SAN FRANCISCO — Ten of the 11 candidates for District 3 supervisor met for a town hall debate sponsored by the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway in lower Nob Hill on June 16.
The community board of the district — encompassing Chinatown, North Beach, Polk Gulch, Nob and Russian Hills, the Financial District and Fisherman’s Wharf — asked the candidates about the issues affecting the area, which is one of the most densely populated Asian Pacific American neighborhoods with approximately 31,957 Asian Pacific American residents comprising 49 percent of its residents.
All the candidates addressed the problem of homelessness in the area. According to the city’s most recent homeless report in January 2007, District 3’s homeless population has consistently been high, although not as high as District 6 (Tenderloin/SoMa/ Civic Center). District 3 had 206 homeless people at the time of the count, while District 6 had 1,239 homeless people.
David Chiu, a former assistant district attorney and one of the members of Founding Leadership Team in the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association, said that the community and city cannot provide programs without accountability. “I am supportive of affordable housing,” Chiu said.
Claudine Cheng, a director on the board of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, said the city must work alongside residents and the district to combat the problem of homelessness.
Wilma Pang, a Chinatown community activist, proposed that the community, including herself, speak with the homeless in order to better understand their needs.
Joseph Alioto Jr. suggested increasing police presence on the streets. “I am a big supporter of increasing the police force, adding 150 more police in the budget,” Alioto said.
Another trend in the district is the decline of small businesses, which are being hit by a mix of high overhead costs, taxes and lower amounts of foot traffic.
“I want to see that regulations are squarely applied and policies are reviewed,” Cheng said.
Chiu promised to help “city contracts get back to San Francisco” and said he sees potential in diversifying business.
Pang proposed looking into tourism “to strengthen small business.” Tourism brought in an estimated $8.2 billion citywide in 2007.
When asked about strategies to fight crime, all three APA candidates strongly endorsed using law enforcement, though Chiu also supports a reform to police station locations. They also support a collaboration between law enforcement and the community to reduce crime.
“The community needs to work with the police department and conduct a series of meetings on how the residents can solve it,” Pang said.
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