Supervisor Stefani - Newsletters
MESSAGE FROM CATHERINE
As we all know 2021 was a year of historic challenges. Through it all, I was extremely grateful to serve as your Supervisor in District 2, and I resolve to face 2022 with the same steadfast commitment to a safer, cleaner, and more vibrant San Francisco.
I want to take a moment to reflect on all work we accomplished last year to strengthen public safety, support small business, and improve good governance. Despite all the hardship we faced in 2021, I am incredibly proud of all that we accomplished together, and I know that with your support we can do it again.
As always, please feel free to reach out to my office by phone (415-554-7752) or email (email@example.com) with any issues or concerns at any time
Wishing you a happy new year,
A Year in Review of 2021 Policy and Legislation:
As a mother of two, I care deeply about creating a safer San Francisco for everyone in our community. Public safety remains my highest priority, and I promise to do everything in my power to address it.
Year to date, gun violence, homicide, assault, human trafficking, arson, and larceny theft have all increased. Despite what other leaders may say, these troubling statistics deserve a robust response, and I am proud to have championed the following pieces of public safety legislation.
Transparency in Domestic Violence Reporting
Even though calls to crisis lines from victims of domestic violence increased during the pandemic, abusers are increasingly released without consequence. The SFPD made 131 felony domestic violence arrests in the fourth quarter of 2020, and 113 of them (86%) were dismissed by the District Attorney’s Office. That’s why I passed legislation to require the District Attorney's Office and the SFPD to release quarterly reports on domestic violence charges. We cannot continue to let violent cases fall through the cracks when lives are at stake.
The San Francisco Victim’s Rights Initiative
In November, I announced The San Francisco Victim’s Rights Initiative for the June 2022 Ballot. Each quarter, nearly 20,000 San Franciscans report that they are victims of a crime. However, almost 90% of those victims do not qualify for assistance from the City. That means thousands of victims in San Francisco do not have the support they need to access critical services and restitution.
The need is acutely prevalent among victims of domestic violence:
In addition to providing much-needed support and comprehensive services to all victims by establishing the Office of Victim and Witness Rights, it will also create a right to civil counsel for victims of domestic violence. The office will be a one-stop shop, outside of law enforcement, where victims can access services to navigate the criminal justice system, and victims of domestic violence can receive the legal representation they need to help them escape the cycle violence by assisting with protective orders, custody issues, and housing needs, etc.
Ghost Gun Ban
Ghost guns are a serious problem in San Francisco. These unserialized, untraceable ghost gun kits are manufactured to avoid state firearms laws and have become the weapon of choice among individuals who want to commit crime.
In May, I learned about an individual in San Francisco who was arrested in possession of a ghost gun and released who then went on to commit two homicides.
Unfortunately, this case isn’t unique: the number of ghost guns seized in San Francisco has increased by over 2,000% since 2016. In December, I passed California’s first ban on ghost gun sales. I am proud to share that since my legislation passed, other cities are implementing their own bans, including Oakland, San Jose, Berkeley, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
Police Funding in the Budget
Over the last six years dangerous incidents like homicide, assault, and arson have increased, while response times have decreased. Despite knowing residents are not receiving the protection they need, other Supervisors advocated cutting public safety funding by $30 million during last year’s budget cycle.
I reaffirmed my commitment to public safety and fought for our police department, especially as funding for police academy classes, equipment, and new investments in criminal justice reform initiatives were on the line. I successfully secured funding for 135 more officers through two additional police academy classes.
Hearing on SFPD Staffing and Retention
Despite my hard fought victory for public safety funding, there's more work to do. An independent study of SFPD staffing levels from 2020 revealed that San Francisco needed to hire 265 more officers to meet demand for service. Since that time, Police Chief Scott shared that number has grown to nearly 500. We cannot keep our community safe if patrol staffing is “severely inadequate.”
In advance of our annual budget deliberations, I called for a hearing to understand the SFPD’s current demand for service and recruitment strategies. This hearing is scheduled for February 24 at the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee.
The Sherman Elementary community lost a beloved educator in November, when Andrew Zieman was struck and killed while walking near the intersection of Union and Franklin. The community was devastated by this incident and I share their outrage over this senseless loss of life.
Tragedies like this demand an urgent response and I worked with the SFMTA to make the corner of this fatal crash safer. I also secured $385,000 for a quick build project that will help to ensure pedestrian safety on the Franklin corridor, and I held a hearing on pedestrian safety around schools in our city. Everyone should be able to walk safely as they make their way through the City.
Small Business Support
Small businesses are an essential part of what makes our neighborhoods vibrant places to live, work and visit. They also make up 93% of businesses in the city. Small business recovery is critical to our city’s economic recovery, and it is clear that we need to make it easier to do business in the city. That’s why I led and supported new programs and policies to do just that, like waiving fees, reducing red tape, and bringing more traffic to our merchant corridors.
At the peak of the pandemic, I authored and passed one of the largest small business fee-waiver packages in the history of the city – securing more than $20 million in direct relief. This year, I continued to legislate ways to reduce costs for small businesses by waiving temporary sidewalk sale permit fees citywide for the holiday season.
Reducing Red Tape
While COVID-19 devastated the small business community, opening a business in San Francisco was difficult long before the pandemic started. Costly permitting processes, unclear rules and regulations, redundant inspections, and inconsistent billing practices all add to the struggles of being a small business owner. That’s why I was a strong supporter of Proposition H in the last election.
For example, I learned that one District 2 restaurant faced thousands of dollars in fines for having their business name on both an awning and a projecting sign in violation of an obscure and rarely enforced rule. I addressed this issue by authoring legislation with a minor Planning Code amendment to now allow this kind of signage and create more flexibility in how businesses function.
Street activation is key to our the economic recovery, and we have seen that beautifying public spaces directly increases the economic benefit to surrounding areas. That's why I worked with local merchants and artists to organize Bloomtown on Union, generating much-needed foot traffic to the area.
Our City was rocked by frequent stories of corruption this year. From bribery and money laundering to fraudulently overcharging customers for personal gain, corruption hurts us all. We cannot continue to let bad actors siphon resources away from the public services we desperately need and undermine public trust in government. That is why I worked to close loopholes in our government contracting and require more transparency in reporting.
Process for Awarding Grants
A report from the City Auditor found major issues in the way the City awarded grant funding. From 2017 to 2020, city departments issued 5,746 grant awards totaling $5.4 billion with very little oversight. That means almost $2 billion in grant funding was awarded per year without any minimum requirements for competition, open solicitation, transparency, fairness, or documentation. As a result, in July I passed an ordinance to reform how the city awards grants to better safeguard taxpayer dollars by setting enforceable standards for competitive solicitation, fairness in award selection, documentation, and transparency.
Nonprofit Reporting Standards
One of the nonprofits that the city contracts with is the Pretrial Diversion Project, which supervises individuals who are arrested for a crime and awaiting trial out of custody. For two years I have had concerns about how they calculate and report their safety and appearance rates – they routinely reported their clients were reoffending only 5% to 10% of the time. An independent study found that more than half of those who were arrested and released in San Francisco reoffended before trial, and most violent offenders committed new crimes before trial. This report validated my concerns, and I announced legislation to reform the city’s pretrial process and require more accurate and transparent reporting.
The Year Ahead
I’m incredibly proud of all that I’ve accomplished as your Supervisor in 2021 and cannot wait to tackle the challenges of 2022. We need accountability, fairness and safety. To that end, my priorities for this year include:
With your help, I know we can make 2022 the year we turn things around in San Francisco!
Office of Supervisor Catherine Stefani