tv [untitled] August 28, 2011 3:30am-4:00am PDT
>> i have been a cable car grip for 21 years. i am a third generation. my grand farther and my dad worked over in green division for 27. i guess you could say it's blood. >> come on in. have a seat. hold on. i like it because i am standing up. i am outside without a roof over my head and i see all kinds of people. >> you catch up to people you know from the past. you know. went to school with. people that you work with at other jobs. military or something.
kind of weird. it's a small word, you be. like i said, what do people do when they come to san francisco? they ride a cable car. >> california line starts in the financial district. people are coming down knobbhill. the cable car picks people up. takes them to work. >> there still is no other device to conquer these hills better than a cable car. nobody wanted to live up here because you had to climb up here. with the invention of the cable car, these hills became accessible. he watched horses be dragged to
death. cable cars were invent in san francisco to solve the problem with it's unique, vertically challenged terrain. we are still using cars a century old >> the old cable car is the most unique thing, it's still going. it was a good design by then and is still now. if we don't do something now. it's going to be worse later. >> the cable cars are built the same as they were in the late 1800's. we use a modern machinery. we haven't changed a thing. it's just how we get there. >> it's a time consuming job. we go for the quality rather than the production. we take pride in our work and it shows in the end product.
includes inner sunset, haight-ashbury, lower haggete, japan town and part of haight valley. the supervisor was first selected to the board in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. we're going to get to know him and talk about the toughest issues facing the city. welcome, supervisor and thank you for joining us today. >> thank you very much. >> tell us a little about your background, where you grew up, went to school and the kind of jobs that you worked. >> most of my adult life i spent completely here in san francisco. now about 27 years. i was born in chicago. my father had emigrateford iran to go to school in chicago, where he met my mother while he was attending the university of chicago. that's where i was born. after my parents had divorced, i spent most of my youth in the state of rhode island, southern rhode island, and then after i graduated high school, i went to undergraduate college in st. louis, missouri and then came out here for grad school, which fell in love with san francisco bay area. all of my plans changed and this
became my home. i worked as an environmental analyst for a number of think tanks and then applied that trade in law enforcement, where i went to the san francisco police academy many, many years ago, graduated as a academy class, president of the class. trained in environmental forensics, both here locally, state and federally by the usepa in the training center in georgia and i worked for the district attorney's office in san francisco for nine years before becoming elected supervisor. >> and you spent most of your adult life in san francisco. >> yes. >> why did you make the choice to live in the city? >> oh, my god, i had never been west of the mississippi until i came here. growing up, we read a lot in our household but many of the books that i was drawn to were from authors who either came from california or spent substantial
time in california dealing with so many eras that i think we're just awesome. and it all came to life with me as soon as i touched ground injust wanted to be here. >> what motivated to you get involved in politics? >> i think i have to give some of that credit to my family. my mother growing up for me in the '60's, '70's, was very involved in the women's movement and in the anti-war movement and would often take me to protest and to lectures. she was also involved union labor as her family had been for a couple generations. my father was the director of ymca in chicago and so with that civic engagement through ymca, i think that all was in one variable or another very influential to me. >> where do you place yourself on the political spectrum now? >> with regard to? >> well, i know founded the
green party in the '90's. >> i did. my feeling is that in college, especially during the reagan administration, i thought that the democratic party in the united states had essentially vacated the left. and fused i think a little too much with the political right. there had n. my opinion, been insufficient advocacy for people who were left of center. and so that reality, coupled with the fact of the growing environmental crisis and denial that this country was going through and in seeing the inspirational movement of the green party's blossoming in europe, especially germany, i went to germany in the late 1980's. i spent time with the green party of germany in the parliament over there, learned everything i possibly could. came back to california. i was 1 of 20 people who co-founded the green party here
in california. i have been a member of the green party, co-founder, for about 20 years and then less than two years ago i decided it was time for me to shift directions and i became a democrat. >> looking back a few years to your campaign for supervisor, what lessons did you learn from that experience? was there anything that surprised you? >> a lot of things surprised me but it was an extremely rewarding experience and not for the self-evident reason of just winning a campaign. i was faced with a great amount of talent. people in my district. there was about two dozen of us who ran for district supervisor in 2004. but for me, it was my understanding that i loved to campaign, i knew that in advance. how i like to campaign is i meet people. i knocked on every door in district five. i really did enjoy that. probably to the point where i should have stopped knocking on
doors eventually. i think it was just too much. but the experience itself was amazing. it's a fit for somebody like myself, and i think it's a fit for san francisco's total equality when it understand what's politics means and that is grass roots organizing. that's my background. i like grass roots organizing. it doesn't matter what your brand of politics is. it should never be subverted if you come to the right, middle or left to always want to engage the public and empower the public by them needing you and you listening to them. >> speaking of the public here in san francisco, what are some of the biggest issues you feel are facing the public in the city. >> today? >> yes. >> well, san francisco is one of the most magical cities i think in this planet and certainly in the united states. it is built with indigenous resources to that help make us that special.
our natural environment both by land and by sea and water. and just a wonderful history that we have made us a standout city where i think other cities, which they had some of that aspect we doff. we're also a cost prohibitive city. it's expensive to be here. i think it's extremely important we remain sensitive to strategy and implementation of making sure the city retains its class diversity. there's always a lot of discussion about diversity in terms of culture and race. class diversity is something that shouldn't be subordinate to that discussion. i want to make sure that san francisco has a working class population. i want to make sure we do not take for granted because we are seen as more cosmopolitan, that that excuses us from not tackling issues of poverty, which there are still substantial pockets of it in san
francisco. just by what others may argue. that to me obligates our requirement to make sure this city, being in its reputation of being forward thinking and progressive, learn to -- learn to make sure that that translates into economics so that this isn't a city just for those who could afford it. >> what do you feel like are some of the biggest issues facing your district? >> well, when i came into office in january 2005, a number of areas of our district, as you outlined in your opening statement, really confronted different neighborhoods in different ways. district five is by far one of the most interesting drawn districts of the whole city. my western border goes almost into the sunset. my eastern border is goss street, my northern border is california street, our southern border is waller and as you mentioned earlier, all of the
neighbors in between. from our inner sunset, the challenges there have been very, very different than say on the other side of the district in the western addition. one of the most pronounced and high-profile challenges that had vexed my predecessors in the city is i think the completion resignation that the western addition had to be engulfed in crime in public safety. borrowing from my past and working in the criminal justice industry and my determination to no capitulate the fact that people in public housing deserve the same public safety i think advocacy and people in the most aflupet parts of san francisco. chronically before i came into office, the western addition for 20 years previously ranked either second or third highest in the homicide rate. i made sure when a homicide, murder had happened, the police department would dispatch me any time of the day. i had attended over 50 murders and i wanted to make it clear to
the community i wasn't going to let this happen without some response. the duration of tending those public safety challenges, i wanted to spotlight the fact that in this city, not just my neighborhood at the time, there is no practice of community policing. there's not a practice where i think police effectively engage in community, barring from the examples of new york, boston and chicago. i used my district as an example to show what community policing would mean, a bit of a lavatory. now i had the greatest drop in violent crimes city wide in my district holding three years. in japan town nearby, their struggles for land use. two-thirds of the commercial property had been purchased by venture capital from los angeles. because of the economic downturn, the certainty of where japan town direction is going is really in doubt. when you have one of only three japan towns in the united states
and oldest being in san francisco, city needs to regroup to its commitment in making sure that we preserve the culture identity and the uniqueness of japan town just as we would for chinatown or just as we would for any other part of the culture. the same theory returns back in approach to the african-american community and the fillmore, which was really the epicenter of the black community. sunset dealing with quality of life issues, upper haight, gateway from the west side to the east side of the city deals with a montage of issues, dealing from quality of life, dealing from its legacy of the 1960's, and dealing with and trying to reconcile the natural tension between people that like to hang out in haight street versus people who like to shop and reside around haight street. those are the challenges. i see that because we're very centered in the city. i want to make sure district five is successful. quality mass transit, bicycle
and pedestrian friendly too. one of our comeback kid stories in the latter years of my time as a supervisor is dizzderio. it is our comeback kid. if you look at divisadero, it's seen a complete renaissance. i set out when i set out in elected office we will reclaim divisadero from the neglect that had been chronic by making sure we will turn divisadero into a culture destination. it's become that to the point hipsters are complaining. and in the lower haight, lower haight is batter up. we're going to do the same thing for lower haight. fillmore is in transition period because a lot of people don't understand that in the fillmore and japan town, for 45 years, this area of our city known as redevelopment e-2 project area was governed by a different agency than by city hall, a
redevelopment agency. their land use and zoning code did not comport and did not reflect our own san francisco planning codes. operated by a very different government system in fillmore and japan town for 45 years. that period expired in january 2009. previous to that period, created some of the most significant upheaval in transformation in the fillmore and in japan town. we're now dealing with the after effects of that, where i'm proving legislation that help deal with i think some of the missteps of urban renewal this took place between the 1960's and 1980's. so that's a hodgepodge of things. >> you mentioned key issues with your district and things going on at the city. how will you balance the needs of your district with the needs of the city as a whole? >> i think my district as a microcosm in the city. if you look at the diversity of the population, class and race, you can see my district completely speaks to i think the challenges and the greatness of what san francisco presents and
i don't see myself as just the district supervisor but i'm obsessed in making sure my nose is in the grind stone in dealing with issues that are very district related but i believe, though, that i speak to issues city wide just in the presentation of what i shared with you as we're surfing in our discussion here, that these issues are underpinnings i think of what challenges san francisco. what i legislate, i can legislate things that groundbreaking i have been told. like we were the first city in the united states actually in the hemisphere, i learned after the fact, to ban plastic bags. i had no idea we were going to have that kind of place in some legislative hall of fame. i had no idea about that. i had no idea that my office of interns and staff and volunteers would be besieged by requests from around the country and abroad asking how do you do this?
i had no idea i was going to grow to be an eco leader in some respects. but out of the desperation of the fact that we're not getting leadership from the federal government or the state government in trying to mitigate pervasive environmental harm or answering the larger questions like climate change or trying to figure out ways we compensate for insufficient public safety resources, coming from state government. these are the kind of things that force us to deal with city wide issues. sometimes at the risk of people accusing us of overstepping our jurisdiction and being a little too heady about dealing with issues that really don't concern san francisco. my response to that is, you know, with globalization and with the way that the world's been brought into closer focus and the way people now have been knitted together in social media. there are no borders in many of these issues. and if there's going to be this kind of policy paralysis on a
federal level or state level and good for municipal government to step up to the plate and start leading the way or at least challenging the other tiers of government that if you don't do something, then get out. >> so let's talk a little about the budget. once again we've been faced with some tough budget decisions including where to the budget decisions, and the cuts, and whether or not to decrease taxes. how will you approach these difficult choices? >> in 2010, one way i broke ranks with everyone, i seized upon the idea that we looked for what was unforeseen, and eventually, to secure the america's cup. except for rhode island, this was a mainstay for 53 years. and i saw the economic boom, with new england and the end of rhode island. it was devastated when we lost this in 1983.
we saw the effect of the financial wave, and this was really helping the local and state economies. i immediately surprised some of my colleagues on the more progressive side, why would we want to do this. this is out of touch to many of the people that we represent, this is true. but i thought that this would be a great opportunity for us to bring this into focus, not necessarily having a relationship with sailing, and quite frankly, many people in san francisco have a relationship with the water. being able to upgrade the level of contact, just like i would hope that they do with any part of the wonderful wilderness, the national environment, you have the outlet, in addition to
benefiting from the potential of posting one of the three largest athletic events after the olympics and world cup soccer. this is what we stand with a potential revenue gain. and that seven cisco would do this signifies that there may be an unsuspected stream of revenue. this is on the side with the potential gravy. but on to the other issues of taxation, is a diatribe between progressive taxation. i believe in taxing the rich, and more promotional -- proportional form of taxation that is to the place where those who can afford -- support the government, resources from government, in return can give and provide a little bit more. this would be nice with a system that arguses -- harvest that
particular wealth. we are killing the environment. i did not understand why the president of the united states or in sacramento does not show some backbone and tax the gas where we have a chance to use this as a mitigation against a lot of the environmental degradation and climate change that we are symbolically talking about. this could not garner the resources to do something very meaningful. in san francisco, one of the crown jewels is the parks and recreation system. right now, we are dealing with seeing the budget constantly getting tougher, but having to stand tall before us in the budget committee, making certain to protect the crown jewels. the responses that they need to shore up the deficit and now they are trying different economic strategies and trying to privatize this.
this does not sit well with me but i get the reason why they are doing this. this will play out for the next year, to see the direction the city is going. we should make cuts where the departments are inefficient. i believe in having a bright line in the priorities so that those who are very vulnerable in san francisco are not forsaken simply because they are checked off with the potential cuts of the budget list. this goes to my early questions about the city being crop -- crop -- cost prohibitive. this is part of the influence of what challenges before the mayor and the board of supervisors and the people of san francisco. >> speaking of the less fortunate, what are some of your deal at -- ideas with dealing with the issues of homelessness? >> i agree with the idea of permanent housing.
newsom had been advocating for this and we were of like mind. the first permanent housing for the senior homeless was on brodericks street. i am very proud that this was the first housing, in the wonderful building that we had. this was the purpose for senior homeless housing. we see people in the neighborhood -- and a natural reflex when they hear something like this is not in my backyard. we understand this. but we have the need for doing something like this, and the acceptance by the community to make this happen -- and the success of the project that has been installed, a housing development has proven that we can do more of this. this is getting people off the
street, especially those that mitigate the likelihood that they will be back on the street, whether this is substance abuse or economic downturn, quality housing, lack of jobs, whatever the case may be. this is definitely one category where we need to be more vigorous. >> let's talk about crime in your district. you said that this is one of the major issues in your district. do you have any ideas on how you are dealing with this? >> i have been very outspoken on this issue, or i feel like the city could step up its game, in dealing with -- one way that we could do this is to reflect on the tried and true strategies that worked very well in san francisco. i legislated, the police get out of their cars and walk the beats. i use this as a petrie dish to
show that by having a greater interface, between the community and the police, this would go beyond the symbolic back and forth. this would go to building trust, or trust had not been. with the distressed communities of color and the police department, this was working. this was working very well. but the police department and the mayor took offense to this. if this is not done, this is a priority of their own accord and i cannot turn my back to look the other way. having more of an accountable strategy, that means in the department holders of the police department, which is viable as a police department, this is the standard operating procedure, this is what it constructs and dictates. there is only one graph about the community policing.
this has not been upgraded since then. other cities are blowing us out of the water. i suggest that we need to step up our game, and we'll be able to raise a lot of this -- and more violent crime, that seems to surprise people, or people that are not surprised because they are resigned to this fact. this is the mission, this is the western addition. i do not agree with this whatsoever. i say we build partnerships between the police department, in san francisco. we also talked about the response in the entry. someone has to stand up and say, why is it that of every four people as arrested in the san francisco police department, three people to the crime again within threers