Reflecting on 4 Years of Progress
As we start a new year, I’m passing the baton to Joel Engardio as the new supervisor for District 4. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to serve the Sunset and San Francisco for the past four years. We have spent four years achieving real material wins for working people, changing the trajectory of the Sunset and challenging what is considered possible for this seat, this District and this City.
When I took office, District 4 had the worst housing production record of any District, losing more affordable housing than we had built. Together, we spearheaded the first 100% affordable housing project for working families at 2550 Irving St., the first homeless outreach services with the Sunset CareVan, and the first permanent supportive housing and affordable housing acquisitions ever in the Sunset. And just this fall, we broke ground on the first 100% affordable teacher housing project in the entire City at Shirley Chisholm Village.
We had the vision to create the Sunset Chinese Cultural District, the City’s first cultural heritage district on the west side, and the first focused on the cultural and economic vitality of San Francisco’s Chinese American community. I’m excited to see this new institution continue to grow and develop in the years to come and foster more community connections, events and opportunities for our entire neighborhood.
Upper Great Highway
I’m proud that we had the imagination to envision and create the Great Highway Park at the beginning of the pandemic, and transform our western waterfront for community building, public art, civic action and active transportation. This was a deeply divisive issue, and it’s one we never shied away from. We worked to broker compromises and find common ground, without losing sight of the long-term realities of climate change and its impacts on our waterfront. I’m proud that one of the final legislative accomplishments our office delivered was passing the Great Highway Pilot Ordinance, keeping in place the promenade on weekends and holidays for the next three years, and requiring city departments to conduct broad public outreach, extensive traffic planning, regular data collection and to finally create a comprehensive sand management plan. The long-term future of the Upper Great Highway is still yet to be determined, and I look forward to seeing what’s on the road ahead, thanks to our work with the community to find creative solutions and create new possibilities.
Outer Sunset Farmers Market
I’m also incredibly proud of our partnership with Sunset Mercantile to create and launch the Outer Sunset Farmers Market and Mercantile. This was an idea that came up during our 2018 campaign, and we made it an early priority when we entered office. It would have been easier to bring in an existing farmers market – some bigger, less local business that could have quickly set up shop. But with Sunset Mercantile, we took the bolder and more difficult path of building a wholly independent market from scratch. The result is a unique neighborhood gem that was truly built by and for the Sunset. It has been an immense joy to watch this market grow and flourish, and to see how broadly and deeply it has been embraced by the neighborhood.
Meeting the Community’s Needs
Each of these new neighborhood institutions – the Sunset Chinese Cultural District, Great Highway Park and Outer Sunset Farmers Market — started as ideas on how to meet long-held needs of our community. They took vision and courage and commitment to create, and each has transformed our neighborhood in unique ways, and highlighted the core common thread of my time as supervisor – a sincere effort to bring people together.
We had the conviction to fight for funding for our Climate Action Plan and getting District 4 its fair share in resources. This includes historic investments for Sunset Boulevard that will continue to benefit our neighborhood for years to come, creating a dedicated gardening and landscaping team, and finally beginning the work to convert the Boulevard’s irrigation system to recycled water. During difficult budget years, we also secured millions in funding for STEAM grants for all District 4 schools, for college and career readiness programs for all high schools, for new initiatives supporting our small businesses and artists, and, with the support of Assemblymember Phil Ting, for major renovation and expansion of the South Sunset Senior Center and creating a new senior center on Taraval.
We had the courage to take on corporate special interests to write and pass the strongest dark-money disclosure law in the nation, and tripled the impact of the public financing program to uplift the voice of the working class in our local politics. I fought for and secured a decade of full funding for Free City College, protected public teachers’ pay, and fulfilled a key campaign promise when we brought City College classes to the Sunset.
We fought for new labor rights, expanded paid leave for hundreds of thousands of essential workers, and helped thousands of laid off San Francisco workers regain employment during the pandemic. We wrote and passed groundbreaking laws to prevent crime and make our communities safer; we led community-based programs to provide community ambassadors, safety escorts for seniors and home security upgrades. We led dozens of traffic calming measures, brought bikeshare to District 4, kept the L-Taraval Improvement Project on schedule and on budget, created the D4 Daylighting Initiative and the District 4 Mobility Study. We passed groundbreaking policies for veterans, expanding their access to park facilities and affordable housing, and protecting the pay of military reservists.
While our time in office is coming to a close, our impact isn’t. Sunset Forward will help inform the next decade of housing planning, and projects from our District 4 Mobility Study, including a new community shuttle, Sunset Neighborways, plans for a westside subway, and our citywide School Access Plan will move forward.
My work fighting for working people and progress didn’t begin when I entered this office, and it won’t end as I leave it. I’ve been in this movement for decades; I’m not going anywhere. We face immense challenges, and I am deeply humbled and inspired by the thousands of District 4 residents who voted for our work and vision, and the hundreds of volunteers who powered our campaign.
Achieving lasting change for a fairer and more equal City doesn’t always happen in the span of an election cycle, and we have a responsibility to keep fighting – not just for the next campaign, but for the next generation. The work continues.
Gordon Mar is the outgoing District 4 representative on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Categories: City Hall