Tenderloin Mayoral Forum Photos, Audio, & Moderator Transcript

April 4th Tenderloin's SF Mayoral Candidate Forum, courtesy of David Elliott Lewis

April 4th Tenderloin's SF Mayoral Candidate Forum, courtesy of David Elliott Lewis


Nearly 400 community members attended the Tenderloin's SF Mayoral Candidate Forum on April 4th at St. Boniface Auditorium. In case you missed it, below find links to photos, audio and a moderator transcript (with questions).

Candidates were asked to respond to six questions, which were compiled from a six week community submission process, and selected based on topics most reflected and expressed in the more than 150 submissions. Candidates were told topics, but not exact questions before the forum.

TLCBD was a proud sponsor of the event. We are grateful to the our partners, the Tenderloin community, and to our candidates for making the time to address the Tenderloin during this important event.

This event was also sponsored by the CCSRO Collaborative, Saint Francis Foundation/Tenderloin Health Improvement Partnership, GLIDE, and TNDC's Community Organizing Department.

Special thanks to St. Boniface Church and De Marillac Academy for granting and supporting use of the event space.

Candidates who participated (in alphabetical order):  Angela Alioto, London Breed, Richie Greenberg, Jane Kim, Mark Leno, and Amy Farah Weiss.

All Photos/audio courtesy resident and planning committee member David Elliott Lewis.

Audio recording from the SF Tenderloin Mayoral Forum:


APRIL 4, 2018, 175 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco.

________Moderator Transcript________

Tonight we want to talk about the Tenderloin. What a lot of people don’t know about the Tenderloin is that there is a rich and vibrant community here to rival any neighborhood in the world, with a long history of trendsetting in art, architecture, and expression. 

The Tenderloin has pioneered globally recognized movements to advance human rights and is the birthplace of genre-defining musicians, artistic trailblazers, and social justice heroes. Per block, more children live in the Tenderloin than any other neighborhood in the city. And for decades, the Tenderloin has been a place where low-income and new immigrant communities have come to attempt to fulfill the iconic American dream. In the heart of San Francisco, the Tenderloin embodies the strong community values of acceptance, inclusion, resilience, creativity, and hope.  
The Tenderloin is also home to the most complex and seemingly intractable issues facing San Francisco – chronic homelessness, housing insecurity, mental illness, substance use, and multi-generational poverty. In this city of great opportunity it is the most vulnerable neighborhood - one-third of residents live below the Federal poverty line and experience the city’s highest rates of chronic disease and mental illness. 

For many, the Tenderloin’s sidewalks are home – more than half of San Francisco’s homeless population live as “neighbors without shelter” in the Tenderloin, sleeping on the sidewalks, and in doorways and alleys every night. In addition, many SRO hotel residents with limited alternatives for places to simply hang out congregate outside, with the sidewalks acting as neighborhood living rooms.

The Tenderloin is also home to the largest open-air drug market in Northern California, and perhaps not surprisingly, the city’s hottest criminal activity. It is also a place where unmet needs for mental health treatment and supportive housing mean mentally ill residents roam freely, at risk of harm to themselves and others. High concentrations of seniors, veterans, and other vulnerable populations reside here as well.

Many unsafe and illegal behaviors are allowed to routinely take place on Tenderloin streets, but not in other more affluent neighborhoods. Current city policies and practices institutionalize this status quo and make the city complicit in maintaining the Tenderloin as a “containment zone.” 
All of these challenges negatively impact residents who are already economically and socially disadvantaged and who face vast disparities in resources and opportunities to thrive when compared to residents of other neighborhoods in the city. 

We believe that the Tenderloin is the most important neighborhood to shape San Francisco's future because the Tenderloin is a microcosm of the entire city. All of these challenges we see here are playing out across San Francisco, and if, as Mayor, you can implement community-informed, innovative, evidence-based solutions to the core challenges we see in the Tenderloin, the rest of the city will follow with relative ease. 

_____________THE QUESTIONS:

The #1 barrier to public safety in the Tenderloin is the 24-hour open-air drug marketplace that persists here. This neighborhood is a known transaction destination, with people coming from all over the Bay Area to buy and sell drugs on a daily basis. The scope and scale of this trafficking is not supported by Tenderloin residents and would not be tolerated in any other neighborhood. High percentages of children and seniors maneuver our sidewalks daily and report feeling hostage to this untenable situation. 

Question #1
In your first year as Mayor, what specific steps will you take to dramatically decrease drug trafficking in the Tenderloin? 

One of the most readily identifiable aspects of the Tenderloin is the proliferation of trash, drug paraphernalia, and human and animal excrement on our streets and sidewalks. Since last June, the Tenderloin Community Benefit District has collected on average more than 2500 syringes and 30,000 lbs. of trash per month. While the numbers are staggering, they don’t always help us face the underlying, root causes of our poor sidewalk conditions.

Question #2
As Mayor, what specific steps will you take, other than increasing resources for picking up trash, to make Tenderloin streets and sidewalks cleaner?

In a recent comparison of 170 of the most populated U.S. cities, using 40 key indicators of good health, San Francisco ranked #1 as the healthiest city in the U.S. But within the city, there are significant disparities in health outcomes, including life expectancy. The 33,000 residents of the Tenderloin live surrounded by affluence, but do not share in the city’s rich opportunities. Location matters when it comes to health. Two key chronic conditions we would like to discuss tonight are mental illness and substance use disorders.

Question #3
As Mayor, what resources will you commit to supporting the long-term health needs of Tenderloin residents with mental illness? 

Yes/No Question
Will you support and fund Safe Consumption Services, commonly referred to as safe injection sites, in San Francisco in 2018?

_____HOUSING (
4 questions; 2 long form + 2 yes/no)

Housing is the single largest expense for a typical household. High housing costs relative to household income means fewer resources left for food, utilities, transportation, health care, and child care. This push and pull can result in residents being forced to live in overcrowded housing conditions, accepting substandard housing, being displaced from their neighborhood, or becoming homeless. This is especially true in the Tenderloin where many residents live on low or very low incomes.

Since 2011, market-rate housing in the Tenderloin has increased from 23% of the housing stock to 29% of the housing stock. 48% is rent-stabilized, but vulnerable to gentrification. Only 5,400 housing units or 23% of units are permanently affordable.

Yes/No Questions
As Mayor, will you commit to preserving Single Room Occupancy housing stock in the Tenderloin for extremely low-income households? 

As Mayor, will you commit to creating new step-up housing opportunities for Tenderloin residents?

The Tenderloin is divided between people who have dramatically different responses to the same problem: everyone agrees that the neighborhood needs more low-income housing, but some in the Tenderloin think new development causes the problem, while others believe new development is the solution. 

Question #4
As Mayor, what will you do to unify these factions and advance an equitable affordable housing agenda as gentrification and market demand continue to intensify?

Question #5
As Mayor, what specific strategies will you use to make sure that stable, long-term housing is available for low-income residents and seniors in the Tenderloin?

Residents of the Tenderloin face vast disparities in opportunities and resources compared with residents of other neighborhoods in the city. This is an issue of basic equity. The pathways out of poverty, homelessness, and poor health are often broken and almost impossible to navigate, especially for people with limited resources. 

Tenderloin residents have experienced decades of consistently high crime rates, dense living conditions, unsafe sidewalks, poor street lighting, widespread food insecurity, and lack of accessible cooking facilities. These issues have taken a disproportionate toll on Tenderloin residents’ health and well-being relative to other San Franciscans.

Final Question #6
As Mayor, what three concrete steps will you take in your first year towards addressing these inequities and incentivizing city agencies to prioritize the needs of the Tenderloin?