San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee's 2014 State of the City Address
Repost from the Office of the Mayor, City & County of San Francisco http://sfmayor.org/index.aspx?page=983
Jobs, Housing and People:
An Affordability Agenda for San Francisco’s Future
I wanted to come here and talk to you about the State of our City because this place, the Shipyard, links our proud past to an even more promising future.
Behind me, hundreds – and soon thousands – of new homes for middle class families are under construction.
The Shipyard represents the remarkable progress we have made as a City…recovering from the depths of the Great Recession these last three years.
It also represents the challenges that remain to ensure that San Francisco is still a place where our working families, our teachers and firefighters, our artists and our seniors can always call home.
You know, a year ago, we gathered not too far from here, and I declared the State of our City to be vital, resurgent and strong, with San Francisco moving in the right direction.
And throughout 2013, because of our relentless focus on jobs, fixed on a steady path of fiscal prudence, and through the extraordinary innovation of our people, our robust economic recovery continued.
Last year, San Francisco was the nation’s number one large county for job growth, adding jobs in every sector, from technology to health care to construction to manufacturing.
Unemployment today stands at just 5.2%, down from 9.5% when I first took office. My fellow San Franciscans that means 42,452 jobs were created since 2011 and residents are back to work in our City. And as a result of our broad-based recovery, healthy budget reserves and fiscal discipline, our City’s credit rating is the highest in history.
And at the dawn of this new year, 2014, the State of our great City is still vital and strong – indeed, as strong, financially and economically, as we have ever been in our history.
But we must also recognize that there are still fractures in the strong foundation we have built, tears in the social fabric that, if we do not attend to with all our energies, will erode that foundation and reverse our dramatic progress.
Jobs and confidence are back, but our economic recovery has still left thousands of people behind.
Our neighborhoods are revitalized and new construction is all around us, but some still look to the future, anxiously, and wonder whether there’s room for them in a changing San Francisco.
And too many of our residents, people who work hard and make a decent wage, men and women squarely in the middle class, grow frustrated, as the City becomes ever more expensive, and their dream of starting a family or owning a home falls further out of reach.
This rising cost of living, the financial squeeze on our City’s working families and middle class – these are the fundamental challenges of our time, not just for our City, but for great cities around the world.
And to sustain our economic recovery and this renewed confidence in our City, we must confront these challenges of affordability directly, in the San Francisco way, big-hearted, but clear-headed.
In the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the Horse.
A person born in the Year of the Horse tends towards strength, confidence, and financial success.
But they are also among the most compassionate, attentive to the troubles of others, and quick to protect those who cannot fight for themselves.
Well, appropriately, these are exactly the qualities our City demands in 2014 to meet the challenges before us.
Because it is that same economic strength, that same renewed confidence in our future, that provides us with the resources and the resolve to do so.
My fellow San Franciscans, this is the “affordability agenda” that I bring to you today as our priority for the year ahead.
Economy: It Still Starts With Good Jobs
And that affordability agenda still starts with making sure every one of our residents, whether young or old, from the Westside or the Southeast, or whether a new immigrant or a returning veteran, has a good job or can access the skills and training to get one.
There’s no wider income gap than between those who have a job, and those who don’t.
And while our economic recovery is the envy of the world, there are still more than 24,000 of our fellow San Franciscans out of work, with perhaps twice that underemployed, in need of training for better opportunities.
And that’s why we must never relent on our efforts to grow jobs in our City across every sector – in tech, biotech and cleantech, in international trade and tourism, in film and video production, in advanced manufacturing, construction and health care – all growing parts of our diverse economy, creating good-paying jobs for people from every background.
I haven’t forgotten the recent days of double-digit unemployment, endless red ink and deep cuts to our vital services.
But incredibly, it’s become fashionable for some people lately to dismiss the significance of our broad-based recovery.
They speak of it, remarkably, only in terms of the negative, perhaps the first time in history that the creation of too many good jobs has been criticized.
My friends, we must not take these better times for granted.
I speak frequently to other mayors, and believe me when I tell you, there is not a City on the planet that would refuse to trade places with our robust economic condition right now.
And all this has come in spite of the outright harm imposed upon thousands of our own residents by politicians in Washington, where Republicans in Congress refuse to pass comprehensive immigration reform and have stymied efforts to extend unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless. I say, shame on them.
And that’s why, more than ever, we here in San Francisco must and will continue to invest in workforce training and in people like Iman Rodney, who is here with us today.
Iman is from the Bayview, and recently completed our TechSF training at BayCat.
Now he’s working as a Production Assistant on HBO’s new show “Looking,” set right here in San Francisco.
We’re investing in people like Marc Roth. Two years ago, Marc was homeless, sleeping in shelters. He had some programming experience, but not enough to land a job. So he plunked down the last of his money to take a few advanced classes at TechShop, and then started his own business called SFLaser.
But while the tech sector is growing, it’s still just a piece of our diverse economy.
That’s why we’ll keep investing in people like Darryl Bishop and Lorenzo Beasley two young men from the Bayview who work right here at the Shipyard.
Behind me, Astron Development Corporation is building the framing for new housing, maintaining a 65% local hire rate – I know Supervisor Avalos likes the sound of that – with most of the men and women coming through our Citybuild construction academy, folks like Andre Larrimore, also here with us.
Those cranes you see downtown, in Mission Bay and in Central Market don’t just mean thousands of good construction jobs.
They also mean hundreds of millions of dollars in development impact fees. Over the next five years, we will collect $110 million from big developers for new parks, better public transit and new affordable housing.
And, we know that our young people suffer from unemployment at a far higher rate than adults, and so I’m proud that in 2013 our Summer Jobs Plus initiative provided more than 6,800 summer job opportunities in the public and private sector. More than half of the youth placed were from underserved neighborhoods like the Bayview and Western Addition.
And we will continue to invest in the cornerstones of our diverse economy – our infrastructure.
The five hospitals under construction in our City today will cement San Francisco’s standing as a cutting-edge center for quality health care in this new era of digital health and national, universal health care.
They will guarantee good jobs in our health care sector for decades to come, jobs for people like Kaya Lewis, , who graduated from our healthcare academy, and who now works at UCSF.
And in a City that will always rely a great deal on tourism, hospitality and entertainment, it’s critical that we continue to make improvements to our international airport, and support the major expansion of the Moscone Convention Center, so we can compete once again for the world’s biggest conventions and trade shows.
We will continue to support the improvement and expansion of our arts and cultural institutions, like the rebuild of the Opera House, the new Mexican Museum, the new wing of the SFMOMA, and if the members of the Board of Trustees agree, a wonderful new museum in the Presidio for George Lucas’ unique American art and cultural collection.
In 2016, we’ll host Super Bowl 50. Thank you, Daniel Lurie and our Super Bowl Host Committee for putting together the winning bid.
And in 2017, we’ll bring back the America’s Cup, applying the valuable and sometimes hard lessons we learned last year, for an even more spectacular, focused series of sailboat racing on our Bay.
Congratulations Larry Ellison, Russell Coutts, and Oracle TeamUSA for that amazing come-from-behind victory!
And we will work with the Golden State Warriors to bring them back home to San Francisco, to a spectacular new basketball and entertainment pavilion on the waterfront!
Thank you to Peter Guber and Joe Lacob and the Warriors’ ownership for your investment in our City’s future. I know Rick Welts is here today as well. Rick, we are all behind you for another exciting playoff run this year.
We will continue to invest in our neighborhoods, targeting our resources first within our 25 Invest in Neighborhoods commercial corridors throughout the City, places like Geary Boulevard in Supervisor Mar’s district, Third Street in Supervisor Cohen’s district and Taraval Street in Supervisor Tang’s district.
I’d also like to thank our 2010 and 2012 World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants — along with CEO Larry Baer and even guys like Hunter Pence – for giving back to the City and helping clean up our neighborhoods through the “Giants Sweep” campaign last year.
In 2013, we brought free Wi-Fi to Market Street and announced a partnership with Google, thanks to Supervisor Farrell, to bring free Wi-Fi to 31 of our City’s parks and playgrounds.
In 2014, we will continue to connect our residents to the cloud by bringing free Wi-Fi to several of our Invest in Neighborhoods commercial corridors.
And we will continue to invest in the quiet engine of job creation in San Francisco – our small businesses, with our new ADA Assistance Program, revolving loan programs, our Jobs Squad and our new online small business portal.
And we must continue to support our City’s thriving nonprofit organizations and workers. They provide vital frontline services to our neighborhoods and to our most vulnerable residents.
And just like many of their clients on limited incomes, for many nonprofits and arts organizations it’s tough to absorb an increase in the rent. So, I applaud Supervisor Kim and President Chiu for their work on this subject, and look forward to working closely with them to find consensus around practical solutions.
In 2013, President Chiu authored groundbreaking legislation that I was proud to sign that placed San Francisco at the forefront of guaranteeing a more family-friendly workplace.
This year, our City can be at the national forefront once again – by raising the minimum wage.
How many of us could get by in this town on our current minimum wage of $10.74 an hour?
There’s a growing consensus among liberals and conservatives alike that raising the minimum wage will help lift thousands of our fellow residents out of poverty and keep people off public assistance, saving taxpayers millions.
And so, this November, with Supervisor Kim’s leadership and others, let’s make it a little easier for some of our hardest-working residents to get by in this City, by placing a ballot measure before the voters to raise the minimum wage in San Francisco.
We’ll approach it the way we’ve approached our other challenges, like business tax reform and housing and transportation. We will reach out to impacted sectors, small businesses, workers, experts and others to seek consensus around a significant minimum wage increase for working families.
We’ve already begun the dialogue, and I look forward to working with all of you. Let’s get this done in 2014.
And there’s one more thing we must continue to guarantee for all our people, and that’s affordable, quality health care. In 2007, under Mayor Gavin Newsom, we became the first City in America to provide universal health care through Healthy San Francisco. In 2013, thanks to the leadership of Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Obama, it finally came to the rest of the country through the Affordable Care Act.
I recently convened a Universal Health Care Council of health, business, labor and community leaders to study the new national health laws, as well as our own, to ensure that no one in San Francisco falls through the cracks — not our seniors, not our workers, not our immigrants.
Now it’s all our job to make sure every person in our City is enrolled and insured through Covered California or Healthy San Francisco.
And if we want our families to stay and grow here, if we want employers to stay and grow here, we must strive for the best public schools, anywhere. I know that Supervisor Yee and the rest of the Board share this value.
I say the best public schools “anywhere” because we’re not just competing with other cities in California anymore.
For the jobs of the future, our students will have to compete with the rest of the world.
Like all parents, I once had to decide where to send my children to school. I chose to send my daughters to the San Francisco Unified School District, and today, I’m thrilled that every year, more and more families are doing the same.
My friends, make no mistake, believe the hype. We are in the midst of a renaissance in our public schools. We have one of the top performing urban school districts in California, and by many measures, in the nation.
In 2014, by partnering with the School District and with our flourishing private sector, we will do even more to prepare our young people for their future.
For example, look at the incredible contribution and support of our Middle School Leadership Initiative by Marc and Lynne Benioff, and the Salesforce.com Foundation.
With the Benioff’s support – along with the support of other San Francisco technology companies and foundations, and a lot of great teachers, we are helping middle schoolers focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, or “steam,” because we know that’s what the jobs of tomorrow will require.
And today, I am pleased to announce that this year, we will expand my initiative to middle schoolers in all of our K-8 Schools, so schools like Bessie Carmichael, Lawton, Paul Revere and others will be a part of this exciting initiative.
Last year, we passed a budget with a record investment in our public schools. This year, we will surpass even that. In 2014, I will propose to fund the school district at a level never seen before in San Francisco history, with $66 million for our public schools and $27 million more for universal pre-school.
And now, along with our own historic investments, and with Governor Brown’s commitment to greater funding for schools proposed last week in his budget, San Francisco will be among the highest in per-student spending in the State of California.
Thank you, Governor Brown, and thank you, Superintendent Carranza and members of the Board of Education.
And a special thanks to Board Member Hydra Mendoza, who also happens to be my education policy advisor in the Mayor’s Office, for her passion and thoughtful leadership on education issues.
But when it comes to education and services for our young people, we’re not done.
This November, we will ask San Francisco voters to renew the Children’s Fund and the Public Education Enrichment Fund. But we can’t be satisfied with the status quo.
To all those parents and aspiring parents in our City, I say, we hear you. We are working with the School Board, Superintendent Carranza and with you to craft a long term vision, so that your investment today will directly lead to a world class public school system, starting with universal pre-school and continuing through college.
And that means making sure City College continues with long-overdue reforms and remains open and accredited, today and for the future.
I am 100% confident that we will not only save City College, we’ll make it stronger and more sustainable than ever.
Go ahead and enroll. It’s going to be there for you, and for us. It is too important.
I’m upset too with the Accreditation Commission’s process and decision. But let’s be frank. Putting all our focus on them is a distraction.
City College was on an unsustainable course because of years of unsustainable financial and governance decisions. Just because we don’t like the diagnosis doesn’t mean we can ignore the urgent need for treatment.
But because of our work together and collaboration with the new, strong leadership team in place, City College is on the mend and on a path to a full recovery.
Under the leadership of new Chancellor Art Tyler and our Special Trustee Bob Agrella, and with the full support of California Chancellor Brice Harris, we are making tough decisions and applying long-overdue reforms for the long-term health of the institution.
City College has earned the right to be taken off this cliff of uncertainty.
Given the enormous improvements already made, I will ask the State of California to guarantee continued stable funding for City College, in spite of recent enrollment dips.
And I call upon the Accreditation Commission to immediately lift the cloud that still hangs over City College and our students’ future.
A true affordability agenda for our City must also include having a great public transportation system, one that’s safe, affordable and reliable for everyone.
More than ever, our aging fleet, our deteriorating roads and our growing population demand that we make greater investments in our transportation infrastructure for the future.
We made some modest progress last year. As a result of the Street Repaving Bond passed by voters in 2011 and the leadership of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, we have repaved a record 854 blocks and our street conditions are slowly improving.
Under the direction of Ed Reiskin and Board Chair Tom Nolan, the SFMTA added nearly 200 new and rehabbed buses to our fleet last year, with a goal of replacing the entire fleet in five years.
And along with other cities in the region and our friends at the Bike Coalition, we launched Bay Area Bikeshare, whose membership is growing monthly, demonstrating the strong demand and public support for expanding the program to other parts of our City, in 2014 and beyond.
But when it comes to having the transportation system our residents deserve, we still have a ways to go.
And so in 2013, with President Chiu and Supervisor Wiener, we convened all the transportation experts and advocates for our Transportation 2030 Task Force, chaired by Gabe Metcalf, Director of SPUR and Monique Zmuda, our Deputy City Controller.
Their recommendations include investing in the core systems of Muni and our streets with a rehabilitated fleet, more vehicles, updated maintenance facilities, critical pedestrian and bike safety improvements, and repaving more of our crumbling streets.
It’s not a small price tag: $10.1 billion to improve core service, as well as meet the needs of our planned growth here along the waterfront and in other parts of town.
But they also gave us a roadmap to leverage federal, state and local monies and fund our system in a responsible, more sustainable way, if only we show the resolve to finally tackle our long-term transportation challenges.
In November, working with the Board of Supervisors, I will support the Transportation 2030 Task Force’s two recommendations for 2014, bringing to the voters a $500 million general obligation transportation bond and a measure to increase the local vehicle license fee
I recognize that asking voters to pay more for their vehicle license fee may be an uphill battle, especially at a time when the cost of living in our City is already so high.
But the cost of ignoring Muni’s problems, the cost of falling further behind in the condition of our streets, the cost of jamming more people onto already overcrowded and aging streetcars – is far higher.
And while we’re at it – if we’re finally going to take a comprehensive approach to Muni’s funding – let’s tear off a band-aid we applied in more dire financial times that made our residents’ lives a little more frustrating and expensive.
I’m talking about “Sunday meters.” It generated several million dollars last year, almost half of it from parking tickets, and I hear about it. Nobody likes it. Not parents. Not our neighborhood small businesses. Not me.
With a more sustainable approach to funding our transportation system, we can give our meters, our parking control officers and most importantly, our families a rest on Sunday.
And so today I call upon the SFMTA Board of Directors to suspend Sunday meters in our City beginning with the new fiscal year. I’m grateful that Board Chair Tom Nolan has already signaled his support.
Let’s stop nickel and diming people at the meter and work together to pass a transportation bond and vehicle license fee increase in 2014, instead.
And there’s one more thing we can do for our working families who rely on Muni, especially our low-income families. Last year, the SFMTA, at the urging of Supervisor Campos and many in the community, began a pilot program to fund free muni for low-income youth.
The results are in. It’s a hit. And our kids need it. It’s time to make it permanent, and I call upon the SFMTA to do just that in its next two-year budget.
Again, with a comprehensive funding strategy in place, we won’t be robbing our maintenance dollars to pay for it. And it’s the right thing to do for our lower and middle-income families to make this City a little more affordable.
Affordability is also about having a City government that the taxpayers can afford.
In the last three years, under the leadership of former Budget Chair and now Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, and more recently under the leadership of Budget Chair Mark Farrell, we have for the first time adopted Five-Year financial plans, two-year budgets, and made dramatic progress towards reducing our annual shortfalls and eliminating our structural deficit.
Thanks to the wisdom of the voters, we are among just a handful of cities in the nation to confront our unfunded pension and retiree health liabilities.
Better times have returned, but we must not be tempted to stray from the path of fiscal discipline, and as we craft our next two-year budget, we must be sure we are only investing in services and staffing that we can afford over the long term.
And one of those fundamental responsibilities is ensuring public safety. In 2014, San Francisco remains one of the safest big cities in America. Thank you, Chief Suhr, Chief Hayes-White, Adult Probation Chief Still, Juvenile Probation Chief Nance and District Attorney George Gascon.
Two years ago, alongside Supervisor Cohen, our police department and with partners in the community, we launched the IPO Strategy – Interrupt, Predict and Organize, and we’ve seen remarkable results.
Homicides are down 30 percent from last year, among the lowest in 40 years, with shootings half of what they were 10 years ago.
But we can do better.
With new police and fire academies made possible by our economic recovery, we’ll hire and train more first responders, from 911 dispatch operators to firefighters to police officers. Soon you’ll see more officers walking a neighborhood beat, from Haight Street to Third Street to the Tenderloin and Central Market.
And a big thank you to the men and women of our police officers and firefighters’ unions for agreeing to multi-year labor contracts that will allow us to move forward with these ambitious hiring plans.
And let me say a few words about another public safety challenge on our City’s streets that last year grew at an alarming rate, and that’s the safety of our pedestrians and bicyclists.
This week I announced a renewed strategy to keep people safe, including stepped up enforcement, especially against reckless drivers, better training for commercial drivers and those who drive the most, our “Be Nice, Look Twice” public education campaign, and improvements in places like Polk Street and South Van Ness, where we most urgently need improvements.
It’s another reason the transportation measures I discussed earlier are so important, so we can dramatically expand our segregated bike lanes and pedestrian bulb-outs.
I also support the goals of Vision Zero to eliminate traffic-related deaths in our City, but to get there, we need a little more commonsense as well. For everyone, be more aware of your surroundings. And drivers slow down and don’t ever text and drive.
San Francisco is one of the most pedestrian and bicycle-friendly cities in America. Let’s work together in 2014 to make it the safest city in America for those activities as well.
And there’s another daily threat to our public safety in California — earthquakes.
We don’t know when it will strike, but someday, it will, and it is up to us to make sure we’ve done all we can to prepare.
And so in June, I will ask you to join me in supporting a $400 million Earthquake Safety Emergency Response General Obligation Bond.
Part of our Ten-Year Capital Plan, this 2014 Earthquake Safety Bond will fund critical seismic improvements to our fire and police stations, our emergency firefighting water system and other core assets that our first responders will rely on to save lives and property, all without raising property taxes.
It follows the important seismic improvements we’ve already made to our Hetch Hetchy water system, our General Hospital and key roads and bridges to make San Francisco the most resilient and seismically-prepared city in California.
A January day like this and this bone-dry winter, remind us that the threat of climate change is very real.
An hour ago, our Governor formally declared that we are in a drought in California. It’s more important than ever to continue our global leadership on the environment.
We’ll do that by ensuring that our new housing and commercial office spaces are the greenest possible. Thanks to our green building laws, we have significantly reduced our greenhouse gas emissions, even as construction booms.
I’m proud that San Francisco was ranked among the top energy-efficient cities in the nation in 2013, #1 in LEED Platinum and Gold Commercial projects, and that our waste diversion rate continues to lead the nation.
We’re also a national leader in electric vehicle charging stations and building out our EV infrastructure for the future.
And we’re helping homeowners and businesses become more energy-efficient by installing rooftop solar through our GoSolarSF and through our recently-announced PACE programs.
And through our Public Utilities Commission and Recreation & Parks Departments, thank you General Managers Harlan Kelly and Phil Ginsburg, we’re investing in water recycling and greater water conservation for current and future droughts.
And ladies and gentlemen, there’s another public health, public safety, and fundamental human challenge on our streets – and that’s too many people without a home.
While we have the strongest social safety net in the nation, we still have far too many homeless people suffering on our streets, and too many people unable to make the choices they need to save their own lives because of severe mental health and substance abuse problems.
In the last 10 years, begun under the leadership of former Mayor Gavin Newsom, nearly 11,000 people have moved off of our streets, thanks in part to thousands of units of supportive housing we have built, where we continue to provide intensive services.
And we’ve changed 11,000 lives for the better, including the lives of people like Todd Leachman, a single dad, who is here today with his daughter. Last year, Todd lost his job and became homeless. But now Todd is well on his way to self-sufficiency again after receiving move-in assistance and a temporary rental subsidy through the Hamilton Family Center’s First Avenues program.
Todd is housed along with many other families thanks to programs that prevent at-risk families from becoming homeless through our Human Services Agency, under the steady leadership of Director Trent Rhorer.
But we need to do more, and the proof is what we see on the streets every day, too many people dealing with serious mental health issues like schizophrenia, often self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.
We won’t turn our backs on them. But we do have to change how we help those who are clearly suffering, and who cannot help themselves.
For these folks, no matter how many times we offer them housing and services, they decline. It’s not a lack of resources. No City spends more than we do, $2.7 billion every year, on the social and human safety net.
Our Department of Public Health started the San Francisco Community Independence Placement Program two years ago, I’ve called it San Francisco’s version of “Laura’s Law.”
The results are in, and it’s working. Through this program, we are reducing hospital stays and jail time, increasing access to stabilizing services and treatment, and saving lives.
Health experts estimate that there are hundreds of people who could immediately benefit from a stronger public conservatorship program encompassing mental health and substance abuse like this one.
In 2014, we must expand and make permanent this kind of strong Public Conservatorship program.
First, I will ask the Board of Supervisors to adopt a required resolution allowing our City to fully move forward with our own community-based mental health program.
Second, I will work with the Superior Courts to educate our judges about the positive benefits of this program.
And third, I will work with other Mayors and a statewide coalition to propose changes to state law in Sacramento that will boost our local ability to implement a public conservatorship program that works.
Folks, I know this will not come without controversy, but I refuse to let people die on our streets any longer because we refused to compel them to help themselves.
I’m grateful that City Attorney Dennis Herrera, our Public Health Director Barbara Garcia, and a growing number of mental health experts and homeless advocates have endorsed this new approach.
This is still the City of St. Francis, and we have a moral obligation to help those who are chronically homeless because they simply do not have the capacity to make decisions that will save their own lives.
Housing for All
But housing in San Francisco, especially in 2014, is not just a concern for those still on our streets.
And that brings us back to where we are today, this place, the Shipyard, which we see today at long last is reclaimed and reborn, from a foundry for ships to the crucible of a new community. Mayor Brown, we’re finally realizing your vision here and honoring the commitment you made to this community and to the Southeast sector so many years ago.
And thank you Senator Feinstein and Leader Pelosi for your unwavering support all these years for the revitalization of the Shipyard and for your leadership in winning $850 million over the last two decades for a thorough cleanup and smooth transition from the Navy to the City.
Around us – under construction before our very eyes – are hundreds – and soon thousands — of new homes, some of them two and three bedroom homes for families. More than 25% of them will be permanently affordable and onsite. And the rest will be priced according to the market, many fully in reach of our City’s middle class families.
You heard me right – family housing, with these views of the waterfront and our downtown skyline, all priced at the market rate for middle income families and individuals, ready to move in as early as this summer. You can even see the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Bay Bridge from your front porch!
And while the 49ers will never play at Candlestick again, soon thousands of children will be playing there instead, as we replace the old stadium with thousands of new homes and parks for middle class families, beginning next year.
The shortage of housing affordable to working and middle income people is a problem we’ve let fester for so long in this town, it’s become a genuine crisis.
It’s a crisis that sparks genuine fear in too many longtime residents, worried that speculators looking to make a quick buck in a hot market will soon threaten them with eviction.
It’s a crisis that pushes young couples starting a family out of town, because once you have a kid, there’s only so long that one bedroom apartment is going to work.
And it’s a crisis that threatens to choke off our economic growth and prosperity for the future, as companies move elsewhere because their employees simply can’t afford to live here anymore.
It’s a crisis made all the more daunting because there are no easy solutions, and so, too often, in frustration, some people turn to easy targets instead – a commuter shuttle bus or a company’s IPO, or even, toast.
My fellow San Franciscans what our housing crisis demands are real solutions and a shared vision, not easy slogans and scapegoating.
Because let’s be clear: we are all responsible – this is a crisis of our own making.
For too long in San Francisco, we’ve tried to have it both ways. We want more money for affordable housing, but too often we oppose or scale back the very projects that generate those funds.
We demand that developers build more housing affordable for working people and middle income families, but then we slow them down at every step, severely limit where and what they can build, and then express surprise when new market-rate housing is affordable only to the wealthy.
A great example of these problems is the place where we are standing right now.
Some of those who decry our housing crisis were the same folks who opposed building these new homes, and slowed their approval for years beyond just the pace of cleanup.
You see, I know something about these issues. It’s where I got my start in politics more than 35 years ago, as an advocate for some of our City’s poorest tenants.
In 1977, as Reverend Norman Fong, Gordon Chin, Jeff and Sandy Mori and so many others will remember, we stood together to stop the wrongful eviction of hundreds of our seniors and immigrants from the International Hotel.
One summer night, while the rest of the City slept, an army of riot police, many on horseback, marched on the I-Hotel.
In defiance, some 3,000 of us banded together and surrounded the building, singing “We Shall Overcome.”
In the end, we only slowed the evictions, but it was a turning point for the Pan-Asian and tenant movements in our City.
Our resistance that night helped pave the way for the passage of rent control by the Board of Supervisors two years later.
And all these years later, as Mayor, though I may be a little less angry, my passion for housing – and making sure San Francisco is still a place where people of every background can call home – still burns hot.
That’s why housing is a central part of my economic plan.
And why, in the first year of my full term as Mayor, we worked together to place an Affordable Housing Trust Fund on the ballot, which the voters adopted, to create a $1.5 billion stream of funding for affordable housing for low and middle-income residents over the next 30 years.
But I will be the first to say, it’s only a start.
So today I lay out an ambitious new challenge for our City, by setting an aggressive goal to complete at least 30,000 new and rehabilitated homes by 2020.
Additionally, my challenge is to ensure that at least one-third of those will be permanently affordable to low and moderate income families.
And the majority of them will be within reach of working, middle income San Franciscans – our retail and service workers; our teachers and electricians; our homecare workers and nurses.
And today I’m announcing the seven pillars of a plan to reach this ambitious goal – seven principles around which we must rally our efforts and marshal our resources to ensure we build these 30,000 homes and meet our affordability targets.
First, we must protect our residents from eviction and displacement.
We have some of the best tenant protections in the country, but unchecked real estate speculation threatens too many of our residents.
I’ve joined Senator Leno, Assemblyman Ting, President Chiu, Supervisor Campos and a diverse coalition of supporters, including business leaders, property owners and developers, to reform the Ellis Act in Sacramento.
Second, we must stabilize and protect at-risk rent-controlled units.
Rent control is still the core protection that allows many of our residents to remain in our City.
Third, we must revitalize and rebuild our public housing.
As I said last year, it’s time to end the cycle of “poverty housing” in San Francisco. Supervisor Breed, who grew up in Plaza East, knows exactly what I’m talking about.
In 2013, with new leadership at our Housing Authority, and with the full support of the Obama Administration and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, we now have a set of recommendations to reform the way we provide safe, clean housing for our poorest residents.
Thank you, City Administrator Naomi Kelly and members of the Housing Authority Commission.
We are building on and expanding the principles of HOPE SF a plan that will transform four public housing sites into integrated, mixed income communities.We have already started with Hunters View, and next, in partnership with Lennar Urban, we’ll begin at nearby Alice Griffith Housing.
Problems decades in the making won’t be solved overnight, but we’re making progress.
Last year, HUD rewarded our reform efforts with $6.5 million more for basic operations, and today there are new maintenance mechanics at every property, 25% of these positions filled by residents themselves.
Next week, I’ll be traveling to Washington to ask HUD for even more flexibility on how we spend our limited federal dollars.
This will allow us to leverage even more funds for our re-imagined vision of public housing, so we can rebuild 4,000 housing units by 2020.
The fourth pillar of my agenda will double our downpayment loan programs and create more middle income homeownership opportunities.
Our City’s middle class is deeply affected by the housing crunch – they make too much to qualify for our traditional affordable housing, but not enough to afford much of the new market rate construction.
And so we must explore new public-private partnerships and launch a wave of innovative land-use experiments to build thousands of new homes in reach of the middle class, including new incentives for more onsite inclusionary housing, land trusts and use of our publicly-owned lands.
And today I am announcing an immediate expansion to double the amount of the City’s down-payment program, to increase assistance to first-time and below-market-rate homebuyers.
Together, these acts can help more than 2,500 additional middle-income families buy a home in our City by 2020.
Fifth, we must build more affordable housing, faster. We’re a national leader in production of permanently affordable housing, but we need to build more of it, and with fewer delays.
In December, I signed an Executive Order directing our permitting agencies to prioritize affordable projects.
If we continue these efforts, we can add as many as 4,000 new permanently affordable rentals by 2020.
Sixth, we must continue to build market rate units, especially rental units.
The laws of supply and demand still apply, even in San Francisco. The more options for housing our residents have, the less difficult it becomes to find a home.
In particular, by building in neighborhoods outside of our central core, like here in the Shipyard or nearby Candlestick, at Parkmerced, or at the old Schlage Lock site in Visitacion Valley we will dramatically expand the number of homes naturally affordable to middle income families.
And finally, we must make construction of new housing easier.
To get tens of thousands of homes built faster, we need to reduce the obstacles that can slow or even stop their construction.
I know this one is especially clear to Supervisor Wiener.
And we need new ways to support neighborhood infrastructure – through the re-investment of property taxes or infrastructure financing districts.
Some of you will look at this plan and say “But Ed, this will require us to do more than we’ve ever done before!”
And to them I say, exactly.
When it comes to housing production, we can’t keep doing the same things but expect better results.
We have to set aside the politics and traditional ideologies and instead work together, in the service of real solutions for housing.
Next month, I will once again convene housing experts who know this issue best – the developers – market rate and affordable – City departments, tenant and housing advocates, realtors and property owners.
I’ll ask them to work with me and with the Board of Supervisors to achieve the goal of 30,000 new and rehabilitated homes by 2020 and implement the seven pillars of this housing plan.
Ladies and gentlemen, I know we can do it, because in the relatively short life of our City, we have faced and overcome even more daunting challenges.
And I’m not just talking about earthquakes or pandemics.
From the Gold Rush to the building of the railroad, through wars, liberation movements, the AIDS crisis and the dot.com boom, the story of San Francisco is one of rapid spurts of growth.
It’s a story of new industries and movements that brought new waves of people, all seeking the better life and opportunities that San Francisco, more than most places, has always represented.
Over time our growing City covered the hills.
We grew West and South, turning cemeteries and sand dunes into neighborhoods like the Western Addition, the Richmond and the Sunset.
Today we grow again in places like the Shipyard, the new Transbay District or along our eastern waterfront in places like Mission Rock or Pier 70.
And whether it was the Irish who came to pan for gold…
the Chinese who came to work on the railroad…
the African-Americans who came to work in the shipyards…
Latinos who fled civil war at home in search of work…
or gay, lesbian and transgender people who came seeking freedom and self-expression…
with each wave of newcomer has come a degree of tension.
But my fellow San Franciscans, our City has never been a postcard frozen in time.
We have never been a City that closed our borders, and slammed shut the door of opportunity to those who came here after us.
And when we’ve tried to keep people out, or demonized and stereotyped a group of people, they have been our ugliest and most shameful chapters.
And so today, as our population once again grows in numbers, and our skyline grows upwards, I call upon the quality and tenor of our civic discussion to grow up as well.
My friends, keeping this City a place where everyone can live – whether you’ve been year for 60 years or 60 days – is the fundamental challenge of our time.
But it is a challenge we must confront together.
As usual, it was Dr. King who said it best, “We may have come on different ships,
but we’re in the same boat now.”
It’s a challenge we confront by ensuring every San Franciscan who can work has a job.
It’s a challenge we confront by ensuring every San Franciscan can afford to stay here, and raise a family.
And it’s a challenge we confront by improving our schools, our public transportation system and keeping our streets safe.
We are one city, where we celebrate the success of all our residents, and we all share in the responsibility to help those still left behind.
It’s that same city where thousands will turn out to cheer on a little kid named Miles, who conquered cancer, and then came to live out his superhero dreams as Batkid.
And to the newcomers, to the young people who have come here, like so many generations before you, to find new opportunities,
I say: get involved.
You are now a part of this City, and must be a part of the solution.
Acknowledge your impact, and make it a good one.
Understand that the homeless man you see sleeping in the doorway probably once thought he was invincible too, but then made mistakes, or fell on hard times, and that one day, you may too.
Volunteer at your local school. Help clean up your local park.
Respect the history and the cultures of those who were here before you.
Shop and eat in your neighborhood, and break bread with your neighbors.
Because, it turns out… that San Francisco changes us more than any group of newcomers will ever change San Francisco.
It opens our eyes and our minds to new ideas and new ways of thinking, and that, my friends, is what makes this place so special, and keeps us at the cutting edge of this century as much, if not moreso, than the last.
My fellow San Franciscans, we have come a great distance these last few years, but there are still too many in our City we must lift up and too many we must still help to ensure that this will always be their City too.
Our work is far from done.
Nelson Mandela taught the world a thing or two about bridging divides and bringing people together.
And he reminded us that, after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
We may take a moment to rest, and look back at the distance we have come. But only for a moment.
We have responsibilities, and we dare not linger. Our long walk together is not yet ended.
Let us go forward together in 2014 to keep the State of our City vital and strong, and ensure that San Francisco remains a place where everyone can afford to call home.