On September 26, sf.citi partnered with Hustle and Lyft to host a tech-focused District 6 Supervisor Debate at Lyft headquarters. While District 6 Supervisor Candidate Matt Haney was unable to participate in the evening’s discussion due to illness, the show must go on. We asked the other D6 Candidates, Christine Johnson and Sonja Trauss, about everything from public safety and homelessness to scooters and the proposed San Francisco cafeteria ban.
A true representation of San Francisco, District 6 sits at the intersection of San Francisco’s recent successes and struggles. The district is home to much of the city’s innovation, including leading tech companies and medical research at UCSF, as well as the lion’s share of new construction. District 6 is also at the forefront of many of the city’s issues, with a high number of people on the streets, open-air drug use, and increasing public safety concerns. Moderated by Cory Weinberg of The Information, our discussion focused on the relationship between the tech industry and the greater San Francisco community, and how those running to lead D6 plan to tap into our city’s unprecedented access to technology to innovate and improve District 6 for all who call it home.
Full recording of sf.citi’s District 6 Debate at Lyft headquarters.
DISCUSSING THE ISSUES
So where do District 6 Supervisor Candidates Christine Johnson and Sonja Trauss stand on some of the important issues in San Francisco? Take a look at a few snippets from the debate below.
What would you do in your first week as Supervisor?
Johnson: “The first thing I want to do is make sure the government is accountable for the state of our public spaces. In our administrative code, it says that private property owners are responsible for the sidewalks outside of their building . . . I’d want to change that in the admin code to make the government responsible for our public spaces.”
Trauss: “Legalize affordable housing all over the city . . . Affordable housing has to be apartment housing . . . and in more than 70 percent of the city, you cannot build apartments. What that means is that all of our affordable housing is built in basically two districts—actually three. More than 90 percent of it is in District 6, District 10, and then a little bit of it is built in District 5 . . . We feel like we’re running out of space for affordable housing, but we’re not. We can open up the rest of the city.”
How would you make the City Hall budget more efficient?
Trauss: “The Planning Department I think spends a lot of time holding people’s hands through the process of their neighborhood changing . . . I think there’s a lot we could slim down in the Planning Department.”
Johnson: “We have set-asides in our budget that people voted on a generation ago. I think that’s wrong. I think we’ve locked up three billion dollars of our budget for things that may not be priorities today. Set-asides should have an expiration date so that either the voters or the elected officials at the time can really determine whether or not it’s still something we still need to spend our money on.”
How can we innovate on homelessness solutions?
Trauss: “The thing to do about homelessness isn’t innovative—it’s shelter. If someone is without shelter, give them shelter. We only have shelter for 40 percent of the people who need it.”
Johnson: “I want to revamp the Moving On program. People who have been in SROs for a long time, or single room occupancy hotels—where it’s basically like group housing, they don’t want to be there anymore, they want to live more independently. We can revamp a program called Moving On, so that people can move on, so that we can open SROs for people who are formerly homeless. And frankly, I’m okay starting the conversation of partnering with our other Bay Area cities and counties on where people are going to live.”
Do you support the proposed Cafeteria Ban?
Trauss: “I don’t support the ban. . . When I talked to people—tech workers or even not tech workers—people said that the real barrier to going out to eating lunch, it’s not so much that you don’t have to do it because you have a cafeteria, it’s you don’t want to go out there because the street situation is terrible. It’s the wrong problem.”
Johnson: “The cafeteria ban is like the death of democracy. It is the thing that makes people not have faith in city government. It is the thing that makes people forget what their supervisor can do if they’re focused on the right problems.”
How can we improve how we permit emerging technologies?
Trauss: “I think it’s a real shame the scooter companies had to do this Gonzo thing. They said that if they hadn’t just done it and gotten people to love the scooters—if they had asked permission—they would have never gotten scooters out, and I agree with them. I think that that is true, and I think that’s an example of how badly our government is functioning in some way.”
Johnson: “I think we need to move to be more outcome-oriented. I don’t know why we care how many companies are in San Francisco. It should be about are [scooters] on Clipper, so that they’re equitable and everyone has access to them. Do they have places to be so they’re not strewn in the middle of the sidewalk? And do we have rules around where they’re ridden? We should spend our time on that sort of structuring, not on ‘We don’t like you because you’re this certain company.’”.
With nearly 150 attendees, our debate was both lively and informative. Look for yourself in our photos taken throughout the evening
PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS FROM sf.citi’s DISTRICT 6 DEBATE
All photos courtesy of Daniel Bahmani.