A few weeks ago, we invited readers of Uppercasing, and our sibling blogs Haighteration and Hayeswire, to submit questions for the candidates running for District 5 Supervisor.
Last week, Hayeswire presented a first installment of the candidates' answers.
Today, we bring you part two.
We selected five questions to represent each neighborhood, and submitted them to the candidates. Topics included crime, homelessness, traffic, housing, blight, Ross Mirkarimi, and more. While all eight candidates agreed to answer our readers' questions, as of our deadline we hadn't received responses from candidates Daniel Everett or John Rizzo. So, only six of the candidates are represented below. Here are their answers to our five Upper Haight questions, presented in random order.
Q: Tom asks: "What are you going to do to clean up the upper end of Haight Street? It continues to be a terrible blight on the entire neighborhood - what's your plan?" Julian Davis: There’s a number of strategies that we can deploy. Firstly, we need to recognize that homelessness is a national problem, not just a San Francisco problem. We need accountability and resources from our state and federal government to help reduce inequities in society and house the homeless, especially foster youth many of whom end up on our streets. Beat cops are also a part of the solution. In addition, activity in the neighborhood helps, such as the bike rentals now established at Haight and Stanyan.
Andrew Resignato: We need something at the end of the street to transform that area. I have been talking about a city-run Haight Street Museum. It would be great if we could get rid of that McDonald's and put it right there or even at the beginning of the park. It would create a place for tourists to go at the end of Haight, make the area livelier, bring in City revenue and create a place to coalesce the rich history of the area. In the meantime we need expand services for homeless youth and think of other creative ways to activate the area. I think having Off the Grid there is a step in the right direction. This is a situation where the Supervisor needs to call a community meeting and get input and new ideas from the neighborhood.
Hope Johnson: We need to address the root causes of homelessness (please see my response to Question 3 below) so that we can reduce the number of chronically homeless. We also need to stop criminalizing drug addiction and start treating it, especially in young people who come to San Francisco from troubled backgrounds. I support community policing, regular foot patrols, and police sub-stations in these types of difficult areas (please see my response to Question 1). When elected, I will work with the small businesses along Stanyan and Haight to identify problems and the times each one occurs so a specific plan can be adopted.
Christina Olague: I believe that the best way to clean up the Upper Haight is to engage the local community and promote the local businesses in place. This is not only a salvageable community, but an important cultural icon within our District. We must push to ensure that our local merchants get the support they deserve and that our residents feel safe when they are in the Upper Haight. By working together, we can improve the Upper Haight—as well as the community in general—and help build a stronger, safer San Francisco.
London Breed: I hardly need to tell you, but this has been a thorny problem for a long time. We all know the Sit/Lie law is extremely controversial, but the voters made it the law. The hope is that the law is having the effect the voters wanted without giving rise to a lot of what Sit/Lie opponents feared. I still think we can make this law work, because Sit/Lie was never about punishing anyone, it was about making Haight Street safer, and we’re making strides in that direction. We all have the right to feel safe, whether in the Haight or anywhere else, and we need City government to put procedures in place to make sure that we do. We also need to provide social services directly in the locations needed for substance abusers and those with mental health issues. Working with law enforcement, social service agencies, the merchants and the community will help us develop and implement the plan we need to make it a safe and thriving community for everyone.
Thea Selby: The Upper Haight is a great neighborhood, but faces real challenges in terms of homelessness, pollution, and street crime. Lake Alvord is a particularly bad problem now. Many homeless have gravitated — or been pushed — to the entrance of Golden Gate Park. It should be a beautiful gateway; instead it’s ridden with trash and folks soliciting and selling drugs. But neighbors are joining neighbors now to meet the needs of that area. I’ve attended meetings and cleanups for it, and we’re developing a plan that includes everything from planting native plants, helping homeless youth and veterans with shelter, addiction, and runaway issues, to activating the space positively with a bike rental stand, parties, and plein air painting classes. As Supervisor I’d continue this great start and work to come to a collaborative, neighborhood-driven solution.
JSinSF asks: "Do you get from point A to point B in San Francisco the most often by: (a) your own two feet walking, (b) bicycling, (c) taking Muni, (d) driving a private vehicle, or (e) other?" Julian Davis: (b), I bike most places. I'm a car free candidate, and I'll work to achieve the City's biking goals, while also supporting functional transit and safe streets for pedestrians.
Andrew Resignato: My own feet.
Hope Johnson: I do about an equal amount of walking and riding Muni. I ride the 5 Fulton downtown to work in the morning. I can take the 5, 21, or 31 home or sometimes ride the underground and walk up Hayes Street. I generally walk when I run errands such as going to the grocery store.
Christina Olague: I take Muni, walk or ride my bike, depending on where I’m headed. I never learned to drive because it was not a priority for me.
London Breed: I still have my car, and I do use it, but find more and more of my trips are either walking or biking these days. Campaigning is actually a great way to drive home the point that experiencing the City on foot is not only planet-friendly and healthy, but helps me connect with the people, neighborhoods, and businesses in a way that just can't be done from behind the wheel of a car. Thank heavens I have my bike, too, which I've discovered is probably more useful than a car for navigating an area the size of District 5. But campaigning is also taking me outside the District from time to time as well, so I don’t think I make as many bike trips as car trips at the moment. So for me right now it's 1. Walking, 2. Driving, 3. Biking, 4. MUNI. If I ever learn how to fly, rest assured that will go straight to the top of the list.
Thea Selby: I get around the City mostly by Muni or my own two feet, and bike recreationally, so I know well the problems with mass transit and pedestrian safety. Maintenance is a huge issue with Muni: garbage bags and duct tape are holding the system together. I share your frustration waiting at bus stop when a slew of packed buses passes me by or when I see two near-empty trains follow one after the other. But I also recognize the importance of having a balanced approach to transportation in our City: cars, cyclists, pedestrians, and mass transit users getting around with mutual respect.
Carlos C. asks: "What policies do you support regarding getting homeless people off the streets and providing them with assistance?" Julian Davis: I support a harm reduction philosophy and I’m willing to think creatively. One controversial idea that has worked successfully in Vancouver is safe injection sites. We need to provide mental health services, drug treatment on demand, and supportive housing to our sizable homeless population if we are serious about addressing this issue.
Andrew Resignato: I believe we need to try the concept of wet shelters. Almost 2/3 of the homeless are substance abusers and if they can not drink in shelters they go into the streets and drink. Wet shelters would allow them to drink in a controlled setting and in return they have to attend one group session a day which would help alleviate some issues with mental illness that occur with isolation and we could more easily connect them to substance abuse treatment. We also need to support neighborhood models for assisting the homeless. An organization that I have volunteered with for 10 years is called North Beach Citizens. This program works by getting the neighborhood involved in helping the homeless, treating them as citizens of the neighborhood, and utilizing former homeless people in the program. This program should be replicated in other neighborhoods across the City including in D5 because it works!
Hope Johnson: Homelessness continues to be an ongoing problem and controversy in San Francisco. We need to fund support services for people who are homeless through mental illness and substance addiction. I do not support Laura’s Law with possibly the exception of repeat criminal offenders. I would support funding temporary, experimental new approaches such as a “drunk house” or supervised injection facility (“SIF”). The City could study the effect on HIV prevention from reduction of sharing needles, overdose prevention, ending substance use, and public safety from the decrease in public injections and needle disposal. It’s my understanding SFDPH had not taken a position on SIFs and has not studied the model in four or five years. A portion of HIV funding might be considered to start a program with limited participants to evaluate the cost and access to funds. I also support a revised version of Project Homeless Connect. I like the idea of a supportive informational service with resources available. I volunteered at Project Homeless Connect in its beginning and people appreciated the medical and dental services and learning what help is available.
Christina Olague: I believe that homelessness is a major social issue and is reflective of the greater issues that face our community as a whole: that of economic inequity, a dearth of affordable housing, and a failing job market. As Supervisor, I propose addressing homelessness by working with these major issues. However, I also support programs that provide resources for homeless people. I believe that they deserve certain rights and benefits that anyone in our city would expect.
London Breed: The City can’t forget its commitment to our homeless and mentally ill residents. I’m a big supporter of what Bevan Dufty is doing with HOPE (Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement), and think that we can do even more. I want to put renewed emphasis on person-to-person case management, age-appropriate City services, and fully funding the City's mental health treatment programs, to help address the problem of chronic homelessness among the mentally ill.
Thea Selby: Being homeless is not a crime. The challenge of it must be addressed with consideration. Many of our homeless neighbors suffer from alcohol and drug addiction or mental health issues. I opposed sit-lie — it seemed like a politically attractive decision when there were plenty of laws on the books to move homeless along if needed. We can’t rely on legislation to be a band-aid for this problem. The solution will rely on a combination of social services, mental health services, police, and resident involvement and input.
Skitiki asks: "All of the candidates for D5 Supe identify as 'Progressive.' What does that affiliation mean to you and how will you stay true to your Progressive values at Supervisor?" Julian Davis: For me, being a progressive means standing for social justice, good government, promoting opportunity for people and dealing with inequality in our society. It also means being independent of the corporate interests and political establishment that are taking over City Hall. As Supervisor, I’ll remain independent, voting with D5 residents, not lobbyists or political bosses.
Andrew Resignato: Progressive to me means working to be bring about change that will help all people - not just a few. For me a progressive is someone who works to defend the rights of people who are marginalized and fights for fairness and equity for all San Franciscans. I live in SF because of its history of progressive politics. I will stay true to those values by defending the rights of the people over the more powerful interests who usually do a pretty good job of defending and advocating for themselves. I also identify as pragmatic because I am more of a science guy than a political ideologue. I believe a lot of the issues we are facing as a City can be solved by utilizing evidence-based solutions, not policies based on emotions. Policies based on emotions result in laws like Three Strikes, Sit Lie, and the War on Drugs. These policies tend to spring from an emotional place but are not grounded in scientific evidence that clearly show that they have unintended consequences that do not benefit society as a whole. Politics like life requires a good balance between the heart and the head.
Hope Johnson: Progressive means governing for a standard of living and opportunity for all people rather than considering profit the overall motivating factor in decisions. I support access to affordable housing, affordable education, a diverse variety of jobs, health care, and a clean environment. California now spends more money on prisons than education; that is not a progressive value. I am running for supervisor because I have seen our standard of living deteriorate as our elected officials fail to make decisions that benefit the majority of San Francisco residents. We must clean up the corruption in our government, and I already have a public record of doing so despite that meaning that most politicians – progressive or otherwise – will not support my candidacy.
Christina Olague: District 5 is known as the most progressive district in the City, which is why I believe I would be the most ideal Supervisor for the district. My entire career has been rooted in progressive politics. I was a community organizer before and worked with laborers and working-class residents in the city. I believe that being a progressive means understanding that our city is ultimately about community and that our shared value depends on how far we can bring people up. Being a progressive means fighting for the working-class, promoting affordable housing, closing the achievement gap in our schools, and providing health services to those who need it most. I have worked with all of these issues as a progressive leader in the city, and I will continue to do so as Supervisor.
London Breed: The root of the word “progressive” is “progress.” A progressive is someone who looks at the way things are now and is convinced that together we can change them for the better. We can make progress, and arrive at a future that is brighter, more livable, and reflects more than the outdated morality of past decades and centuries. Robert F. Kennedy said, in the middle of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement, "Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why'? I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not'?" That is the kind of progressive I have always been, and will be as your Supervisor. I will stay true to my progressive values using the people of District 5 as my guides, not the special interests who are only out for themselves. I believe that the people’s values will always be progressive in the long run because the solutions to the problems of everyday citizens can only come from thinking in ways that we haven’t before, and trying things that we haven’t before. If you’re not independent, if you’re bogged down in political games, you’re going to have a tough time advocating for a progressive agenda. It’s true nationally, it’s true in San Francisco, and it’s true in District 5.
Thea Selby: I grew up a pro-choice feminist progressive Democrat in Texas, so I have plenty of experience staying true to progressive values. For those of you with an interest in the history of the progressive movement, I was inspired by Jim Hightower, Ann Richards, and Barbara Jordan. Progressive to me a few different things. It means listening to small business over big business. These days, San Francisco gives big business more than a pass – they give them the red carpet. District 5 is home to many small thriving businesses and they make up the backbone of our City. As Supervisor, I will ask big business to recognize the need to give back to the people of San Francisco. It also means pushing for an equitable, efficient, and affordable public transit system — seeing Muni as something other than a second-class way of getting around. It means taking care of public education — I plan to use my experience as a mother of two public school boys to help guide the push to improve our schools and make wrap-around social services, including arts, part of the system. It means seeing economic opportunity as something that should be offered to all — so I will encourage city funding and recognition of programs that reach out to underserved youth, like YearUp (which trains unemployed, low-income 18- to 25-year-olds in IT and has 84% of them in college or at work within four months of graduation — check them out!).
Drew asks: "Campaigning aside, how often do you visit the Upper Haight, and why?" Julian Davis: Often. Growing up down the peninsula, the Upper Haight was the one of the first neighborhoods in San Francisco that I frequented. When I first moved in San Francisco I used to play guitar on the street and in the parks in and around the neighborhood and later lived in Upper Haight for a few years. Now I live and have my campaign headquarters just a few blocks away.
Andrew Resignato: 6 times annually. I go to Amoeba Records, Zam Zam, the Gold Cane, and Magnolia and do a lot of my X-mas shopping in Upper Haight.
Hope Johnson: I visit the Upper Haight almost every weekend to shop at Whole Foods on Stanyan and Haight. I love to walk through the neighborhoods from my apartment near Divis and McAllister to that store.
Christina Olague: I love the Upper Haight for its unique character and close-knit community. I still grocery shop at Haight Street Market and I love the family-friendly atmosphere. I love how I can walk down the street and talk to people who know me personally and who I know personally. It is an intimate neighborhood that is not seen anywhere else in the community. I want to keep the Upper Haight that way, and will work as Supervisor to help small businesses in the area to ensure that I can continue to walk along the street and meet the same merchants and neighbors that I have personally met and have grown to love.
London Breed: Constantly, because... well, the same reason everyone else does, because there’s a bunch of awesome stuff there. I live pretty close by, even by D5 standards, so I’m often ducking into Held Over, especially to make something to wear for an occasion or spending part of an evening at the Gold Cane. And almost any bike trip in the East end of the Park will include a Haight-Ashbury visit. I confess I’m probably in the Lower Haight more often, though, mostly because I live a block away, but well, also because of my favorite places to eat, Greenburger and Tandoor.
Thea Selby: The Upper Haight has changed for the better over the past 10 years! My son meets with his soccer team in Golden Gate Park once or twice a week. I’m a huge fan of the Haight Street Market and would like to see other D5 merchants pick-up their local discount program. Love the pizza and jazz at Club Deluxe. The Booksmith events are never-ending, fascinating, and free! I'm a big proponent of Jane Jacobs, who wrote about safe sidewalks in 1961 as being ones where many different types of people shared them night and day, which is why I encourage us all to go to the Upper Haight.
That's it for part two! Stay tuned to Haighteration for part three, coming in a few days.
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