The “Tech Tax” Will Not Solve San Francisco’s Housing Problems

By Scott Wiener

Several of my colleagues are proposing a “tech tax” for the November ballot — a tax of 1.5% of payroll targeting technology companies only. I share my colleagues’ extreme frustration about the explosive cost of housing in our city and the unacceptable and inhumane homeless situation on our streets. Yet, I don’t believe it’s a good idea to single out one industry with a tax designed to reduce employment — an industry that is producing good-paying jobs with good benefits and paying significant taxes to the city already. This tech tax just isn’t the right approach to a very real problem.

The technology sector did not cause our housing crisis. We have a housing crisis because our population began to grow in the 1980s, and we failed to produce enough housing over a period of decades to absorb that growth. Instead, we have seen increasing housing costs as San Francisco’s population has grown (by 200,000 growth since 1980) and as it continues to grow by 10,000 people a year. At some point, when you’re not producing enough housing, you hit a tipping point — which we did — and you have a crisis on your hands. We are now finally *starting* to produce more housing, and we’re seeing the beginning of a cooling. We have a lot more work to do, and we need to keep up the momentum with smart and forward-looking housing policy.

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Why Is Jane Kim Afraid of Her Record?

Elections are about making sure voters have accurate, factual information about candidates' positions, philosophies, and visions, in order to make informed voting choices. The voters deserve substantive information about where a candidate stands.

Yesterday, my opponent, Jane Kim, made an extraordinary demand: She insisted I sign a politically self-serving agreement under which I would be prohibited from talking about her record. Prohibited from ever saying a word about how she has voted and what positions she has taken. Prohibited from even mentioning her name.

Yes, you heard that right: Jane Kim says I shouldn't even be able to mention her name, let alone her votes and positions on the critical issues we face as a community.

Kim couches this draconian and anti-democratic gag order as a pledge not to engage in "negative campaigning." Under Kim's rationale, Hillary Clinton would be prohibited from talking about Donald Trump's crazy proposal to ban Muslims from entering our country. Huh?

I informed Kim I was surprised to receive her demand, in light of the intensely negative and misleading campaign she ran against me in the primary. You can read my response here. Kim responded by launching a petition drive demanding that I sign this anti-democratic pledge.

Why is Jane Kim scared to talk about her record? Why is she trying to put a gag order on me to prohibit me from even mentioning her name?

The answer: Because Jane Kim's record on the issues that matter to our community is abysmal:

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Housing, Tent Encampments, Neighborhood Policing, and Health: Measure We Placed on the November Ballot

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(Photo: San Francisco City Hall, by San Francisco Travel)

By Scott Wiener

Yesterday was the deadline for Supervisors to place ordinances on the ballot for November. I joined several colleagues to place the following measures on the ballot, focusing on housing affordability, neighborhood crime, health, and tent encampments:

In-law units: We placed on the ballot a measure that will allow for the addition of new, rent-controlled in-law units throughout the bulk of San Francisco. These units are the most affordable type of non-subsidized housing, don’t result in new height or bulk, and are spread throughout our neighborhoods rather than concentrated. (We placed this on the ballot because we don’t have confidence that the Board of Supervisors will pass it and instead will pass a watered down version creating far fewer units. Thank you to Supervisor Mark Farrell for taking the lead on this measure.)

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Why LGBT Pride Is So Personal for Me as a Gay Man

By Scott Wiener

It’s Pride month, a time when San Francisco and cities around the world celebrate the strength, resilience, and sheer fabulousness of the LGBT community. If last year’s Pride was marked by celebration of our long overdue right to marry, this year’s pride feels more like a matter of life and death — *our* lives. As we continue to process the horrific massacre of 49 of our LGBT brothers and sisters in Orlando, we must come together, embrace, and celebrate one another like never before. Orlando was an extreme violation of a community safe space for LGBT people of color, and for those of us who have spent more nights than we care to admit partying, meeting friends and lovers, and building community in our LGBT nightlife spaces, this attack cuts to the heart of who we are.

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(Photo: Castro vigil for Orlando massacre. Our community is under assault, but our community is strong.)

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What Happens When We Don’t Invest in Transit and How We Can Do Better

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(Photo by ABC News)

By Scott Wiener

Today, the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Board of Directors is taking a huge step forward by placing a $3.5 billion regional bond on the November ballot. This bond will help BART close its gaping capital investment deficit, expand its capacity, improve its reliability, and bring its system into a state of good repair.

The focus on shoring up BART and expanding its capacity is long overdue, given that this critical system is literally coming apart at the seams due to extreme regional negligence in supporting it. Indeed, BART is a poster child for what happens when we don’t invest in transit. If we don’t get it together as a region in terms of transit, we are in for a world of hurt. We need to pass this bond, pass other transit funding measures, demand more from the state and federal governments, and make sure we never, ever again allow our transit systems to go into decline.

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A Big Step for Paid Parental Leave

By Scott Wiener

A version of this first appeared in the Huffington Post and was co-authored by Julia Parish, Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society — Employment Law Center

San Francisco has a long tradition of leading the nation on critical economic and social justice issues like paid sick leave, minimum wage, and marriage equality. We value supporting people in their work, their families, and their health.

Now, San Francisco has become the first city in the country to ensure full wage replacement for workers taking parental leave. This will benefit both workers and their employers.

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Tents on Sidewalks Are Inhumane and Aren’t Housing

By Scott Wiener

Tent encampments are proliferating in San Francisco, causing serious concern and significant debate. At the same time, San Francisco government is gripped with a deer-in-the-headlights inertia that allows the tents to become established and to grow in number.

Permitting these encampments is neither humane nor progressive. The tents are a potent symbol of our city’s failure to deal effectively with homelessness, mental illness, and drug addiction — problems that manifest on our streets every single day as we observe bizarre and aggressive behavior, syringes and feces strewn all over, and other behaviors that degrade our community’s quality of life.

Yet, regardless of the cause, these tents are not — and must not become, through inertia and lack of political will — permanent “housing.” We must have the will to transition people out of these tents into shelter and housing and to ensure that the tents reduce and disappear.

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Supervisor Wiener’s Letter to Municipal Transportation Agency Urging Agency Not to Undermine Commuter Shuttle Program with Misguided Changes

February 16, 2016

Tom Nolan
Chairman, Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors
One South Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94103

Re: Proposed changes that will undermine commuter shuttle program

Dear Chairman Nolan:

I write to urge the MTA Board of Directors to proceed with the permanent Commuter Shuttle Program, as approved by the Board of Directors last year, without making changes to it. The changes to the program that several of my colleagues are advocating — and that some technology companies have been badgered into accepting, against the interests of their workers — would undermine the program and ultimately harm the thousands of San Francisco residents who rely on these shuttles. These proposed changes are designed to lead to the end of the shuttle program by making the shuttles so difficult to use that riders simply choose other options or leave San Francisco. Indeed, the ultimate goal of some of the shuttle opponents is to encourage technology workers to move out of San Francisco by making it as hard as possible for them to get to work. I encourage you to keep this well-studied and well-designed plan intact and not to move down a path that may unravel the plan.

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Policing diverse communities in the 21st century

This piece first appeared in The Bay Area Reporter on December 17, 2015.

By Scott Wiener

The year 2015 has been transformative in terms of public scrutiny of policing in the United States, and San Francisco is no exception. From Ferguson to Chicago to Baltimore, we are soul-searching as a society about what it means to have effective policing and, of equal importance, what it means for all communities to have confidence in law enforcement.

Most recently, San Francisco police officers shot and killed Mario Woods, a Bayview resident and stabbing suspect who failed to drop his knife even after less-than-lethal force was used to disarm him. The videos of this incident are jarring and raise questions that will, we hope, be resolved after multiple ongoing investigations are concluded and all facts are compiled and analyzed. It's important to let these investigations play out.

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Fighting Blight with Better Enforcement

By Scott Wiener

Every neighborhood has those dilapidated buildings that have stood for years, slowly deteriorating, with nothing being done to fix things. You know the building — it’s the one with the front stairs caved in or the windows boarded up or broken. It’s the one with trash and junk piled so high you can’t see in the windows. It’s the one with no tenants living there, but there still seem to be people coming in and out at night. These blighted properties aren’t just eyesores — they are public safety hazards. They create dangerous health conditions, fire hazards, and draw squatters and criminal activity.

Ingleside and the Excelsior have experienced this on both commercial corridors and residential areas. These problems don’t just happen overnight — they are the result of years of neglect and inaction by property owners. But, just as important, they are the result of a broken code enforcement process by the City.

We as a city need to do better in identifying blighted properties and then bringing these buildings into compliance. Too often, a complaint is filed by a neighbor, and nothing seems to happen. An inspection takes place, maybe a notice of violation is issued, but the problem persists year after year.

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