Editor’s note: This column is one of a biweekly series of conversations with District 9 Supervisor David Campos addressing issues and events in the Mission. If you have questions for Campos, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission Local: You said a few days ago that you’re working on a solution so Virginia Ramos, also known as the Tamale Lady, can keep working. What are the options?
David Campos: We are considering a number of options, including helping her get a license and a permit, as well as finding a place where she could legally cook the tamales. We are meeting with her tomorrow [today]. We haven’t decided one course of action yet because we want to make sure that we are following her wishes and desires. But the main thing here is that we want her to continue to be in business and to do so in a way that is consistent with the rules about public health. So we are working right now in figuring out what the best option is.
ML: When could that happen?
DC: I think it will probably happen in the next few days. We had a meeting with her last week and we have a meeting tomorrow [today] with her and a number of city agencies and community partners, so I don’t want to say anything until that discussion is completed.
ML: Legislation regulating food trucks was approved last week by the Board of Supervisors. How much will it affect the Mission?
DC: don’t know. I feel that the legislation reflects the reality of what is happening on the ground, but we’re going to have to monitor that closely. With so many restaurants in the Mission, the new rules [such as the buffer zone of 75 feet between food trucks and restaurants] may have an impact on the food trucks.
That could happen. Absolutely. I think we’re going to have to monitor that. But I do think it’s possible to have coexistence between food trucks and restaurants.
ML: A group of merchants and residents have recently started a campaign demanding a safer and cleaner plaza on 16th and Mission streets. Many businesses are hanging signs on their windows.
DC: I haven’t seen the signs, but we have been working on 16th Street since even before it became part of my district [in 2012]. We have been working with various city agencies, the police department, Public Health, Department of Public Works, and we also are communicating with BART, because we want to see 16th Street, the BART station and that area, cleaned up as much as possible. It is a priority for us, and we have been working on that for a while now.
ML: Why is it so hard?
DC: I think it’s a complicated issue. We have increased the presence of the police department, but we know it’s not something that is going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time to get to where it needs to be and we are committed to [doing] everything we can to make sure that it’s cleaned up. There has been a working group that has been meeting for the last months to do that. And at different times we have met with merchants as well. But we want them to know that this is a priority for the city and the city is doing what we can to make sure that this is addressed.
ML: Some of our readers have expressed concerns about the traffic accidents on South Van Ness Avenue. Are you concerned?
DC: It is a big concern. Pedestrians’ safety is a big problem in the city, and we have had a number of pedestrian deaths. It’s something that we are worried about. One of the things that we did following the tragic accident where the bicyclist was killed [by a Recology garbage truck, May 23], we reached out to Recology, which is the garbage collection company, because I think that there are things that they can do to increase safety. And I know that they’re working with the bicycle coalition to figure it out. But I think we need to do more to increase safety for pedestrians, and a lot of the work that has been done around the neighborhood has been focused on improving pedestrians’ safety. We’re working with the MTA and the County Transportation Authority to see if there’s anything that can be done on South Van Ness. Are there traffic-calming methods that can be put in place to deal with that? But it’s something that is happening in the city, and it’s a big concern.
ML: Mission Local recently reported that the launch of the Bike Share program will initially leave out the Mission. Will you support the inclusion of the neighborhood in the next expansion?
DC: Absolutely. We’re working on making that happen, and in fact I serve on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which is the regional transportation body that funds the pilot, so we voted to fund it. As a supporter of that program, I think that the Mission has to be the first phase of this program. I think that we have the most robust bike infrastructure and I think that it makes sense that it would be a big focus in the Mission, and making sure that that happens.
ML: Would it come with improvements on the streets or in the bike lanes?
DC: Well, yes. People are still working on those, but that would be part of that.
ML: Some Mission merchants started a campaign against Jack Spade moving into Adobe Book´s former space on 16th Street. At the same time, Encantada may have to move. Is the Mission becoming a place where only expensive restaurants and eventually chain stores can exist?
DC: It’s something that we have been monitoring for quite some time. And we have had a number of community meetings that focus on land use changes in the neighborhood. At first, the focus was on the issue of restaurants, and we proposed some changes with supervisor [Scott] Wiener to protect some of the retail spaces on Valencia [Street]. We have also had meetings about 24th Street because there are concerns of too many restaurants opening there. But I think there is a larger issue of displacement that needs to be addressed and needs to be monitored, and we are very mindful of it. We have worked with individual businesses that have been threatened to be pushed out, and we believe they should be protected.
ML: So what could be done?
DC: That’s part of the discussion that we’ve had. One of the things that we considered was the moratorium on a number of restaurants, but it turns out that people don’t want that. So what we did instead was, on Valencia Street, if there is a retail space and a restaurant wants to enter that retail space, they have to go through a conditional use. It doesn’t prohibit it, but it does require a conditional use. So that’s an added protection. If people have ideas, we are certainly open.
ML: There is an increasing concern in the neighborhood about the Silicon Valley shuttles. Are you going to take any measures?
DC: It’s an issue we are worried about. We have seen the impact that the shuttles have. And we have seen many examples where they’re blocking bus stops, and there are issues about parking and transit of the people who are riding the shuttles. I believe there has to be some regulation. We’re worried about the impact it is having in the neighborhood, and we’re trying to understand what the legal options are because unfortunately the City and County of San Francisco may not have the legal authority to regulate them.
ML: Would it be possible to work with the companies then?
DC: That’s something that needs to be part of the discussion. We need to figure out how they can help because they are having an impact on the City.