Policies & Priorities
We as a city must have the courage to help those that are the most vulnerable and suffering under our current historic pandemic and economic crisis.
For the past few months, South San Francisco’s unemployment rate has been between 14-15%. To put this in perspective, following the 2008 financial crisis, unemployment levels peaked at 10.7% in South City. Now, more than ever, our city council needs courageous leadership that will take us out of this crisis and protect residents from the incoming economic downturn.
Currently, San Mateo County has issued a temporary ban on evictions that ends on August 31st. I support banning all evictions in this city for the duration of the pandemic, except in cases that are due to violence, threats of violence, and health and safety issues. Now is the time for us as a community to support each other. Our city must provide rental and mortgage payment assistance to tenants, small landlords, and small businesses. We must support the working families of South San Francisco and those who have been hurt the most during this pandemic, especially those who have not been able to work or find work.
A child’s most important and formative years are before they enter the K-12 system. An early education is essential to the development of each and every child. States that have implemented universal preschool have shown a wealth of benefits that expand beyond school readiness and include better attendance, fewer behavioral problems, and improved motor development. Currently in South San Francisco, the waitlist for preschool is 3-4 years long, and that is unacceptable. Every parent that wishes to send their child to preschool must be able to do so. This is an investment that will pay dividends by decreasing the need for remedial education and criminal justice intervention down the line.
We must also expand the availability of childcare as well as before and after-school care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how important it is for essential workers to be able to make sure that their child is being cared for while they are working. Increased access and affordability to childcare will help relieve the pressure of working families and ensure that our youth can focus on education and play.
South City and the wider Bay Area is no stranger to its share of police violence. In 2012, 15 year old Derrick Gaines was murdered by SSFPD Joshua Cabillo, who continues to work as a police officer with the SFPD to this very day. In 2014, Errol Chang was experiencing a mental health crisis in Pacifica when the police shot and killed him after a 6 hour long standoff. During those 6 hours, A SWAT vehicle and countless officers were called, but not once was a mental health professional requested. In 2019, poet and father Chinedu Okobi was electrocuted by San Mateo county sheriff’s deputies. Tasers have accounted for over 1000 deaths since 2000.
The United States experiences around 1,000 killings on behalf of police officers every year. In 2020 alone, that number has already risen to over 900. Compared to similar countries, the United Kingdom has 3, Australia has 4, and Canada has 36. There is an undeniable problem with the way in which we conduct our system of public safety in our country. In many cases, police officers present a life-threatening to those involved around them, and our community deserves a safer alternative.
I support removing all $735,000 worth of military equipment from the police force, including the SSFPD’s possession of a militarized tank. South San Francisco is a small city, not a warzone.
I support redirecting a portion of the SSFPD’s budget towards local programs for homelessness, mental health assistance, substance abuse disorder and domestic violence relief. I also support creating an alternative group of first-responders that will attend to non-violent calls for assistance in the South City community. This group will be composed of trained social workers and mental health professionals, who will prioritize de-escalation and the wellbeing and safety of the community. The formation of this group will be similar to the programs proposed in San Francisco and Los Angeles. This new group of first-responders can be funded by the money raised in Measure W. Measure W was passed in South San Francisco in 2016. It is a half-cent tax meant to fund locally controlled City services for the community, and obtains revenue upward of $10 million per year.
The city must also create a police oversight commission composed of community members to ensure that our police department is held accountable. This group will be responsible for analyzing police policies, actions, data, and complaints; and will have the ability to make necessary change in order to ensure that the well being of our community is prioritized. I will also fight to make complaints made against police officers public information.
During my childhood and time in SSFUSD, I witnessed many of my classmates and friends forced to move away due to the rising costs of living in South San Francisco. This struggle exists especially among seniors and immigrant families who have lived in the Bay Area for much of their life. I’ve seen firsthand family friends who have retired, realized they could no longer afford to live in the Bay Area, and returned back to their home countries that they once left.
Over the past 20 years, the cost of living in the Bay Area has risen by almost 60% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This rapid increase is intensified by the major jobs-housing imbalance in the Bay Area, which also contributes to a lower quality of life and increased environmental impact.
Currently, our city has a 15% requirement for affordable housing in new developments. This is not enough. As a city council member, I will prioritize protecting the residents of this city. We must support the development of affordable housing in this city, so that residents who have spent most of their lives as members in our community no longer have to worry about whether or not they can afford to stay.
South San Francisco must also incentivize all neighborhoods to create housing at all levels of affordability so that we can address the historic impact of exclusionary housing practices in our city. There must be a balanced share of housing throughout the city that matches the wages of current residents and does not leave any communities behind.
Climate change is a real and looming threat; and our city must do its part in combating the climate crisis. We must achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
I support banning the use of natural gas in new building construction, similar to the policy in Berkeley. We must also subsidize and encourage the phasing out of natural gas from homes in South City and begin the gradual removal of gas pipelines. Natural gas is not only a large source of carbon emissions, it is a public safety concern as evident by the San Bruno pipeline explosion in 2010.
We must expand the operation of the free South San Francisco shuttle service to decrease our city’s reliance on cars. We must also update our city’s infrastructure to accommodate and make it safer for pedestrians and bikers.
In South San Francisco’s movement away from fossil fuel energy, it must ensure that the transition is equitable and fair for all residents. We must push for green jobs that specifically target the most economically marginalized and those most affected by climate change. Additionally, South San Francisco must encourage the use of community gardens and land trusts to promote autonomy within our community and reduce food insecurity.
I support instructing the city treasurer to divest all of the city’s investments out of the fossil fuel industry. Investments in the fossil fuel industry have proven to be extremely volatile and increasingly risky in addition to being simply immoral. When reinvesting this money, we must follow the principles outlined by 350, and ensure that our investments drive social equity and benefit the community.
I stand with unions and the working class of South San Francisco, and will fight for the rights of all workers. I strongly support collective bargaining and the right to unionize as well as expanding worker protections within the city for both the public and private sectors.
✅Fight for Hazard Pay for essential workers
✅Guarantee paid-sick time for workers who test positive for COVID-19, in both the public and private sectors.
✅Ensure all essential workers are provided with PPE and safe working conditions.
We will fight to:
✅Protect and Expand right to organize laws, and prevent employers from firing workers who try to form unions.
✅Create a living wage for all workers, no matter their immigration status.
✅Ensure retirement security for all workers.
✅Guarantee equal pay for equal work, prevent wage discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion.
✅Guarantee fair wages for service workers and paraprofessionals.
❌End Wage theft, which is responsible for $2 billion in stolen wages in California every year.
❌End sexual harassment in the workplace.
❌Penalize large corporations that engage in predatory practices.
✅Join workers on the picket line.
✅Prioritize unions in city capital projects.
✅Work to expand union membership.
✅Provide more affordable housing with union built housing.
✅Use my platform to defend union power at the federal, state, and local levels.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Magnolia Senior Center has been temporarily closed. The services at the Magnolia Center have been extremely beneficial to the health and wellbeing of seniors in South City. I support fully reopening and funding the Magnolia Senior Center as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, the city should provide online events and services to the senior population of South City, and provide hotspots for individuals who may not have access to reliable internet.
Internet access is no longer something “nice to have,” it is essential for many of today’s day-to-day activities. Especially in the age of COVID-19, virtually all in-person activities have transitioned into an online format. From job applications to conversations with family, and online learning to staying informed with the news, reliable internet access is critical and should be treated as a public utility.
Starting this fall, the students in our city will be experiencing an all-virtual school year. SSFUSD is providing hundreds of hotspots to families of students who do not have reliable internet access. I believe that the city should work with the valuable groundwork that SSFUSD is laying, and develop a permanent network of public broadband, to ensure all our citizens are connected, informed, and able to succeed in our increasingly digital society. Funds from Measure W can be used to help fund this initiative.
When I was a junior at South San Francisco High School, I was lucky enough to secure a paid biotechnology internship with Bayer Berkeley. This was organized through a program led by Biotech Partners, which linked underprivileged high schools with local biotech and pharmaceutical companies. This internship gave me and many other students valuable professional experience, mentorship opportunities, and knowledge of the STEM industry. Unfortunately, this program no longer exists at SSFHS.
I believe that our schools should take full advantage of the opportunities located in the unique environment of our city. With a thriving and growing biotech industry, mutually beneficial partnerships can and should be made between the city, school board, and local biotech companies. This can take the form of matching internships from local biotech companies with SSFUSD high school students. It can also be the development of educational after school programs focused on STEM. Already, our schools have a beneficial relationship with biotechnology courses sponsored by Genentech. All parties stand to gain from these relationships. Our students will be equipped with the knowledge, resources, and professional skills necessary to thrive in the growing biotech industry in South San Francisco and be competitive college applicants. And biotech companies will be provided with a pool of local, skilled, and educated future employees.
As a city councilmember, I will ensure that the voices of the youth in this city are heard and not ignored. The South San Francisco Youth Advisory Council is a 15 member body of youth in the city aged 15-21, yet it still exists as a pilot program with no established charter. In its current form, members lack the power to exercise their first amendment rights and take positions in support of or in opposition to resolutions, ordinances, and other city matters. Yet despite these limitations, members in the YAC have contributed a great amount to the community, including a city-wide anti-bullying campaign, multiple voter registration drives, and hundreds of community service hours. My plan as a city councilor will be to officialize the formation of YAC into the city, give the council power to present at city council meetings like other city commissions already do, and allow the council to take stances on city issues as a collective group.
As a city we must stand up against all forms of racism and hate. By increasing affordable housing, seeking alternatives to public safety, and investing in our youth through job programs, we can make tangible strides to undo the effects of historical racial prejudice and disenfranchisement in our city.
We must create and maintain a very necessary dialogue between the SSFUSD School Board and the City Council. The matters of the city council cannot be divorced from the matters of the school board. The two groups must work closely together to ensure the wellbeing of the children as well as the broader community in South City.
I support expanding SamTrans operations to increase connectivity throughout the city. I support expanding the service of the free shuttle program in South City, specifically connecting the East and West sides of the city. Making public transportation more accessible and reliable will have multiple positive impacts on our community, such as reducing traffic, decreasing carbon emissions, and improving autonomy and job opportunities for our residents who do not have access to a car.
South San Francisco has recently transitioned to district voting with a first-past-the-post system. I support establishing a system of ranked choice voting (RCV) in this city. This system would allow voters to rank choices in their order of preference in a given election. RCV would allow for more choices for voters, encourage a more diverse set of candidates with new ideas, promote majority support, and eliminate the spoiler effect and ‘strategic voting’ of races that are between more than 2 candidates.
I do not accept campaign contributions from private developers, corporations, or fossil fuel companies. This will ensure that I am accountable to the people that I represent, and not special interests. Elected officials must work to make South San Francisco more livable for our residents, not private developers.