Shamann Walton. Manny Yekutiel. Manny's. Cafe.
Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton speaks on Tuesday, Aug. 17. at Manny's, the cafe, political bookstore and civic engagement hub on Valencia and 16th streets. (Photo by David Mamaril Horowitz / Mission Local)

During a freewheeling discussion Tuesday evening in the Mission District, Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton said he’s focused on vaccinating residents of Bayview-Hunters Point, the neighborhood that he noted has the highest Covid-19 case rate citywide. 

“There are so many things we have to tackle, but we have to also be laser-focused on really coming out at the end of this pandemic,” Walton said at the discussion, which was hosted at Manny’s, the cafe, political bookstore and civic engagement hub on 16th and Valencia streets.

The city supervisor oversees District 10, which includes the Bayview Hunters Point, Dogpatch, Potrero Hill and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods. On Jan. 8, his colleagues voted him president of the board. 

Walton said his other priorities include creating permanent affordable housing, preventing evictions, working on police accountability and reducing violence — gun violence in particular. 

He also spoke of setting up a vehicle triage center in the Bayview — a parking lot with services for residents who live in their vehicles. Bayview Hunters Point, he said,  has seen more people living in their vehicles “than we’ve ever seen before.” 

The ball is already rolling here: The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing told Mission Local last week that the plan is to have approximately 120 parking spaces. The first of these centers was piloted in 2019 in Ingleside, across from the Balboa Park BART Station.

Walton added that, during his tenure as president, he especially looks forward to pursuing a reparations plan for Black residents. Walton, who himself spent time incarcerated as a young person, has helped to spearhead the closure of San Francisco’s juvenile hall. He aims to have it closed and repurposed by the end of the year, “making sure that we reimagine, re-envision the opportunity for young people who make mistakes to be successful, versus setting them up for the prison pipeline.”

Taking questions from cafe proprietor and event host Manny Yekutiel as well as the audience, Walton spoke about his June spat with the mayor regarding bullying, public trust in the midst of city corruption, and the plan and timeline for reparations in San Francisco. He also doubled down on his much-publicized contention that Golden Gate Park’s JFK Drive should be reopened to cars in the name of racial equity.

The following is a condensed, edited version of the Q&A.

Yekutiel: You very publicly came out against JFK Drive and the Slow Streets. Do you still feel the same way about the either temporary or permanent closure of some streets or parts of the streets to cars, after all of the conversations, and now … a lot more community discussions? Do you feel like that it’s still segregationist, or would you call it “recreational redlining?”

Walton: I’m not against Slow Streets; in fact, I fought for some … I 100 percent feel that the closure of JFK is segregationist, and the fact that you would work hard to keep populations from being able to access one of the most amazing parks in the world is problematic for me. 

Yekutiel: I’m taking my MTA [commissioner] hat off, just putting on my hat of someone who’s reading the news and has been going to JFK, and is like, “Wait a second, this is awesome. Why would anyone say this? This is so great.” They might hear (what you’re saying) and say, “Can’t someone just drive to Fulton or drive to MLK and walk a little bit? If they have a bunch of stuff, take the stuff out of the car and walk half a block in?” 

Walton: Why aren’t people saying, “What do we do to make sure this space is accessible to everyone?” Why are people not saying when they go out to JFK drive, “You only see certain types of people.” … There are other issues and concerns with shutting down the street: We have emergency responders, whether it’s the Fire Department, Police Department, ambulances that have to get to and from certain areas. For me, it’s not just about the closure of the street. It represents so much more. And, why aren’t people saying, “How can we make sure that everybody has access, and everybody has equitable opportunity to this amazing space?” 

Mission Local: In June, you and Mayor London Breed had a back-and-forth about bullying and respect. Is that still a simmering thing, or have things kind of moved on? How has that progressed?

Walton: At the end of the day, folks get passionate about work, and I think part of our role is to make sure that we hold each other accountable, whether there’s the executive branch here in San Francisco, or the legislative branch here in San Francisco, but we’re going to always be clear about making sure that we are respectful to each other. And I think that this current Board of Supervisors is very respectful to department heads and very respectful to the mayor’s team. And we’re going to continue to do that.

Mission Local: So, are things kind of chill right now between your office and the mayor’s?

Walton: Oh, yeah — we’ve done several things together since then. We just had a violence prevention summit together. Yesterday, we continued to work on reparations and the Dream Keeper Initiative. So we’re all working respectfully to move forward because we have work to do in terms of making sure that the city has what it needs, and that’s what we’re gonna get to. 

Mission Local: So, mostly moved on then?

Walton: Yeah, definitely.

Audience member: How long had you been thinking about the idea of reparations? What were those early conversations with your colleagues, with the mayor with your constituents like, and where are we currently out with it? Where are the next steps in the timeline?

Walton: We just appointed a 15-member Reparations Committee. They’ve had two meetings, they elected a chair in the first meeting, elected a vice chair in the second meeting. So they’re doing the work. The entire planning phase and the work they’re going to do is going to be about 18 months. And during that, they’ll come up with prioritizing the injustices of what has happened to Black folks in San Francisco, and then coming up with a package in terms of how we’re going to monetize, address those injustices. Let’s just give an example — and I’m not saying this is what’s going to happen in any way, shape, form or fashion — but let’s just say, from an education standpoint, they come up with a way to make sure that every young person that graduates from high school in San Francisco, and they’re black, and they they grew up here, they get to go to any college in San Francisco for free, or any training program for free. And that can be one example. I think they’re going to be some aspects of universal basic income that are going to come out through the reparations plan, but I don’t want to get ahead of the taskforce. That’s why they’re in place. 

Yekutiel: About the whole corruption thing — Mohammed Nuru, and the head of Building Inspection [Tom Hui], and Recology, and the mayor, all these accusations and in some cases admittances of ethics violations or corruption — do you think it has shaken San Franciscans’ trust in their government, and how do you think we recover from this? 

Walton: Yeah, it has definitely shaken the trust of the public … we’ve done several things so far on this board, in terms of splitting up the Department of Public Works, making sure Recology paid back the money that they owe to the ratepayers for the things that they’ve done, and … people at Recology have lost their jobs, a lot of department heads have lost their jobs to this process … The City Attorney has done investigations on these departments. We’re going to be relentless about holding folks accountable for the misuse of public resources and for what they’ve done with the public trust … But yeah, the public trust has been violated, and the only way we can get it back is to demonstrate that it won’t be tolerated.

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David’s one of those San Francisco natives who gets excited whenever City College is mentioned. He has journalism degrees from there and San Francisco State University, graduating from the latter in May 2021. In college, David played five different roles as an editor at student news publications and reported as an intern for three local newspapers, mostly while waiting tables at the Alamo Drafthouse. His first job was at Mitchell's Ice Cream.

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  1. “Systemic racism is an untested, questionable hypothesis that is a piece of propaganda pushed on the American people. Sowell has said that “it really has no meaning that can be specified and tested in the way that one tests hypotheses” and “it’s one of many words that I don’t think even the people who use it have any clear idea what they’re saying”. He has argued that it is a propaganda tactic akin to those used by Joseph Goebbels because it comes with an attitude that it must be “repeated long enough and loud enough” until it is believed and people “cave in” to it”. Thomas Sowell But let’s just pretend it’s settled theory and proceed with a HUGE PAYOUT.

  2. Xina, JFK Dr. is open to the public — people on bicycles and tricycles, people using wheelchairs, runners, walkers, toddlers. Sounds public to me.

  3. Soooo all the programs offered to kids and families excluded Black people? I don’t get it. What treatment is it that demands reparations? Other nationalities had the same opportunities as Black people-but it’s up to individuals to TAKE THE OPPORTUNITIES AND FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THEM. You can’t just HAND OUT high school diplomas to people who do NOT want to do the work and that goes for ANY NATIONALITY. You keep pushing this victim mentality-that Black people are “owed”. If that is the case-plenty of people are owed. Not just one nationality. And again, pls explain how someone woke up one day, came up with the grand plan to close the street near Golden Gate Park to be racist?!🤯How is it racist if all nationalities can’t drive there?! Holy cow this guys is just like the typical politician you see in movies. He’s completely deaf-doesn’t head any of his constituents but continually talks out of his ass. We all know his smart talk means he can’t stand the mayor but has to show that united front garbage 🙄

  4. Why are you giving this walking talking capitalizing ethical conflict of interest face time at Mission Local? And I’m not talking Walton.

    Giving this influence peddling operation exposure only strengthens it, and valorizing that displacement of power is dangerous.

  5. All one needs to do is visit the parks and rec page for GGP to see how much road is accessible to cars vs not (link at the bottom).

    Anyone who believes the JFK’s partial closure to vehicles is “segregationist”, racist, or preventing any person or group of people from visiting the park should feel like an absolute imbecile upon reviewing the parks and rec page. There are miles upon miles regular roads and dozens of dedicated parking areas inside the park. Keeping 1.4 miles of JFK (out of ~3.2 miles total) dedicated to PEOPLE instead of cars is the way that it should be. GGP is a park first, its primary purpose is not to be a thoroughfare.

    I cannot fathom a reality where if JFK was reopened to cars, there would be a sudden influx of black people and a renewed sense of equality amongst the park goers – as Walton seems to suggest. What a joke. I get the feeling he went there once, saw some white people on expensive bikes and thought to himself “There is racism at work here. This must end.”

  6. Recology should be ashamed of its half-hearted initiative to repay the customers they scammed. I got a piece of mail that looked like junk mail telling me what steps to take. I’m sure many people threw it away; a deliberate effort to hold on to their ill-earned mega-profits. Shame on Recology! They’re still a bunch of crooks!

  7. It’s not about color but about working class people who have to commute, take their kids to school and go about their daily lives. Why are public thoroughfares suddenly becoming private whether you live here or not. We pay gasoline taxes and property taxes to maintain the roads for public access. Why is San Francisco behaving as if it is a gated community? SFMTA is so broad minded it is flat headed! I’m waiting for the dogs only corridors since we have more dogs than children in SF. Let’s try and make it harder for everyone to get around!

    1. Xina, I agree with you, but noting that while it is class based, lower income folks are often a higher percentage minority, I think. Also, a large part of the outer neighborhoods of SF have a higher percentage minority makeup

      Closing these highways is classist, ableist, ageist and anti-family. It’s yet another giveaway of public property needed by these groups to the young, healthy, single, wealthier, entitled of SF.

      Since the pandemic we’ve seen

      + parklets made permanent (parklets are mostly empty and will be emptier as winter approaches)
      + slow streets where there is no need (Page Street right next to the panhandle)
      + screams to make JFK closed NOW without providing more free parking closeby
      + screams that sharing the GH is not enough, all of the GH must be closed


      I was curious what Walton thinks of the Boudin recall, esp given his representing D10 where he might either be for Boudin’s restorative justice or for more policing and prosecutions

    2. It’s not “private” just because you can’t drive your (private) car somewhere. The Great Walkway and upper part of JFK drive are still accessible to everyone.

      AS to those who “have to commute, take their kids to school and go about their daily lives” via their private automobile. Well, those folks are responsible for half of San Francisco’s carbon emissions. If we believe in climate change, if we believe that we have stop pumping so much carbon into the air, if we want to have any hope for livable Earth for our children and grandchildren, then we need to stop all the daily driving. I know we have to make our public transport much easier and better and certainly we have to move to all-electric cars/transport but the “I have to drive my car” default attitude that so many San Francisco’s have, it’s part of the problem and has to change.

    3. I agree about the Slow Streets – that definitely reminds me of some weird gated community BS, only benefiting the people living on those particular streets, increasing their property values.. As far as GGPark – I have to put in a plug for people who work at the museums. I used to work there and driving was the only practical, economical way to get there. Parking was difficult then but I suspect now is impossible due to the closure. The garage is really expensive – out of the ability of most workers to pay (most of us are not paid that well). I tried the bus but it was too unpredictable and at night, things don’t seem very safe (yes, some of us worked late into the night maybe getting out of work at 1am). So yes, I do think there is a class aspect here people are not acknowledging. Also, I suppose you could bring in race by noting that the people who seem to be enjoying the slow streets, Ocean Beach and park during weekdays are people who probably get to work from home (or don’t need to work?) and these people are predominantly white and Asian.

  8. Could someone explain why closing JFK Dr. is segregation.
    Was closing the Great Highway and reopened for week day auto use also segregation.
    And reparations for what.

  9. What the hell is this guy talking about. Same old District 10 garbage. Nothing ever changes…just another D10 supervisor who will eventually move on to better career advancement opportunities . He needs to focus on the young idiots the district ‘s public schools are turning out every year instead of calling the closing of a street segregationist …wow!
    Oregon just gave up announcing kids didn’t have to know the basics of reading, writing and math before being allowed to graduate. Standby SF.

  10. As chairwoman of the “Make San Francisco White (again)” committee I disagree with Supervisor Walton. When I go to Golden Gate Park I see all kinds of people: people with Uber and Lyft accounts who can afford to be chauffeured to all the various areas of the park, people who can hire people to help them gain access to all areas of the park if they are not mobile and people who have $2,000 bikes. What other kind of people are there?

  11. Just watch: We are heading full-steam towards a new parcel tax to pay for “reparations.” I mean we all know the city’s budget isn’t big and wasteful enough yet. And I’m sure we’ll all vote for it…

  12. ” I 100 percent feel that the closure of JFK is segregationist,”

    I’m sorry but this guy is just insane. He has no idea what he is talking about and his arguments make no sense. I understand that identity politics has fully taken over but it’s just crazy. He is simply making things up.

    1. I agree with Mr. Walton! Especially on jfk drive. S.F needs an investigation of REC AND PARK very soon!

    2. How so? If you live next to the park, the closure is great. I ran down it today. But if you live across town and the only realistic way to get there is a car, where the heck do you *actually* park?
      These slow street closures don’t acknowledge the reality that MUNI is unusable, and often unsafe, people drive, and they need roads to drive on and, you know, parking…