Liberals Turn to Cities to Pass Laws and Spread Ideas

This article appeared on The New York Times on January 26, 2016

Claire Cain Miller @clairecm

If Congress won’t focus on a new policy idea, and if state legislatures are indifferent or hostile, why not skip them both and start at the city level?

That’s the approach with a proposed law in San Francisco to require businesses there to pay for employees’ parental leaves.

It might seem like a progressive pipe dream, the kind of liberal policy that could happen only in a place like San Francisco. But Scott Wiener, the city and county supervisor who proposed the policy, sees it differently.

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S.F. Supervisor Scott Wiener: Homeless Tent Camps ‘Need to Go Away’

This article first appeared on KQED News.

By Ted Goldberg
January 25, 2016

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener says the city needs to find a prompt and “humane” way to eliminate tent encampments that house a growing number of homeless people.

The growing presence of tent camps in San Francisco “represents our city’s failure to provide adequate housing/shelter and assistance for those who want help, as well as a failure to make clear to those who refuse help that tents on our sidewalks and in our public spaces are unacceptable” Wiener wrote in a letter last week (embedded below) to the heads of six city agencies.

“These tents are a public safety and a public health problem for the people living in them and for our neighborhoods,” Wiener added in an interview.

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SF Chronicle: Parental leave getting a big boost at S.F. City Hall

This article first appeared on The SF Chronicle on January 12, 2015.

San Francisco would be the first municipality in the nation to require employers to ensure that employees who are new parents have fully paid bonding time with their babies under a proposal being crafted by Supervisor Scott Wiener.

California pays 55 percent of a parent’s salary for six weeks of bonding time, and Wiener wants to mandate that San Francisco businesses that employ at least 20 people pay the remaining 45 percent. He plans to introduce the legislation at the Jan. 26 Board of Supervisors meeting.

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Cannabis State Legalization Task Force

With Californians likely to be voting in the 2016 election to legalize adult use of marijuana, the Board of Supervisors has appointed 11 people to serve on the Cannabis State Legalization Task Force. I authored legislation to create the task force earlier this year to ensure that San Francisco is prepared when voters decide the issue in November. It is important that the city take the time to create smart, well thought-out regulations in the event the proposition passes. You can read about the selectees in the Examiner’s coverage of the hearing here.

Critical Transportation Funding Measures

The San Francisco Transportation Authority yesterday released polling numbers showing support for investing in public transportation. As the federal government's support for transportation has dissipated, local transportation funding has become even more critical, and San Francisco has been good at stepping up. But we need to do more, especially as our city continues to grow. The poll shows support for a Vehicle License Fee to pay for transportation infrastructure, and support for a BART bond to upgrade the aging system. These are good numbers, but it's going to take work to get these critical transportation funding measures on the ballot and approved.

You can read about the poll and its results here.

Encouraging Recycled Water Use

We need to make major changes to how we think about and use our pristine Hetch Hetchy water. This includes large changes, like requiring new developments to use recycled water for non-potable uses, but also small ones, like empowering more people to water their gardens with greywater. I've introduced legislation to encourage more people to do this, by removing the permit requirement on simple greywater systems used for irrigation. People want to do the right thing and conserve water in their homes, and we should be helping them to take these important actions. You can read the Chronicle's coverage of the story here.

Leading the Way with Water Reuse Systems

When the Board of Supervisors passed my legislation requiring water reuse systems to be installed in new large developments, San Francisco became the first city in the nation with such a requirement. As we confront California’s continuing drought and the need for long-term structural change on how we use water, this legislation is being praised as a “future-focused move.”  Click here to read the latest coverage of the legislation to learn more about how measures like these can save California water.

New Affordable Housing Legislation

As a city, we need to take more action to address the housing crisis that is forcing so many working families from San Francisco. That is why today I will be introducing legislation before the Board of Supervisors that will allow 100 percent affordable housing projects to bypass the conditional use authorization requirement. It takes far too long for these much needed projects to go through the entire approval process, only adding to the strain of the city’s housing shortage. You can read the San Francisco Chronicle’s early coverage of the legislation here.

The Subway Master Plan

I recently authored a piece on Medium on the need to dramatically increase underground transportation throughout San Francisco, and this week I introduced legislation to put create a long-term plan to build more subways. My proposal to create Subway Master Plan drew broad support from transit advocates and urban planners. It is long overdue for San Francisco and the Bay Area to address the underfunded, overcrowded, public transportation system. You can read the coverage by clicking the links to ABC7, CBS SF Bay Area, KQED, NBC Bay Area, sfist, and The SF Appeal.

Investing In Muni Pays Off

A new study shows that for every dollar we invest in Muni, we receive $2-$3 in economic benefit. We've made significant advances in prioritizing Muni and other public transit funding, but we can and should do more. We need to tackle our significant deferred maintenance on Muni, BART, and Caltrain, and expand capacity to account for our growing population. This study shows that these investments -- which are critical for region's environment and quality of life -- have positive economic outcomes. You can read the story here.

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