tv KQED Newsroom PBS February 7, 2015 1:00pm-1:31pm PST
next, the mayors of san francisco, oakland and san jose. >> watch what i do and make sure you hold me accountable. >> we've got to preserve what makes oakland oakland. >> tech lead evers don't want to get involved with what government does. >> the plans to take on the region's toughest problems. ♪ good evening and welcome to a special edition of kqed newsroom. >> tonight, we have a rare opportunity. we're going to talk with the mayors of the bay area's three largest cities about the region's most pressing issues. joining us are the mayor of san jose, the new mayor of oakland, and san francisco's mayor ed
lee, who is completing his first term and running for re-election in november. thank you all very much for being here. making history here having y'all together. >> this is the first time all three of you are on the same program. >> mayor lee, let's get right into it. the median home price in san francisco is now a million dollars. a million dollars? rents are at an all-time high. what do you say to people who say they can no longer afford to live in the any >> we definitely have these challenges when these boom times have happened. what we didn't do for many years, and two other mayors will comment on what they're doing, we didn't build enough housing in the past. so the pressure is on the current stock. i have a goal to build 30,000 units of new housing, rehab them and make sure and guaranty with our local government's participation that 33% will be affordable to low income and median income families. >> 30,000 homes by 2020.
>> it's a goal. >> is that realistic? from what i read, you would have to finish 5,000 homes every year for the next six years. >> last year, we did 4,000. that was just the start of the effort. once we have both the teams of developers and the city government working hand in hand with our decision makers, i'm very confident, in fact, we figured out 15,000 to 20,000 of it already, and it's a matter of getting the permits out. the secret is land cost. >> last year you gave an interview with "time" magazine and you said, i don't think we paid any attention to the middle class. i think everybody assumed the middle class was moving out. why did you make that assumption? >> i think it's a fact. when i look -- i worked for the city of san francisco for 23 years before i became mayor. i looked at at the policies and the fact is the middle class is
moving out. the neighborhoods weren't strong enough on children's programs and affordability. so i've had to put together a very strong affordability agenda agenda. >> how will you help people now? a lot of the housing you're talking about and it takes four to six years to accomplish this how will you help people now? >> first of all, it's -- housing is a major part, but you also have to give people other reasons to be here to pause and say hey, there's other things we want to have here. good schools minimum wage that they can really use and help. good transportation system and a safe city. >> a lot of the folks getting priced out of san francisco are coming to the east bay. for many years, oakland felt like it was missing out on the boom. now you're -- it's all around you, people are moving in. is it too much of a good thing?
do you feel like somehow now your rent and prices are going up. >> we are cautiously watching what is going on with housing prices and trying to learn some cautionary tales from san francisco. but i'm really proud that we have been preparing for this moment. our city has been doing these area-specific plans. it's where you really engage in meaningful dialogue with the existing community about where do we want to see growth and where do we want to see preservation? where do we want to see changing in youth? so we have completed five area specific plans which just lays out a road map where we want dense housing and we cleared away for the zoning and paid for the environmental clearance that's how we can build housing quickly. >> you said we're not going to make the mistakes san francisco made. what did you mean by that? >> i love talking about the idea that oakland can grow without selling its soul that we have a
secret sauce in oakland it's our diversity, our artists, our gritty industrial flavor. even the birthplace for social movements and that we've got to preserve what makes oakland oakland. but i believe we have laid the ground work for inviting new people in because we've got space. we only have half the population of san francisco, but 20% more land mass, which also means we've got all those roads and sewer pipes to maintain, as well. >> and a much smaller budget. >> you have an $8 billion budget i have a $1 billion budget. >> there's a lot of politicians to say we're going to preserve the middle class, fix homelessness we're going solve homelessness. the city council passed a goal of ending homelessness by 2020. is that even possible? honestly? >> we won't make any progress unless we set a clear goal and start to marshal the forces.
>> you mean 30 years into homelessness there's been no goal sh >> i don't think we've been very well aligned. we have a lot of folks trying to solve different pieces of this puzzle and only after a last couple of years where we formed a nonprofit collaborative to ensure the city and the county will be swimming in their lanes, not tripping over each other to get grant funds and focusing on a housing first approach. we identified the 1,000 people who are most chronically homeless, who have the greatest needs and we've housed 840 of them in two years. we've got a lot of work to do at least 5,000, 6,000 in san jose alone. but by identifying those folks who are most vulnerable, they're costing us the most public resources. >> one of the largest encampments in the entire country you broke up recently.
what i'm hearing now is that there are simply smaller encampments that spread out elsewhere. so you have a larger problem now in various parts of the city. what are you doing about that and have you learned any lessons from san francisco? san francisco has been dealing with homelessness for years, and the numbers haven't declined by that much. >> something we've found successful that we're experiment experimenting with, a lot of these shelters have strict regulations, so a lot of the homeless population doesn't want to live in them. so we've been working having much more like a home environment and it's turning out really well. we're seeing incredible outcomes as far as moving people into permanent stable housing just by lifting the really punitive nature of a lot of the public shelters. >> we think about that encampment, we got 160 people
housed out of that encampment, and in fact got vouchers in the hands of another 50 people. those multiple encampments throughout the city existed well before this encampment was broken up. what i focused on is how we can rapidly expand the number of units that are available for those who have vouchers, who simply can't find a place to be. we're focusing on rehabilitating old hotels, how can we lease out and buy up these mow tells and use them. >> san francisco has spent millions on homelessness every year. but you drive around and you see people living under freeway passes. we've gotten thousands off the street, but the numbers don't change. do you ever feel like people are taking advantage of the city's generosity?
>> we're a popular city, people are going to come here and try to be successful. there's a lot of people that come here looking for jobs and they fall into hard times. whether it's the rent that they can't afford or the job that they lost and they're trying to get reskilled for the new job, these stories come very much directly to me, because i want to ask why are there -- i asked the same questions our critics are asking, why does it not look different? but the data says we have put 11,000 people back into homes. new housing, rehab housing. but i think the success really has to do with certain segments that were making headway. for example our veterans. we are one project away from completely ending chronicle homelessness for our veterans and we're celebrating that -- we had the homeless count just a few nights ago. it was clear to us that we made
some great progress. >> no one is disputing that, that's a great milestone to meet. but the numbers are still above 6,000. they've been above 6,000 year after year after year. the city spends $500,000 a day on homeless services. realistically, do you think this is something that's solvable for the city? >> there's a lot that's challenging for sure. but you still have to realize and i know the other mayors will confirm this we're literally still coming out of the greatest recession this country has ever faced. when that recession hit us literally no less than five years ago, thousands of people lost their jobs, and they are without homes, and we're going to try to help them. we also have health issues, drug abuse issues, we have a rehabilitation standards that we still have to get to. and all the other entities that depend on federal funding and
national funding and state funding. they've suffered that, as well. so we're trying to harness and reinvigor those agencies. it's going to take some years. so when we have the ability to celebrate veterans, we're going to model that. then we have a navigation center we just announced where people have felt they didn't want to go in these shelters, there were too many rules. we're going to put them into long-term housing and -- >> but san francisco and oakland can be doing everything right about homelessness. it is still a very serious challenge for cities. we are not only facing the emergence from the worst recessions but we're dealing with a state that's taken away the largest source of affordable housing in the state that -- san francisco had more affordable housing in the state at one time. but i suspect we'll all be
advocating in sacramento soon. >> we're raising the minimum wage so residents can earn a decent living. we are looking at preserving the affordable housing stock that we already have. we're recognizing there isn't enough time to build new affordable housing and that we've got to build housing at all income levels. >> we're building a coalition to meet the challenges in sacramento. i think we got the cities from southern california to northern california to join us that we've got to have financial mechanisms that work. >> it needs to be ongoing and we have a great speaker in the assembly, tony atkins, who has championed this as her cause, and she's got the big city mayors behind her. >> let's shift gears, because i want to make sure i want to talk about policing. mayor, you met with u.s. attorney general eric holder yesterday about building trust with communities. you said your city needs to do
>> very good. great minds think alike. >> i'm guessing we agree on this, community policing is an essential tool here. it's a lack of a relationship between the beat cop and the individual who is being served on the street. that creates the conflict. where you can develop relationships and a familiarity -- >> let me ask a different police question. you've been dealing with police tensions. it's been very contentious. all of you, though, have issues around pensions for public employees, police and others. they attempted to deal with it in san jose. there was a lot of repercussions.
you folks haven't dealt with it maybe as head on. what would you advise based on what san jose has gone through? >> buckle your seat belt. we have been through a really contentious period. certainly, i was a strong advocate for pension reform. i took a lot of lumps for that as a life-long democrat. at the same time, while we have really been able to stabilize our budget picture we saved $50 million in the last two years, there's a significant fallout with our workforce. we're having a hard time retaining and attracting officers and we need to get back to the negotiating table and talk about how we can find a kinder, gentler pension reform. >> are there plans for that? >> yeah we've put in front of our police union a target for savings and we are asking them to come to talk about everything
from disability to pensions to see how we can broker a compromise here. >> i also want to talk to you about tech, san francisco's relationship with a tech company fueling the economy. that's all good. we're seeing an upsurge in jobs. but companies owe the city in back taxes. why have you not been more aggressive in going after that? >> our treasurer, tax collector has a very strong policy not discussing people's tax liabilities. we know there are taxes owed. i've taken a strong position, and everyone else i spoke to pay your taxes, whatever they owe, and get into a system where you don't owe it. now, having said that, there's still delicate discussions going on about not changing neighborhood character. they agreed to pay all their
taxes going forward and it's been a popular system. >> you sent someone to the treasurer to urge him not to collect the back taxes, 3, 3 1/2 years ago. >> i'm not sure where you got that, scott. >> the chief technology officer of the city didn't go? >> i don't think that ever happened. >> have you publicly urged them to pay back taxes? >> oh yes. i've made statement after statement. we think the back taxes should be paid. but get them into the negotiated frame work. the difference was, whether or not the first time we wanted to regulate this industry whether we would stop the actual regulation in order to have the back taxes. >> mayor, some of your biggest campaign donors are powerful players in the tech sector and some are questioning whether they can trust you to represent their interests. there are people who feel like, you know we just want decent
schools and homes for our kids and they are not confident that they can get that under your leadership. what do you say to them? >> i would say, watch what i do and make sure you hold me accountable, because i've always been held accountable as a public official as i quite frankly enjoy that challenge. you also have mr. mark bennyhof donating $5 million to our schools without any strings or control so that we can better the middle grades. this morning we celebrated a $75 million donation from mark zuckerberg and priscilla chan to our general hospital. >> do you think tech companies can do more? do you think tech companies have an obligation now that they're going through plush times to do more to help the various issues you're facing in our cities? >> absolutely. >> are you disappointed that they don't? >> absolutely. and i think that it's an
educational opportunity to bring them along and to demonstrate to them how it enhances their bottom line and creates a better corporate brand for them. and the issue of diversity in tech, that's a huge one. i was just having an interesting conversation this morning with some tech representatives and i was disappointed at the response because i think companies really need to respond to the disparities how their workforces do not look like our cities. >> i think the good news is, a lot of folks in tech are getting it. some folks in tech have gotten it for a long time. santa clara county, san jose tech companies are formed that first housing trust in the county which has bns responsible for ensuring people get access to affordable housing, raising money and leveraging that, they are now about to embark on an effort on homelessness. i think tech is stepping up. we need to do more to encourage
that, to facilitate it. >> what more can you do? >> i agree, and we have an opportunity to give them a road map. i think the intent is there. >> if you look at a company like walmart they have been black listed from big cities like san francisco and probably oakland because they don't pay decent wages and you have a company like uber, they pay no health care to their employees. why aren't those companies being urged or the companies that hire google bus drivers to extend the same benefits to those folks? >> they are for sure being urged. we have an incredible of technology leaders that are really getting them involved and learn along the way what it is to be a good corporate citizen. to match the history of san francisco to be -- i mean you have wells fargo the fisher
family, they have demonstrated how wonderful they can be arts, education, youth and family stuff. we're educating these new sudden overnight billionaire leaders. they're shocked about their wealth. some don't even understand what that is and how they can demonstrate how to be a good citizen. it is about an education process and we're there to make sure that's happening. >> also tech leaders don't want to get involved in funding whatever it is government does. that's not very interesting, and it's not their job. what they want to do is have an impact. they want to see if they can make a dent in the universe in some ways. steve jobs used to say. i just spent an hour talking to a tech leader this morning who wants to have a big impact on homelessness but wants to do it with a very innovative approach to housing. they want metrics but they want to do it differently. they don't want the same
bureaucratic process. >> they want outside the box thinking. that's fair. it needs to speed up. it needs to be as innovative as our business leaders are. >> what i've been told is they want outcomes. >> shouldn't cities want outcomes, too? >> absolutely. >> i worked in the bureaucracy. and i know lethargicism when i see it. >> something that you folks haven't been too lethargic on some you would argue mayor lee, you didn't put up too much of a fight to keep the 49ers when they wanted to move. [ all talking at once ]
but what advice do you have for mayor of oakland as they try to keep the a's and the raiders? >> he's stealing my basketball team, trying to steal my baseball team. >> i warned you. >> how do you feel about that? >> i want to hear from the two of you. >> this isn't about oakland versus san jose. it's about a bunch of billionaires in major league baseball that will decide where they want to put their teams. >> you're saying pick us. >> we're saying we shouldn't be in the shadow of any other city, legally barred from being able to be the home for a major league team. whether oakland keeps a team is less relevant. we just want a show as any major city should. we're the largest city in the country without a team.
it seems we ought to have a shot. >> in fairness the owner of the a's does not support this lawsuit. it doesn't threaten me at all. but i think that one thing we need to learn from each other is that the days of government subsidizing sports teams is over. and we cannot afford to have a race to the bottom in these ill-conceived stadium deals and maybe oakland learned its lessons from the past. >> will you work together to try to get the olympics? >> oh, yeah. i mean, as brief of the ability well had to start talking about it when the decision was made we got a sense from each other that when it comes to such an important international event like the olympics, it's something that brings our cities together. ultimately us mayors realize not just sports but academically -- >> transportation. >> transportation wise, economically, our bay area is
now having to compete with the likes of london, paris, shanghai, other places, where if we don't work together then we all lose. i think this is where what unites us is good transportation housing in our cities that's affordable. good paying jobs and a very open attitude about accepting diversity. i think when we do all of this together, we raise the entire bay area to compete on a worldwide level, because every company that's now established in any of our cities, they think globally. that no longer think just locally. >> just real quickly, what is a top region wide problem that you think you can solve by working together? >> transportation. >> transportation. >> transportation. >> the bay area we're blessed with that big body of water in the middle, but it creates a lot of challenges. we i think are all urbanists, we're all regionalists and we're all excited about having a much
more intelligent plan getting people around our different cities. >> i want that b.a.r.t. station to be finished in san jose. >> we need to help with the congestion. >> would you rather have that high speed rail money spent on b.a.r.t.? >> in a world of unlimited resources, we want it all. i want my potholes filled, too. >> listen, we are out of time. i want to thank all of you. thank you so much for coming in. >> thank you very much. >> it was a really great conversation. thank you. for all of kqed's news coverage go to candidatenews.org. thanks for joining us. have a good night. ♪
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