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Embracing commonsense solutions for San Francisco’s future

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RiseSF, a newly formed coalition, is striving to find solutions to current problems facing The City while respecting the past and preparing for the future. (Courtesy photo)

San Francisco is our home. We love its beautiful skyline, foggy summers, diverse neighborhoods and innovative people. We love The City today, admire its past and care deeply about its future.

This city has always welcomed change. Innovation is in our DNA. We solve tough problems, push the envelope and make room for big ideas.

And because we always fight for change, we have to be ready for change. But right now, San Francisco is struggling to support its people — whether newcomers or natives.

That’s why San Franciscans from across the spectrum have come together to form a new coalition, called RiseSF, whose mission is to work toward a better and more equal future for everyone.

We are a diverse group of leaders and activists from organized labor, small and large employers and neighborhood organizations. Our goal is to seek out and implement commonsense solutions to the biggest problems facing the people of San Francisco. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, we will not engage in candidate campaigns. We are laser-focused on creating solutions that will last far beyond November — without finger pointing, blaming or engaging in personality politics.

San Francisco has always been a growing and welcoming city, but without affordable, convenient housing, we will lose the diversity that makes our city great.

We must not block opportunity with process and red tape. We need housing that is affordable for middle- and low-income families, in walkable communities, close to neighborhood shops and businesses, near public transit and accessible to jobs. San Francisco is a city, not a museum; we must be prepared for inevitable change.

But housing alone isn’t enough.

Our local and regional transportation system is aging and in need of repair. Population growth has far exceeded the original design of BART and Muni, and our clogged roads are forcing commuters to waste more and more time in their cars.

We must not block opportunity with mistrust and lack of vision. We need a regional transportation system that increases the speed, capacity and reliability of transit to get where you need to go, improves the quality and safety of roadways and bike lanes and works with the private sector on solutions like carpooling and ridesharing, ferries and commuter buses.

All of us who live and work in San Francisco, including business leaders, activists and politicians, have a responsibility to make San Francisco the best city it can be. Instead of playing the blame game, we all need to do our part to address the issues facing our city.

We know that these issues, which unite us in frustration, all too often divide us in solution.

At RiseSF, we are convinced that new, commonsense approaches can help bridge those divides. But we have to work together. In order to continue building the San Francisco we all want, we have to make sure that more people have more places to live and more avenues to move around.

We know this will take time. But our vision, our mandate and our ambition is bigger than any one election or ballot initiative. We care about the future of San Francisco. We want to make sure that the creative energy this city is famous for is not throttled by impossible rents, endless traffic and political gridlock. We want the benefits of a more livable, workable and movable city to be shared by everyone. And we know we can get there.

From the Gold Rush to the 1960s to this era of innovation, San Francisco always finds a way to embrace change, lead by example and inspire innovative people across the world. That’s why we’re still optimistic about the future of this city and its people. We know what we’re capable of because we know what we’ve accomplished already.

Working together, we can keep San Francisco the welcoming and progressive place we all love. To learn more about RiseSF and get involved, visit RiseSanFrancisco.org.  

Ramon Hernandez is the business manager for Laborers International Union, Local 261. Jared Friedman is a partner at Y Combinator. Bruce Agid is a San Francisco native and a neighborhood advocate. All are members of the RiseSF Steering Committee.

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