The candidates at the debate on Thursday, October 13. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

At Mission Local’s debate for the District 9 supervisor’s race on Thursday, candidates attacked their opponents and cited numbers and statistics to back up their own arguments — and were often dead-on in their recollections. Other times, their reported facts failed to match previously reported information.

Here’s a check on the more contentious claims.

Joshua Arce at the debate on Thursday, October 13. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Joshua Arce

Affordable Housing

At Thursday’s debate, Arce said that the “current administration” had built no affordable housing in the Mission District in the last eight years, a statement that lacks context. 

The Housing Balance Report by the Planning Department showed that 224 units of affordable housing have been built within market-rate projects in the district since 2006. In that same period, 581 units were removed from rent-controlled status for a net loss of 357 units.

A former convent was remodeled into a 52-unit supportive housing building called Casa Quezada that opened on Woodward Street in 2012. It was a retrofit, not new construction.

The San Francisco economy suffered a blow during the 2008 mortgage crisis and the worst recession in history. The subsequent tech boom also contributed to skyrocketing land costs, making acquisition of empty lots for housing by the city difficult.

Additionally, seven new fully affordable housing projects have been planned in the last year, which will bring more than 700 below-market-rate units to the Mission in the next few years.

Fire Safety

Arce also said that “for years, no action was taken” to propose a sprinkler ordinance to reduce the impact of fires in the neighborhood and that he was the first to do so. Randy Shaw wrote about a sprinkler ordinance in February 2016 and said that since his column, Arce had indicated on Facebook that he supported such an ordinance.

Just a week after the four-alarm fire at Mission and 22nd streets in January 2015, Supervisor David Campos proposed new safety measures, though at the time they did not include mandating sprinklers.

Supervisor Jane Kim mentioned at a press conference held after the fire that she was working on legislation to require sprinklers.

A final January 2016 report of a fire safety task force initiated by Campos included various safety measures but gave no specific recommendation on sprinklers. It said instead that legislation requiring their installation should be crafted using a consensus between landlords, firefighters, city workers and tenant advocates.

Campos has called on the city’s legislative analyst to examine the feasibility of a sprinkler mandate for existing buildings.

Connections to Police Officers Association

Arce said that he is “not supported by the [Police Officers Association],” the union for police officers in San Francisco. While Arce has received no money directly from the police union, two independent expenditure committees spending to promote Arce’s candidacy do get money from the police union.

San Franciscans for a City that Works, a committee that cannot coordinate its activities with Arce and is legally separate from his campaign, has spent $96,000 supporting him as of October 11.

That committee raised a total of $372,000 this year, and $82,500 – or 22 percent – comes from the Police Officers Association. In addition, $57,500 comes from Local 261, the construction union where Arce worked as community liaison.

That committee is also supporting Ahsha Safaí in District 11 and Marjan Philhour in District 1. Its representative did not return requests for comment.

Another committee, San Francisco Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, has spent $3,500 on Arce as of September 24. It received $5,000 from the police union and $40,000 from Local 261.

Vince Courtney Sr., the executive director of the Alliance for Jobs, said that the Police Officers Association was “loud and clear” that none of the money they put into the committee should go to Arce. The Police Officers Association did not return requests for comment.

The Police Officers Association has not endorsed any District 9 candidate for supervisor, but in July 2016, the association did endorse Arce for the Democratic County Central Committee, the local branch of the Democratic Party.

Hillary Ronen at the debate on Thursday, October 13. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Hillary Ronen

Resolution Regarding Police Officer’s Association

Ronen said that Arce “gutted a resolution on behalf of the [Police Officers Association]” put forth by Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s office last year.

The policy, up for vote at the Democratic County Central Committee in July 2015, would have put the central committee on record for supporting serious reforms around racial bias and the use of force.

Ronen accused Arce of “making it into a resolution praising the department for its reforms.”

She was correct. Arce’s amended version of the policy noted that “the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee supports the San Francisco Police Department’s continued progress on 21st Century Policing.”

Arce’s amended version did not include the substantive policy proposals in the original version, which called for implicit bias training, body cameras, and other reforms.

Members who co-sponsored the resolution were outraged when the revised version was passed in a 13-7 vote.

Housing Mission Fire Victims

Ronen also said she was proud that “every single person that was displaced from a fire in the Mission” had been rehoused after a question on the impact of fires in the neighborhood. Not all tenants had been rehoused, though all were offered shelter.

Mission Local reported in late August that at least three tenants from the five-alarm fire at 29th and Mission on June 18 became homeless after declining an SRO placement offered by the city because it did not meet their needs.

Since late August, the Department of Homelessness has stepped in and offered at least one of the tenants a space at the Navigation Center, which the tenants declined before moving in with a relative out of town.

A senior couple displaced by a smaller fire on Mission and Cesar Chávez streets lived in their car for months, finding the conditions in the SRO rooms they sometimes accepted from the city poor.

Affordable Housing Construction

Ronen also said that 900 units of affordable housing are planned for the Mission District. There are seven fully affordable projects in various stages of approval in the neighborhood, which will bring at least 730 units total:

Ronen was also including units that will be acquired and turned into affordable housing as part of the Small Sites Program, as well as below-market-rate units in market-rate buildings, which would bring the number close to or over 900. 

Iswari España at the debate on Thursday, October 13. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Iswari España

Affordable Housing Funding

España said that city officials said “specifically that they are gonna have zero money” for the affordable housing component of a project at 2000 Bryant St. In reality, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing said in September that the city already earmarked $30 million for the project, and other city officials mentioned that figure as early as March.

Red Bus-Only Lanes

España also claimed that half of the business on Mission Street had reported 50 percent business losses, and that the Municipal Transit Agency did not conduct environmental studies on the red bus-only lanes.

Different surveys have found different amounts of business loss since the red-bus only lanes, from 20 percent to as high as 84 percent. None of those surveys could be independently verified and are not authoritative.

The Municipal Transit Agency did conduct an environmental impact report on the city-wide project aimed at increasing transportation capability on Muni, of which the Mission Street changes were a part, but not one specifically on the impact to the Mission.

España also said 2,000 “luxury units” are coming to the Mission District. According to the housing pipeline kept by the Planning Department, the Mission has 2,544 units total in the pipeline, of which 303 are affordable and the rest market-rate.

Melissa San Miguel at the debate on Thursday, October 13. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Melissa San Miguel

Latino Displacement

San Miguel said that 8,000 Latinos had been displaced from the Mission District during Supervisor Campos’s term, which is false. The figure comes from a 2015 report by the Mission Economic Development Agency and the Council of Community Housing Organizations based on census data, which found that 8,000 Latinos had been displaced since 2000, eight years before Campos was elected.

The report shows instead that between 2010 and 2013, the Mission lost some 2,000 Latinos. It also projected that the neighborhood would lose another 3,000 by 2020.

LGBT Youth

San Miguel also said that 40 percent of LGBT youth are homeless, an apparent word mix-up. Instead, some 48 percent of the city’s homeless youth are LGBT, according to California Sunday Magazine — not the other way around. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 29 percent of the city’s total homeless population is LGBT.

Mission Street Transit Lane Outreach

She said that the Municipal Transit Agency did not conduct outreach to seniors before installing its red bus-only lanes on Mission Street. An outreach summary document from the SFMTA indicates that the agency engaged via email with several senior centers, and a spokesperson said the agency worked with senior advocacy groups.

The audience at the Mission Cultural Center for Mission Local’s debate on Thursday, October 13. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

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  1. This piece seems to assume we already watched the debate; a summary of the key points the candidates made might be nice.

    It’s also kind of weird to me that the sequencing of the piece implies that Josh’s comments on affordable housing, fire safety and POA connections were lies, but the substance of your response is that they’re essentially true. Like, sure, there may have been macroeconomic reasons why it was more difficult to produce affordable housing during most of Campos’ tenure than now, but that doesn’t bear on the *truth* of the assertion that none was produced. Fact checking and arguing for the other side aren’t the same thing.

    I’m on Team Arce, I’ll just put that in the open, but yeah, Mission Local’s coverage usually feels more balanced to me than this.

  2. Did any of the candidates explain what they’re doing now, or have done, to improve sanitary conditions at the 16th Street BART Plazas?

    As far as I know, they’ve not addressed what they would do, in their campaigning, if elected, to make these public spaces more inviting for all users.

    Curious if any questions from the audience or moderators dealt with the 16th Street BART station.

  3. Are u going to write a story about this meeting telling how many people were there? I understand u guys recorded it – so there should some dialogue on residents concerns – or did u control that too?

    1. Jim, I’m not quite sure what you mean about control. We thought that it would be best to follow up with a fact checking article, but yes, there were about 125-150 people there. We did not do an exact count. And yes, we had a lot of questions from the audience. Some had already been asked so we tried to ask those that were different, but we could have used more time for audience questions and that is something we will try and do next time around. Thank you, Lydia