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District 11 Community Leaders Discuss Housing, Tasers, Muni’s Outreach

Will Carruthers / Ingleside-Excelsior Light

Original community journalism takes money, time and hard work. You can now support the Light on Patreon. Visit www.patreon.com/ielight to sign up.

Community leaders discussed housing legislation, the use of Tasers by police and the quality of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s outreach in the neighborhood at the May 13 meeting of the District 11 Council.

Housing

District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai’s legislative aide, Suhagey Sandoval, provided an update about the supervisor’s work pushing a “crucial” piece of inclusionary housing legislation.
The legislation, which Safai introduced with Supervisor London Breed in February, would modify inclusionary housing laws to build more workforce housing, an income bracket between low-income and market rate housing.

The proposal started in the mayor’s office, a fact revealed after Sandoval forwarded an early draft stamped with “Mayor Ed Lee” on the bottom, according to the Examiner.

Safai argues that District 11 is made up of people within the workforce bracket and fight against the growing economic inequality in the city.

“Most of the folks sitting in this room would be considered too rich to qualify for [the current low-income housing programs],” Sandoval said.

Since income bracket are rarely studied by supervisor district, it is difficult to tell whether Safai’s argument is sound, however Safai’s “workforce” argument conflicts with some of his other statements and studies of housing in the district.

When talking about the many District 11 residents whose largest assets are their inherited homes, Safai likes to say, “folks in District 11 are house rich but cash poor.”

“More blue collar workers are found in D11. Median family income in the district is below average, and per capita income is the city’s lowest at $25,490,” according to a 2013 study by the Asian Law Caucus.

Because of the harsh economic realities of San Francisco, the reality of District 11 is more likely families getting by with illegal in-law units in family-owned homes.

In February, Safai pledged to start a working group to study illegal, non code compliant housing in the district after more than 20 people were found living in unsafe conditions below a Mission Street laundromat. The working group has yet to be formed.

The housing debate concluded in mid-May with a compromise.

Tasers

While waiting for the meeting to get underway, three members of the council who sit on Taraval and Ingleside’s Community Police Advisory Boards, discussed whether SFPD should have Tasers and how they should respond to use-of-force.

“It was a very bizarre meeting,” Joelle Kenealey said of one meeting, mentioning a new rule under consideration that would require officers to fill out a seven-page form after a use of force. Kenealey worried that the rule could bog officers down with paperwork, removing them from the streets.

The advisory committees discussed the possibility of allowing the police to use Tasers. The department’s new chief, Bill Scott, has asked for Tasers, a request that Safai and Lee both support.

Safai, who chairs the Rules Committee, could potentially do a lot to get Taser-friendly commissioners.

In April, Safai told the Bay Area Reporter that the best way supervisors could influence the Taser decision was to be “thoughtful on whom we put on the police commission. That is the main way the board can have influence on Tasers.”

SFMTA Outreach

Deanna Desedas, a public outreach and engagement manager with the SFMTA, sought to soothe concerns that the agency hasn’t been doing proper outreach in the district.

In recent years, as demand for parking has increased, residents have began to loathe surprise SFMTA engineering meetings. For instance, in December, lack of outreach for an engineering meeting to consider moving a bus stop and remove ten parking spaces sparked outrage in the community.

“We’ve been trying really hard to do a better job with our Muni outreach and engagement,” Desedas said. “It hasn’t been easy and we can’t change things over night, but there has been some progress.”

The council members, who tend to be older and car-friendly, asked Desedas about parking and outreach.
“I see more and more parking going away,” Claire Zvanksi said. “Which says to me, I’m not coming back here to shop at the store I used to go to … Who’s listening to that concern at the SFMTA?”

Balancing parking spaces with bicycle lanes or faster public transit service is “probably the most difficult issues [the SFMTA is dealing with],” Desedas said.

“Do we allow people to weigh in enough? No. I think we can improve that for sure,” Desedas said.

Park Safety

The Recreation and Parks Department will add more summer programming to the Excelsior Playground this summer, according to Cathy Mulkey-Meyer, a legislative aide for Safai.

Police will visit the Excelsior Playground each morning to prevent students from locking themselves in the bathrooms and smoking.

“Drug use is still a problem,” Mulkey-Meyer said.

RPD will also repave the tennis and basketball courts at Alice Chalmers Playground, another neglected park in the district, according to Mulkey-Meyer.

Both playgrounds have been long-neglected by RPD and only got worse when the YMCA ended its leases on clubhouses on both properties in September 2016.

The supervisor is working to close a $20,000 funding gap to build a dog park at Balboa Park, Mulkey-Meyer said. The gap increased since March.

Cannabis Dispensaries

Safai introduced legislation that would bar any more Medical Cannabis Dispensaries from opening in the district, according to Sandoval.

Kenealey, a long-time opponent of MCDs, said that one man applied for two MCDs in the district. One at 958 Geneva Ave. and another at 400 London St.

“I’m more concerned about recreational shops,” Kenealey said, referencing the future stores that the city is examining how to regulate since recreational marijuana was legalized last year.

The District 11 Council meets every second Saturday at 10 a.m. in Ingleside Police Station’s Community Room. The next meeting is on June 10.

Original community journalism takes money, time and hard work. You can now support the Light on Patreon. Visit www.patreon.com/ielight to sign up.

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