Citywide and District 9 Budget Victories, First Year Free, COVID-19 Updates, and More
On June 29, 2021, the Board of Supervisors Budget & Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the City's $13.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2021-22.
There is so much to be proud of in this year's budget. As a member of the Budget & Appropriations Committee, my staff and I worked closely with Chair Matt Haney, President Shamann Walton, and Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Gordon Mar to get the best budget possible. I have a profound respect for my colleagues and the care, love, and attention they put into getting this budget right for the people of San Francisco.
Community leaders who have dedicated their lives to uplifting the dignity of all San Franciscans spent every long hour with us, advocating for people they may never even meet. Sometimes it's in the wee hours of the morning, beaten down and tired, when you are struck by the beauty and dedication of the people who surround you. Working together, we were able to stay true to San Francisco values and pass a balanced budget that prioritizes the needs of the communities that need us the most.
June was a big month, with City Hall reopening and lifting of social distancing restrictions. San Francisco has made amazing progress in the fight against COVID-19, with 75% of us over the age of 12 now fully vaccinated. But the danger of this virus has not passed, especially given the highly transmissible Delta variant. Vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, is our best defense against COVID-19, including variants. Vaccines are widely available, safe, and effective.
To protect yourself, your family, and community, get vaccinated! The Moscone Center South high-volume vaccination site is open through July 14 for drop-in visits, and other vaccine sites in the San Francisco Health Network have expanded hours for drop-in. Please visit sf.gov/getvaccinated or call 628-652-2700 for vaccination information and sites.
In this newsletter, I will give you the latest updates on:
Citywide and District 9 Budget Victories
District 9 Focuses
Housing and Homelessness
Small Businesses: First Year Free
Celebrating Avanza 490 - New Affordable Housing
Rainbow Grocery Becomes a Legacy Business
Celebrating Unidos en Salud
The Village in the American Indian Cultural District
Walking School Bus Webinar
Upcoming Portola Events
Garfield Pool is Reopening
In Memoriam: Benita Martinez
Resources and Announcements
The Board of Supervisors is back in the Chamber for in-person meetings, although public comment will continue to be remote. Members of the public may continue to participate and provide public comment remotely via remote meeting call-in and/or by submitting comments regarding current legislative matters electronically via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are available by email: email@example.com or by phone at 415-554-5144 (leave a message, and we will call you back-- we are checking voicemail frequently). Check for updates on my Twitter and Facebook.
Citywide and District 9 Budget Victories
As a member of the Budget & Appropriations Committee this year, I worked with my colleagues on the Committee to focus on priorities for the District 9 and the City at large: full implementation of Mental Health SF to improve conditions on our streets, getting students back in school and thriving, supporting the recovery and resilience of small businesses, bringing resources and direct aid to the communities most impacted by the pandemic, and investing in housing for people experiencing homelessness and the working poor. Here are some highlights:
District 9 Focuses:
$2M for Latino COVID recovery
Food pantries throughout the district
Urban agriculture and food sustainability
Portola green space improvements
Bernal senior programming
Permanent spaces for community-based organizations that work in arts, culture, and violence prevention
Street ambassadors to monitor and resolve high-needs problems in the Mission
Street cleaning teams to keep District 9 business corridors clean and safe
Housing and Homelessness:
Full implementation of Mental Health SF
Housing subsidies and programs for vulnerable youth and women, survivors of assault, seniors and people with disabilities, queer and trans people, veterans, and families at risk of homelessness
Street Crisis Response Teams (SCRT) to provide non-law enforcement alternatives to street mental health calls
Alternative programming for women involved with the justice system
First Year Free - waiving registration, permit, and license fees for new small businesses (see below for more info)
Ambassadors to support healthy activity, ensure safety, and build community relations along merchant corridors
$15 million to jumpstart expanded enrichment and academic success services for students and families in SFUSD
Funds for new climate initiatives
Legal support for immigrants
Capacity building for Black-led service organizations
Small Business Help: First Year Free
Last month, along with co-sponsor Matt Haney and with the enthusiastic support of Sharky Laguana and William Ortiz Cartagena of the SF Small Business Commission, I introduced First Year Free -- legislation to create a one-year pilot to waive first-year permit, license, and business registration fees for new, small, storefront businesses. We were joined at the announcement by Caleb Zigas of La Cocina, Tiffany Carter of SF Black Wall Street, and Sharon Miller of Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of San Francisco neighborhoods and a major force in our city economy. Along with employing hundreds of thousands of workers, entrepreneurship for immigrants, women, people of color and working-class San Franciscans is both an alternative to minimum wage jobs and a unique path to building wealth for their families and their communities. We all know, however, that this past year has been brutal on them. My office has been in touch daily with individual business owners, with corridor merchant associations, with industry advocacy groups to offer support. Their anxiety and pain have been profound.
In response, the Board and the Mayor enacted an eviction moratorium, opened up new ways of doing business, and offered what we could in terms of financial support and technical assistance to access larger pots of funding. While most small businesses managed to stay afloat, there were many who did not make it. As we build back, First Year Free will remove a significant financial barrier that City fees create for prospective small business owners, even before they ever open their doors.
First Year Free is moving through the legislative process, with a vote at the Board expected before the end of this month. Meanwhile, we were able to include funding for it in the 2021-22 budget, and expect to launch in the fall.
Celebrating Avanza 490
New Affordable Housing
This week, we celebrated the grand opening of Avanza 490. Located at 490 South Van Ness and 16th Street, the building consists of 81 permanently affordable apartments, 32 of which are set aside for Mission District residents, and an additional 20 of which will be homes for families voluntarily relocating from public housing sites undergoing significant rehab work.
Every successful affordable housing development in the Mission comes with a back-story of community advocacy. When this parcel was proposed for luxury development back in 2015, the community put its foot down and demanded that the City purchase it instead. My predecessor, David Campos, and I pushed for the funding that made that possible. As a result of that fruitful partnership between community and City Hall, we get to welcome low-income and working families into their new, forever-affordable homes. Congratulations to Mission Housing and BRIDGE for another great project and to the Mission community that never says no to affordable housing!
Rainbow Grocery Becomes a District 9 Legacy Business
Photo credit: LocalNewsMatters.org
Congratulations to Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, the latest District 9 business to be named to the San Francisco Legacy Business registry. For more than 45 years, Rainbow has served the Mission and shoppers citywide with the highest quality, healthy, local, affordable, food and merchandise.
As one of the oldest and largest worker-owned, worker-run retail cooperatives in the country and through its deep contributions to community well-being, Rainbow sets the bar high for putting people and community over profits. Rainbow worker-owners, here's to the next 45 years!
Celebrating Unidos en Salud
At the end of June, I had the chance to celebrate Unidos en Salud - a collaboration between the Latino Task Force on COVID-19, UCSF, and the City.
Out of this tremendously respectful and equal three-way partnership were developed focused responses to ease the disproportionate and severe impact of COVID-19 on the Latinx community.
First surveillance testing in a zip code area, which revealed that Latinos and essential workers were the people getting sick from COVID-19 in extreme disproportion to their population.
Wellness programs - shelter, food, and other essential support between testing and recovery to ensure individuals could properly and safely quarantine.
The Right to Recover program covering lost wages of people recovering from COVID to remove the fear of testing and keep us all safer.
My gratitude to all who led and participated in Unidos en Salud and for being a small part of its huge success.
Introducing The Village in the American Indian Cultural District
The Village -- a new home for an inter-tribal community coalition of Native organizations and groups designed by the Friendship House and senior leaders in the American Indian community https://www.thevillagesf.org -- will become a centerpiece of the American Indian Cultural District in 2025. Last year, we passed legislation to create the American Indian Cultural District to ensure that its history and contributions are not forgotten and overwritten and will continue to be recognized, uplifted, and celebrated in the present day.
San Francisco is leading the nation in COVID-19 response. Even with remarkable progress in our fight against the virus, the increase in cases of the Delta variant poses a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of our community, especially among the unvaccinated population. Vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, is our best defense against COVID-19, including variants.
To protect yourself, your family, and community, get vaccinated! The Moscone Center South high-volume vaccination site is open every day through July 14 for drop-in visits. Additionally, vaccine sites in the San Francisco Health Network have expanded hours for drop-in.
The City of San Francisco has not changed its guidance or recommendations. In most cases, you no longer are required to wear a mask, with a few exceptions. Wear a mask if:
You are not vaccinated
At indoor events of more than 5,000 people, unless there is proof that everyone is vaccinated
When riding public transit like Muni and BART
Inside any business that requires everyone to be masked regardless of vaccination status
If you are staff at an indoor establishment and are not vaccinated. Please check with your employer about rules that apply to your workplace.
Garfield Pool is Reopening
Great News! Garfield Pool will officially reopen on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 to the public. See the pool schedule and details here. After two years closed for renovations, I recently had a sneak preview. It's gorgeous and ready to go. Grab your towel!
In Memoriam - Betita Martinez
Bob Fitch Photography Archive, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries
Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, a resident of the Mission since 1976, passed away on June 29 in San Francisco at the age of 95. Betita was a much admired and beloved Chicana-feminist activist and builder of alliances between communities of color. She was an educator, a comrade, and a legendary leader through decades of activism.
In 1964, she joined up with SNCC -- the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee -- to be part of Freedom Summer, establishing Freedom Schools and registering Black voters across Mississippi. She compiled Letters from Mississippi, which she published in the late 1960s and re-issued in 2007. It was described by Stokely Carmichael as “an irreplaceable record of an extraordinary moment in American social and cultural history.”
Her extensive bibliography includes the bilingual pictorial volume 500 Years of Chicano History and later, the video Viva La Causa!, documenting pre-Columbian origins of Mexican people through Spanish colonization, US immigration, and early efforts to fight discrimination.
Betita spent a lifetime building powerful cross-racial and cross-ethnic alliances and training the next generation in the skills and tactics to become effective community organizers and movement leaders. She leaves a strong legacy of social justice and bonds of solidarity that span the world.
Betita is survived by her daughter, Tessa Koning-Martínez, an actor and co-founder of San Francisco’s Latina Theater Lab, as well as a beloved community of friends. Betita Martinez, presente. Your fighting spirit will live on. May you rest in peace and power.
Resources and Announcements
Family Wealth Series
San Francisco Assessor Recorder Joanquin Torres is cohosting a Family Wealth Series event with the SF Public Library. Click here for more information and to register: https://www.sfassessor.org/familywealthforum
California Commercial Eviction Moratorium EXTENDED until Sept 30
To answer your questions and ensure you have all the resources you need, OEWD is hosting a webinar with the Bar Association of San Francisco, July 15, 12 noon. There will be a live Q&A with legal experts during this webinar. Register here. You may also submit a question in advance when you register. Please note that this presentation is just informational. For specific legal questions, please consult with an attorney or see the legal resources below.
Read OEWD’s FAQs and detailed guidance on the eviction moratorium to learn more.
New Clinic for Rental Debt and More Bay Area Legal Aid has a new clinic focused on helping San Francisco residents facing consumer debt collections, lawsuits, or credit reporting issues as a result of COVID-19 rental debt. (They can also assist those who were recently displaced and dealing with rental debt from San Francisco.) The clinic will take place on the fourth Friday of the month. They will be able to assist people with rent debt collection cases in Small Claims court or Limited Civil Court, both of which can resume in August, under current law. This clinic will not be able to assist with unlawful detainer (eviction) cases. Call 415-982-1300 to schedule an appointment with the clinic.
New COVID signage for businesses
New required signage for businesses: Please remove the blue and gold signs (recycle if you can!) and replace them with new signage.
The latest health order requires businesses to post two signs: one for patrons and one for personnel. There is a printer-friendly version with a white background for businesses and organizations to print them on their own. Some businesses and organizations may want to post signage related to the state’s face covering guidance. Sample signage is available for download in the Outreach Toolkit.
San Francisco Museums for All Program Now Permanent
The San Francisco Museums for All program is now permanent and year-round! Local residents who receive Medi-Cal or CalFresh can get 4 FREE or reduced price tickets per visit when they show their Medi-Cal or EBT cards. Learn how to plan your visit to more than 20+ participating museums at www.sfmuseumsforall.org.
Traffic Court Citation Discounts MyCitations—a new online tool for people with low incomes or who receive public benefits to request a significant discount (up to 80% or more!) on their traffic court citations. This discount can be worth hundreds of dollars. Using the MyCitations tool, people can look up their traffic citations online, answer a series of simple questions about their eligibility, and submit a request for a discount of 80% or more on their traffic court fines and fees. The MyCitations tool can also be used to request a payment plan, more time to pay, or community service. Using MyCitations can also save people an in-person trip to San Francisco Traffic Court.