As San Francisco grows at an unprecedented rate, we need to focus on promoting sustainability and infrastructure projects to support a healthy economy and community.
Next week, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is taking a delegation of more than two dozen Bay Area business, civic and government leaders to Washington, D.C., to make sure that our federal representatives on Capitol Hill have a deep understanding of our needs.
This year’s CityTrip DC delegation includes leaders from labor, healthcare, SF Environment, the Port of San Francisco, the SF Country Transportation Authority and the Mayor’s office. We will meet with top lawmakers and administration officials to express support for building more housing, preserving our waterfront and funding critical transportation projects, among many other legislative priorities.
Here are some highlights of our Federal priorities:
AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
As the Chamber showed in our recently released Dignity Health CityBeat poll, San Franciscans’ number one concern is homelessness. We need more affordable housing to ensure San Francisco remains accessible to all who want to live here, as well as programs that help San Franciscans avoid or exit homelessness. The federal government plays an integral role in providing the necessary funding to create housing and provide key services to help our thousands of homeless San Franciscans.
The Low Income Housing Tax Credit program is an indirect federal subsidy used to finance the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households. It allows housing and community development agencies to partner with investors who can provide the necessary capital for construction.
This program needs to remain intact, as San Francisco relies heavily on it to provide necessary financing to build new affordable housing and complete major retrofits.
The Chamber is dedicated to making high speed rail a reality. We are pushing for additional funding to support the California High Speed Rail Authority’s financing plan, including early investment in Bay Area projects identified in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Corridor Investment Strategy. We must ensure Caltrain electrification as a means to make our regional rail system compatible with the coming high-speed trains. We support improved Caltrain commuter rail operations using electric vehicles and high-speed rail equipment in a blended system that begins at the Transbay Transit Center.
We are lucky to live in a place with immediate access to the Bay, but with that comes the responsibility to care for our regional treasure. The Chamber is focused on protecting San Francisco’s port facilities, including advocating for federal support to study and construct improvements to our 100-year old seawall, many portions of which are exposed to future flood risk. We also support the investment in San Francisco’s critical infrastructure to ensure The City is prepared to handle natural disasters like earthquakes, sea level rise and threats from terrorism. The federal government needs to fund the early earthquake warning system that Senate Bill 135 — signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013 — calls for to create a crucial early earthquake warning in advance of dangerous shaking.
While these are just a few of our top priorities, we have many others: Keeping the Treasure Island development on track, comprehensive immigration reform including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers and President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act, which includes tax cuts to help small businesses hire and grow.
Please follow the conversation using #CityTripDC2016 as we meet with key members of Congress and the Senate including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. representatives Jackie Speier and Eric Swalwell and U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, as well as federal agency
heads representing departments of housing, transportation, labor and health care.
Lee Blitch is interim president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.