Kicking off the AIDS 2020 Virtual Conference by hanging panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt from the Mayor’s Balcony at City Hall on July 6th. The tradition of hanging panels from the balcony dates back to the early days of the epidemic and I was happy to join staff and volunteers from the National AIDS Memorialfor this special occasion.
Half a year into the pandemic, COVID-19 is surging in California and around the country. Although we can be proud of our early success in flattening the curve, cases and hospitalizations have been rising and hospital beds have been filling up here in San Francisco, and in the broader Bay Area. In response to these developments, the City has indefinitely delayed the previously scheduled reopening of businesses like hair salons, outdoor bars, and indoor dining. It remains unclear whether indoor dining and other still-disallowed activities will be able to reopen before Spring 2021.
If we are to flatten the curve again, and avoid another cycle of economic closures, it is critical that we all do our part and continue to follow our public health protocols: stay home whenever possible, avoid unnecessary contact with others and always wear masks when you are out of your house. Like remembering to bring your phone and your keys every time you leave the house, remembering to bring and wear a mask is an essential part of our daily ritual. Mounting evidence shows that masks not only save the lives of others around you, but may help to save your life too. There’s nothing more important you can do to protect yourself, and all of us, than to remember: phone, keys, MASK!
You can view the latest public health data, which is updated daily, here.
My office in City Hall remains closed to the public while we continue to shelter in place and work remotely. The best way to stay in touch with us is by email. We are checking our email and voicemail every day. Please don’t hesitate to reach out via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEEKLY ZOOMSIDE CHAT
You can join me and my staff, along with a weekly rotating special guest, every Friday for an online Zoomside Chat where constituents can get the latest updates and ask important questions. For information about how to join please visit my Facebook page or email email@example.com. Due to the legislative recess we are taking a break on Friday August 7, but we will be back on Friday August 14.
We are honored to have been joined by recent guests including legendary LGBTQ activist and author Cleve Jones; SF Director of Transportation Jeff Tumlin; City Controller Ben Rosenfield, Dr. Margot Kushel, Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations and the UCSF Benioff Homelessness & Housing Initiative; Ivy Lee, Public Safety Advisor to Mayor Breed; Carolyn Kenady, Chair of the Dolores Heights Improvement Club and a leader of Rescue SF; Carolyn Wysinger, President of the San Francisco Pride Board and Fred Lopez, Executive Director of SF Pride; and Laurie Thomas, Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES
As of July 17th, San Francisco was placed on the state’s County Monitoring List due to our increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As a result, indoor malls and nonessential offices must remain closed until San Francisco can improve its Key Public Health Indicators and no indicators are at level red or “high alert”. Additionally, in response to the City’s surge, further reopening of San Francisco is on pause, with activities and businesses that were previously scheduled to reopen either June 29 or July 13 postponed indefinitely. These include indoor dining, outdoor bars without food, indoor museums and aquariums, outdoor swimming pools, and real estate open houses by appointment. For a full list of allowable activities and recent public health orders, visit https://sf.gov/stay-home-except-essential-needs.As of July 22, masks or face coverings are now required anytime you are outside the house and within six feet of anyone you don’t live with. You should put on your mask anytime you see someone within 30 feet of you (about the length of a Muni bus) so that you both have time to cover your face.
The only time masks aren’t required is when you are:
At home (if you are not around someone at higher risk from COVID-19)
Working alone in your own private office (as long as you can put on a face covering quickly if someone enters)
In your car alone or if you’re only with people you live with
Sitting or standing outside alone or with people you live with (such as picknicking outside) and you are more than six feet from others
When eating or drinking alone or with people you live with, and nobody else is within six feet
Exercising outdoors alone or with people who live with you (walking, hiking, bicycling or running) and no one else is within six feet
Kids 10 and older must wear a mask
Children 2-9 should wear a mask to the extent feasible
If you cannot wear a mask, you must wear a face shield that is covered on the bottom. The only exemptions that apply are for people with documented medical exemptions or who cannot safely perform their work in compliance with workplace safety guidelines
New COVID-19 Testing requirements:
Requires all hospitals (those with an acute hospital, a clinic operated by an entity with an acute hospital, or a facility with more than 100 health care providers) to conduct same or next calendar day testing for people experiencing symptoms, known or suspected contacts of COVID-19 positive people, and referrals from the Department of Public Health.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN WORKING ON
HOMELESSNESS IN THE TIME OF COVID-19: Even prior to COVID-19, my office received more constituent calls and emails about encampments in residential neighborhoods than any other issue. For almost two years, we worked with frustrated neighbors to try to improve deteriorating street conditions, but too often it felt like an inhumane and ineffective game of whack-a-mole: a particularly disruptive encampment would be moved after days or weeks of 311 reports and calls from increasingly frustrated neighbors, only to pop up again a block or sometimes a few feet away.Shelter in Place brought the whack-a-mole to a stop. With congregate shelters closing and under direction from the Department of Public Health, encampments were allowed to stay where they were and grow in size. The Tenderloin was the hardest hit, but the impacts of these new policies have been felt in neighborhoods across the City.
Since March the Mayor has opened up thousands of hotel rooms for medically vulnerable unhoused people. Recently, she announced a plan to open 1,500 permanent supportive housing units to bring people in off the streets. I support both efforts, but I strongly believe that to effectively address the current crisis on our streets, we must grapple with the needs of the thousands of people for whom we will not have a permanent supportive housing unit, a hotel room, or even a shelter bed.
In May I authored a resolution urging the City to quickly open safe sleeping sites to accommodate unhoused people for whom we do not have a better option. Since then, the City has opened a handful of such sites, including the temporary and now-closed Everett Safe Sleeping Village, w hich operated from June 5 through July 14. During the time it was open, 48 people resided at the Everett Safe Sleeping Village. Ten of these folks were moved into hotel rooms, ten others were moved to another Safe Sleeping Village following the closure of Everett, and thirteen were moved to a congregate shelter site.
The status quo is inhumane and intolerable. I will continue to push for a coherent citywide plan to move people out of encampments in residential neighborhoods and commercial corridors and into safer shelter. I encourage District 8 residents to reach out directly to the Mayor’s Office to demand better results and to join the group Rescue SF ( https://www.rescuesf.org/) in advocating for a more effective citywide response to our homelessness and behavioral health crises.
ADDRESSING THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON OUR BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CRISIS: Over the last two months I have held four hearings at the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee to assess the City’s plans to meet the behavioral health needs of unhoused San Franciscans in our drastically changed COVID-19 world. On June 25 at PSNS, we got an update on local implementation of the SB 1045 Housing Conservatorship program and learned that the City has not yet pursued a single SB 1045 conservatorship. Then we received a presentation from the Department of Public Health on the impacts of COVID-19 on the City’s response to the behavioral health needs of unhoused people. During this hearing, Director of Mental Health Reform Dr. Anton Nigusse Bland presented the results of a study analyzing gaps in the treatment system and offering recommendations for investments in behavioral health and drug treatment beds. I continued both hearings to the July 23 PSNS meeting in order to further the conversation and get progress reports from DPH and the Office of the Public Conservator.
Following the July 23 hearings, I remain frustrated that the very modest expansion of conservatorships allowed by SB 1045 has been so molasses-like, but we do finally seem close to getting the first few potential candidates the care that they need. I have invited staff to report back to the Committee on September 10, by which time they anticipate filing the first conservatorship petitions under the law.
On July 23 we also delved into the prospects for implementing key elements of Mental Health SF even in the current crisis; it is obvious that we urgently need to pursue several of the core components of that legislation: coordination of behavioral health care for unhoused people, deployment of mental health crisis outreach teams, opening up places for these teams to take people who are in crisis, and expansion of treatment bed capacity for those under conservatorship and otherwise in need of residential treatment contemplated in that legislation. Those investments are my highest priority for the coming year’s budget. We cannot afford to wait until COVID-19 is in the rear-view mirror – the number and needs of folks on the street are growing too quickly to defer for another year. Thank you to all those neighbors and advocates who called in to share their stories and demands including dozens of neighbors from Rescue SF. Please stay engaged, make your voices heard, and join me in calling for these critical behavioral health investments as City Hall works on the budget this month.
You can watch a recording of the live-streamed June 25 hearings here, and the July 23 hearings here.
REOPENING OUR ECONOMY: The San Francisco COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, charged with reopening businesses and restarting our economy, has been meeting regularly over these last several months. The Task Force has been helping the Department of Public Health think through protocols for reopening, but has also been exploring reforms to City processes that may help ease the regulatory burden on small businesses even beyond the pandemic.I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow ERTF members and all community stakeholders on a safe, sustainable, and equitable reopening in San Francisco.
ENSURING HEALTH CARE FOR FRONTLINE WORKERS: The COVID-19 pandemic has shown again that we are all interconnected – when one of us gets sick, all of us are at risk. That’s why on Tuesday July 21 I joined Supervisor Shamann Walton, SEIU USWW, Teamsters Local 665, Teamsters Local 856, Teamsters Local 2785, and UNITE HERE! Local 2 to announce the Healthy Airport Ordinance, which will protect the health of workers and passengers alike as we rebuild our economy and welcome visitors back to San Francisco. Every airline traveler needs the workers at the security checkpoint to be healthy, the airline catering workers who prepare in-flight food and beverage to be healthy, and the wheelchair attendant who assists elderly passengers to be healthy. Each day that these frontline workers go without access to quality, affordable health insurance is another day that workers avoid the doctor or skip necessary care because they can’t afford it. This puts us all at risk. I will be working closely with our airport, labor, and community partners as well as my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to bring this legislation forward in the coming weeks.
ADDRESSING OUR CLIMATE EMERGENCY: Awful though the coronavirus is and has been, we know that our current public health crisis pales in comparison to the potentially catastrophic public health impacts of our looming climate crisis. Natural gas is a leading source of carbon emissions in San Francisco, accounting for 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings, and 40% of our emissions overall. It is also a serious health and safety hazard. That is why in June I introduced legislation that would eliminate natural gas in new buildings and require all-electric construction for new buildings that submit permits starting next year, with an additional year provided for projects that include space for restaurants. This is the latest step toward a safer, healthier, more resilient San Francisco and making good on our City’s commitment to climate action.
PREVENTING PERMANENT SMALL BUSINESS CLOSURES: Just when many small businesses have begun to finally reopen following long periods of mandatory closure due to COVID-19, many are being asked to shut down yet again to allow legally mandated seismic retrofit work. Many of these businesses cannot come back from a second closure. That’s why on July 21 I introduced legislation to extend the deadline for completion of Tier IV soft story retrofit work by one year. This will allow additional time for property owners to complete retrofit construction on a timeline that reduces disruption to our already beleaguered and struggling small businesses.A 2020 study looked at 180 Tier IV commercial spaces in District 1, 2 and 5 that had been retrofitted prior to the end of 2019, and found that 46% of the commercial spaces in these properties saw turnover through the course of the retrofit work. Seismic retrofit work is essential and urgent, but the reality is that businesses and properties owners alike have asked for, and need, more time. The extended retrofit deadline will also allow building owners to pursue retrofit work at a time when they can minimize negative impacts to residents of Tier IV buildings, many of whom continue to shelter in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
LIFTING THE HISTORIC DISCRIMINATORY BAN ON BATHHOUSES: On July 21, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed my ordinance requiring DPH to update their minimum standards for adult sex venues to remove regulations that date back to the 1980’s, which require the monitoring of patrons’ sexual activities, and prohibit private rooms. In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded that our best public policy decisions will be driven by data, science and facts, not by panic or political pressure. The closure of the bathhouses in San Francisco and the decades-long perpetuation of policies requiring invasive patron monitoring and the ban on private rooms have no scientific justification today.To be clear, this ordinance does not and will not require or allow the reopening of adult sex venues in San Francisco before it is safe to do so as part of our post-COVID-19 reopening. What this ordinance will do is allow for adult sex venues to be a part of our economic and cultural recovery when it is safe to do so. I hope this legislation will make the operation of adult sex venues more feasible and will encourage the opening of new businesses that will aid in our economic recovery.
BRINGING SHARED SPACES TO DISTRICT 8: Since May, my office has been supporting businesses across the district in taking advantage of their adjacent sidewalks and curb lanes through the City’s COVID-19 Shared Spaces program. The expansion of outdoor activities has been a critical intervention to sustain many restaurants and retailers, and many more are preparing to open outside over the coming weeks. We have been working closely with small businesses and merchant groups in the Castro, the Mission and other neighborhoods to organize temporary street closures to allow for even more space for safe outdoor dining and shopping in our beloved commercial corridors. For more, visit sf.gov/sharedspaces.I am delighted that the Valencia Street Shared Spaces closure started July 23 and will continue at least through October!Our local businesses along Valencia will be able to offer expanded outdoor dining and shopping, as one of the first temporary street closures to be approved. Valencia from 16th to 17th and 18th to 19th is closed to car traffic Thursdays through Sundays from 4pm to 10pm (business hours until 9pm) so we can safely support our local restaurants and stores. The block from 17th to 18th will remain open, and the curbs made available for residents or delivery drivers picking up orders. Thank you to Small Business Commissioner Manny Yekutiel and the Valencia Merchants Corridor Association for championing this effort and putting in the work to make sure this will be a success for businesses and the neighborhood!
My office is working with the Castro Merchants to finalize proposals for weekend street closures on 18th Street from Collingwood to Hartford, and on Noe Street from Market to Beaver. We are also supporting efforts to safely expand outdoor seating in Jane Warner Plaza. Special thanks to Castro Merchants President Masood Samereie and the Board of Directors, as well as Executive Director of the Castro Community Benefits District Andrea Aiello and her team for their hard work on behalf of the neighborhood.
EXPANDING SLOW STREETS: The Slow Streets program launched in April to limit through traffic on certain residential streets and make more space available for pedestrians, cyclists, and outdoor activities in our neighborhoods. My office worked with the MTA and neighborhood groups to launch the first round of Slow Streets on parts of Sanchez in Noe Valley and Chenery in Glen Park. The program has been popular and we appreciate everyone who has written us to share their support, concerns, and suggestions for how to improve and expand the program. The MTA has announced the next round of streets that will be considered for implementation. These include Arlington from Randall to Roanoke in Glen Park, Duncan Street from Valencia to Sanchez, and Noe Street from 18th St north to Duboce Park. I’m grateful that the MTA has responded to feedback from our office and neighbors to adjust the Duncan and Noe segments to avoid very steep blocks not suitable for Slow Streets. Learn more, and share your thoughts directly with MTA staff here.
IN THE DISTRICT
Delivering PPE to Canyon Market, an essential business serving Glen Park daily
SECURING PPE FOR D8 ESSENTIAL WORKERS: Essential workers at organizations and businesses throughout the district continue to put their health on the line to serve our community every day. My office worked with the City’s Emergency Operations Center to secure and deliver Personal Protective Equipment to District 8 businesses earlier this month, and will continue working with City partners to support our frontline workers wherever and however we can. If your organization or business is in need of PPE, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit a request. We cannot guarantee PPE, but are happy to work with you to submit your request to the EOC.
At the site of the George Christopher Playground Renovation in Diamond Heights with DHCA President Betsy Eddy
GEORGE CHRISTOPHER PLAYGROUND RENOVATION: Last month I met up with Betsy Eddy, President of the Diamond Heights Community Association, for a walk around the neighborhood. Betsy is a tenacious advocate for her neighborhood & its open spaces — it is thanks to her, DHCA, and Friends of Christopher Park that Christopher Playground is getting a major upgrade. I was glad our office could support their efforts in last year’s add-back budget, and cannot wait to see the final product of the Christopher Playground Renovation Project when it is completed this fall! In related and exciting news, the Rec and Parks Department has announced that their Deferred Maintenance Team will be resurfacing the tennis courts and replacing the baseball field fencing in parallel with the playground renovation. Thanks to Betsy, DHCA, and FOCP for all that they do for District 8! And thank you to Rec and Parks for supporting these park improvements!
RENEWING THE CASTRO CBD: The Castro Community Benefit District provides critical services to one of San Francisco’s most iconic neighborhoods, with staff working every day to keep our streets safe and clean, support our small businesses and activate our public spaces. Though the Castro faces a number of challenges, it is clear to me that conditions in the neighborhood would be much worse if not for the work the CBD does every day and that the CBD will be an important player in the renaissance of the Castro when we eventually emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 14 the Board of Supervisors held a hearing on the renewal of the Castro CBD, and based on an overwhelming vote of the property owners the Board renewed this essential neighborhood-serving organization for another 15 years. Thanks to Andrea Aiello, Executive Director of the Castro CBD, CBD staff, and the CBD Board for all they do to support the neighborhood.
MUNI SERVICE UPDATES: The MTA plans to restore Muni Metro Rail service starting August 22, including above ground J-Church train service. However, the J will not continue into the tunnel under Market Street, and instead MTA will pilot a new configuration that is designed to improve reliability and travel times for the J, and systemwide. The proposal is for the J to end service at Market Street, where riders will transfer to high-frequency shuttle service underground via Church Street Station or the N line, with above ground traffic changes and increased space for pedestrians to queue and transfer.I am pleased that the MTA also plans to restore two critical bus lines serving District 8 as part of the August 22 service update. The 37 Corbett will run from Twin Peaks down to Castro Station on the regular route, and then on a modified route down Market to 11th St before turning around. The 48 Quintara will also resume service, running from Dogpatch to West Portal Station with a modified route running on Diamond Street from 24th and Clipper, rather than via Grandview, Douglass and Hoffman. My office has advocated consistently to MTA leadership for this restoration of critical service for our residents in the hills, especially seniors and people with disabilities, and this vital cross-town service. See the full list of service updates here and look out for future updates on transit service at sfmta.com/covid.
IN THE NEWS
SF SUPERVISORS SEEK LOWER HEALTH CARE COSTS FOR SFO WORKERS AMID CORONAVIRUS
San Francisco Supervisors Shamann Walton and Rafael Mandelman said Tuesday they are seeking an ordinance that would lower costs for airport workers.
“This state of affairs is inhumane and awful, and it is also dangerous for passengers,” Mandelman said. (SF Chronicle, July 21)
CAR-FREE VALENCIA: ON-STREET, OUTDOOR DINING APPROVED FOR THREE-MONTH PILOT
“It is something of a Hail Mary,” admits Mandelman. “But if we can do something to support these businesses, we should. And I hope the activation of public spaces is one of the silver linings of this period.” (Mission Local, July 16)
LYON-MARTIN’S VIRTUAL RAINBOW CELEBRATION
It was a joy to be part of Lyon Martin’s Virtual Rainbow Celebration, honoring the life of the late LGBTQ trailblazer and District 8 resident Phyllis Lyon and commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Lyon-Martin Health Services. I was so proud to work with Lyon-Martin workers, SEIU 1021, Health Right 360, and Mayor Breed to stop the closure of the Lyon-Martin Clinic in May, ensuring we don’t allow the only trans and gender nonconforming affirming health care clinic to close amid a global public health crisis. Many thanks to Lyon-Martin and HR 360 for the life-saving work they do every day. (SF Bay Times, July 16)
SF BUILDING OWNERS MAY GET AN EXTRA YEAR FOR QUAKE RETROFITS
“If you have ground-floor businesses hanging on by their fingernails, the last thing you want to do is cut off the ledge,” Mandelman said.
The measure, which will delay the soft-story retrofit deadline until Sept. 15, 2021, is meant to provide a bit of relief to the owners and tenants of 415 buildings at a time when small businesses are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, Mandelman said. (SF Chronicle, July 14)
SUPES TO VOTE ON PROPOSAL TO EASE RESTRICTIONS ON GAY BATHHOUSES
“I hope this ordinance will make the operation of adult sex venues more feasible and will encourage the opening of new businesses that will aid in our economic recovery,” Mandelman said during the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting. (SF Examiner, July 9)
SF MAY PROHIBIT NATURAL GAS IN NEW BUILDINGS
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who introduced the legislation to impose the requirement, said, “We are taking a big step toward a safer, more resilient carbon-neutral future.” (SF Examiner, June 30)
SPEED BUMPS ADDED ON DOLORES AFTER SKATEBOARDING INJURIES
“This has to stop,” Mandelman said in the Facebook post. “Over the last week my office has been working with SPFD, MTA and Public Works to find a solution that will stop this dangerous situation from continuing.”(SF Examiner, July 18)
Shanti has a new support group in Spanish for the HIV+ Latinx community. This group welcomes all genders, and will be meeting on Zoom every other Tuesday from 4-5:30pm. For more information please contact Lorena Jimenez at Ljimenez@shanti.org or 415-629-8985, or Liliana Talero at Ltalero@shanti.org or 415-574-9633.
Emergency Business/Nonprofit Water Bill AssistanceIf your small business or non-profit is experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a 20% reduction on your water and sewer bill.
This program is available for a limited time and the deadline to submit an application is December 31, 2020. However, we may cease taking applications earlier if funds are exhausted.
Once approved, you will receive a 20% discount on your SFPUC water and sewer bill for a period of six months. Apply here today.
The SFMTA is seeking community feedback about how the Muni Core Service Plan is working for Muni customers and is asking for your input to identify what is not working. To supplement the reach of Muni’s web-based survey, the MTA is using a text-based survey to reach people who might find it easier or more accessible to provide feedback by text. Smart phone capability is not required. Text YES/NO to 415-996-1854 to start the survey.
Housing Element 2020 Update
Every eight years California cities are required to update their General Plan’s Housing Element. The Housing Element is San Francisco’s housing plan: it expresses our collective vision for creating housing through a series of policies and implementation programs. The Planning Department recently launched San Francisco’s 2022 update, which will be centered on racial and social equity to create housing policies that are inclusive, equitable and just. Your participation and input are critical to ensuring the Housing Element update reflects the values of our communities, especially those impacted by historically discriminatory programs. Share your feedback on key ideas for policy updates through the online participation platform or by calling 415-644-5891 to leave your comments in a voice message.
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