing our common condition and common desires. We all need a place to find respite from life’s familiar hardships, a place to rest, a place to build community – a place like the Trocadero.
Last month we also announced and secured funding and approval for the Great Highway Traffic Management Plan. Since April, the Upper Great Highway has been closed to vehicles and open to people walking, biking, playing, and seeking respite during a year full of unprecedented challenges.
And since April, we’ve called for a comprehensive traffic mitigation plan to address the impacts of diverted traffic on nearby streets. That plan is finally here, including 24 speed cushions, one speed table, more than a dozen stop signs, more detour signage, and safety-focused enforcement support from SFPD and the Recreation and Park Department.
The transformation of the Great Highway has provided tremendous benefits, and tremendous challenges for residents impacted by diverted traffic. Safety always must come first, and we can’t sacrifice safety for recreation. We can only continue to enjoy this incredible new open space if we can make it safe and address these impacts and we will be closely monitoring this plan as it moves forward to ensure it does. In the meantime, the future of the Great Highway is being studied through the District 4 Mobility Study. You can learn more and get involved at https://www.sfcta.org/projects/district-4-mobility-study.
At City Hall, we have updates on our work on two important issues: public health protections and addressing public corruption.
Per-Diem nurses at the Department of Public Health are a substantial portion of our frontline health workforce caring for San Franciscans during a pandemic. But because of their job status, they’ve been excluded from expanded paid leave provided by the City since last Spring. They deserve the same protections extended paid leave provides to care for themselves if impacted by COVID-19.
For the last month, we’ve been in negotiations with the Department of Human Resources to extend paid leave protections for this essential workforce. And, I’m happy to say that they’ll soon have it. Through our advocacy, Mayor London Breed took executive action to extend COVID Sick Leave to all “as needed” employees at DPH. We prepared legislation to accomplish this, but this executive action will make this leave available faster than we could through legislation, and I’m grateful for it. We are all safer when our public health professionals and essential workers are safer.
Finally, local government must be transparent and accountable to the public. To ensure that it is, I called for a hearing on SFPUC contracting and community benefits, and management agreements for the Sewer System Improvement Program — especially amidst a citywide reckoning with pay-to-play politics and public corruption.
This builds on the Letter of Inquiry I submitted in December, and the audits I called for in 2019. These community benefits have been promised or delivered by firms winning lucrative contracts worth more than $2 billion. We think it’s important that the Board, and the public, has access to these contracts, records of these expenditures, and information on how and why these agreements were made. The public deserves answers, and I hope this hearing will offer them.
This is just some of the work we’ve been doing recently – for questions, comments, feedback, or to sign up for our virtual office hours, don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com, or drop by our booth at the Outer Sunset Farmers Market and Mercantile the first Sunday of every month.
Gordon Mar represents District 4 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He can be reached at (415) 554-7460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Categories: City Hall