City Hall

City Hall: Gordon Mar

Stop the Hate Against Asians

The horrific massacre of eight people in Atlanta last month, which targeted Asian women in their places of work, was a hate crime rooted in the dehumanization of women and AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) people. 

In a society stained by white supremacy and racial resentment, law enforcement went out of their way to empathize with a mass murderer rather than holding him responsible, while some in the media failed to acknowledge the racist roots of this violence, or even correctly say his victims’ names.  

Here in San Francisco, we’ve seen brutal assaults against the Asian-American community, with heinous violence targeting seniors. These attacks are not unique to San Francisco, with hate incidents against Asian-Americans skyrocketing across the country during the pandemic. 

These attacks hit home for the Sunset, where the majority of our neighbors are Asian-American families and seniors. Our community is hurting, fearful, angry and tired. 

We must condemn the violence against the AAPI community and support victims. Each one of us has a responsibility to create safety, protect each other and do the hard work of dismantling systems of prejudice, hate and violence wherever we are. 

SFPD has increased patrols in areas with a high number of Asian residents, visitors and businesses. Weeks ago, I called for a hearing on violence targeting Asian seniors. We’ll hold that hearing on April 8, and this public dialogue and work towards solutions has only grown more urgent. And as recent break-ins and burglaries have targeted Asian-owned businesses in the Sunset, I secured funding through a supplemental appropriation to support small businesses impacted by property crime. It is a new program and we’ll have more details soon. 

No one should ever be targeted because of their race or ethnicity. No one should be victims of violence. Now is always the time to stand up and stand with our neighbors near and far to #StopAAPIHate.

Meanwhile, thanks to our collective effort to combat the COVID-19 virus and the incredible progress toward slowing and containing transmissions, San Francisco has entered the orange tier in the state’s reopening framework. This means offices, outdoor bars, indoor fitness classes, and other activities have returned with limitations. Vaccination supplies are increasing, though still unsteady, and as vaccine access continues to expand, we each have a responsibility to get vaccinated as soon as we can. For more information on vaccine eligibility and appointments, visit sf.gov/get-vaccinated-against-covid-19, and to see the current guidelines on reopening, visit sf.gov/reopening.

Last month, our legislation waiving building permit fees for accessory dwelling units (ADUs, a.k.a in-laws) for homeowners unanimously passed the Board of Supervisors. 

In neighborhoods like the Sunset, ADUs are a critical strategy to address our housing crisis. Building more ADUs means building more homes for renters and people who would otherwise be priced out, with minimal change to the physical character of our neighborhoods. By waiving building permit fees on ADUs, we are incentivizing homeowners to expand affordable housing opportunities and supporting extended families and seniors with mobility and caretaking needs.

I’m grateful to my colleagues for supporting this important legislation and excited to continue this work. I’m exploring additional policies to remove technical and financial barriers to ADU construction for moderate-income homeowners, and to further incentivize affordability.

Our Back to Work ordinance was also passed in March to help laid-off workers get reemployed. Under the law, eligible laid-off workers have the right of first refusal for their jobs if or when their former employer re-opens and re-hires, with hiring prioritized by seniority. This is based on a clear, simple and moral idea: businesses should rehire, not replace, their laid-off workers. The unemployment crisis created by this pandemic is not unique to San Francisco, but this is a labor town, and we are uniquely positioned to lead in addressing it. And with the Back to Work ordinance, we are. 

This groundbreaking law extends a right-to-reemployment policy we first enacted by an emergency ordinance last summer, and keeps the worker protection in place for an additional year. Small businesses were already exempted, and before passing the ordinance, we tailored it by industry, to strike a careful balance between supporting unemployed workers and supporting businesses as they reopen. We can and must do both.

Our youth in San Francisco need programs this summer to help them recover from more than a year of distance learning for high school students. These include goals toward college and career opportunities that I am supporting. I introduced a budget allocation for $2.7 million so that 800 high school students could engage in paid summer internships while earning college credit through City College. This program, Early College, has a track record in providing more options for youth to pursue their passions, especially those with barriers to access. What is unique about Early College is that it builds pathways to college as part of the internships, and offers a pipeline for students who want to pursue education careers as they work with younger kids. Let’s strengthen our public institutions, so needed at a time when schools and students are struggling with the challenges of COVID-19, and in the months to come, we’ll continue to focus on doing just that. 

As we continue to take careful steps forward out of the pandemic and back to public and civic life, our office will continue to offer support and assistance however we can. Don’t hesitate to reach out to marstaff@sfgov.org, or stop by our booth at the Outer Sunset Farmers Market and Mercantile the first Sunday of every month. 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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