District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton yielded the floor to concerned Bayview residents at a public safety forum on Saturday aimed at informing a neighborhood-specific safety plan that he will be crafting in the coming months.
While a fatal double-shooting rocked the community at the beginning of the week, Walton said that Saturday’s town hall was a long-planned step toward fulfilling his campaign promise of increasing safety in his district.
“We talked a lot about developing a community safety plan and working with the community to do so,” said Walton, addressing a diverse crowd of some 50 residents and community stakeholders. “Yes, my office has ideas, but we want to make sure the things we do and implement in the community, come from the community.”
Saturday’s hearing was the first of several listening sessions set to take place in the district’s diverse neighborhoods, including Visitacion Valley, Little Hollywood, Potrero Hill and Dogpatch as Walton’s office prepares to devise a general public safety plan for District 10.
Attendees included Bayview natives and newcomers, whose concerns ranged from installing speed bumps and improving lighting in dangerous pockets of the neighborhood to addressing motorhomes camped out on residential streets, gun violence, over-policing of youth and a generational divide that they said feeds violence.
Walton promised that his office would respond to all of his constituents’ concerns by April 22.
While the residents’ requests varied from concerns over educational, safety and economic disparities, those in attendance spoke to a need for greater equity in a district that some said has long faced neglect from City Hall.
“This district has a history of neglecting its kids — we need more things for them to do after school,” said Bayview resident Gloria Berry.
Another resident, Kevin Larson, wanted to know why The City appeared to turn a blind eye to motorhome dwellers in the Bayview District while cracking down on Recreational Vehicle campers in other areas.
“The whole Bayview seems to be a home to motor homes,” said Larson.
New and long-term residents urged city leaders to address property crime and violence in the neighborhood, and offered a list of solutions.
A woman who gave her name as K.I. and grew up in the community said that city leaders must work with advocates to help bridge a generational gap in an effort to stem violence.
“Elders need to step it up with the young folks and to communicate directly with them,” said K.I. “We are dropping like flies here — young folks are dying before elders and that’s been a trend in this community.”
“We can’t keep pointing the finger, we have to meet each other halfway,” she added. “It’s having that sit down, taking an elder out for some food, or getting together at a community meeting — there are different options on how we can get down.”
City and police leaders in attendance included Bayview’s newly instated Police Captain, Valerie Matthews, Lt. Yulanda Williams, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services liaison De’Anthony Jones and the Mayor’s Office’s recently appointed Public Safety Advisor, Mawuli Tugbenyoh, declined to weigh in on their respective efforts to improve safety in the Bayview until after the residents spoke.
Jones said the Mayor’s Office is in the process of scheduling a “fix-it” meeting with residents to specifically address issues such as potholes and street lights, and will hold a youth-focused townhall for District 10 in the coming months.
Williams, of the San Francisco Police Department, said she is currently part of an effort to rewrite the Miranda Rights “so they are move understandable for young people,” and is working on a program to train officers on how to interact with special needs youth.
Responding to some residents’ concerns about the need for equity in small business development for the Bayview, Tugbenyoh said the Mayor’s Office is “committed to reducing permit fees” for community events.
“Small community event [organizers] should not be paying the same fees as Salesforce,” he said.