Editor’s note: This column is one of a series of weekly 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: It’s Thanksgiving season, a time when poverty is especially apparent from the long lines at food banks. According to MEDA, the Mission’s poverty rate is 18 percent, compared to 11 percent citywide. It’s a broad issue, but why is nearly one in every five resident in the Mission living in poverty? Past and current measures like Prop. C will help make housing more affordable for the neediest and some middle-class residents, but is creating housing enough to address a systemic problem? What specific city programs/policies/initiatives are working to curb poverty?
David Campos: I am aware of the numbers that groups like MEDA have released, which show that indeed, the poverty rate in the Mission is 18 percent, compared to 11 percent citywide. Over the last four years, we have tried to address this issue in a variety of ways. As you noted, one thing we have done is to promote the creation of more affordable housing, including pushing for measures such Prop. C, the Affordable Housing Act, which creates an independent source of funding for affordable housing at all income levels. On the affordable housing front, we have also worked with the mayor’s office and our Planning Department to ensure that projects meet the inclusionary housing goals mandated by the code, and where possible, push for more affordable housing than is actually required.
We have also worked hard to protect the safety net, and have helped restore millions of dollars in budget cuts for critical services that help low-income residents, including meals for low-income seniors, drop-in centers and shelters for the homeless, child care and after-school programs for low-income families, as well as HIV and general health services for the poor, just to name a few. These city programs are run by various city agencies, including the Department of Public Health, the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, and the Human Services Agency, which have established measurable outcomes to determine the effectiveness of the programs.
While I believe that we have made progress in addressing the needs of the poor, I also believe that we must continue to strive to do better, including making sure that these services are run as cost-efficiently as possible.
ML: Parking is a big issue in the Mission. How do you and the city balance the need to generate new venues in the neighborhood — restaurants, housing, parks and recreational activities — with the loss of parking spaces to these developments? Similarly, how do you appease those who say the city should steer away from car-centric planning and toward making streets more friendly to bicyclists and public transportation?
DC: I am aware that parking is a big issue in the Mission and the city as a whole. As a general rule, I believe that we need to strike a balance between our transit-first policy, which rightly promotes things like public transit and biking, and the parking needs of every neighborhood.
When it comes to parking, I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. The parking needs of each neighborhood are different, and they may vary block by block. This is why I have asked the MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Agency], which sets parking policy for the city, to have a transparent process that provides for meaningful community input before parking decisions are made.
My hope is that before making final decisions about the parking needs of a particular area in the Mission, the MTA can hear directly from the neighborhood, including its residents and merchants, to see what actually works, on a block by block basis. What may work for Mission Street may not work for other streets. Likewise, what may work for a retail business may not work for a PDR business.
ML: As Thanksgiving and the holiday season roll around, what are a few things you are thankful for?
DC: As Thanksgiving and the holidays roll around, I’m grateful for many things, but here are some key things:
I’m grateful for the health and well-being of my family. As an immigrant, I’m grateful to live in a country and a city that have given me amazing opportunities. I’m especially grateful to the voters of District 9, who haven given me the honor to serve them as their supervisor.
Finally, on a separate note, you had previously asked me about District Attorney George Gascon’s position that Sheriff Mirkarimi should recuse himself from overseeing the handling of domestic violence matters that come before the sheriff’s office. As I noted earlier, I do believe that Mr. Gascon has raised a legitimate concern and I agree with his recommendation that the sheriff should recuse himself from overseeing such matters.