by Murrey Nelson
I had the opportunity to sit down individually with each of the three supervisors whose districts include parts of Hayes Valley: Jane Kim of District Six, Scott Wiener of District Eight, and Ross Mirkarimi of District Five. Our discussions covered many topics that are of high importance to Hayes Valley residents and business owners, as well as to these elected officials: crime in the neighborhood, building and re-development, public education, public transportation – specifically Muni, and the Market/Octavia Plan.
Photograph of Supervisor Scott Wiener
Photograph of Supervisor Jane Kim
Photograph of Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi
While all three supervisors agree that public safety is a major issue, they each have their own take on how to eliminate crime in Hayes Valley. Supervisor Mirkarimi is a strong advocate for more cops on the street. Himself a graduate of the San Francisco Police Academy, he has high expectations of the police department and feels they need to be committed to the community and vice versa. Supervisor Wiener, a former Deputy City Attorney, feels that the problems are largely internal, and that without vigilance on the part of the community to ensure that we recommence graduating classes from the Academy and return to the number of sworn officers we had in the past, the situation on the streets cannot improve. He also calls for “smart civilianizing” of certain administrative positions, to ensure that we can put more cops on the street. Supervisor Kim sees a definite connection between economic development and job creation and the reduction of crime. She plans to schedule regular meetings with the police captains in her district, in an effort to empower neighborhood watch groups to support residents. She pointed to the creation of “safe passages” in the Tenderloin, and noted that crime goes down when the residents really care about their neighborhoods.
The subject of the development of 55 Laguna and the parcels lining Octavia Boulevard is of particular interest to the three, as an opportu- nity to set examples for other neighborhoods. All three are pro temporary use, and cited Hayes Valley Farm as an example of a creative idea that has made great contributions to the community. Wiener was planning a meeting with the project sponsors of 55 Laguna to get an update, when we met. Kim strongly supports community-grown ideas and envisions her office helping with permitting for innovative projects. Mirkarimi noted that we need to be creative in our use of vacant parcels and in our efforts to ensure that vacant buildings not become graffiti magnets. He feels that Hayes Valley Farm is the poster child for success because it has empowered a number of different constituencies.
Jane Kim is passionate about public education, as evidenced by her track record as past President of the San Francisco Board of Education. She had the opportunity to hire the current Superintendent and she is committed to closing the achievement gap. She feels strongly that the city needs to help schools improve, not just tell them what to do. She envisions a future when the city can pay for summer school, when the school year and school days are longer, and there is more learning time in general. Mirkarimi feels we need to attack the problem on two fronts: continue to fa- cilitate the connection of activities with John Muir and other organizations, while also making sure we are acting as the advocacy body that monitors the school district, by making public noise when individual schools are threatened. He sees an opportunity for neighborhood associations to unite in their understanding of the holistic connection between education and a thriving community. Wiener wants to be very involved in the lives of the schools in his district, by engaging and empowering parents, students and the community at large. He mentioned a new organization, edMatch, that is just starting up, whose vision is to raise money that would be distributed to schools on a per capita basis, reducing the pressure on the poorest PTA’s to compete with their wealthier neighbors.
All three Supervisors were united in their observation that money is only part of the problem with Muni. Reform on the MTA board, a general agency overhaul, and individual performance improvement all need to happen. Mirkarimi feels that the absence of good leadership usurps the confidence of the system; Wiener noted that the mayor’s office needs to get leaner and meaner on transportation and enforce laws and fines; and Kim pointed out that Muni’s procurement costs are increasing faster than the city’s.
Our final topic was the Market/Octavia Plan, and the key message from the Supervisors was about keeping developers accountable. They all support the plan and want to empower their constituents to help guide the Planning Commission, and work together on land use and the use of community benefit dollars.
Many of you have met Ross Mirkarimi, who was elected in 2004, and Jane Kim and Scott Wiener who attended our candidates’ forum prior to the 2010 election. We invite you to continue the conversation at our March 24th meeting, which the Supervisors will attend.