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1. Please explain your campaign platform in 20 words or less. I know local government — run honestly, and well — can win the trust of the people it serves. 2. Please list your votes on the local November ballot measures School Bonds – Yes Road Repaving and Street Paving Bonds – Yes Pension Reform Lee supported version – Yes Adachi Initiative – No Amending Initiative Ordinances and Policy Declaration (No answer from candidate) Campaign Consultant Disclosures – No School District Student Assignment System – No 3. What is the worst budgetary problem in San Francisco and how will you address it? First and foremost, we must fight to ensure that our government is operating effectively and efficiently. Before looking to cut critical programs, we must fight to ensure that our government is operating effectively and efficiently. As city attorney, I’ve exposed fraud, waste, abuse and corruption in city government and recovered millions of dollars for San Francisco taxpayers. I created a partnership between the City Attorney’s Office and auditors in the City Controller’s Office to systematically target fraud and abuse by city contractors. At a time when our government is struggling to stretch every dollar to save vital services, I returned tens of millions of dollars to taxpayers. In recent years, I have recovered nearly $30 million from Office Depot for overcharging for supplies, City Tow for rigging auctions of abandoned vehicles at the city impound lot, and a national construction giant for fraudulent change orders and other abuses. Beyond that, I believe that the most important piece of our budget puzzle is a serious plan to restore robust job growth and sustainable, vigorous economic activity in The City. As our economic picture improves, so will our fiscal outlook at City Hall as well. I am the only candidate who has articulated a detailed plan to create jobs in San Francisco. As city attorney, I managed an office during tough economic times, balanced our office budget, and cut back wherever possible. At a time when our government is struggling to stretch every dollar to save vital services, my office has returned tens of millions of dollars to taxpayers. As mayor, I will work to ensure the city government is clean and efficient, so we can spend taxpayer money on services that matter – like our schools and resources for underserved communities. 4. What are your plans to attract and retain businesses in San Francisco?
Creating jobs in San Francisco is job number one for our next mayor. We must use every tool at our disposal to revitalize our local economy, to get people back to work who are unemployed, and to create better, more rewarding opportunities for those who are underemployed. Some people complain San Francisco is an expensive place to do business. I believe San Francisco has unique comparative advantages for attracting the smartest people, the best innovators, the fastest-growing businesses and the best jobs if we put our minds to removing barriers and promoting our strengths. But we can’t just create any jobs – we need to create the right kind of jobs for San Francisco. Jobs that help working families, provide a living wage, create a greener city, and promote our common values of innovation, creativity and community service. And we need a city government that helps – rather than hinders – those who want to start or grow a business in San Francisco. Imagine a city that provides long-term, sustainable economic opportunity for people at every skill level. Imagine a city that works for all of us. Since I announced my candidacy in August, I’ve heard from residents, business owners, and workers throughout The City about how to create jobs in San Francisco. I’ve spoken with policy experts and drawn from my more than nine years of experience as your city attorney. And I proudly released an extensive, substantive plan to create jobs in San Francisco. To read the full plan, please visit my website at www.HerreraforMayor.com. 5. Do you support San Francisco giving tax breaks to businesses that agree to locate in economically distressed areas such as the Tenderloin district or Mid-Market area? I supported the tax break for Twitter and other Mid-Market employers, but my harshest comments in that debate were reserved for San Francisco's failed business payroll tax scheme, which is too unfair to the 10 percent of businesses on the hook for paying it, and too unstable for our most vulnerable, who rely on the discretionary programs first in line for budget cuts. We need business tax reform that makes everyone pay a fair and that gets our fiscal house in order. That is why, as mayor, I intend to lead a “Tax Summit” with the Board of Supervisors and other stakeholders to take a business tax reform proposal to voters in 2012. California law only allows tax measures to go to voters along with Board of Supervisors elections, so our chance to reform taxes comes along just once every two years. In 2010 – despite a business payroll tax reform group I took part in along with the city controller – the Board and mayor squandered their opportunity. Instead of reforming our local business tax in a manner that might have obviated the need for a "Twitter tax break," political infighting resulted in competing hotel tax measures – both of which lost. We can’t squander our opportunity for tax reform again, while another two years goes by without solutions. We need a consensus business tax plan that's fair and stable. If we accomplish that, we won't need "tax breaks," and threats by major employers to leave San Francisco will be viewed as far less credible. But let’s not kid ourselves that ad hoc tax breaks are sound tax policy. 6. What proposals do you have for creating job growth in The City?
I have created a jobs plan that will bring more and better jobs to San Francisco. Although the plan is too lengthy to summarize here, I have included some of the highlights below: Reform San Francisco’s planning process to ensure that major job creation projects will proceed with greater transparency, efficiency, and predictability. Reform the business tax (as discussed above) Expand environmental impact review of new projects to include an assessment of the job creation/economic impact of a proposed project Increase enforcement of San Francisco’s minimum wage laws Streamline government regulations, permitting, and reduce bureaucracy by introducing a Red Tape Removal bill Prioritize large job creation projects and create new job opportunities such as virtual trade offices, expanding film industry presence, and creating a vibrant entertainment zone in the City Increase access to small business loans by expanding the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund To read my complete Jobs Plan, please visit my website at http://herreraformayor.com/issues/jobs-plan/#workbetter 7. Do you support San Francisco’s policy of requiring contractors who bid on large public projects to guarantee that a significant percentage (at least 20 percent) of the work will be performed by city residents? San Francisco’s leaders must do more to create and protect local jobs for middle-class workers and minorities in a city that has seen too many of those jobs diminished in recent years. I also support the general principle that when city taxpayers spend their own tax dollars on public projects, they have a right – through their votes or their elected representatives – to target those expenditures in ways that achieve legitimate policy aims, like creating jobs for their fellow residents or helping their local economy. That said, I have concerns that the current local hire policy is over-prescriptive and needlessly complicates the already complex working relationships that must be achieved among The City’s construction departments, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, contractors, and building trades. I am concerned that it quite simply makes needed public works projects more difficult. Second, our policy appears to elevate a single policy objective – local hiring for construction jobs – above all others endemic to public works projects. Every public works project seeks to achieve public policy objectives, including, for example, more affordable housing, improved public infrastructure, mass transportation, economic vibrancy, job creation, environmental sustainability – or some combination of these and other public benefits. Third, it undermines the good faith working relationship that is going to be essential for city management and all labor unions to negotiate solutions to the difficult problems we face together in the next couple of years. From budget deficits to pension shortfalls, we must solve our own problems or risk having bad solutions imposed upon us by voters.
In sum, I am not opposed to the concept of doing more to create and protect local jobs for San Franciscans. But I strongly believe we must craft a public policy that’s in harmony with the many public policy aims we’re seeking to achieve with these public projects and that is cognizant of reality in terms of the number of local workers available by trade. 8. Over the past decade, growth in the salary and benefits of city employees has forced The City to reduce services in a variety of areas. Are city employees overpaid? Are benefits too generous? If so, what can be done about this? There are more than 25,000 city employees. These public employees provide crucial services necessary to support our city and grow our economy. From fighting crimes and fires, to providing medical care and social services, to maintaining our parks and public spaces, many city employees are dedicated public servants who work very hard for wages and benefits far less than they could command in the private sector. That said, to the extent that there are workers, departments, or contractors that are failing to perform their duties, I think we need to take swift and appropriate action to maintain accountability and ensure that The City works efficiently and effectively. 9. The state could soon allow cities and counties to add more local taxes. What additional taxes, if any, would you propose for San Francisco? As discussed above, as mayor, I intend to take a proactive and innovative approach to our tax policies. Through my proposed “Tax Summit,” I hope to work with members of the Board of Supervisors and other stakeholders to examine business tax policies and any other applicable taxes beneficial to the interests of San Francisco. 10. What should be done to make Muni more efficient? What changes should be made to address the MTA’s annual operating deficit? Public transportation is a core public function that will succeed or fail by city leaders’ ability to govern effectively, and fund it adequately. San Francisco’s transit-first policy establishes public transportation to be an economic and environmental policy imperative. San Francisco’s voter-enacted policy is to recognize reliable public transportation as an environmental linchpin to improve air quality, limit suburban sprawl, arrest global climate change and more. It’s also a cornerstone of our economic policy to create a city that attracts jobs, retains middle-class families and remains livable for generations to come. There has not been a single house party I've attended, forum I've participated in or street corner I've visited where I haven’t been asked about Muni. People are tired of waiting over an hour for a bus that's supposed to come every 10 minutes. San Franciscans want to know that we have a reliable, safe way to get to and from work everyday and we have to face the facts that what we're doing now just isn't working. I know that providing a safe, certain, and frequent mode of public transportation for residents of our city is one of the top issues facing the next mayor of San Francisco. Fixing Muni isn't hopeless, and we can do better.
There are four things the city can do to address the issue of Muni now. 1. Increase Accountability. Muni must be held accountable for the way they chose to spend our Proposition G dollars. As mayor, I will advocate for a strong new Muni chief who has the ability and the vision to continue to be sure that Muni is using our tax dollars appropriately. 2. Implement the Transit Effectiveness Project. In 2008 The City commissioned TEP to review what can be done to make the system faster, more reliable and more efficient. As mayor I'll cut through the red tape preventing implementation of TEP and make getting it back on track a top priority. 3. Fix Our Funding Problems. Muni needs to be funded adequately and also prove that it is being responsible with the tax payers’ dollars that it already has. 4. Increase Ridership. I plan to implement long term solutions like Bus Rapid Transit, a method of speeding up buses and making them more reliable by creating a transit lane with new bus stops, bus priority at stoplights, real time schedule and arrival information, and streetscape improvements and amenities for safer boarding and improved comfort to increase ridership. 11. Homelessness still seems to be the foremost topic on the minds of voters. What's your plan to get people off the streets, especially when they refuse help? I believe that local government can make a difference in people’s lives every day, especially for our most vulnerable residents. As city attorney, I supported former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s comprehensive plan to combat homelessness and get people off the streets. I strongly support San Francisco’s efforts to address The City’s chronic homelessness issue through innovative programs that move people from the streets and into housing. Housing First is a strategy that succeeded in moving 7,000 formerly homeless people in San Francisco off the streets, allowing a continuum of care services that have achieved great strides in connecting vulnerable residents with mental health, substance abuse and health care services. As mayor, my plan to combat homelessness includes: 1) Support our Homeless Outreach Team The Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) program is currently run by the Department of Public Health, which provides service teams doing direct outreach on the streets. I would move this program into the Mayor’s Office to reflect the priority that these outreach workers deserve and the need to have better coordination amongst responsible city departments and staff. As mayor, I will ensure the outreach teams have the resources they need to get our homeless population off the streets and into stable environments 2) Create a City-Run Drop-In Center We currently have no city-run drop-in centers in San Francisco to receive homeless individuals and connect them with our system of care. Police officers and other city workers are only able to cite homeless who are in violation of the law without linking them to the resources they desperately need. Various nonprofits run a number of drop-in centers for homeless in San Francisco, but they
are limited in the services they are able to offer. Creating a city-run drop-in center for homeless in addition to already existing centers would give city officials who engage with the homeless on the street a central location to take them where they can get a shelter bed, treatment slot, or even just a shower when they need it. I support the creation of a city-run drop-in center to help get homeless off the streets and connect them with critical city services. 3) Increase Coordination With and Accountability in the Court System One persistent challenge we face is quality-of-life issues that accompany homelessness: disorderly street behavior such as drunkenness, public urination, aggressive panhandling, and use of The City’s parks for camping. The opening of the Criminal Justice Court in 2009 was a significant step forward in not only expediting review of these cases, but more importantly, of connecting people who come into the court with services and treatment. However, the system only works if fully utilized by the court itself. As mayor, I would increase coordination with the Criminal Justice Court so that chronic offenders of quality-of-life issues are connected with the city services they need or, in the alternative, held accountable for their conduct. 4) Protect the Care Not Cash Program I opposed recent efforts to roll back significant portions of the Care Not Cash program by removing “shelter” from the definition of housing that must be offered by The City to a General Assistance beneficiary to avoid paying the full cash grant. Care Not Cash is an extremely effective program that has reduced homelessness in The City while saving money. If this measure passes, The City would have to pay the full cash grant of $422 per month to most recipients, or cut other programs to find funding to building new housing units. We would also lose the $15 million that Care Not Cash saves The City each year, which is used for critical supportive housing. 5) Increase Accountability While our city is lucky to have committed and effective community partners in the battle against homelessness, we must ensure that every dollar spent is used to its maximum capacity. As mayor, I will institute systems to promote more accountability among non-profit service providers and the ability to better channel funds to effective programs. Currently, the Human Services Agency and Department of Public Health do not have a method of measuring the effectiveness of particular programs according to the outcomes of individual homeless people. The ability to measure our results and accurately gauge the effectiveness of our efforts will be critical to determining programmatic success in serving The City’s most vulnerable residents. 12. In 2010, The City amended its Police Code to prohibit sitting or lying on a public sidewalk in San Francisco between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., with certain exceptions. Do you support this policy?
The Civil Sidewalks law has been enacted by the will of the voters, many of whom no doubt harbored deep frustration at The City’s continued struggles to deal with very specific types of nuisance behavior. I understand these concerns and empathize with voters who viewed the Civil Sidewalks law as a tool to fix a difficult problem. That is why I voted “yes” for the measure. As mayor, however, I believe we can pursue more effective ways to accomplish specific public policy objectives than by asking voters to enact sweeping laws that can have unintended consequences, and that far too often divert political energies toward narrow “hot-button” questions, and away from the more pressing, wide- ranging challenges San Francisco faces. While there are legitimate concerns about the Civil Sidewalks law’s efficacy, the policy objective at this point is to ensure that the law is enforced as evenhandedly as possible. 13. Do you support the Parkmerced and CMPC developments as currently proposed? Parkmerced: While I support the Parkmerced project conceptually, I think it exemplifies the wrong way to pursue a major redevelopment project. Parkmerced’s development process should have been more inclusive from the beginning, and I think concerns of existing tenants should have been better addressed. Given the scale of the project and tenant displacement, I would have insisted from the start that developers to a better job of forging consensus. In some ways, however, San Francisco’s own planning process is to blame because it has become too back-loaded. That’s why my Jobs Plan, which aims to expand economic development and housing in San Francisco, includes establishing an early “feasibility vote” for projects with significant employment potential. That’ll do three things: (1) it’ll reduce the unpredictability that discourages investment; (2) it’ll allow public participation sooner, and encourage more collaboration earlier; and (3) it’ll let policymakers know which projects to prioritize and fast-track – and which to send back to the drawing board for more work. I think Parkmerced was an example of a project in which an earlier feasibility vote would have identified problems earlier, and result in a better project for everyone. That said, the solution to San Francisco’s housing shortfall is quite simple: we must build more housing. Parkmerced represents one of The City’s best opportunities to foster smart, green, transit-oriented development that will serve our future housing needs and provide San Franciscans with more affordable options. I support development policies that will protect the unique character of individual San Francisco neighborhoods, provide economic opportunity for all San Franciscans, and ensure that people of all income levels can continue to live and work in San Francisco. The Parkmerced project largely fulfills these goals. While a large-scale development plan like this will obviously never please everyone, at some point we must move choose progress over paralysis. CPMC: From my perspective, the CPMC project has basically divided San Franciscans into two camps: those who are “for it if” and those who are “against it unless.” The conflict is not
so much one of substance as it is a matter of approach. I can say without reservation that I am a member of the “for it if” group. I don’t think anyone would argue that San Francisco doesn’t deserve a centrally located, seismically safe hospital of the caliber proposed by CPMC. And I believe that the project, broadly defined, is a necessary step toward providing quality health care to all San Francisco citizens. However, the next mayor must be able to fully grasp the striking complexity of this undertaking. This is a $2.3 billion-dollar endeavor with serious, long-term consequences for public health, traffic and transit, neighborhood quality-of-life issues, affordable housing and more. The plan proposed by CPMC, which would close the campus in Presidio Heights, replace St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission (which currently has 260 beds) with a smaller hospital that has only 82 beds, and converts the current CPMC facility in Pacific Heights to an outpatient facility, is going to affect thousands of people in vastly different neighborhoods. In addition to the neighborhood residents, interested parties include the developer, hospital employees, affected patients, labor groups, affordable housing and health care advocacy groups and those responsible for making sure the project conforms to zoning and planning regulations. I believe that the original CPMC plan leaves room for improvement. A revised plan that preserves St. Luke’s, addresses affordable housing requirements and makes a more serious attempt to mitigate inevitable traffic and transit issues associated with a development of such scale would go a long way toward allaying the concerns of various stakeholders. Moreover, any plan approved by The City should clearly address accessibility issues for The City’s most vulnerable residents. Ensuring that all interested parties are treated fairly while providing the best possible outcome for the city of San Francisco will require a mayor who is a tough negotiator, comfortable with complexity and unfazed by the pressure cooker of competing interests. Over the past nine years as city attorney, I’ve helped negotiate some of the most complex land use deals San Francisco has ever seen. From the regeneration of the Hunters Point Shipyard, to the growth of Mission Bay, to the future redevelopment of the Pier 70 complex in Potrero Hill/Dogpatch, I’m proud to have been intimately involved in helping to ensure that future development complies with adopted city policy, meets adopted local standards, and delivers the benefits promised to the people of San Francisco. As mayor, I will bring this same level of even-handed determination to the CPMC project. 14. Do you support increasing the number of permits to allow the conversion of rental properties into condos? I believe that the oft-discussed issue of condo conversion misses the target to some degree. Too often, the debate over housing policy in San Francisco is distorted, presupposing a zero-sum game played between property owners and renters. I reject this premise. The only solution to our housing problem – affordable and otherwise – is the construction of more housing. And while tweaks to the condo conversion protocols may help a subgroup of aspiring San Francisco homeowners achieve their goals, one-time fees and haggling over the number of conversion permits allowed is a narrow approach to a much wider challenge.
To provide more homeownership opportunities for San Francisco residents and to generate more affordable options for low- and middle-income renters, we must embrace smart growth strategies that add supply to our current housing stock while protecting neighborhood character. As mayor, I will aggressively pursue dense, transit-oriented, mixed-use urban infill development South of Market while overseeing critical redevelopment projects at Parkmerced, Treasure Island and Bayview/Hunters Point. We will review fee levels on new housing development, aggressively streamline and rationalize the permit-approval process, and work hard to ensure that city government is not an impediment to developers helping to execute our smart growth strategies. 15. Some people in San Francisco think that all tenants should be protected by rent control, regardless of the tenant’s income or wealth. Other people in San Francisco think that tenants should be protected by rent control only if they are lower or middle class, and cannot afford to pay market-level rents. What is your opinion on this issue? I support rent control, which helps balance between renters’ and property owners’ interests in what is one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation. Rent control has been essential to ensuring that some of San Francisco’s rental housing stays affordable and accessible. At this time, I would not be in favor of further restrictions to Rent Control that would limit its applicability only to persons of certain incomes. In these trying economic times, many can find themselves employed one day and out of work the other, or fighting for work one week, and overwhelmed the next. Further, having rent fluctuate with income would also make it difficult for property owners to budget and plan, having the amount of rent they can charge dependent on the varying incomes of their tenants. I do not believe that it is the right time to add another layer of uncertainty for San Franciscans or to further erode the number of affordable housing units. 16. In 2009, San Francisco began turning over undocumented youths arrested for felonies to federal immigration authorities for possible deportation. The Board of Supervisors subsequently directed the City not to turn over undocumented youths unless they have been convicted of a felony, rather than simply arrested. What is your opinion on this issue? I support San Francisco’s Sanctuary City policies, and will protect them if elected mayor. I support the policy objective of Supervisor David Campos’s 2009 amendment to that ordinance to restore due process rights to undocumented juveniles, and I believe it correctly affirms the principle of confidentiality that has been a cornerstone of our juvenile justice system since it was first established. I intend to implement that, too, if elected mayor, while assuring that necessary steps are taken to protect city employees from criminal prosecution similar to what federal authorities threatened two years ago. That is exactly what I have done as city attorney. I believe San Francisco should be more than a sanctuary for immigrants, but a national advocate. As mayor, I will join with other mayors throughout the United States – in much the same way that I’ve successfully enlisted the support of attorneys general, county counsels and city attorneys for dozens of issues as city attorney – to aggressively drive immigration reform to the top of the national agenda. The injustices of our immigration laws are seen with particular clarity in
our cities – and cities must inform the debate. I’m the son of an immigrant, and I take this issue seriously. It’s a responsibility I intend to lead as mayor of San Francisco. 17. More than 5,000 children have left San Francisco over the last decade. What's your plan to keep families living in San Francisco? This is an extremely important issue to me because raising a family here is my biggest motivation for running for mayor, and the main reason San Francisco’s future matters so much to me. But the honest answer to this question is answered by every other answer in this questionnaire. Every success San Francisco’s local government can achieve – for better transportation; public parks, open space and recreational facilities to enjoy; streets to bike on; sidewalks to walk on; good jobs without long commutes; clean energy; accessible, effective and responsive government; and the promise of clean air, soil and water that isn’t polluted; etc. All of it matters. And none of it is unimportant for keeping families in San Francisco. 18. What are your plans to curb gang violence in The City? As city attorney, I’ve worked hard to make San Francisco streets safer by taking on criminal street gangs, and securing civil gang injunctions that have made real progress in dramatically reducing gang-related violence and nuisance conduct in several city neighborhoods. These injunctions bar known gang members from engaging in intimidation, graffiti vandalism, trespassing, and associating with other gang members inside of court-ordered “safety zones.” What I’ve learned as city attorney – and what a Herrera administration will reflect in the public safety strategies it pursues in Room 200 – is that effective public safety strategies require collaboration and engagement. Not just among other law enforcement offices, but also among neighborhood stakeholders and community organizations.
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