November 3rd is fast approaching, and if you live in District 3, you've been inundated with campaign materials. Everything from door hangers and mailers, to personalized phone calls and local TV ad spots have been taking over your daily life. With companies like AirBnB throwing huge amounts of dollars at Prop F, the general election might as well be up for sale. Major local news outlets have basically ignored any candidates who aren't incumbent like Mayor Lee, unless you happen to be Aaron Peskin, the challenger for the District 3 seat currently occupied by Mayor-appointed Julie Christensen.
The Peskin-Christensen race has been intense. District 3 is one of the largest districts in The City, and is made up of North Beach, Chinatown, the Financial District, Telegraph Hill, the Northern Waterfront, Nob Hill, Union Square, and part of Russian Hill. The district is diverse, and both candidates have gotten creative/desperate with their tactics. Over the weekend it seems both Christensen and Peskin peppered the neighborhood with door hangers, which quickly made their way off of doors and gates and onto the sidewalk and streets. I'm sure plenty also went directly into the blue bins.
TV ads would have you believe that both candidates are evil, and voting for the other would mean evictions, crime, and neighborhood suicide. What these shameless attack ads fail to grasp are some of the main issues plaguing the district. Eviction is an enormous and sad problem, and goes hand-in-hand with the lack of affordability in The City. Neither of these issues, although important, could be solved by a single City Supervisor--a long-term solution needs to be brokered by The City as a whole. Affordable housing, public transit improvements, homelessness, and crime all need to be addresses. These aren't short-term problems, and don't have short-term solutions.
In District 3, some of the issues I come face to face with on a daily basis have gotten pretty much ignored this election season. Garbage, which is a huge problem in San Francisco in general (you might remember Dolores Park getting trashed earlier this year), is also a disgusting problem in District 3. I walk though Chinatown on my way to work everyday, and am constantly amazed by the amount of refuse littering the sidewalks, gutters, alleys and streets. When it rains, the disgusting mess rushes towards storm drains and sewers and the streets begin to flood. When it doesn't rain, The City reeks. I can't tell you how many times I've had to walk around holding a piece of trash while looking for a trash can. You'd think that the richest city in America would be able to afford enough trash cans so people don't feel the need to litter, and enough public works employees to make sure the trash cans actually get emptied, but that's not the case.
You might also think that as candidates for supervisor, both Christensen and Peskin would have taken notice of this problem, and maybe chosen not to create more garbage in the neighborhood. Apart from the door hangers that showed up this weekend, I get campaign flyers in the mail daily, and our household gets a few of each. Couldn't we have skipped this step? Does a flyer or door hanger actually make someone vote for or against something? I guess we'll see!
Littering and dumping codes need to be actively enforced with fines for business and individuals caught in the act. The neighborhood needs to be made aware of the free city program to collect a set number of large items from each household per year. There's no need to abandon old mattresses, broken furniture and your crappy television curbside. The City really will pick it up for free!
Trash and sanitation aren't the scariest or most important issue, but they should be issues that are easily solvable. The City as a whole is facing many more difficult issues, and if we can't make our home less disgusting, how do we plan on making it more affordable? How will we keep working families from being displaced? How will we continue to draw artists, writers, hopefuls and dreamers? How will we ensure that the best parts of San Francisco survive?
The message here is that even though this election isn't tied to a larger, national presidential race, you should care, and you should vote. I'm not trying to tell you who to vote for, but I am telling you to do some research. The City is changing quickly. People and businesses that have called this beautiful collection of hills on the edge of the continent home are being forced to leave. The skyline is changing. None of this is inherently bad, but taken together the changes are immense. If you don't take the time to take notice and take action now, it might be too late.
To quote mayoral candidate Broke Ass Stuart:
"This is a city that’s always opened our arms to everybody. If you want to be here, be here. But be here. Be part of us. Get out in the streets, walk to work, take Muni, see who your neighbors are, and vote. And vote. More importantly, don’t be a dick. Especially when it comes to social issues. The people on the streets—they’re people. Don’t write nasty things about them that go viral and make you have to leave town.
Be a human and try to think about others. It’s hard because you get a lot of people who are very young, making a lot of money, and they don’t have ... life hasn’t shown them enough yet. I think we just need to bridge that gap, and that’s what we’re trying to do."
Are you planning to vote? What issues do you feel are being ignored?