San Francisco Community Equity Advisory Council Meetings

About

The San Francisco Community Equity Advisory Council is a group of community leaders dedicated to addressing racial and social equity.

Below is a record of meeting information.

May 18, 2021 Meeting Summary

Council members

Present: Tiffany Carter, Majeid Crawford, Norma Garcia, Oscar Grande, Mahsa Hakimi, Raquel Redondiez (first part of the meeting), Del Seymour, Mary Travis-Allen, Ben Wong, Malcolm Yeung.

Absent: Lara Kiswani.

Facilitator: Mary Travis-Allen

Staff: Tameeka Bennett, Miriam Chion, Rich Hillis, Deborah Sanders (first part of the meeting)

Topic: This was the first session of the Community Equity Advisory Council. It was focused on getting to know each other, defining the common ground for difficult dialogues, and sharing perspectives on the harms experienced by communities of color and the paths towards real solutions.

1. Introductions – First image or memory of San Francisco
  • The love and womb of my mother when I was born at the San Francisco General Hospital
  • The streets of San Francisco from my stroller
  • The Cow Palace and how I thought it was only for cows
  • Black drivers at the airport and a Jim-Crow city
  • Water fountain on Market Street
  • Female Chinese cop directing traffic
  • Golden Gate Bridge and diverse people in a film casting session
  • Vibrant Black communities in Bayview, Fillmore, Lakeview
  • Deadheads gathering at Haight and Ashbury
  • Vistas and divides from Garfield School’s hill
  • Excelsior and Mission Streets and Geneva Drive-In
2. Common ground
  • Speak your truth and allow others to speak theirs
  • Judgement into curiosity
  • Ask the hard questions
  • Intentional listening
  • Experience discomfort
  • We disagree with ideas and what's spoken, not people
  • No one knows everything, but together we know a lot
  • Proactivity to ensure transparency
3. Growing forward together Discussion

Questions

  1. What harms do you feel your communities have suffered with the development of the city over time? How have our historic and current policies pushed communities of color and low-income communities out of the city and constrained access to housing, jobs, and health?
  2. How can we begin building trust in our communities while making changes in our government policies and institutions?
Discussion Summary:

Invisible communities: Many of our communities are invisible to our city, to White people, to our economy. Many people don’t know what American Indians look like. The American Indian community had to challenge the City even on the counting of its population, changing the number from 0.3 to 1.1 percent. People of color in the gay community are non-existent. Black people are not present in many jobs (construction, financial), in many neighborhoods (Sunset, Richmond). The middle-income young black people are dismissed. Even in supposedly ‘successful’ Asian and gay communities, the number of extremely low-income Chinese in Chinatown are not recognized and people of color have no art expressions in the Castro. We also wondered where the Asian community fits in this conversation.

The city doesn’t love me back: We give so much to the city, we organize people, we support our youth and elders, we do many jobs. We love the city so much, but the city doesn’t love us back. We don’t recognize the city where we grew up, the city where makers and bakers could rent or buy a house in San Francisco, a city with black people in Fillmore. Families, workers and middle-income people are pushed out of the city because they cannot afford the rent or buy a house. San Francisco gave birth to the Anti-Chinese movement and our low-income Chinese in Chinatown are at risk of displacement today.

Planning doesn’t connect with people: Planning is boring. Who is studying urban planning? We are not represented nor validated in this field. Future generations have no room in planning. We were arrested at Planning because we spoke about our traumas.

We are here to act and to change: We are not here to just talk. We are tired of telling stories of traumas without response. We don’t want to have one more meeting to just talk. We are tired of talking about harm, we want to talk about solutions. We need new policies that bring something new that can work, we need structural changes, and we need to challenge the legal structure. We need race-based policies. We need to see support from Supervisors and the Mayor. Our work should include the following tasks:

  • Addressing economic equity is essential; we need jobs and wealth building for our communities
  • We need to bring people back
  • We need to retain families and open opportunities for youth.
  • We need to address very pressing issues like the upcoming eviction cliff
  • Make space for middle-income families and young people

June 1, 2021 Meeting Summary

Council Members Present:  Majeid Crawford, Norma Garcia, Oscar Grande, Mahsa Hakimi, Lara Kiswani, Raquel Redondiez, Del Seymour, Mary Travis-Allen, Ben Wong, Malcolm Yeung 
Council Members Absent:  Tiffany Carter
Staff Present:  Miriam Chion, Kimia Haddadan, Rich Hillis, Deborah Sanders
Facilitator:  Majeid Crawford 

Topic: This meeting was focused on how to define priorities and deliberations and a short briefing of the Housing Element in preparation for discussion at subsequent meeting.

1.    Opening

Majeid provided a strong opening recognizing the challenging realities of communities of color, confronting White supremacy and the need for substantial work.  Mahsa read the acknowledgement of the Ramaytush Ohlone Land. Miriam provided a summary of the May 18, 2021 meeting.

2.    Defining Paths of Change

Overview 
Key Priority Projects for Council deliberation and consideration:
•    Housing Element (Jun/Oct):  Housing American Indian, Black and other communities of color 
•    Recovery Strategies (Jul):  Investing in key community priorities 
•    Equity Plan (Aug):  Equity in land use decisions and investments 
•    Planning Budget (Sep):  Resources to priority geographies 
•    Community Engagement (Nov):  Expanding community voices and implementing equity strategies 
Deliberation process  
•    Focus on priorities that lead to actual change 
•    Moving towards consensus, acknowledging differences 
•    Recognize priority of American Indian and Black communities, while creating a collective platform for communities of color 
•    Each meeting on priority projects will close with specific strategies/actions 
Sharing advice with community and city leaders  
•    Staff to post summary of deliberation on webpage  
•    Council to share summaries with community networks 
•    Planning Director to brief Planning Commission and Supervisors 
•    Staff to integrate advice into policies and strategies proposals
Questions for Discussion by the Council:
•    Can this structure lead to equity outcomes? 
•    Are council members supported for good deliberations? 

Discussion summary

Housing is a priority: Housing is a pressing issue and needs attention.  Addressing the Housing Element first makes sense because of the housing challenges.  We should check the timelines of various projects and understand their interconnections.
Equity council to define the equity priorities: We need a better understanding of each of the five priorities and assess their value before agreeing to the schedule.  We need to bring community voices in defining these priorities. We need to deliberate and decide the key priorities as well as how to approach each project.  We need to assess the discussion of the Housing Element. Equity Council cannot be another check box used by City staff to get community credit.  We do not want to follow the staff’s agenda.  We want to set the equity agenda.  Staff needs to provide information, support for meetings, and coordination with other City agencies.  Staff needs to provide more information on the priority projects. 
Concerns about the Housing Element: Does this Housing Element have teeth?  Is this another plan that has no impact on community resources or negatively impacts communities of color?  How does the Housing Element of other General Plan Elements provide policy direction? Can we review models from other cities and their use of their housing plans for community equity? We cannot be supporting a plan that will displace our people.  We have been underrepresented in many plans.  We have seen other plans like SOMA with good ideas but without resources.  We need to make sure that the Housing Element is a plan with metrics that keeps the City accountable for equity outcomes.  We are concerned about the High Opportunity framing because it can lead to disinvestment in existing communities of color. We already see cities like San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland receiving only a small allocation of State funding..
Addressing diversity within the Planning Department: We need to discuss the representation of communities of color within the Planning Department.  The lack of diversity at the top is a pattern across City agencies.  We need to see how the Equity Plan can address this issue.

3.    Housing Element Briefing

Overview of schedule, draft policies structure, and community engagement
Discussion: Concerns about the high opportunity framing.  Additional session to review  Housing Element content.

4.    Next Steps

•    Staff to send information on five priority projects and hard copies of Housing Element packet to council members 
•    Staff to schedule supplemental session to review Housing Element content
•    Mary, Raquel, Oscar, Del & Malcolm will collaborate to develop agenda for next meeting
•    Next meeting:  June 15, 5:30-7pm
 

June 15, 2021 Meeting Summary

Council Members Present:  Tiffany Carter, Majeid Crawford, Norma Garcia, Oscar Grande, Mahsa Hakimi, Lara Kiswani, Raquel Redondiez, Del Seymour (first part of the meeting), Mary Travis-Allen, Ben Wong (first part of the meeting), Malcolm Yeung 
Council Members Absent:  None 
City Staff Present:  Tameeka Bennett, Miriam Chion, Kimia Haddadan, Eric Shaw (for Housing Element discussion) 
Facilitator:  Norma Garcia 
Topic: This meeting was focused on discussion of priorities and discussion of Housing Element draft policies. 

1. Opening 

Norma invited people to introduce themselves by sharing their favorite place in San Francisco.  She read the acknowledgement of the Ramaytush Ohlone Land, reviewed the common ground and the agenda. 

2. Discussion of priorities for Equity Council 

Overview  

Miriam provided an overview of equity concerns and potential Planning and City projects as a framework of discussion to define the agenda for July and future Equity Council meetings. 

Equity concerns: Based on the preliminary round of Equity Council consultations, first two Equity Council meetings, and additional individual input from Equity Council members over the past week, staff summarized equity concerns under the following three equity areas: access to land and housing, access to jobs and wealth, and support for community resources.  In addition, Equity Council members have emphasized the need for institutional changes to bring community voices to local government and access to decision making.  

Potential Planning and City Projects: Staff proposed three projects to address institutional changes, Communication Strategy, Equity Plan, and Planning Budget.  Staff also proposed three major efforts with high potential for equity changes in policies, strategies, legislation and investments, which include the Housing Element, Recovery Strategies, and Cultural and Community Strategies. 

Questions: 
  • What are the core equity challenges? ​ 
  • What are the Planning/City projects that can best address core equity challenges? 
  • ​What would be the agenda for July? 
Discussion summary 

Collective decisions that recognize differences among communities: The Equity Council needs to deliver collective decisions that address the needs of individual communities.  We need to make space to recognize differences. 

Community exhaustion: Our communities have been working very hard to make change. Our communities are confronting multiple requests to engage and in many cases it is just to check a box. Developers have the resources to sustain their engagement through the planning process.  Our communities are investing much personal time, weeknights and weekends, and it is hard to sustain this work over a long period of time.  Our communities have been explaining the same issues for many years to planners and other City agencies without substantial change. Planners and the City need to be educated, need to understand that this American Indian land was stolen. It is hard for community leaders to ask our people to participate when they don’t see change or change is too small.   

Community ownership: Planning and the City needs to move from community  engagement to community ownership. The City needs to clarify who we are planning for and consider investing in community planners within our communities. We need to know that community recommendations are implemented.  We need planning to move beyond supporting capital investments and focus on our communities. Community knowledge needs to become working knowledge and practice. 

Building bridges of collaboration: Community Equity planners could be effective partners addressing equity.  What does a real collaboration look like? How do we really involve community? How do we defer to community  when making decisions?  How can we bring diversity within the Planning Department? 

Changing racist land use policies in real time: It takes too long for land use policies to change and achieve equity.  Many times city agencies blame the past for the inequities of today without acknowledging we are drafting and implementing racist policies today. 

Political will for bold changes: The city has the resources, we need the will to address equity.  This is the time for bold changes.  This is the time for process and engagement leading with race and color.  Housing can be streamlined in white neighborhoods and neighborhoods for people of color should be protected.  Planning doesn’t have to be bound by capital investments.  Planning can respect, honor and engage our communities 

Agenda for July: (1) Discussion of racial equity issues across the various communities. (2) Discussion of the Equity Plan to address the questions and concerns raised at this meeting.   

3. Housing Element Discussion 

Overview 

Based on the input from Equity Council at the previous two meetings, Tameeka and Kimia provided an introduction to the discussion and presented three questions with some potential actions for discussion under each question.   

  1. What are concrete actions to reverse inequities? 

    • Define share of investment in priority geographies for affordable housing, amenities, and infrastructure 
    • Expand Rental Assistance  
    • Bring back displaced communities through homeownership opportunities 
    • Limit zoning changes to serve American Indian, Black, and other communities of color 
       
  2. How to guide location and type of future housing? 

    • Direct more housing to areas with low rates of recent housing production and higher income 
    • Lower concentration of new housing in priority geographies 
    • Focus on small and medium size housing to serve low to middle-income communities of color 
       
  3. How can we frame our housing policies for communities of color? 

    • Priority tasks, priority communities, and priority geographies 
    • Access to housing and land for communities of color across all neighborhoods  
    • Investments in Priority Geographies 
Discussion of Draft Housing Policies:  

Support jobs and wealth in communities of color: Access to jobs and wealth are essential for our communities to secure appropriate housing. The City should support good jobs and access to homeownership for communities of color.  Small family businesses in communities of color can support wealth building.  PDR can provide good stable wages to support families of color.  These jobs and businesses will support the return of families of color.  City policies need to support space for those businesses and jobs.  Good jobs and good wages for communities of color can allow access to housing.  Access to homeownership in communities of color is also essential to increase stability and build wealth in those communities. 

Make neighborhoods good places to live: The City should connect housing with services and cultural activities.  Housing is about good places with appropriate transit, jobs and other services.  Our communities of color bring cultural practices and traditions that are a valuable asset for our neighborhoods and for the city.  Housing policies need to incorporate these cultural assets and services to support good places and address equity.  

Change legislation to address racial justice: Now is the time to remove the legal barriers to racial equity.  The City needs to give preference to communities of color to ensure displaced people and their families can return to the city.  Housing preference for communities of color should also be expanded from homeownership to rental units.  The City also needs to consider adaptive reuse of office buildings to affordable housing and light manufacturing.  

Focus on retaining our housing in our neighborhoods: There is strength in staying where our communities of color have been able to live for a long time. The City needs to ensure the preservation of existing housing in our neighborhoods through acquisition and rehab, as a task that needs to be implemented in the short term. 

Invest in communities of color and produce housing across all neighborhoods: The City needs to expand investments in communities of color and support housing production across all neighborhoods to reverse historic inequities.  We are concerned the State’s High Opportunity Areas definition can be a vehicle to shift resources away from communities of color.  In this effort, we need to find a language that doesn’t setup an oppositional relationship between communities across neighborhoods. 

Define timing of investments: In the short-term, the City should revise policies to streamline production of housing in exclusive white neighborhoods or High Opportunity Areas without reducing investments for communities of color. The City should also be acquiring land for future affordable housing development across all neighborhoods. In the medium and long-term, the City should focus on services and infrastructure to support communities of color and 100 percent affordable housing. 

Move towards collective ownership: Housing strategies cannot solely focus on community benefits.  We need to address community investments and collective ownership.  We need strategies that allow our communities to invest in our neighborhoods, in our businesses and organizations. 

Clarify equity, priorities and opportunities concepts: We must ensure that concepts are clear and precise.  The City needs to communicate clearly to our communities. We need to ensure that the overall message is clear and that we target specific strategies. 

Next Steps 
  • Equity Plan study session - Second week of July 
  • Next meeting:  July 20 15, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm 

 

 

August 24, 2021 Meeting Summary

Council Members Present:  Tiffany Carter, Majeid Crawford, Norma Garcia, Oscar Grande, Lara Kiswani, Raquel Redondiez, Del Seymour, Mary Travis-Allen, Ben Wong, Malcolm Yeung
Council Members Absent:  Mahsa Hakimi
City Staff Present:  Tameeka Bennett, Miriam Chion, Carla De Mesa, Rich Hillis (Planning Director).
Facilitator:  Del Seymour 
Topic: This meeting was focused on the Equity Council priorities on issues and strategies as well as paths to actions.

1. Opening 

Del welcomed Equity Council members provided some reflections and reminders of the work at hand.  He asked Mary to read the acknowledgement of the Ramaytush Ohlone Land. Del reviewed the common ground and read the agenda.

2. Discussion of priorities for Equity Council 

Rich provided an overview of Goals, Context Resetting, and Planning responses to Equity Council questions.

Based on the Equity Resolutions adopted by the Planning Commission, input from Equity Council members, and Equity Plans, these are the overarching goals to guide the Equity Council’s work: 

  • Focus on low- and middle-income families of color.  

  • Increase the American Indian and the Black population and provide stability to communities of color.  

  • Expand access to resources for low- and middle-income families of color. 

  • Expand participation for American Indian communities, Black communities, and communities of color.

Context Resetting by Equity Council

  1. Today we face a window of opportunity. 

  2. We need to get to work.  

  3. Define specific goals and deliver bold actions in 18 months.

  4. Build trust by working on specific tasks together.

  5. City staff need to define clear paths of influence on decision-making. 

  6. Equity Council will assess how and when to engage with their networks. 

  7. Small groups of Equity Council members and staff need to work in between meetings.  

In response to Equity Council questions, Rich also provided an overview of the Planning Department historic and present inequities and summarize key efforts in the past year:

  • Internal Equity plan: Trainings, budget equity tool, hiring guidelines, creation of Community Equity Division, increasing staff on community engagement and strategies

  • Equity resolutions: Mandates to address racial and social equity by Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission  

  • Interagency: Directors’ meetings focused on addressing equity in housing plan and recovery, interagency collaboration creating the Equity Council

3. Targeting Key issues and Strategies

Miriam summarized the key issues and strategies identified by Equity Council members individually, at previous Equity Council meetings and in their reports.  

Issues

Potential Strategies

Approval and Implementation Plans

Displacement of low- and middle-income communities of color

  • Community stability strategies (i.e., neighborhood preference programs, housing rehab funding)
  • Emergency response – rent stabilization 
  • Support middle-income homeowners 

Policies, Strategies, Regulation:

  • Housing Element
  • Capital Planning
  • MOHCD Funding

Invisibility of communities, marginality, erasure

  • Reframing narratives of communities
  • Data disaggregated by community, challenges, and improvements
  • Expand staff dedicated to Cultural Districts to ensure visibility and coordination
  • Increase opportunities for youth and staff of color in planning

Planning: 

  • Budget
  • Communications and engagement strategy
  • Data team priorities
  • Equity Plan

Interagency:

  • MOHCD/Planning reframing work
  • Recovery Strategies: DPH, MOHCD, OEWD, Planning

Community opportunities are constrained by fragmented City strategies

  • Community clinics that integrate access to health, housing, and jobs
  • Increase accountability on community strategies

Planning: Inventory Reports

 

Interagency:

  • MOHCD/Planning reframing work
  • Recovery Strategies: DPH, MOHCD, OEWD, Planning

Communities of color have limited access to wealth creation, job opportunities

  • Funding for community organizations in all plans
  • Tech coalition to open job opportunities 
  • Access to life science and production jobs
  • Small business coops – Shared Spaces 

Planning: Budget, Work Programs

 

Interagency: 

  • Planning-OEWD Strategy
  • Planning-OEWD-CBOs-Small Biz collaboration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miriam also described the three Pathways to Equity Outcomes:

  1. Proposals for strategies within the Planning Department 

Example: budget for community engagement, staff assignments to communities of color, priority projects

  • Equity Council small group works with staff to draft priority strategies 
  • Deliberation of Equity Council strategies with Planning Director and staff 
  • Commitment from Planning Director 
  • Implementation of strategies 
  • Equity Council share wins with their networks
  1. Proposals for interagency strategies 

Example: Cultural Districts, Neighborhood Preference Programs, small business coops, community clinics

  • Equity Council small group works with staff to draft priority strategies  
  • Planning staff presents Equity Council strategies to City partners 
  • Deliberation of Equity Council strategies with City directors  
  • City agencies’ Director's agreement to implement strategies 
  • Equity Council share wins with their networks
  1. Proposals for city policies, investments, or regulation

Example: Housing Element policies, proposals for affordable housing allocation in City capital planning, Shared Spaces regulation

  • Equity Council small group works with staff to draft priority strategies  
  • Deliberation of Equity Council strategies with City directors and staff 
  • Staff incorporate Equity Council proposals in staff reports 
  • Staff present reports to Mayor, Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors 
  • Equity Council community networks support approval of proposals 
  • Equity Council share wins with their networks

Equity Council Discussion:
The discussion questions below guided small group discussions. Responses were shared out and reflected upon by the entire group: 

  1. Do these issues capture the Equity Council’s core collective challenges?  

  2. What strategies would you want to prioritize under each issue to deliver equity actions within the 18-month window?  

Bringing communities of color to the Planning Department: We want to see more details around recruitment. Planning needs to find creative ways to recruit people of color like going to places in the community you haven’t been before.  We want to know how we get our community into the Planning Department; what is the process? Focus on creating pipelines directly from SFUSD so that our students know what Planning is; focus on pipelines through our universities to the Planning Department. Planners need to be in the community, interacting in the community, hearing a broader voice of the community to inform critical decisions.  Sometimes people of color are hired at the Planning Department as tokens, and they do not represent the community.  The hiring selection panelist have to be uncomfortable with considering someone who don’t talk like them or look like them.

Opening planning possibilities to youth: It is important to build a pipeline of future planners, from tiny kids to youth.  Can we explore a youth advisory council? They will not be setting the tone, but they will understand what the Planning Department does, and they can begin building the communities they want to be in. We need to shape our future by listening to our children’s desires.

Community conversations: How can we work with planners to stop harmful development.  Beyond the long-term plans, we need staff on the ground who understand and collaborate on critical projects that are being built today. The fragmentation of city strategies is an issue that we see time and again preventing the implementation of community organizations’ strategies. Citywide strategies do not always transfer down to the local community; the City needs to also incorporate the community’s solutions in their strategies and plans. The city’s responsibility is to address the needs of its constituents by listening to people on the ground who know how to solve community problems.

Return of the displaced communities: We need to address not just risk of displacement but the return of already displaced communities, particularly American Indian, Black and Latino. We need to name the policies that displaced our communities. Communities gaining control over community assets: land, buildings, community centers, grocery stores, clinics, etc., will reduce displacement.
Integration of strategies across agencies, a challenge and a need: Planning has limited resources and leverage to lead comprehensive efforts.  It is very difficult to address the fragmentation within the City. This is also a very important task. We have thoughtful strategies in front of us. We have powerful planning voices.  We need to convince people that the strategies are valuable. We need to identify common ground issues and show our communities we are taking collective action toward solutions. 

Equity and Equality: We need to make a distinction between equity and equality. Equity is to provide what is needed. Equality is to assign the same level of resources to each party regardless of need. At some point, the American Indian community had no place to go, no housing available to buy or rent. Other groups had choices. Each community has its specific needs – sometimes our communities are pitted against each other.  For example, the Fillmore community played a part in displacing the Japanese community.

Shifting the housing conversation towards housing that we can afford: Market rate housing is not affordable to our communities. The trickle down approach of building luxury units to get a few affordable or to hope that some housing at the bottom becomes affordable hasn’t worked. Our communities need access to good wages and wealth creation opportunities. What policies are needed to make this happen? What needs to change structurally? NIMBY’s are able to lock projects and keep families out- how do we combat that? We need to work on Community Land Trusts, land banking, public banking, and other alternative housing solutions.

Invisibility of communities: The invisibility of race in communities and places is a very important issue.  Planning is not in the community. Planning needs to go beyond the brick-and-mortar.  We need to reframe planning to incorporate the cultural, spiritual, and social dimensions of our communities We need to design our communities as places where we live and play.  Planning needs to accommodate our social and cultural resources. Calle 24 is a success to be repeated. Bayview, 3rd street needs more of that.

Building generational wealth: We need to create opportunities for wealth building. We need to support small businesses in our communities of color. We need to create opportunities for middle-income housing where it is needed.

Shaping our strategies, consulting with our communities: The summary of key issues reviewed at this meeting is going in the right direction to help this council start to implement these strategies. This is a good process because these are our issues and comments, it’s not just staff directing us with random issues.  As we move towards implementation, we need to engage our communities, we need to go back to the community to talk to people about what the possible strategies are and be able to host a discussion and get feedback.

The meeting concluded with Equity Council members signing up to work in small groups to establish and present strategies to address the key issues identified: 

  1. Displacement of low- and middle-income communities of color

  2. Invisibility of communities, marginality, erasure

  3. Community opportunities constrained by fragmented City strategies

  4. Communities of color have limited access to wealth creation and job opportunities

Next Steps 
  • Staff to support formation of small groups
  • Discussion of Planning Budget at next meeting
  • Next meeting:  September 28, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm