On Monday at noon, I will take the oath of office as a California State Senator and resign my seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. I’m honored and excited to take my seat in the Senate, and I thank the voters for allowing me to lead during these difficult times. Now more than ever, California must be strong in our fight for progressive change and against the radicalism emanating from Washington.
Yet as thrilled as I am to fight for our values in Sacramento, I will miss serving on the Board of Supervisors and working hand-in-hand with the people of our great Supervisorial district.
(Opening the newly renovated Castro Street)
Representing District 8 on the Board of Supervisors has been one of the deepest honors of my life. I’ve lived in this district for nearly 20 years, and it’s a unique and wonderful place — beautiful neighborhoods, engaged and passionate people, and a deep commitment to social and economic justice.
Thank you for trusting me to represent you. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for partnering with me to move our community forward.
Working together, we achieved a lot. We widened the Castro Street sidewalks and overhauled this key neighborhood streetscape. We created a brand new park, the Noe Valley Town Square. We renovated Dolores Park and are nearly done with the renovations of Glen Canyon and the Randall Museum. We funded and built Strut, a new health center for gay, bi, and trans men in the Castro, worked to renovate the LGBT community center, created new affordable housing for low income seniors and homeless youth, and provided support for our district’s largest senior center. We renovated the tennis courts on Flint Street and obtained funding to renovate the tennis courts on 15th Street and Noe Courts. We made pedestrian improvements along 24th Street in Noe Valley, along Upper Market Street, and in Glen Park. We secured sidewalks for portions of Diamond Heights that never had them. In the near future, George Christopher Playground will be replaced, and Walter Haas Park Dog Play Area will be revamped.
(Supporting the Boys and Girls Club)
We also worked together to make positive change for San Francisco as a whole during a period of unprecedented growth and change — a period of incredible innovation and energy, accompanied by sky-rocketing housing costs, increased evictions, extreme poverty and mental illness on our streets, and congestion on our roads and transit systems. When I took office in January 2011, San Francisco’s unemployment rate approached 10% and our budget deficit approached a half billion dollars. Today, unemployment is just over 3%, and our budget deficits are effectively zero. Our growth has allowed us to significantly increase our investment in affordable housing, transit, roads, parks, homeless services, senior and youth services, and other key needs. Yet, we’ve struggled with ensuring that everyone has access to housing. We’ve particularly struggled with the crisis of homelessness, mental health, and drug addiction we see every day on our streets. These challenges have been frustrating to all of us, myself included.
Despite these challenges, we’ve pulled together to move forward, and I’ve been honored to be part of these efforts. Working together, we put public transportation back on the front burner at City Hall — we stopped the raids on transit funds, tied transit funding to population growth, required developers to pay transit impact fees, improved late night transit, crafted a subway master plan, and obtained significant funding for bike and pedestrian safety improvements. We moved forward progressive housing policy, allowing for new in-law units, streamlining the approval process for affordable housing, making it easier to build student housing, legalizing micro-units, helping fire victims get access to housing, and extending rent control to long-term HIV survivors receiving federal housing subsidies. Perhaps most important, we dispelled the fallacy that San Francisco can make housing more affordable without building more housing.
(Celebrating the reopening of the newly renovated Dolores Park)
We passed the most expansive paid parental leave law in the country. We protected HIV funding, expanded healthcare for low income children, required health warnings on soda ads, and raised the tobacco purchase age to 21. We passed legislation to require water recycling and solar panels in new buildings. We passed legislation to protect LGBT seniors in long-term care facilities, collect data on LGBT use of city services, expand transgender access to healthcare, and ban city contracting with states that pass anti-LGBT have laws. We worked to protect our city’s nightlife and culture, commissioning a nightlife economic impact study and removing legal obstacles to great nightlife. We authored ballot measures to protect and expand our urban forest, to improve our parks and roads, and to improve public safety.
When all was said and done, we authored 104 ordinances that were signed into law, 209 resolutions passed by the Board, three charter amendments adopted by the voters, and multiple other ballot measures.
And, day in and day out, we helped people facing severe struggles — helping people keep their apartments or get housing, helping HIV patients maintain access to affordable and life-saving drugs, getting homeless people into shelter or housing, and helping residents navigate the city’s often formidable bureaucracy.
(With Heklina at Oasis nightclub. I helped Heklina get Oasis opened.)
None of this was easy, and we were able to accomplish these things only because we worked together. Being a District Supervisor isn’t a walk in the park — you have to be at peace with the reality that on any given day, someone (or a bunch of someones) will be mad at you — but it’s unbelievably rewarding. I will never, ever, forget the trust that you placed in me, and I will always be grateful.
I want to thank the amazing legislative aides who have allowed me to have success over the last six years: Andres Power, Jeff Cretan, Adam Taylor, Gillian Gillett, Gary McCoy, and Annie Fryman. These tremendous and talented people worked so hard for the district and its residents and deserve all the accolades in the world. They made me a better Supervisor and a better person.
Thank you, as well, to the men and women who work for our city government and go out every day to make our community better. As elected officials, we get the public accolades, but these folks are out there every day doing the hard nuts and bolts work. These workers clean our parks, pick up syringes and excrement from our sidewalks, teach our children in our libraries, drive our Muni buses, patrol our streets to stop crime, save our lives in the emergency room, and design and manage major infrastructure projects. City employees take a lot of heat and are subjected to many stereotypes. But, they do hard work, and so many of them do amazing work.
Finally, thank you to the wonderful community leaders who, without pay or credit, work every day to improve their neighborhoods. No Supervisor can succeed without the support of these wonderful and committed people.
The work continues. I know the Mayor will make a good choice in appointing my successor, and I look forward to working with that person. As your State Senator, I will continue our fight for more housing, better public transit, smart approaches to climate change and the drought, and improved access to healthcare and public education. We have our work cut out for us.