We’re on the edge of a tipping point in the Bay Area — and in San Francisco especially. People move to great cities because of the opportunities, active networks, arts and vibrant culture cities offer. But as our cities have become more and more crowded, prices have jumped astronomically and everyone is feeling the pinch.
Our cities aren’t building enough affordable and middle-income housing. Longtime small businesses and arts venues are being forced to move out of the neighborhoods they have served as anchors in for decades due to rising rents. Transit options are limited, and many residents commute for hours because they can’t afford to live in the communities where they work. In fact, one million of the Bay Area’s 3.5 million workers commute over at least one county boundary every day on their way to work.
All of these problems are interconnected, and it’s impacting our region and city.
This is urgent, but we still have time to enact smart policies that can help us address these challenges.
I’m hosting a series of forums bringing together thought leaders on important policy topics. Our goal is to work toward real, concrete solutions. The first forum will be on housing, transportation and urban planning on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at Mission High School. I’m honored to be joined by Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Mayor of Los Angeles; Lateefah Simon, a transit activist and California State University trustee; and David Talbot, founder and former editor-in-chief of Salon and the best-selling author of “Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love.”
In order for our cities to become more affordable, we need to integrate our housing and transportation policies based on the principle that our cities must work for everyone — from the tech entrepreneur to the barista, from the small business owner to our blue-collar workers. Our land-use policies and public dollar investments must support all our residents. We must be clear that we are building for everyone.
As a San Francisco supervisor, I’ve shown that I am not afraid to stand up to powerful interests to make sure our working families get a fair shake. We fought and won an unprecedented 40 percent affordable and middle-income housing in several market-rate developments. We’ve pushed luxury developers to pay more for better transit and more parks. We’ve passed the strongest new protections for tenants in the nation. And I’m proud to have authored the strongest minimum wage ordinance in the country in our Fight for $15.
We still have much more work to do. We can grow while protecting the residents who call our cities home today.
We must continue to fight for more affordable housing in every new housing development so teachers, police, firefighters and nurses can live closer to where they work and serve. This alleviates traffic too: If people can live closer to their jobs, they won’t have to get in their cars. And we must make our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians: This will activate our streets, make our neighborhoods safer and our residents healthier. These policies ultimately build healthier, safer and stronger cities.
These are complicated issues, but there are real solutions out there that can work for our communities.
I hope you will join Antonio, Lateefah, David and me in standing for solutions on Tuesday, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Mission High School Auditorium. You can RSVP at janekim.org/housing or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to seeing you there and hearing your thoughts and ideas on how our city can work for all of us.
Jane Kim represents District 6 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.