Many of us read the article that appeared in the Chronicle on June 22, “Exodus of S.F.’s middle class” with yet another sense of disappointment and sadness at the ever-escalating trend for families to leave the City. San Francisco is again at a crossroads
Why does this unhealthy deterioration of our social fabric continue? According to the article, it is primarily due to ever-rising cost of homes and real estate that is transforming our City into a “Disneyland for yuppies.” A city in which only households of at least two high income wage earners can exists. I say it is due to much more than that.
Could it be that San Francisco is losing the very spirit that drove so many people here to start with? How many of our predecessors came here with the vision of a place where they could live in relative harmony, in a “live and let live” lifestyle, with people of diverse backgrounds and make-up, in an atmosphere of excitement and beauty, and hope that the future they would carve out for themselves and their families would be enduring, enriching, and affordable? How many of us with moderate incomes and growing families’ hope that the “Spirit of San Francisco” is alive, in spite of the constant assault on family living?
The barrage of rising fees and costs that our local government is imposing on our daily lives is almost as if our City leaders have declared war on the “Family Lifestyle.”
Consider these facts:
• San Francisco has the highest cost per capita of any City in the country for its municipal government and for questionable services at best.
• Our budget is higher than that of 20 states.
• We have one City worker for every 26 residents – the highest ratio in the country.
• Our education system is bankrupt and has gone from top ranked nationally to embarrassingly low, and still engages in reapportionment, depriving youngster’s admittance to their school of choice.
• The Department responsible for protecting our families is in constant turmoil and disarray, unable to lower one of the highest crime rates in the country, despite having our very able young men and women eager to join to protect and serve.
• Households with multiple members pay a disproportionate share of water and utility costs.
• Skyrocketing permit and other fees, not to mention parking fees and meter tickets that discourage patronage, besiege families and small businesses.
• Little league and youth sports must now compete with non-recreational activities to utilize our parks that are in dire need of repair and maintenance.
All the while, this administration has added some 24% new senior executives to manage a city workforce of almost 29,000 for a population that hasn’t increased in decades.
I have no ill will towards the politicians that are in office today. Many of them lack experience, or are in situations that are beyond their control, but they must work for us and with us if we are to see any real change in our City. My experience has shown me that the best type change occurs when people unite together in both spirit and ideas to work for the common good.
Family is important to me and that is why I chose to serve our city. As a father of seven, I know how legislation can help or hurt family living. As your Supervisor, most of the legislation I authored was geared to encourage family life. I developed Harding Park so that all parks in San Francisco would benefit from the revenue from such a marvelous facility, if managed correctly. I spearheaded the restoration of Lake Merced in hopes that it would be eventual home of the most unique piece of family recreational real estate of any city in the country. I led the rebuild of the new Youth Guidance Center, replete with new educational and vocational opportunities so that our troubled youth may have a second chance. I created the enabling legislation that would have allowed Laguna Honda to continue serving our seniors in need, but unfortunately that mission, too, is now being diverted. To our young start up families, I proposed allowing them to purchase the apartments they lived in from landlords who were willing to sell them to them so that they too may invest in a “piece of the rock.” Our re-build of Ocean Ave. was a testimony to the good that small business can provide a community. I authored and passed numerous pieces of legislation affecting quality of life, not only for taxpayers, but also the less fortunate and homeless, because they too are part of the common good.
Yes, the cost of real estate has escalated, but so has the desire of many families who wish to call San Francisco home if their needs were not neglected. This downward spiral in quality of life here in San Francisco will not be turned around by just declaring enough is enough. We must start demanding “real results” for the common good from those in elective office.
Do not lose faith, lest you lose your spirit! San Franciscans are indeed a unique, tough, wonderful and caring breed. Fortunately, things do evolve and change, but a lot of it depends upon whether you really want it to, or not. Your voice makes a difference, so let it be heard. It is through you that change will occur.