A People’s Economic Vision for San Francisco

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The Guardian Forum: Issues for the next mayor

Announcing a series of panel discussions and participatory debates framing the progressive issues for the mayor’s race and beyond
Issue One: Economy, Jobs and the Progressive Agenda

  • Calvin Welch, Council of Community Housing Organizations
  • Fernando Marti, Community planner; Community Congress 2010
  • Lenny Goldberg, economist and founder, California Tax Reform Association
  • Shaw San Liu, Chinese Progressive Association

June 9th • 6 pm – 8 pm
University of San Francisco Lone Mountain Campus, Room LM 100
Turk & Balboa, Accessible on the 31 Balboa • Mobility Assistance Available

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The Guardian Forum: Issues for the next mayor

Upcoming programs:
June 9: Economy, Jobs and the Progressive Agenda
June 21: Budget, Healthcare and Social Services
July 14: Tenants, Housing and Land Use
July 28: Immigration, Education and Youth
Aug. 25: Environment, Energy and Climate Change

• Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
• San Francisco Tenants Union
• SEIU Local 1021
• San Francisco Rising
• San Francisco Human Services Network
• Council of community housing organizations
• Community congress 2010
• Center for Political Education

All events are free. Sessions will include substantial time for audience participation and discussion.
Please join us!

Guardian Forum 2011

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Tonight at the Grassroots Democratic Club

With the recent developments from the Federal Congress to our own Board of Supervisors, we are challenged to think big and differently, to develop a new relationship between communities and local government. The 2010 Community Congress sought to redefine the role of local government towards an idea of the public sector as an economic starter in local communities, using public resources to create economic opportunities in the hardest-hit communities of our city, and to stimulate locally-based economic alternatives.

The Community Congress hits the ground running in 2011, with a round of outreach, feedback, and refinement, as we prepare for the upcoming budget and revenue battles and the Mayoral elections of 2011.

Please join us for our first presentation of the year with the Grassroots Democratic Club, tonight, Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 6:00 pm, at Dolores Street Community Services (938 Valencia Street).

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Community Congress Action Agenda

Downloadable PDF: SF Community Congress 2010 – Immediate Action Agenda


The 2010 Community Congress engaged hundreds of San Franciscans from diverse corners of the city, who united to craft a platform for proactive progressive change. Our goals are ambitious yet practical, and vitally needed in this historic moment: San Francisco is saddled with double-digit unemployment, deepening inequality and entrenched homelessness, structural budget deficits, and an unsustainable and inequitable model of economic development.

As progressives, we are firmly committed to preserving the social, racial, and economic diversity of San Francisco; to the principles of social equity and inclusion; and to ensuring that those who currently live in San Francisco can remain here. The proposals that emerged from a 9-month process, culminating in a weekend-long Congress this August, are motivated by the desire to fundamentally transform and democratize the relationship between people and their government. Through this revitalization of the public sector and other means, we aim to expand economic opportunity for low- and middleincome people, working class and immigrant families, and the artists and other creative workers who contribute to the richness and living history of San Francisco.

We are aware that we need a proactive movement that says “yes,” instead of “no.” So this August hundreds of San Franciscans adopted an inspiring platform of politically actionable proposals, ranging from the creation of a municipal bank and worker-owned co-ops, to robust expansions of affordable housing and local hiring, to reshaping the city’s health and human services delivery system. We invite you to read the full platform and join this evolving dialogue — just the beginning of our longterm effort to transform and reshape the San Francisco policy landscape in favor of economic and social justice and truly community-driven planning and development. Our goal is no less than to create a lasting, broad-based, representative movement to democratize San Francisco’s economy, policy-making, and politics.

Please join us.


1. Establish a Municipal Bank of San Francisco.

2. Establish a publicly owned Municipal Development Corporation to undertake large-scale production of goods and services.

3. Create a Charter-based “San Francisco Health and Human Services Authority” to ensure that our public sector and community-based service system meets the needs of vulnerable populations by conducting long-term comprehensive program and fiscal planning, developing and implementing all health and human service policy including controlling the budget, and monitoring and holding accountable all relevant parties in the service delivery arena.

4. Reform the Rent Board Commission to increase tenant representation and give Supervisors an equal share of Commission appointments.

5. Pass the Right to Remain Act to protect public housing residents’ rights during Hope SF redevelopment.

6. Amend San Francisco’s General Plan to link approvals of new market-rate housing construction to the creation of needed permanently affordable housing and include affordability as a criteria in classifying transit-oriented development.

7. Direct a portion of developer fees on downtown buildings to support community arts.

8. Consolidate existing municipal arts programs into a new Department of Cultural Affairs.

9. Direct City departments to prioritize worker cooperatives when purchasing goods and services.

10. Require all future approvals of large-scale development projects to pay the local living wage, follow local hiring mandates, and provide funding to local worker center organizations to conduct oversight of fair hiring and remuneration standards.

11. Step up implementation of San Francisco’s Transit First policy by enforcing transit-only lanes on congested arterials during the morning commute.

12. Use local hiring programs to employ loaders at heavily-used Muni stops during certain times of the day to facilitate rear-door loading and encourage people to move to the backs of buses.

13. Concentrate on optimizing the effectiveness of Muni’s 70 existing lines by such actions as eliminating the many obstacles to consistent, reliable service.

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Towards a Progressive Agenda for SF

A Progressive Vision for the November Elections and Beyond

Wednesday, September 22nd, 6:30-8:30pm
522 Valencia St. (Btw 16th St. and 17th St.)

What is our progressive vision for an economically just city? How do electoral strategies play into the broader movement for building grassroots power, developing people’s consciousness, and creating more democratic structures? Will progressives be in a position to shape the mayoral race in 2011?

“Towards a Progressive Agenda for San Francisco” will bring together San Francisco Rising, SF Jobs with Justice, and the “New Deal for the City” Community Congress, to engage in a lively roundtable discussion about how these projects complement each other, in the context of the city’s ongoing fiscal crisis, the November 2010 elections, and beyond. We will discuss, among other topics, progressive revenue measures in November; developing labor-community alliances through Jobs with Justice, a platform for low-wage workers; the Congress’s economic development and budget reform agenda, and bringing a progressive vision to the critical District races in 6, 8, 10. Finally, we will hit some tough questions about developing strategies for common work, keeping elected officials accountable, and looking to the future. Panelists include:

• Chelsea Boilard and others with San Francisco Rising, an electoral alliance comprised of Chinese Progressive Association, Coleman Advocates, the Day Labor Program, Filipino Community Center, Just Cause::Causa Justa, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, People Organized to Win Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER), and People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), and South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN);
• Gordon Mar with SF Jobs with Justice; and
• Debbi Lerman and Calvin Welch with SF Community Congress, which convened in August 2010 to develop a locally actionable legislative agenda that might be taken up by progressive candidates for Supervisor in 2010 and Mayor in 2011.
• Shaw San Liu with SF Progressive Worker Alliance, an alliance of low-wage worker organizations in San Francisco, including Chinese Progressive Association, the Day Labor Program and Women’s Collective, Filipino Community Center, Pride at Work, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), and Young Workers United.

This is the second in an ongoing CPE series on building a San Francisco progressive agenda, following our July 2009 event about the history of District Elections and the broader movement to shape a progressive agenda.

$5-$10 Donation Requested. No one turned away for lack of funds. 522 Valencia St. is not wheelchair accessible.

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San Francisco left seeks to channel spirit of ’75

From SF Public Press: http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2010-08/san-francisco-left-seeks-to-channel-spirit-of-%E2%80%9975

By Mineko Brand, SF Public Press — Aug 17 2010

It could have been the plot of a science fiction novel, or perhaps “Rip Van Winkle.” Thirty-five years after its first meeting, the Community Congress awakens in 2010 to find its city and the world transformed — and perhaps a new reason for being.

Many things in San Francisco have changed since the first such gathering in 1975. The first Community Congress was held that June and is credited for several major political changes to the city, including rent control and district elections.

Some of the same participants of the first meeting, as well as ample new blood, convened over the weekend at the University of San Francisco to hammer out what they called a progressive platform for a more just, equitable and sustainable city.

The list of problems was long: Muni, healthcare, affordable housing and tenant rights. A few solutions: promote cooperative businesses, establish a health and human services authority, reform the rent board to increase tenant representation, establish a municipal bank and place buses in separate transit-only lanes.

Only a few veterans from the first congress attended, including Diamond Dave Whitaker, the ubiquitous left-wing poet and self-described “local gadfly” (and one of the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s local heroes for 2010),  and Calvin Welch, co-founder of the Council of Community Housing Organizations. Welch was on the planning committee for both meetings.

1975 was a mayoral election year in San Francisco. Welch recalls that Mayor Joseph Alioto had been turned out, but not before presiding over an urban renewal program that displaced large numbers of low-income and minority residents. A host of problems plagued the city, including high unemployment, holes in the social safety net and high rent and property taxes. Welch and his collaborators wanted to coordinate a movement of liberals who represented a wide variety of backgrounds, expertise and communities. The conference drew one particularly high-profile attendee: George Moscone, who went on to win the mayoral race that year, taking office in 1976.

“We conceived of a process that would start around issue areas and then lead to a citywide community congress with the notion of bringing those folks together to agree on a common program,” Welch said of the 1975 inception. “We very self-consciously set out to try to create a network of people and a dialogue.”

District elections of supervisors were the centerpiece of this effort.

In early 2009 Welch and his late colleague Rene Cazenave began talking with people who had institutional bases in important sectors of the city to see if they could take the time to put another community congress together. It took more than six months of discussions.

Welch said the goal was to build trust and working relationships, and by those measures, things went well. There were no fistfights or major disagreements, and they even agreed on a platform.

But although the conference attracted about 220 people over the two days, some participants questioned how representative the group was of San Francisco as a whole, and how much momentum they were able to generate.

Welch expressed disappointment at the number of people and organizations that did not attend. No one is calling this a movement, instead saying the ideas are still in the inception stages, and that the real outcomes are contingent.

“The goal is to get people from different organizations to agree on a platform, and use it in the mayoral race,” said Corey Cook, a professor of political science at the University of San Francisco. “There’s some really smart people in the room.”

Photo by Mineko Brand/SF Public Press. Jabrim Raven Allen of the Good Neighbor Coalition presents his ideas before the economic develpoment panel facilitated by Karl Beitel, an analyst for the American Federation of Teachers, and Fernando Marti of Asian Neighborhood Design. Photo by Mineko Brand/SF Public Press.

Diamond Dave Whitaker, local San Francisco leftist poet and Pirate Cat Radio host, takes a moment to spin some rhymes between panels on Saturday. Photo by Mineko Brand/SF Public Press.

Calvin Welch, one of the lead organizers of the event, checked people in all day Saturday. Photo by Mineko Brand/SF Public Press.

About the Author

Mineko Brand's picture

Mineko is interested in issues relating to social justice, underserved populations and local grassroots movements. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley in English and Anthropology, and currently studies journalism, photo and video at the City College of San Francisco.

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