In early January, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee will appoint a District 3 supervisor to replace David Chiu. One candidate stands out: the current President of the San Francisco Planning Commission, Cindy Wu.
Wu is far and away the best choice. She has strong support in the district, and has proven a highly proficient member of the Planning Commission. Like prior D3 supervisors , Wu strongly supports tenants rights. This is a critical issue in a district where far too many residents are still being targeted by speculator evictions.
Wu’s strong support for Ellis Act reform and Prop G, the anti-speculator tax, makes her a perfect D3 representative, but her support for tenants has also spawned an out of district led pressure campaign urging the mayor not to appoint her. This pressure is coming from some of the same forces in the Chinese-American community that opposed Mayor Lee’s Ellis Act reform bill earlier this year.
Wu’s opponents do not care about what’s good for the mayor or D3 residents. They simply want to stop a strong pro-tenant voice from joining the Board of Supervisors in January.
The Politics of D3
The mayor’s appointee to D3 faces elections in both 2015 and 2016. This is a district in which tenant issues are far more prominent in the past. The winner of these elections will be at least as pro-tenant if not more so than prior D3 Supes Aaron Peskin and David Chiu.
If the real estate interests urging Lee to reject Wu got their way, Lee’s appointee would lack tenant support next November. That would give Aaron Peskin’s closest political ally, Jon Golinger, who has already stated his plans to run, a nearly 100% chance to winning in November.
Peskin is the media’s go to guy for quotes critical of Mayor Lee. So why would anyone looking out for the mayor’s interests want to ensure the election of Peskin’s closest ally?
It looks like these real estate interests opposing Wu are betraying the mayor’s interests for their own agenda. If they cared about what is best for the mayor, they would urge him to support Cindy Wu because she will defeat Aaron Peskin’s candidate in November.
Wu’s Outstanding Record
Cindy Wu has worked at the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) since 2007. She has built and supervised a team that has greatly enhanced CCDC’s participatory planning. Wu has ensured that planning for the community is coming from the grassroots as Chinatown negotiates the tricky path of remaining a cultural hub for residents, regional Asian Americans, and tourists.
Wu has a track record of getting things done for D3. She worked with Rec & Park and DPW to win a new, $21 million building for the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center. She helped secure $1.5 million for the renovation of Wentworth, Beckett and Cooper Alleys, and $800,000 for the first “green alley” in Chinatown on Spofford Alley.
At a time when pedestrian safety has become a top city issues, Wu conducted a community based planning process for “complete street” pedestrian safety project on Broadway. She helped secure $7 million for construction, which will begin next year. She also advocated for the Central Subway, an important investment for the future of Chinatown, both for residents to access jobs in the city and region and for getting visitors to come to Chinatown.
Wu’s work on Broadway and efforts to stop Ellis evictions in North Beach and other parts of D3 shows that her community involvement goes well beyond Chinatown. Her tenure on the Planning Commission has exposed her to issues across the city. Once appointed, she would immediately become the Board’s leading expert on land use issues, bringing a level of expertise that has been lacking among the Supervisors in recent years.
Wu’s Support Among Lee’s Base
Mayor Lee’s Chinatown base overwhelmingly and enthusiastically supports Wu’ s appointment. The Community Tenants of Chinatown (CTA) is among the mayor’s core supporters. It is prepared to mount all out grassroots campaigns for both the mayor’s re-election in November and Cindy Wu’s election on the same ballot.
Nobody looking out for the mayor’s interests would encourage him to make a D3 appointment that deflates the enthusiasm of CTA and other loyal supporters. The out of district real estate interests opposing her did everything in their power to defeat the mayor’s Ellis Act reform bill; there’s no reason the mayor should now reward their disloyalty by rejecting Cindy Wu.
Cindy Wu will hit the ground running. She has the passion and work ethic to win the two campaigns she would have to run in 2015 and 2016.
Mayor Lee will best serve his own political interests, the needs of D3 and the broader values of San Francisco by appointing Cindy Wu to the Board.
Randy Shaw is Editor of Beyond Chron.
San Francisco News