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Mayor Lee's Op-Ed's

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2012

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SF Examiner

San Francisco Celebrates Innovation in October

SF Examiner

October 18, 2012

As the Innovation Capital of the World, San Francisco is home to the world’s top technology and creative talent.

To continue attracting top talent and companies such as Pinterest and Twitter, I have created an environment where we embrace and celebrate innovation. 

To showcase our accomplishments, I declared October as Innovation Month in San Francisco. This isn’t just a proclamation. During October, we are acknowledging and highlighting the best organizations, events and people who are innovating their way through some of our toughest challenges by engaging the private sector, making data available to our best thinkers and launching innovative programs that will move city government forward. We want our tech sector pioneers to continue to start, stay and grow in San Francisco, and we do this by engaging them.

To fulfill a promise I made last year and realize my vision for The City’s future, I appointed one of the nation’s first chief innovation officers by appointing Jay Nath to take on this important task. His commitment to introducing new ideas and approaches to problems through new initiatives and hackathons, and by making government more transparent, efficient and focused on serving The City’s communities, are helping to make San Francisco the leader in Gov 2.0.

Without a doubt, our people are San Francisco’s greatest resource. These creative minds are not only the reason The City is taking the lead in innovation, but also one of my strongest motivations to continue creating jobs for San Franciscans.

I am often called the Tech Mayor, but really, I want to be known as the Jobs Mayor. From my first day in office, I have made it clear that my No. 1 priority for our city is jobs, jobs, jobs. I am committed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure that San Franciscans can continue to access jobs. I am very proud of our partnerships with the tech sector and the innovative ways we’ve been able to put San Franciscans back to work.

We’ve had a wealth of good news in the past couple of years with company after company deciding to commit to San Francisco as their home. I couldn’t be more pleased about these great developments, but it’s important to stress that innovation is not just about technology. Innovation means openness to a different way of thinking and new solutions to problems that affect San Franciscans every day.

As our city celebrates Innovation Month, I couldn’t be more proud to learn that UC San Francisco Gladstone Institutes’ Shinya Yamanaka was just awarded a Nobel Prize. He serves as a great example of the spirit of innovation San Francisco is pursuing. 

Innovation is part of who we are as San Franciscans, and it helps fuel our local economy by creating jobs. I encourage everyone to visit InnovateSF.com to sign up for updates, get information on Innovation Month events and find out how you can participate. This month is not just a celebration; it is also a call to action for all of us to continue making San Francisco America’s best city.

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New school year gives San Francisco more opportunities to nurture youths

SF Examiner

August 16, 2012

The 2012-13 school year is right around the corner, and on Monday, 54,200 public-school students and 8,189 staff members will fill 131 child development centers and elementary, middle and high schools throughout our beautiful city. 

This is an exciting time for our San Francisco Unified School District. It has a new leader at the helm in Richard Carranza, a proven leader and deputy superintendent over the past three years under the great leadership of former Superintendent Carlos Garcia. The district API will likely hit the state target of 800, with more than half of our schools meeting or exceeding that mark. Suspensions are down, chronic absenteeism is down, graduation rates are rising and as a city, we are working hard to provide more opportunities for our youths. 

This year, under my Summer Jobs+ program, we provided our city’s young people with 5,002 paid internships, many of those slots going to at-risk youths. With our partners at United Way Bay Area, we hope to make this a year-round program.

In addition to internships, our Department of Children, Youth and Their Families funded 62 summer programs that provided a meaningful summer learning experience for 6,700 students from kindergarten to the eighth grade. We also focused our efforts in grades six through 12 with programs that helped kids learn leadership skills. 

This doesn’t include the thousands of young people served through our comprehensive summer programs at the Recreation and Park Department. For the second year in a row, we funded summer school to help out our high school students. We also sponsored the Free Summer Food and Snack program, which provided 5,000 meals daily to our youths.

As the school year begins, I look forward to strengthening our partnership with our public schools and paying particular attention to our middle school students and their families. Transition years are critical and if we want to continue to raise graduation rates and prepare our students for college and careers in our innovation economy, we need to invest in our youths early and often. 

The state budget has made it difficult for all of our public schools, but the city of San Francisco has stepped up and continues to be a strong partner for our families and their children, not only at the pre-K though 12th-grade levels, but also with our local colleges and universities. We look forward to a productive, innovative, creative, safe and engaging school year! To all of our students and families throughout our city, welcome back to school!

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Investing in City's Future Starts at Ballot Box 

SF Examiner

July 25, 2012

From housing to creating jobs to our parks and playgrounds, I am working with the members of the board to give San Franciscans a real opportunity to shape the future of our city this November.

This week, the Board of Supervisors placed a measure on November’s ballot to create the San Francisco Housing Trust Fund. The product of months of work with affordable-housing advocates, community organizations and housing developers, the fund would create sustainable revenues to fund housing construction so San Francisco is a viable place to live and work for people at every level of the economy.

The board and I also worked together on a ballot measure to invest in parks, playgrounds and recreation centers.

The $195 million parks bond will focus on renovating and improving parks and open spaces to respond to the needs of The City’s children, youths and families, so we can keep providing the highest-quality parks, services and recreational programming.

And then there’s our tax on jobs. San Francisco is the only city in California with a payroll tax. It’s time to reward companies for creating jobs in our city, not punish them. This week, I joined board President David Chiu and Supervisor John Avalos to announce a consensus measure to reform our business-tax structure.

This comprehensive proposal — which is projected to create more than 1,750 new private-sector jobs annually and generate $28.5 million in new revenue for The City’s general fund in its first year — will end our tax on jobs, protect small businesses and bring stable, growing revenue for vital city services and affordable housing for the future.

City Controller Ben Rosenfield, city economist Ted Egan and their hardworking staffs have developed a fair, equitable and broad-based business tax reform measure, and we reached agreement on a single reform measure that will generate new revenue for infrastructure, economic and community development. It has wide support from business, labor and board members.

The consensus ordinance imposes gross receipts and gross expense taxes on businesses, phased in over five years beginning in tax year 2014, to reduce payroll-tax rates based on the amount of gross-receipts tax collected based on seven progressive tax schedules categorized by industry.

The proposal also establishes business registration fees based on gross receipts and gross expenses, which have not been adjusted in more than a decade. Starting at $75 for small businesses and increasing to up to $35,000 for companies earning more than $200 million a year, these license fees would be adjusted annually via the Consumer Price Index.

If voters approve the measure, I will convene a Jobs, Economic and Community Development Advisory Council with broad representation to develop recommendations for the mayor’s annual budget that invest business license fee revenues into critical infrastructure — including housing, Muni maintenance and street repaving — and other economic and community development initiatives that will create jobs, invest in our workforce, support small business and promote economic growth.

The board will consider this reform Tuesday. Together with voters, we can reform our payroll tax to create thousands of new jobs, help our small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive, create thousands of new units of affordable and workforce housing and invest in our parks, playgrounds and waterfront for the future.

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Yacht Race, Opportunity Sailing In 

SF Examiner

July 7, 2012

San Francisco will be the seventh city in the world to host the America’s Cup sailing competition since the first race around the Isle of Wright in 1852. Last week, the Board of Supervisors gave its unanimous approval for our great city to host the 34th America’s Cup in 2013 and preliminary races in 2012.

The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport and will be the world’s only major international sporting event in 2013.

The races begin next month along our northern waterfront with the America’s Cup World Series in August and October. In 2013, we will see almost three months of racing, starting on the Fourth of July with the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series, followed by the best-of-nine America’s Cup series beginning September 2.

I expect that these exciting and unique races in San Francisco will draw hundreds of thousands of spectators from around the globe. Combined with the associated capital improvements to our waterfront, the America’s Cup will create more than 8,000 new jobs and $1 billion in economic impacts spread across The City.

The sailing races themselves will be an extraordinary spectacle — boats that are the height of a 13-story building racing at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour between Alcatraz, the Golden Gate and Bay bridges. For the first time in its history, the America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton Cup races are being designed to be viewed from land.

Residents and visitors will have a changed and far more open waterfront to experience, including significant projects that will last long after the races are concluded, such as the new James R. Herman Cruise Terminal and a 2½-acre open space at Piers 27-29.

The City’s workers and businesses will have an unprecedented opportunity to benefit from the races and development. With our partners at the America’s Cup Event Authority, we have made more than 100 presentations to business, community, arts and cultural organizations across The City to alert them to the business opportunities and to help develop a strategy to bring the economic benefits to neighborhoods across The City.

Finally, we are developing a plan to promote our neighborhoods — and the arts, culture, entertainment venues, shops and restaurants that populate them — to America’s Cup visitors. We are confident that with our partners at the San Francisco Travel Association as well as the America’s Cup Event Authority, San Francisco will shine as the host of an exciting global sporting event that will provide for key legacy projects along our waterfront as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits for The City.

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Innovation is Key to City's Transparency

SF Examiner

 

 

 

June 28, 2012

We are not going to kid ourselves: these are challenging times. The news out of Sacramento and Washington, D.C., every day reinforces the reality that local governments and cities will have to continue to do more with less. Today, more than ever, San Francisco is uniquely poised to innovate and take a different approach to solving our challenges.

This month, I hosted a forum recognizing the critical role that technology and innovation play in cities by sharing best practices at the 80th annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Florida. There, I joined the White House to announce an Open Government Innovation Partnership to urge mayors across our nation to pledge to help cities advance and prioritize innovation to drive job growth and economic development, and improve efficiency and collaboration. As chair of the first USCM Technology and Innovation Task Force, I asked mayors to join a partnership that will build an ecosystem to help cities advance and prioritize innovation to improve government.

Open-government initiatives, such as making city data available to everyone, spur entrepreneurship, foster economic growth and create jobs. Applications can be developed by the brightest minds in our city to address anything from knowing when to move your car to avoid a parking ticket; to what’s the fastest mode of travel to get to your destination, biking or bus; to finding your nearest park. Adopting innovation in a city’s action plan also makes government more transparent and holds us even more accountable to the public we serve.

Just this week, I joined the San Francisco Police Department and San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation to announce a new mobile application that will allow police officers to report remotely from the field, avoiding time-consuming trips to district stations. They will also share reports in real time to improve Police Department efficiency and accountability. This project combines two of my priorities for The City: supporting our innovation economy and improving public safety. This initiative makes our Police Department one of the most innovative in the world, allowing officers to utilize cutting-edge 21st-century technology built right here in the “Innovation Capital of the World” to keep our city and our residents safe.

Leading by example, San Francisco is showing how important innovation and technology are to reforming government and improving transparency and accountability. What we learn and apply here can be replicated, and I will continue to work with city leaders from across the country to build a culture of innovation in city government.

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San Francisco Homes for Heroes Campaign to Help House 50 Veterans in 100 days

SF Examiner

June 14, 2012

I can’t think of a more patriotic thing to do than to find a homeless veteran a home. I’ll be the first to say that despite all our successes — our economy is growing, unemployment is down — housing is expensive. In order to house our homeless veterans, we need the partnership and support of our landlords and property owners.

Thanks to a tremendous investment by the federal government, homeless veterans in San Francisco can qualify for HUD-VASH (Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) vouchers. These vouchers provide veterans with rental assistance and case management.

In March, HUD awarded San Francisco $2.7 million, including 200 vouchers for veterans. Vouchers provide veterans with rental assistance throughout The City through the San Francisco Housing Authority and help support the Veterans Commons housing project at 150 Otis St., a new permanent supportive housing site for chronically homeless senior veterans.

Before the new allocation of vouchers are used, there are 50 veterans with VASH vouchers from prior years’ allocations who have been unable to secure housing. Along with our public and private partners, we launched the San Francisco Homes for Heroes 100 Days Campaign in May to house 50 veterans in 100 days.

HUD-VASH vouchers are valuable, and it’s up to us to make sure this federal investment is put to good and immediate use. Unfortunately, in this tight rental market, many veterans are having a hard time finding an apartment. My administration has teamed up with the Housing Authority, HUD, the VA and Swords to Plowshares to launch the campaign to house 50 homeless veterans by Aug. 17.

Since we began our campaign, we’ve fast-tracked the process: Landlords are getting inspected within 48 hours, payments are more flexible than ever, and we’ve made the paperwork as easy and painless as possible.

The San Francisco Apartment Association, the Small Property Owners of San Francisco and the Chinese Real Estate Association have been actively encouraging their members to participate in the campaign. They understand this is about supporting individuals who have sacrificed to protect our country.

I call upon the landlords and property managers to join us in our effort. If you have an apartment you can rent to a veteran through this program, we need your help.

San Francisco is known for its big heart. Let’s show our veterans, who have made the ultimate sacrifices in fighting for our country, how big that heart is.

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Welcoming the Golden State Warriors Back to San Francisco

SF Examiner

May 24, 2012

We are welcoming the Golden State Warriors back home to San Francisco!

The Warriors have been the Bay Area’s basketball team for 50 years, and we are setting the stage for the team to bring the Bay Area another 50 years of exciting basketball with a brand-new, privately financed, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena on our iconic waterfront.

It has been a full-court press to make sure Warriors owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob understand that San Francisco is the best possible option for an arena. This sports and entertainment facility will bring thousands of new jobs and boost our local economy, and not just during construction. When the arena opens, it will host everything from product launches to concerts to national conventions and more.

Not to mention, basketball! The arena will be built in time for the 2017 NBA season. Located on Piers 30-32, between the Ferry Building and AT&T Park, the piers are in desperate need of repair. This project will be privately financed and will bring an exciting new entertainment experience to Bay Area fans. Under the agreement, The City will provide the land and the Warriors will pay to repair the crumbling piers and privately finance the arena project.

The new facility will host the Bay Area’s NBA basketball team, as well as provide a spectacular new venue for top-tier concerts, cultural events and conventions, prominent events The City currently cannot accommodate. The new sports and entertainment facility will create thousands of new jobs for Bay Area residents and generate tens of millions of dollars in economic growth every year. Games, concerts, conventions and other events will bring people from all over the region, and the money they spend will directly benefit local businesses.

The project will be more transit-accessible than almost any other arena in the nation. Accessible by BART, Muni, ferries and the new Transbay Terminal, we are going to make it easy for people from all over the Bay Area to come to games without driving.

The project will be a responsible development, and we’re talking about piers that need major work. They will be cleaned up, strengthened and made usable. We’re not developing on any existing green spaces. In fact, we’re adding green spaces and bringing people to the waterfront.

This project means enormous economic growth for our city. The new revenue that will be generated will be used for vital city services that local residents need and deserve, from public safety and schools, to pothole repair and public transit, to youth programs and senior services.

This has been a terrific team effort. I am fully committed to this project, and I know I have put a tremendous team in place to make sure we deliver.

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Support local manufacturing jobs by buying quality ‘Made in S.F.’ products

SF Examiner

May 9, 2012

San Francisco is known as the “innovation capital of the world,” partly because of our thriving culture of creative tech companies, but also because San Francisco’s local artisanal manufacturing industry is booming. The thriving local manufacturing sector is making everything from apparel to ceramics, from messenger bags to chocolates and more, all carrying the “Made in S.F.” label. And I want to make sure that manufacturing in San Francisco continues to build momentum and carry this label around the world.

San Francisco has become a national model for local urban manufacturing, a crucial segment of The City’s economy. According to SFMade, a local nonprofit that builds and supports the vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco, The City is home to more than 325 manufacturing firms employing 3,000 people. Many of these jobs are trades- and craftspeople.

I made supporting local manufacturing a centerpiece of my 17-point jobs plan, and I am committed to supporting the continued growth and expansion of this critical sector. I have identified a four-part plan to support our local manufacturers.

First, I will create a manufacturing desk in my Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The City’s manufacturing desk will be a single point of contact at The City for manufacturing businesses, so entrepreneurs can spend less time dealing with The City and more time on their businesses.

Second, we are going to build on the lessons of FashionSF — The City’s initiative focused on supporting the retention and growth of apparel manufacturers and fashion designers — and focus on key sectors where we are well-positioned to compete and succeed.

Third, we will invest in our local manufacturers so we can help them create jobs. The City will continue to fund groups such as SFMade to help San Francisco manufacturers. In 2011, SFMade served more than 75 manufacturers, supporting more than 500 blue-collar jobs.

Fourth, as marketer-in-chief for The City, I want to help sell San Francisco-made products around the world. Working with local manufacturers, I will launch a coordinated marketing campaign to promote San Francisco-made products around the region, around the nation and around the world.

Over the coming months, I look forward to hearing from local manufacturers about the challenges and opportunities that confront their industries. I also look forward to working with members of the Board of Supervisors to discuss their ideas about how we can support local manufacturing.

With a focused effort and clear commitment, we can make sure that manufacturers in San Francisco continue to thrive and produce not only great products, but also great jobs.

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SF needs quake-safe CPMC hospitals

SF Examiner

April 25, 2012

San Franciscans last week were reminded of the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed most of The City and tragically took many lives. We were once again reminded that The City always needs to be prepared.

Seismically safe hospitals are key to our recovery efforts. Not only do we need to keep our hospital patients safe, we need to ensure that San Franciscans have access to medical services.

That’s why the California Pacific Medical Center hospitals project is so critical for The City. And that is why this project should be a top priority for San Franciscans.

In addition to public safety benefits, The City’s partnership with CPMC is an unprecedented investment in the future of our city that will move San Francisco’s health care system into the 21st century as well as create jobs for our city’s unemployed residents and community benefits for our neighborhoods.

Under the proposed development agreement with CPMC, they will receive permits to build two new state-of-the-art, seismically safe hospitals — at St. Luke’s in the Mission district and at Cathedral Hill on Van Ness Avenue. These projects will double the number of seismically safe hospital beds in San Francisco.

In addition, the project will inject $2.5 billion into The City’s economy, create 1,500 new construction jobs, another 1,500 permanent end-use jobs, and guarantee that we retain more than 6,000 high-quality jobs in San Francisco.

The project will also guarantee more than $100 million in community benefits to The City. This is an unprecedented commitment by any health care provider and reflects CPMC’s commitment to San Francisco to enhance care for all city residents.

Health care for low-income and underserved San Franciscans will be significantly increased, including hospital care for 10,000 additional Medi-Cal beneficiaries, which represents one-third of The City’s new Medi-Cal beneficiaries expected under federal health care reform.

In addition, there will be a $20 million endowment by CPMC for a new Community Care Innovation Fund, to support and improve the services of community clinics and other social-service organizations to better facilitate The City’s transition into Medi-Cal and federal health care reform.

CPMC will also provide the Mayor’s Office of Housing with $62 million to help create new affordable housing, replace demolished units and further our environmental sustainability goals by assisting CPMC employees with purchasing homes in San Francisco.

With the potential increase of hospital capacity and new jobs, we can foresee greater needs for transportation and pedestrian accommodations. That is why CPMC agreed to provide $20 million for San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency transit facilities and service, and $13 million for pedestrian safety and streetscape improvements.

Finally, we can be certain that CPMC will not pass on unexpected rate increases to The City’s Health Service System as a way to recover their costs of the project. As part of the development agreement, CPMC has agreed to cap rate increases to our Health Service System.

CPMC is what our city needs for public health, public safety and our economy. We need this project now more than ever. We cannot afford to get sidetracked and delayed.

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Quake Anniversary Reminds San Francisco to be Prepared

SF Examiner

April 11, 2012 

Next week on April 18, we will commemorate the 106th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and great fire. As we remember the lives lost, we will also celebrate the city that we rebuilt. Earthquakes, like the one just suffered in Indonesia this week, remind us that we absolutely must be prepared for the next disaster here in San Francisco. As we always say, “It is not a matter of if, but when” the next earthquake will shake The City.

The good news is that most people are more prepared than they think. Being prepared isn’t necessarily about buying an expensive earthquake or emergency kit. It’s about having basic items gathered and ready at hand. It’s about talking with your family about where to meet after a disaster or making sure everyone knows where your emergency supplies are. It’s about knowing to drop, cover and hold on during an earthquake.

Getting to know your neighbors is an equally important part of getting prepared. Join your free Neighborhood Emergency Response Team. You can meet your neighbors while learning skills that can help save a life. The stronger and more connected you are in your neighborhood, the better equipped you will be to rapidly respond and recover quickly from the next disaster.

There are resources available to help you learn more, especially through The City’s Department of Emergency Management. Go to 72hours.org or quakequizsf.org to learn how to best get prepared, and to test your knowledge about what to do if an earthquake strikes while you are at home, driving, on public transit, at the beach or at work. And please register at AlertSF.org, a text-based message system that will instantly deliver emergency information to you.

It is just as vital to be prepared at home as it is for San Francisco’s infrastructure to be prepared in a disaster. We’ve learned a lot of lessons and we know we must invest in our infrastructure, whether its hospitals, fire and police stations or any other city building.

That’s why, this week, I introduced a proposal at the Board of Supervisors to move forward and build two seismically safe hospitals — St. Luke’s and California Pacific Medical Center at Cathedral Hill. That’s also why last year we put forward the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond. This bond is already seismically repairing neighborhood fire stations, building a resilient Public Safety Building and safeguarding The City’s high-pressure firefighting water system, which will ensure there is enough water to extinguish large-scale fires after a strong earthquake. Collectively, this bond will help our first responders save lives.

Other large projects such as the Bay Bridge, San Francisco General Hospital and Doyle Drive are being rebuilt right now. And let’s not forget that we are also repairing and rebuilding the system that delivers pristine drinking water and clean hydropower from Hetch Hetchy to the Bay Area.

All told, The City has completed more than 190 seismic improvement projects since Loma Prieta in 1989, and another 34 projects are underway.

San Francisco is a great place to live, work and play. I am proud of our progress, but there is still more to do to make sure we are prepared and our city will be resilient after the next earthquake. Please do your part by going to 72hours.org and getting ready.

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Investing in Neighborhoods Makes Our City Thrive

SF Examiner

March 22, 2012

Almost any San Franciscan will tell you that our diverse, distinctive neighborhoods and commercial corridors are what make this city the greatest place to live and work. And in the heart of our neighborhoods, it is the small businesses that provide essential support by creating jobs, providing access to goods and services, increasing public safety and enhancing our sense of community. These businesses are the backbone of our economy.

After a couple of years of economic downturn, San Francisco is finally on the way to recovery, and our economy is starting to rebound. We have heard good news about the falling unemployment rate and an improved fiscal outlook for The City. In addition, our efforts to create jobs are clearly showing results. But the economic recovery must not be limited to downtown: We need to ensure that neighborhood commercial districts are also part of this revival.

Earlier this month, at the site of a proposed new “pocket park” on San Bruno Avenue, I announced the launch of Invest in Neighborhoods, a new initiative to strengthen our city’s neighborhood commercial corridors. Invest in Neighborhoods is designed to distribute city resources and services more effectively and efficiently, so that communities are healthier and small businesses are able to flourish.

San Bruno Avenue is a great example of how a commercial corridor can benefit from a comprehensive menu of city services, such as new trees on the street, light installations, facade improvements and safety ambassadors. Now we will take the lessons learned from our experience in the Portola area and spread that model to other neighborhoods around The City.

The concept behind Invest in Neighborhoods is simple: provide our neighborhood commercial corridors with the tools and services they need the most. My staff and our community partners will conduct a thorough assessment of each participating corridor, and subsequently we will deploy customized interventions that respond to and target specific community needs. City services — such as streetscape and facade improvements, parklets, public art, and business loans and incentive programs — can be effective at sprucing up our commercial corridors, but only if they are used responsively and strategically.

Invest in Neighborhoods will help create stronger neighborhoods that are more effective places to do business and attract customers.

To illustrate, one of the most in-demand and effective programs in the Invest in Neighborhoods cache is the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund. Since its launch in 2009, the RLF has been a stunning success. In two years, we loaned a total of $715,850 to 29 San Francisco businesses that have created 75 jobs. This financial capital — offered to business owners at below-market interest rates — helps create jobs and strengthen corridors.

We know entrepreneurs need to access loan capital in order to launch and expand small businesses. That is why in January, I introduced legislation to provide$1 million to recapitalize the RLF. This week, the Board of Supervisors overwhelmingly approved the ordinance, thereby providing $500,000 to recapitalize the RLF and setting aside $500,000 earmarked for the RLF once the first half is spent. This is just the beginning; I plan to allocate an additional $4 million to increase access to capital by supporting this and other programs that address a range of financing needs.

I am committed to working diligently with the supervisors to ensure that next year’s city budget reflects the importance of neighborhood small businesses to The City’s vibrancy and economic health. By investing in our neighborhoods and commercial corridors, we can create more jobs and preserve the small businesses and institutions that make San Francisco a world-class city.

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Sustainable Water Supply? Don’t Be Fooled by Latest Effort to Drain Hetch Hetchy

SF Examiner

March 8, 2012

San Francisco voters will soon be asked to sign an innocuous-sounding petition urging the City to develop “a sustainable water supply.” A laudable goal and one that San Francisco voters and City leaders have already committed to and are spending billions of dollars to achieve.

But don’t be fooled. Camouflaged in the petition’s language is the real goal of this measure: to drain the Bay Area’s largest and most important source of drinking water and clean energy – the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

A group of right-wing Republicans, led by ultra conservative Congressman Dan Lungren have joined with a small number of well-intentioned but misguided local residents to drain Hetch Hetchy, making reckless claims that the pristine drinking water and clean hydropower can be easily and cheaply replaced.

In fact, draining Hetch Hetchy would be an environmental and economic disaster for the Bay Area, sticking San Francisco taxpayers with a multibillion-dollar price tag.

Proponents want you to ignore the fact that 2.6 million residents and businesses of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda and San Francisco counties rely on Hetch Hetchy’s pristine water – not just City residents.

Hetch Hetchy is also a carbon-negative, gravity-fed system that delivers not just water, but also generates clean electricity to power hospitals, schools, libraries, police and fire stations, and electric buses.

Proponents know that San Franciscans already understand the importance of a reliable water system. Less than a decade ago, voters overwhelmingly approved a bond to invest $4.6 billion in seismic upgrades to the Hetch Hetchy Water System, which is why they’re masking the true nature of their measure.

They don’t lead with “Drain Hetch Hetchy”; they say “reduce the number of dams in the system from nine to eight.” Rather than talk about the estimated $10 billion costs (with no identified source to pay) or the dubious environmental claims, proponents are trying to guilt San Franciscans into a misguided policy decision. The 117 billion gallons stored at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is more water than all our other drinking water reservoirs combined – thus, “reducing from nine to eight,” in Hetch Hetchy’s case, would be disastrous.

“Orange County recycles more water than San Francisco does,” Lungren tells us, as if that were a reason to drain Hetch Hetchy. But the fact is San Franciscans use about 50 gallons per resident per day – less than a third of the state’s average! Meanwhile, we’ve embarked on a massive conservation program. This year, we will begin using recycled water as part of a comprehensive program to use groundwater, graywater, and recaptured rainwater and by 2035, our entire service area will get 21 million gallons per day of recycled water – 8 percent of our supply, matching that of Orange County.
Still, even though we are already among the most efficient water users in the state, the Bay Area will always need Hetch Hetchy.

Even the proponents admit that their best-case scenarios show that if Hetch Hetchy were to be drained, the Bay Area would be left without sufficient water supplies in one out of every five years. That’s a chilling thought, as we experience one of the driest winters on record and face the prospect of longer, more frequent droughts in the future.

Don’t be fooled. San Francisco is already ensuring a reliable, sustainable water supply for the future, aggressively pursuing ever-greater water recycling, conservation and developing new water resources like groundwater. This latest effort to “develop a sustainable water supply” is just a Trojan Horse that threatens irreparable harm to our economy and our environment.

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Innovation Is The Driver For Job Creation In San Francisco

SF Examiner

February 22, 2012

I came into office determined to create jobs and grow San Francisco’s economy by harnessing the creative talent and energy of the people here. That’s why a big part of my economic development agenda is focused on getting tech companies to start here, stay here and grow here, so they can innovate here in San Francisco.

As the innovation capital of the world, we are not just creating jobs and growing our economy, but tapping into the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit to make government work better for our residents.

Innovation is the past and the future of our city; it is who we are, as well as being a part of our economic engine that is creating jobs. Today, there are more than 1,500 tech companies employing 30,000 employees. Our economy’s success will depend, in part, on our constant engagement with these technology companies to make sure they succeed.

In January, we announced a partnership with the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology & Innovation, or sf.citi. Sf.citi will help us leverage the collective power of the tech sector to make government better and get our residents employed. We have already partnered with Code for America to launch the world’s first Civic Startup Accelerator, which will support entrepreneurs who launch companies to make city government more responsive, efficient and connected.

For residents and businesses, that means we will be working on ways to make our transit better, permitting faster, and, in general, just delivering government services better. We will do this by innovating our way to solutions, and the tech sector can, and is willing to, help us do that.

All of us recognize the power of innovation and new technology in changing how we communicate, interact and share information with each other. And because of that, and the value the tech sector brings to our economy, I was one of the first mayors to stand in solidarity with our tech community last month to oppose federal anti-piracy legislation that would have hindered the free flow of information — a cornerstone of our 21st-century economy. SOPA and PIPA were a direct threat to our innovation economy, and we stood together to make sure legislators went back to the drawing board to protect intellectual property against piracy while protecting thousands of jobs and our economy.

You will be hearing a lot about innovation, and it will remain at the top of my priority list. I hired the country’s first chief innovation officer, Jay Nath, who will introduce new ideas and approaches to make city government more transparent, efficient and focused on our customers — San Francisco residents, businesses and visitors. The chief innovation officer will make sure technology is a driver of change in city government and a job creator. I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress!

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Protecting Our Cities’ Transportation Funding

SF Examiner

February 14, 2012

California cities will lose vital funding for mass transit, bike and pedestrian improvements, and 21st-century road planning if the House passes the transportation bill in its current form. Critical federal funds would be redirected with a short-sighted emphasis on roads and bridges alone.

While roads and bridges are a critical component of California’s infrastructure, diverting vital funding for sustainable modes of travel is unwise. If this wrongheaded approach moves forward in the House, the nation’s transportation network will take a giant step backward to a “roads only” policy for dedicated funding.

It is no surprise that experts across this country have labeled this bill as the worst they have ever seen, including President Barack Obama’s secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood. This plan jeopardizes mass transit expansion, improvements in air quality and progress we have made to address road congestion. In essence, our cities would be in danger of being stuck at a red light when it comes to advancing transportation alternatives that not only improve our cities, but improve the quality of the lives of hardworking Americans.

Cities throughout California are dependent on a robust multimodal, accessible transportation system. Maintaining mobility in our communities is fundamental to our overall economic vitality, getting people to their workplaces, daily appointments and to downtowns for shopping.

We’ve seen that cities, particularly those in California, continue to drive our nation’s economic resurgence. To choke off our most important resource for transportation infrastructure would be devastating to our recovery. We mustn’t stay silent as the House considers this legislation.

As troublesome as this bill would be, it only gets worse. The legislation would also prevent California from being eligible for high-speed rail funds. It would open the North Slope of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing, allow oil shale development on public lands and expand drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

This bill would also put an end to 30 years of bipartisan support for joint funding of both highways and public transportation and explicitly contradicts President Ronald Reagan’s support for mass transit in 1982.

If there is good news in this situation, it is that there is an alternative to this potentally disastrous piece of legislation. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and her committee colleagues passed a bipartisan transportation bill that goes to the Senate floor next week. We support Sen. Boxer’s attempts to pass a reasonable reauthorization bill, and oppose the House’s version.
We believe Congress must sustain the long-standing commitment to this funding that reflects support for broad transportation needs across all communities. This is critical to continued economic recovery in California.

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SF Chronicle

Ballot Measure on S.F. Water Supply Unnecessary

SF Chronicle

March 2, 2012

A petition is circulating to place a measure on the November ballot encouraging San Francisco to develop a sustainable water supply but the hidden intent of this measure is to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir - a pristine source of water and clean hydropower for millions of people in the San Francisco Bay Area.
San Franciscans know that true water sustainability starts by maximizing water conservation and efficient water use, not by destroying and then building costly new facilities as the measure advocates.

A petition is circulating to place a measure on the November ballot encouraging San Francisco to develop a sustainable water supply but the hidden intent of this measure is to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir - a pristine source of water and clean hydropower for millions of people in the San Francisco Bay Area. San Franciscans know that true water sustainability starts by maximizing water conservation and efficient water use, not by destroying and then building costly new facilities as the measure advocates.
Let's not forget that San Franciscans already use half as much water per person as the statewide average. Yet we are focused on aggressive water conservation efforts, from offering free water-saving devices and efficiency audits to incentives and education. We've also passed ordinances and changed building codes to support our conservation goals. Together, these efforts will save San Francisco nearly 23 million gallons of water a day by 2035.

We are working to add to the local water supply. Today, residents and businesses in the Hetch Hetchy System - San Francisco, San Mateo and parts of Alameda and Santa Clara counties - use on average 40 million gallons of groundwater daily. That will increase to 45 million gallons by 2035.

We are helping residents use gray water - water from showers, bath tubs, washing machines and bathroom sinks - as well as store rainwater to irrigate gardens and lawns. These programs protect our tap water for drinking, promote wise water re-use and reduce the burden on our sewer system.

Since 2004, we have been working with Daly City to bring recycled water to irrigate the Olympic Club, Lake Merced and the San Francisco golf courses. This June, we will use recycled water to irrigate Harding Park Golf Course. Customers of Hetch Hetchy water already use 6 million gallons of recycled water per day. By 2035, it will be 21 million gallons.

We are already investing $4.6 billion from voter-approved upgrades to the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power system. Yet, in our arid California climate, all these measures combined will not take away the need to store water in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The best-case scenarios of those working to tear down the dam show that the Bay Area would be subject to severe drought in one out of every five years.

This ballot initiative is a Trojan horse that threatens irreparable harm to our economy and our environment. If it qualifies for the ballot and becomes law, it will consume millions of taxpayer dollars in studying how to dismantle an efficient system that provides water and clean power to hospitals, schools, libraries, police and fire stations, and electric buses.

If you really want to help the environment, conserve water at home and support these re-use and recycling programs. Don't sign a petition that advocates draining the city's reservoir.

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 Neighborhood Newspapers

Our Commitment to Innovation

March 2012

I came into office determined to create jobs and grow San Francisco’s economy by harnessing the creative talent and energy of the people here. That’s why a big part of my economic development agenda is focused on getting tech companies to start here, stay here and grow here, so that they can innovate here in San Francisco.

As the Innovation Capital of the World, we are not just creating jobs and growing our economy, but we are tapping into the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit to make government work better for our residents.

Innovation is the past and the future of our City. It is part of who we are as well as being a part of our economic engine that is creating jobs. Today, there are more than 1,500 tech companies employing 30,000 employees. Our economy’s success will depend, in part, on our constant engagement with these technology companies to make sure they succeed.

In January, we announced a partnership with the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology & Innovation (sf.citi). sf.citi will help us leverage the collective power of the tech sector to make government better and get our residents employed. We have already partnered with Code for America to launch the world’s first Civic Startup Accelerator that will support entrepreneurs who launch companies to make City government more responsive, efficient and connected.

All of us recognize the power of innovation and new technology in changing how we communicate, interact and share information with each other. By working together and embracing the spirit of innovation, our City’s neighborhoods and small businesses are going to better succeed. For residents and businesses, that means we will be working on ways to make our transit better, permitting faster, and, in general, just delivering government services better. We will do this by innovating our way to solutions and the tech sector can, and is willing, to help us do that.

You will be hearing a lot about innovation and it will remain at the top of my priority list. I hired the country’s first Chief Innovation Officer, Jay Nath, who will introduce new ideas and approaches to make City government more transparent, efficient and focused on our customers – San Francisco residents, businesses and visitors. The Chief Innovation Officer will make sure that technology is a driver of change in City government and a job creator. I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress!

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Safe, Solvent and Successful. 

April 2012

Last year, these were the principles that guided my conversation through the budget process with residents across our City’s neighborhoods.

San Francisco’s unemployment rate was 9.5 percent, our City faced a $380 million deficit and we were struggling with how to meet the increasing cost of our pension and health care obligations. At the time, this seemed like another insurmountable challenge.

But our City came together in one of the most inclusive budget processes in memory to tackle pension reform and balance the budget. Most importantly, we put people back to work. In the last 12 months, we created jobs for 17,300 San Franciscans, bringing our unemployment rate down to 7.6 percent. 

A few weeks ago, in our City Controller’s report, we heard yet more positive news for our City’s economy – our revenues were $129 million greater than projected in just the first six months of the fiscal year. With just over one year in office and in my first year of a new full term, we can say that San Francisco’s economic recovery is underway and the economic policies and strategies we have pursued are working.

San Francisco is back on track, but we can and must do more. It’s why I’ve asked my office to build on my principles from last year in three areas: involvement, innovation, and investment.

When I talk about involvement, I recognize that our achievements are founded in our commitment to hear directly from our residents, communities, and neighborhood organizations about what matters most to them. 

As the City prepares to balance its first ever two-year budget to achieve long-term financial stability, I’ll be visiting our neighborhoods again with members of the Board of Supervisors to ensure that the fiscal choices we make reflect the voices, perspectives, and priorities you bring to our attention.  

Cities like San Francisco thrive because of the innovative ideas they create. In the coming weeks, I’ll be launching a new and innovative series of budget outreach efforts to engage our greatest asset, the people of San Francisco. We use technology and innovation to better engage residents. ImproveSF will allow residents to share their best ideas to make San Francisco programs more efficient and effective. We know that City Hall doesn’t have all the answers, and through innovative use of social media tools, ideation platforms, and live streaming, we will create exciting avenues for the public to participate in the budget process and make their ideas known.  

This commitment to civic engagement and innovation will develop and focus our strategies for investment in our City - investments that ensure that people who live, work and visit our City feel safe; investments that protect our local social safety net that supports San Francisco seniors, youth, and low-income and working class families; investments that support our neighborhoods to ensure our parks are clean and safe, our streets are paved, and our commercial corridors are thriving. 

We need San Francisco to remain a strong, successful city. And with your involvement and your ideas we’ll continue to invest in programs that create good jobs for our communities and build an infrastructure of opportunity we can be proud of.  

To get involved this budget season and to find the location of the next Budget Town Hall, go to www.sfmayor.org. As always, call 311 to request City services.

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Summer Jobs for Youth Means a Lifetime of Success

May 2012

I talk every day about my priority as Mayor – and that’s putting our residents back to work and creating jobs for people from every San Francisco neighborhood. And we’re seeing some good results. However, as we see unemployment rates fall and jobs being created, I know we can do better – especially for our young people. Youth in our City suffer from an unemployment rate up to three times higher than the general population and often face barriers to employment and difficulty competing for work.

That’s why when President Obama challenged Mayor’s and private companies across the country to join him in a national campaign to create jobs for young people this Summer, I said “San Francisco must step up and be a national leader.” Along side House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the United Way of the Bay Area, we launched the SF Summer Jobs+ Corporate Challenge in City Hall last month and joined the President’s national call to action to create opportunities and hope for young people.

We created an unprecedented public, private, and non profit partnership that will focus on summer jobs and paid internships for our City’s disconnected and low-income youth. We have an aggressive goal - 5,000 jobs and paid internships for our youth.

San Francisco has a strong history of youth employment, and the City is committed to creating 2,500 jobs and internships within existing Department budgets this Summer. The City is the largest employer and we will lead by example.

I also challenged our corporate partners to match and hopefully exceed the City’s 2,500 jobs and internships this summer. We will not only enable San Francisco youngsters to get the job skills they need, but we will also improve corporate engagement for the future. We are partnering with MatchBridge and Aftercollege.com to get this done.

But, I need your help. Whether a business can commit to one job or a hundred, it all pays off. Mention our challenge to your employer, or if you have a small business along one of our vibrant neighborhood commercial corridors, consider employing a young person this Summer. It will make a huge difference in their lives and businesses benefit by getting the help they need for the summer by hiring qualified, ready-to-work San Francisco young people.

Many of us know, firsthand, that a quality work experience for a young person can be a bridge to a lifeline – lifting that young person up and setting him or her on the right path, lifting their families, and of course, making our City a better place.

Join the challenge! Employers that are interested in participating in the challenge can visit HireSFYouth.org to post their summer jobs and internships.

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Keeping Our Kids Engaged Over the Summer Break

June 2012

Summer vacation is considered a golden opportunity for children to catch up with their studies, make new friends through mind-stimulated engagement, read more books, advance their academic achievement, and get more physical trainings via sports and outdoor activities. However, the flip side of the issue is – where to find those summer activities that are affordable!

Good news. The City is here to help. Several city agencies have developed programs to help parents keep their kids active, engaged and away from the dreaded “summer brain drain,” because idle summer months could result in significant learning losses from the school year.

Summer camps are always among the most popular summer activities. The City’s Recreation and Park Department (RPD) is offering 60 day camps throughout the city that are affordable and convenient, and will capture your child’s interest and imagination.

RPD’s art and science camps are some of our most popular programs. Eco-adventure camps teach young campers about the various habitats and ecosystems in our parks. Junior Lifeguard Camp offers campers the opportunity to learn valuable lifesaving skills, and Camp Azure offers children on the autism spectrum the opportunity to explore and play in a comfortable outdoor environment.

RPD’s long-standing Workreation program puts 150 teens to work in parks, recreation centers and offices for 12 weeks out of the summer. In the 50-plus years of its existence, Workreation has served an estimated 17,000 kids and several generations of San Francisco teens, some of whom are current City employees.

Also, RPD is partnering with the SF Housing Authority to provide free day camps to children in public housing.

Another city agency, Department of Children, Youth and Family (DCYF), is funding 58 comprehensive summer programs, serving nearly 3,000 youth in grades K-8 at school sites, community centers and affordable housing locations.

DCYF and SF Unified School District (SFUSD) are collaborating to support the Beacon Initiative, which transforms eight public schools into community centers that offer learning opportunities to youth and their families.

DCYF is also convening the Summer Learning Network, a coalition of advocates, providers, city departments and CBOs that share resources and raise awareness about the importance of summer learning.

In addition, DCYF is funding a variety of 21st century skill-building and employment readiness programs that serve nearly 2,500 teens and young adults during the summer. Some of these programs include internships in government offices and temporary summer jobs that expose youth to possible future careers.

While access to quality summer programs remains a challenge – only 37% of City youth in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will have access to comprehensive summer programs – our City agencies are working together to increase the number of summer learning opportunities and experiences for our children this year.

Providing more paid internship and jobs to our City’s youth is another focus of our goal for the summer. We launched the Summer Jobs+ Challenge to create 5,000 jobs for our young people who can learn occupational and social skills from employment opportunities to leave significant marks on their summer break.

To find out what programs your kids can take advantage of this summer, visit us online at dcyf.org, sfusd.edu, sfecpark.org, and hiresfyouth.com.

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America’s Cup Races – and Business Opportunities – Arrive in San Francisco

 

 

September 2012

The first America’s Cup World Series races in San Francisco just launched this past month. These successful events provide the Bay Area a taste of what is coming ahead next year for the America’s Cup races, and continue to attract more people to our City.

Next year’s races in San Francisco will draw hundreds of thousands of spectators to our waterfront from around the globe. Combined with the associated capital investment of tens of millions of dollars into our waterfront, the 34th America’s Cup will create more than 8,000 new jobs and $1 billion in economic impacts spread across the Bay Area.

The City’s workers and businesses have an unprecedented level of opportunity to benefit from the races. With our partners at the America’ Cup Event Authority, SF Travel and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, we recently opened a one-stop shop at Pier 23 to facilitate local business opportunities as well as to provide resources to the teams and visitors. The one-stop shop is opened Monday-Friday from 10am to 2 pm.

We are also developing a plan to promote our neighborhoods, and the arts, culture, entertainment venues, shops and restaurants that populate them and make San Francisco such a unique City to the America’s Cup visitors in 2013. There will be 55 days of sailing between July 4 and September 21, 2013, but provide ample time for visitors to explore our City.

The second event of the America’s Cup World Series races will be held in just a few weeks, October 2-7, and will coincide with our annual Fleet Week activities.  These races again will feature eight teams fielding 11 AC45 boats from China, France, Great Britain, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden and USA (The Italian, Swedish and USA teams each will sail two boats in the competition).

In the 2013 races, all the teams will be sailing the AC72, a much larger boat than those in the World Series races. The AC72s have a fixed wing sail of 130 feet (the height of a 13-story building) and are anticipated to reach speeds of 35-40 knots (more than 50 MPH). It will be an historic spectacle!

I am confident that America’s Cup in San Francisco will leave key legacy projects along our waterfront as well as the hundreds of millions of dollars of economic benefits and jobs for the people of San Francisco. The America’s Cup races will get even more spectacular!

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Public Safety – Making San Francisco Safer – Together

September 2012

Keeping our neighborhoods safe is among my highest priorities. This is why I worked vigorously with law enforcement and faith-based communities to develop new strategies to engage the community as we seek solutions to reduce guns and violence in our neighborhoods, and especially in our Southeastern neighborhoods which saw an increase in homicides this summer.

Neighborhoods like the Bayview and Ingleside are home to incredibly diverse communities– including significant youth and elderly populations; the City’s largest foreign-born population; and one of the highest populations of families in San Francisco. While traditional policing methods and outreach to these communities have been successful in the past, the recent violence is unacceptable and we needed to adjust our strategies.

After working with members of the community, our law enforcement partners and our faith-based communities, I recently announced our new, three-pronged strategy to reduce gun violence in our City.  The strategy, called IPO, stands for Interrupt, Predict, and Organize. IPO demands an unprecedented level of cooperation among our city agencies, including law enforcement and social services, community organizations, business owners, and members of the public.

• The first prong, Interrupt, encourages a coordinated police effort to interrupt the cycle of gun violence in our affected communities using targeted programs to renew their focus on gang enforcement and identify crime hotspots in real time.

Prediction, the second prong, involves a cutting-edge system which will produce a live predictive map of violence in each of the city’s neighborhoods. Similar software is used in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, both of which have seen a double-digit drop in crime rates.

• The third element of IPO is Organizing. We will work closely with community organizations – such as the San Francisco Community Response Network and T.U.R.F. (Together, United, Recommitted, Forever) - and members of the faith-based community to increase their reach among San Francisco’s youth and to engage the youth through a range of increased employment programs and youth outreach to crisis intervention and confidential gun turn-in programs.

Last month, I joined our law enforcement and community partners to celebrate “National Night Out” in the Bayview, Sunnydale, Western Addition, South of Market, and neighborhoods throughout the City.  These events provide opportunities for families to meet with police in an informal atmosphere to strengthen or begin to develop relationships. At National Night Out events, I heard loud and clear from our neighborhoods that we need to join together and send a message to potential criminals that our communities are organized and ready to fight crime.

The safety of our residents is paramount, and IPO represents a truly San Franciscan approach to reducing gun violence – focusing on partnership and collaboration. I am determined to curb the recent violence and put the City back on its historical ascent to become one of the safest cities in the country.

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Sidewalk: Vital SF Connectors in the neighborhoods

September 2012

Sidewalks are critical for residents and visitors. You may not think about, but sidewalks are the vital connectors, accommodating pedestrians, commuters and shoppers every day as they navigate around the City. Each time you step outside, you’ll find your way along a sidewalk on your way to work, a MUNI stop, school, a park, or home.

For example, 200,000 people walk along the length of Market Street on any given day. Sidewalks are paths in our urban environment and distinctive parts of our daily lives as we make our way from corridor to corridor.

Because our sidewalks are so important, the City is dedicated to working collaboratively to maintain them, ensuring that all routes and pathways are functioning properly. That is why I am committed to continue to seek out innovative ways to increase sidewalk safety and cleanliness.

When we think about creating jobs, attracting businesses to our City and taking care of our urban environment, we must also think about maintaining and enhancing sidewalks.

Sidewalks are crucial to local businesses, and I want our City to continue our investment in our neighborhoods. We work in partnership with business owners to enhance retail establishments in our commercial districts by maximizing their sidewalk space and working to help shops display merchandise and signs.

Sidewalk landscaping is one effective way to beautify the sidewalks. Landscaped sidewalks look great, provide environmental benefits and increase property values. By working with the City, residents are creating unique greening projects in their neighborhoods that transform some of the grey to green.

Another exciting manifestation is the creation of parklets, which are good for widening sidewalks and providing more public space, helping surrounding businesses as they attract people.

It is important to provide sidewalk access for all.  We value the advancement of the Curb Ramp Program which installs curb ramps where they are needed most to provide accessible paths of travel throughout San Francisco. 

While the City is eagerly working with businesses and residents to help maintain and beautify our sidewalks, there are people illegally dumping garbage and bulky items on the sidewalk to make our work more challenging. Last year, the Department of Public Works responded to over 22,000 reports of illegal sidewalk dumping. That is 62 reports each day, and most debris is household items like furniture, mattresses, bags of refuse, and appliances. This hurts our neighborhoods. The Don’t Leave it on the Sidewalk campaign helps residents and businesses get information about the free garbage pickup available to them and how to identify illegal dumping and report it. For more information, visit www.sfdpw.org.

Sidewalks are incredibly important to us. Together with your support, we can continue to build on opportunities to enhance our sidewalk experience, making travelling around San Francisco safe, clean and accessible for all to enjoy.

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Creating a More Solvent San Francisco

May 2011

Since becoming your Mayor in January, I have been travelling across the city meeting residents, talking to them about my priorities, and asking them what is going on in their neighborhoods. Whether I am on a merchant walk, at a community meeting or a Budget Town Hall, San Franciscans have been very clear about what concerns them. They want government to focus on providing basic city services and live within our means.

You have probably heard much talk already about the City’s fiscal outlook. There is no greater challenge we face as a City family than balancing our budget while providing important city services to our residents. We are facing an estimated $306 million deficit next year. If we do not take action on long-term budget solutions, the deficit is projected to grow to $642 million in just two years. There are no easy answers, but we are working tirelessly to find savings and tighten our belts. Make no mistake, balancing the budget in a way that protects basic City services is among my top priorities.

At the many Budget Town Halls I have co-hosted with the Board of Supervisors, I am sharing my guiding principles that I will use to make tough choices that need to be made in order to submit a balanced budget on June 1st. My decisions are guided by three principles: ensuring our city is Safe, Solvent and Successful.

When I talk about a safe city, I am talking about public safety. People who live, work, and visit here deserve to feel safe everywhere they go. But by safe, I also mean we need to protect our local social safety net that support San Francisco seniors, youth, and low-income and working class families.

Fiscal solvency is a challenge because the City’s budget projections over the next few years paint a bleak picture. A significant issue is the cost of pensions and benefits. These costs are hitting our general fund to the tune of $100 million a year and rising fast. If we don’t take action, costs will escalate quickly and squeeze out funding we need for services. City employees have worked hard and deserve a dignified pension, but we must provide pensions we can afford. I am working closely with every group, member of the board, and all concerned parties about this issue so that I can propose a fair, reasonable and feasible pension reform plan to San Francisco.

Finally, we need to ensure that our City is successful. From supporting our neighborhoods to making sure our parks are clean and safe, to paving our streets, we need San Francisco to remain a strong, successful city. Creating and keeping jobs in our city is one of the best things we can do to be successful. Whether improving the city’s payroll tax structure, or creating legislation that encourages businesses to thrive here, I am working to make sure companies locate and stay in San Francisco, not just so these companies can stimulate our local economy, but so that our residents can find jobs.

I want to thank everyone for their input and ideas over the last few months. There are still a few Budget Town Halls scheduled. To get information about the budget or where the next Budget Town Hall is, go to www.sfmayor.org. As always, call 311 to request city services.

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Road Repaving and Street Safety 

July 2011

San Francisco road conditions are at a critical juncture. Since I took over the Mayor’s Office, I went to countless meetings and talked to as many people as possible. Among all the concerned issues, potholes and street conditions were on the top of the list.

Many of you, who walk, bike, take transit or drive in the city, are familiar with the crumbling streets and sidewalks. The longer we wait to address the growing backlog of urgently-needed repairs, the more expensive it will cost to fix our streets down the road. Though more money has been invested into the repaving of our streets in recent years, we, as a city, still have difficulties financially to adequately fund the rehabilitation of our streets.

There is a significant backlog that the general operating fund just cannot afford, given our fiscal responsibilities and realities. Recently, with strong support from a majority of the members of the Board of Supervisors, I introduced a $248 million Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond for the November ballot that will significantly improve the condition and safety of our streets and infrastructure while modernizing them to suit the changing needs of the City.

A general obligation bond is a common finance mechanism for major capital assets and is appropriate for our City’s streets. Streets have an average 20-year life span. Maintenance such as the day to day filling of potholes will continue to be funded through the City’s annual operating budget. This bond is designed to secure funding for the City to repave our streets and eliminate potholes. It will fund the maximum number of street repairs possible for each of the next three years. It is a recommendation of the Citywide Ten-Year Capital Plan, which prioritizes infrastructure needs and investments. The bond will allow us to make long overdue and urgently needed repairs now to create a safer driving, transit, walking and biking experience for everyone.
Also, repairing bridges and stairways is equally critical. The bond will fund necessary repairs and seismic strengthening of our deteriorating City-owned bridges, overpasses and stairways throughout San Francisco. Our City is committed to creating safer streets for pedestrians, bicyclists & people with disabilities.

With ever increasing pedestrian and bicycle travel in San Francisco, we need to ensure that our streets are safer and up to date to optimize traffic flow and decrease congestion. The bond will also help redesign streetscapes and install sidewalk and curb ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to help people who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, scooters and parents with strollers.

One of many important components of this bond is that it will hold the line on property tax rates. The bond measure has been specifically designed to ensure that property tax rates will not increase as a result of this bond. By complying with the City policy of only issuing new bonds as old ones are repaid, this measure’s full costs can be funded at current tax rates with no increase.
While this bond is helping the City get sufficient funding to repave and repair our streets, it also gives us the opportunity to create more jobs. It is estimated to create more than 1,000 jobs in construction and related activities. Coupled with our commitment to increase local hiring over the next few years, it will provide a significant boost to San Francisco’s economy and put many San Franciscans back to work.

This Road Repaving & Street Safety Bond is a smart and fiscally responsible investment that will repave crumbling streets, fix deteriorating bridges and overpasses and improve the safety. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity before the costs and conditions become untenable.

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The America's Cup

August 2011

The America’s Cup, as the premiere international sailing race, oldest trophy, and third largest sporting event in the world, has the potential to be a transformative event in San Francisco with many lasting legacies and economic benefits for our neighborhoods and our City.

The two separate nine-day regattas on the Bay in the summer of 2012 during the America’s Cup World Series will give us a preview of the excitement we can expect on the larger wing-sailed AC72 catamarans competing in the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series July 13 to September 1, 2013 and America’s Cup Finals September 7-22, 2013. Tens of thousands of sailing enthusiasts, spectators, and tourists from around the world will be coming to San Francisco where, for the first time in the nearly 160-year history of the America’s Cup, it will be viewable from land in the spectacular natural amphitheatre that the San Francisco Bay provides.

Since San Francisco won the right to host the America’s Cup on New Year’s Eve, City staff has been hard at work to ensure that the events are a success not only for participants and spectators but also for San Francisco businesses and residents who call San Francisco home. This includes the recent issuance of the 2,271-page Draft Environmental Impact Report (available at http://tinyurl.com/meacases) as well as the creation of eleven implementation plans detailing the shared vision of the City and the America’s Cup Event Authority on everything from sustainability to transportation, public safety, youth involvement, and workforce development.

These plans detail our shared commitment to bringing direct benefits to the diverse neighborhoods, residents and businesses of San Francisco including an estimated 8,800 jobs and nearly $1.4 billon in economic impacts distributed broadly across the food and beverage, construction, transportation, and hospitality sectors. For more information on these plans, including draft plans you can download and comment on, please go to: http://www.oewd.org/

We are planning not just for the arrival of one of the world’s leading sporting competitions but to leverage this unique and exciting opportunity to create a positive legacy for San Francisco for many years to come. When the best sailors come to San Francisco on the world’s fastest boats, they will be doing so on seismically retrofitted piers, in the core and shell of what will become the James R. Herman Cruise Ship Terminal and along a northeastern waterfront home to the new Exploratorium, Brannan Street Wharf, Pier 43 Promenade and renovated Marina Yacht Harbor.

We have every hope that the America’s Cup will be another successful international event in San Francisco and one that reflects our values as leaders of environmental sustainability, accessibility, youth involvement, and workforce development. For more information on this exciting project, visit www.americascup.com/sanfrancisco or the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development at http://www.oewd.org/.

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Remembering 9/11

September 2011

A decade after the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 we continue to struggle to make sense of the terrible images we saw on that day.

While more than 3,000 miles away from our City, the attacks, the devastation and the loss were felt keenly here in the City by the Bay and we will continue to remember and honor those who perished, some of whom were from San Francisco and the Bay Area.

There will be many civic remembrances across the country on this 10th Anniversary. One such event in San Francisco includes the Opera, their community partners and the Interfaith Council who will present a special Opera in the Park concert to honor the memory of those who perished and celebrate the service and heroism of the Bay Area’s first responders, including fire fighters, paramedics and police, among others. You can find information about this event and other 9/11 San Francisco events at www.sfmayor.org.

Another way we can remember and honor the tragic events from 10 years ago is to make sure that as a city, as families and as individuals, we are prepared for emergencies, whether manmade or natural disasters. September marks National Preparedness Month and the City’s award-winning website, www.72hours.org, stands ready to assist you with information about how to make family emergency plans, build disaster kits, train you on what to do before a disaster occurs or how to volunteer afterwards. I strongly encourage you to visit this website and take action. Many of the items in an emergency kit can be found around your house -- you may be much more prepared than you realize. The information is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese. Log on and share with friends and family.

Since September 11, 2001, as a city, San Francisco has enhanced preparedness throughout City departments, using homeland security grants to conduct planning, training and exercises. The Bay Area was also awarded a $50.6 million grant to build a broadband communications network for public safety agencies. This network is the first of its kind in the nation and will allow fire, police and other public safety officials to transmit information quickly and efficiently during day-to-day operations and major emergencies.

On the day of the 9/11 attacks, we witnessed hundreds of courageous firefighters, police officers, and many brave men and women who charged into the crumbling towers in a desperate attempt to save their fellow Americans. Some of our heroes even fell victim to the collapse themselves. Their sacrifice stands as an eternal monument to the risks our public safety officers make for us every single day and we are ensuring that our first responders have the best communications and the best equipment available to make sure they can do they job as safely as possible.

It is now 10 years later and, fortunately, we are a stronger country and city. The attacks on September 11th represented an unimaginable tragedy in the history of our country, but at the same time the lessons learned from that day can help us to grow as individuals, as a country, and as a city.

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Remembering the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

 

October 2011

October marks the 22nd anniversary of the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which rocked our City and the Bay Area for 20 seconds and continues to have an impact on our region to this day.

Today, while we remember those who lost their lives during the earthquake, we also need to ask ourselves if we are better prepared for the next disaster.

As a city that lies between several fault lines and has survived a number of earthquakes, we must do all that we can to ensure that we are prepared and ready. San Francisco has made significant progress based on lessons learned, but we can never let up on our work to seismically reinforce our infrastructure and facilities to withstand a major earthquake or other type of disaster and to make sure our residents and businesses are prepared for the next disaster.

Since 2004, the City has conducted approximately 100 disaster exercises with our City’s Department of Emergency Management leading these efforts. Additionally, first responders and other key City agencies have conducted 250 discussion-based trainings and workshops across the City. Many of these trainings and exercises are held in conjunction with non-governmental, faith-based and community-based organizations, businesses, and schools.

We are doing what is necessary to communicate with our residents before during and after an emergency. The City’s Outdoor Public Warning Siren system was revamped using homeland security funding. Today, there are 109 sirens with voice and tone capability located throughout the City. As part of the regular Tuesday noon test, recorded announcements in English are followed by announcements in Spanish or Cantonese.

As we are doing our best to prepare ourselves for future emergencies, the 5.8 magnitude earthquake on the East Coast in August serves as a clear reminder that earthquakes can hit anytime and anywhere.

Last month, we broke ground for a new Public Safety Building in the Mission Bay neighborhood. It is funded by the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond that was passed by SF voters in June 2010. This state-of-the-art building will house the San Francisco Police Department’s Police Command Center, the Southern District Police Station and a neighborhood Fire Station. The bond was the first phase to ensure public safety facilities are structurally safe so that police and fire can rapidly respond to an emergency and provide the critical communication and leadership to promptly coordinate emergency services.

We are striving to make sure that San Francisco’s structures are safer, but each member of our community needs to do their part as well. Every family needs to be as prepared as they can be. The good news is we may be more prepared than we think, and there are some simple steps we can take to be even more prepared. To find out how, I recommend visiting the City’s award winning website, www.72hours.org.

Another good resource is the Department of Emergency Management’s interactive website, www.quakequizsf.org. There, you can test your knowledge of what to do if an earthquake strikes while at home, driving, on public transit, at the beach or at work. I also encourage you to register for AlertSF, a text-based message system that delivers emergency information to cell phones, other text-enabled devises, and email accounts, at www.alertsf.org.

If you want to get even more involved in getting prepared, register for the Great California ShakeOut, the statewide Drop, Cover and Hold On drill taking place on October 20th at 10:20 a.m. (to register, go to www.shakeout.org/sanfrancisco). And finally, you can learn how to help your neighbors after a major emergency by signing up for free Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training (www.sf-fire.org).

By making yourself familiar with the programs the City has put in place to protect you and your loved ones, you can be ready for whatever may happen, whenever it happens.

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Jobs in Our City

 

November 2011

San Francisco is one of the most vibrant places to live and work in the world. Many of us are proud of the fact that our City attracts creative and innovative people and companies to start businesses here, stay here and grow here, adding job opportunities for our local residents and boosting our economy.

San Francisco is also a place that attracts world class national and even international events, like Oracle World, Dreamforce, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Fleet Week, and the America’s Cup that will take place in 2013; the third-largest sporting event in the world right after the Olympics and World Cup.

This is exciting not just because the world is watching and visiting our City, but because, like the attraction of new sectors like tech to our City, these events create jobs.

The America’s Cup alone will generate nearly 9,000 jobs across the construction, hospitality, transportation and tourism industries and bring more than $1 billion in economic impacts over the next two years.

We are working with our partner, the America’s Cup Event Authority, to make sure San Franciscans and our small businesses will benefit. There is a business connect portal at sf.americascup.com/business and a jobs connect portal at americascup.com/connect. I encourage you to log on and see how you can participate.

My top priority continues to be putting more San Franciscans back to work. In September 2011, San Francisco’s unemployment rate was 8.3%, down from 9.3% in September 2010. That means 4,900 fewer unemployed San Franciscans compared to a year ago. But, while we have the third lowest unemployment rate in the State, we still need to focus on job creation.

We recently launched JobsNOW2 , a program that creates business incentives to hire unemployed San Franciscans. Just last month, we launched JobsNOW 3, a program that employed 200 out of work San Franciscans as public service trainees who are now working on cleaning and maintenance jobs, getting a paycheck and getting the job skills and training they will need for future success.

We’ve also recently launched several significant infrastructure projects that are creating job opportunities.

Our new Public Safety Building in Mission Bay will house the Police Command Center, the Southern District Police Station and a neighborhood Fire Station in a seismically safe facility while creating 700 construction jobs. The General Hospital Rebuild project is well under way and when it is complete, will have generated 3,000 jobs.

In addition to fixing our infrastructure, the City’s economic development strategy is working to attract new businesses, help existing firms grow and create a dynamic ecosystem for new companies to start. San Francisco is home to more than 1,500 tech companies, 74 life sciences companies and 225 cleantech and green businesses.

We have seen how innovation has becoming a key driver of San Francisco’s economy - in the first six months of 2011 more than 4.6 million square feet of office space was leased in San Francisco, 1.6 million square feet of office space was leased by tech firms. New and expanding companies like Twitter, Autodesk, DropBox, Mozilla, Zendesk and Kabam are keeping our residents employed and have made San Francisco a tech capital.

I will continue to work diligently as your Mayor to expand opportunities for our City’s local economy, create jobs and put San Franciscans back to work.

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Last updated: 10/19/2012 11:18:42 AM