Editor’s note: This column is part of Mission Local’s series of conversations with Supervisor David Campos, addressing issues and events in the Mission and the city of San Francisco. If you have questions for Campos, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission Local: Mission Local has been covering the buffer zone for reproductive health clinics in San Francisco, [a measure] which you spearheaded. Was there a specific incident that motivated you to write this legislation?
David Campos: We started hearing complaints about harassment from Planned Parenthood, from the workers, neighbors and from women who were trying to access the clinic. At that time, the way that we responded was working with the Police Department and the Department of Public Works to see if we could use the laws that were in place to protect these women and workers.
At point, we realized we had this bubble ordinance that had been in place for a number of years. It’s an 8-foot bubble that follows the individual, but it’s hard to enforce because even if you catch something on tape, it’s hard to know if the person is within 8 feet.
So [because] we could not use the existing laws to address harassment, we introduced legislation creating a white [loading] zone to protect access to the clinic. But then we realized there was a loophole that allowed [demonstrators] to basically stand essentially in the way of people who were trying to go into the clinic. We then had to resort to the buffer zone.
A buffer zone is actually something that I think can be an advantage to both sides because it provides more clarity as to whether you’re violating it. With a buffer zone, the city will mark the zone with a line at 25 feet. If you’re outside of that zone, you can exercise free speech, and when you’re within that zone, you know you’re in violation.
ML: On another topic, what is the status of the SFMTA’s controversial proposal to install parking meters on some streets in the northeast Mission?
DC: I think the proposal itself is still on hold. The MTA [planned to] implement the proposal [IN? BY?] early summer, and I asked them to delay that because I still think that there’s work to be done. One of the big issues is how they’re treating PDR [production, distribution, and repair] businesses that have different needs than retail businesses. [MTA planners] need to really look at that issue and come up with a better alternative.
We’re not sure when exactly that work will be completed. We haven’t heard from the MTA yet, but we have requested that the city put the implementation on hold, and they have agreed to do that.
ML: You’ve been vocal about getting community feedback on the parking proposal. What is your own opinion about whether parking meters would help traffic?
DC: I agree that we should have management of parking and that meters can play a role. But I think it’s not just what you do, but how you do it. For meters to work, there have to be some consideration for the residents and make sure that they have the ability to park there. I think that there also has to be consideration for the type of businesses that we’re talking about.
ML: You were quoted as saying some families can’t even afford cars to use the meters, and many residents use public transportation. Will you expand on that?
DC: My point is I think that we don’t just need to focus on parking and cars, but we also need to make sure that we improve public transportation because of how many people rely on it. I also think that improving public transportation is directly connected to the issue of parking and driving because I think that the better, more reliable the transit is, the more that people will take it instead of driving.
That said, there are places where public transit is not an option for people, and I do recognize that. That’s why it has to be a balanced approach.
ML: Finally, what are you reading these days?
DC: In the last couple of months I haven’t had time, though I usually read biographies. I enjoy reading “The New Yorker” – that’s always a fun read. A book that I read a couple of months ago that was a funny read was “Game Change,” [“Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime”] and I enjoyed that. But I promised myself that I would find another book to read in the near future. That’s something that I’m working on.