District 3 - S.F.’s hottest supervisorial raceSan Francisco Chronicle
September 18, 2008
Of all the hotly contested campaigns for seats on the Board of Supervisors this November, the race to replace termed-out board President Aaron Peskin in District Three will likely be one of the most watched.
The district, which covers many of San Francisco’s most famous neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Nob Hill, North Beach and Telegraph Hill, features more major candidates than any other race and promises to be the most expensive.
The district is one of three where the winner’s political leanings will have a significant impact on the future direction of the board. And observers say it is the hardest contest to predict a victor.
"It’s one of the most difficult districts to divine because it consists of three of San Francisco’s most well-defined and well-identified neighborhoods," said Alex Clemens, president of Barbary Coast Consulting, which is not affiliated with any of the candidates. "There are extraordinarily different constituencies separated, in some instances, by a single city block."
Candidates running for the office are participating in debates and forums almost weekly and sparring over what they generally agree are the major issues facing the district: development, public safety and quality of life.
Peskin, who was elected eight years ago as part of a coalition that promised to challenge the pro-development policies of then-Mayor Willie Brown, said the next supervisor will need the fortitude to balance development with the character of the district, especially North Beach.
"The issues are remarkably complicated, both politically and legally, in District Three," Peskin said.
Several candidates are running hard against Peskin’s record on development, claiming he has suffocated the ability of developers to build in the neighborhood at places like the abandoned Pagoda Theater site. They also accuse the supervisor of discouraging new businesses from locating in the district.
"I want to change the business climate completely to a positive, engaged, healthy and vibrant district," said Lynn Jefferson, a vociferous critic of Peskin. "There is no dialogue with the current supervisor, and so what do we have? Empty buildings."
Candidate Claudine Cheng said she would not describe the environment as hostile, but, "I would say it is not business friendly. It can be more business friendly."
David Chiu, who is endorsed by Peskin, said the city needs to do more, especially for small businesses.
"San Francisco creates numerous disincentives to create jobs and nurture the small business community," Chiu said.
All the candidates express concern about crime and the problem of weekend chaos on Broadway after bars and clubs close. Many suggested changes at the Entertainment Commission, which oversees clubs in the city.
"Broadway used to be a great entertainment zone and it still is, but it is overrun by an edgier type of crowd on the weekend. The maitre d’ at Enrico’s on Saturday night wears a bulletproof vest," Joseph Alioto Jr. said. "The clubs are not taking enough responsibility, and the Entertainment Commission has not enforced the law."
Every candidate also puts priority on combatting homelessness and improving the area’s quality of life, including creating more open and green spaces in the district. District Three is the most densely populated district in San Francisco and also has the least open space.
Denise McCarthy said she would like more parks in the district and believes more projects could move forward if the city sought private funds.
"Clearly the Recreation and Park Department does not have the money to do a lot of new projects, but with community support and will, it makes it much more easily done," she said.
See this article in the San Francisco Chronicle