As longtime District 9 residents who have been fighting to protect, preserve and expand all things that make our community amazing, we are compelled to speak out about the upcoming election and the future of our neighborhood.
For years, we put our energy and faith in our City Hall representatives to deliver for our neighborhood, but what have we gotten in return?
We have gotten the highest number of evictions in The City and the near-decimation of the Latino population in the Mission District. For the past 10 years, no affordable housing has been built in our district, and new apartments rent for as much as $7,500 for a two bedroom.
The fires in the Mission and Bernal Heights have left longtime residents without homes, and in one case resulted in a tragic death. Violent crime and break-ins are increasing with at least four shootings in the Mission in just the past two months. We have more homeless residents sleeping on the street living in tents, and prostitution including trafficked teenagers along Shotwell Street has become the norm.
Parts of our district smell of urine and human feces. Our longtime small businesses are struggling. The Portola’s McLaren Park is one of The City’s most beautiful-yet-neglected recreation areas. Artists continue to be forced out of the neighborhood. People of color no longer feel welcome and non-people of color are politically scapegoated. The gap between communities of color and law enforcement continues to grow.
A decade of neglect and inaction from City Hall has led to the decline of one of the most vibrant, family-friendly neighborhoods in the Bay Area, and for the past six years, Hillary Ronen has been complacent, and often an active participant, in that decline as the district supervisor’s chief of staff.
While Ronen may claim that she was not the ultimate decision maker in the District 9 supervisor’s office, she is one of about 50 people in the entire city that have the power to write and influence legislation and respond to constituent concerns. She wields far more power than the rest of us and cannot claim the few successes of the past few years without taking responsibility for the failures.
She stood by and watched as no affordable housing was built in District 9. Ronen’s reluctance to support an ordinance requiring sprinklers in older apartment buildings given recent fires and her inability to answer phone calls or emails concerning constituent problems should indicate the type of supervisor she will be. Perhaps she is reluctant to see the problems residents are dealing with because she only recently moved into the district she is vying to represent.
Recent pay-to-play allegations regarding at least a dozen lobbyist contributions to Ronen’s campaign have led to reports of multiple ethics complaints against her related to her role in decisions impacting those lobbyists’ clients.
We have an opportunity to vote for change in November with Joshua Arce, who will prioritize the day-to-day needs of our district and respond to concerns. He has experience building affordable housing as secretary of the board of one of The City’s largest affordable housing nonprofits and he worked to pass the most successful local hiring law in the country, creating good paying jobs and combating economic inequality. Arce represents tenants as a civil rights attorney and has the strongest environmental record of any candidate.
While columnists at the San Francisco Examiner, who have been paid by the very same unions that support Ronen, may be “underwhelmed” by her opponent’s candidacy, we are devastated by the mess that was created in our neighborhoods — the mess Ronen failed to stop and the mess she will perpetuate if she is given a promotion to the position of supervisor.
We have seen what Ronen can do, and District 9 deserves better. We do not need four more years of neglect. It is time for a change.
Sharron Rhodes and Miguel Gomez are born-and-raised lifelong District 9 residents who support civil rights attorney Joshua Arce for supervisor.