A Community-Powered District

After sixteen years, we can say that neighborhood representation at City Hall has not improved much since San Francisco switched to District elections for the Board of Supervisors. Rents and real estate prices are obscenely high. The Mission has been transformed from a working class Latino neighborhood into a playground for the grown children of the rich and powerful; in fact, San Francisco General Hospital now includes the name of a tech billionaire on its sign. South of Market and China Basin have become the sites of massive development of high rise, luxury apartments mostly built as investment opportunities for billionaires and multimillionaires who live out of town. Gentrification is well under way in Bayview-Hunters Point, and the local government, rather than doing anything meaningful to slow it down, is trying to speed it up.

Meanwhile, the City sends police to harass and attack the encampments of homeless people—those displaced by all of this so-called development—that have sprung up in nearly every available space. Police also regularly kill our African-American and Latino neighbors only to be exonerated by their colleagues because they were in fear for their personal safety. The Movement for Black Lives organizes demonstration after demonstration against racist police brutality, repeatedly shutting down major transit arteries all over the Bay Area, and huge teams of heavily armed police officers show up and stand around laughing at the protesters at best, if not attacking them with pepper spray and clubs. If anyone dare criticize the police department, the San Francisco Police Officers’ Union publishes open letters obliquely threatening these critics with violence. And when an independent review finds that the SFPOA that absolutely defends these killings, some would say ‘murders’, is the true administration of the police department, the City replaces the police chief from within the department, promising reforms of this toxic, racist culture to be carried out by people recruited from within it.

Any part of either of these two highly simplified examples would be enough to conclude that local government is almost entirely unresponsive to the needs of the most vulnerable people in San Francisco, to the point of even failing to recognize their humanity. Looking more closely, we can see how these problems bear directly upon District 11. For instance, the police officers that killed Alejandro Nieto in Bernal Hill Park in March 2014—Lieutenant Jason Sawyer (then a sergeant), Officer Roger Morse, Officer Richard Schiff, and Officer Nathan Chew—were dispatched from Ingleside Station in our district. Nieto, the grown son of immigrants who was working his way through City College, is therefore the victim of the same policing strategy that is employed in District 11.

Furthermore, District 11 is where many of the people who have been pushed out of other parts of the City have come to live, often crowding many people into one living space in order to keep rents low and to also make sure that low income homeowners can make their house payments. Meanwhile, the neglect of basic services in our district that result in petty crime and garbage overflowing into our streets is part of a project to economically force working-class homeowners to sell their property to real estate speculators and house flippers and move out of town, clearing the way for the same process of gentrification that has transformed the Lower Haight, the Mission, and South of Market neighborhoods and that is currently working its dark magic in Bayview-Hunters Point to have its way with the Excelsior, Ingleside, and, soon enough, Sunnydale.

We will propose bold and achievable solutions to these problems and many more in this platform. However, in order to implement any of these proposals, we will need to rely upon the active support of our entire community and all its accumulated wisdom and power. In order to engage it, we need to fundamentally alter the political process in this town.

To this end, we propose:

  • The creation of the District 11 Community Council, to be made up of community residents elected by precinct to oversee disbursement of funds to the District and the work of District 11 Supervisor in order to make the Supervisor directly accountable to District residents.
  • Making members of the District Council responsible for both determining policy for the District and guaranteeing its execution in order to empower those with the most at stake. This includes the functions currently under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Police Department (please see A Self-Policing District).
  • Making membership to the council open to all District residents 14 years of age or older, regardless of immigration status or whether or not they have been convicted for a committing a prior felony. This is in order to ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are met (please see A District of Youth and Children and A True Sanctuary District).
  • Making voting for the council to be open to all District residents 14 years of age or older, regardless of immigration status or whether or not they have been convicted for committing a prior felony.
  • Granting voting rights to non-citizens and felons in District 11 and all municipal elections. As a first step, we want to create voting places for disfranchised District residents on Election Day (please see A True Sanctuary District).
  • Lowering the voting age in District 11 and all municipal elections to fourteen years of age to encourage civic engagement at an early age and to force elected officials to take the needs of future generations seriously (please see A District of Youth and Children).
  • Making the District Supervisor formally accountable to the District Council for participation in city policy.
  • Making members of the District Council subject to immediate recall at any time by district residents.
  • Making all District and citywide officeholders subject to immediate recall.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: