Housing and Homelessness
Here in San Francisco, we “open our Golden Gate” to all who wish to call our City home. Immigrants from all over the world have put down roots in our neighborhoods, building communities essential to the fabric of our City. San Francisco has always been defined by our shared values of love, equity, and inclusion.
But today, that promise — that our City is open and available to all — hangs in the balance.
The affordable housing and homelessness crisis may be the defining issue of our time in San Francisco, and alongside my colleagues and amazing activists, we’re tackling it from every angle. By building more affordable housing, protecting the housing we have, and standing up for housed Californians who could soon be displaced, we can start to turn the tide.
I was a San Francisco renter for twenty years, so I know firsthand how precarious it is to rent in our City. That’s why I authored AB 1482 — the most progressive tenant protection law in California history — which Governor Newsom signed into law in October 2019. When it goes into effect on January 1, 2020, 8 million California renters will have new protections from landlords who engage in rent-gouging and who exploit loopholes to forcibly evict tenants.
In 2019, I also authored AB 1487, which creates the first Bay Area-specific solution to the housing and homelessness crisis, by allowing cities across the nine Bay Area counties to fund local housing-related ballot measures together — supporting the ingenuity and partnership we’ll need to fight this crisis in our region.
In my time in Sacramento, I’ve passed new laws that created new revenue sources for affordable housing, allowed affordable housing projects near transit centers to be built taller and denser, streamlined the process of building affordable housing units across California, and addressed the housing needs of chronically homeless individuals on Medi-Cal.
I believe we can restore balance to our City, and restore the promise of San Francisco being a home to all who dream to settle here. But it will take all of us finding creative solutions, working to find common ground, and being unafraid to dream big.
Protecting Civil Rights
Since the election of Donald Trump, the federal government has been actively hostile towards our most basic civil rights. As a former civil rights attorney, I believe there’s nothing more important than to defend everyone whose rights are being violated, particularly as a representative of our City by the Bay with our national reputation for boldness when it comes to fighting for underserved people and communities. We San Franciscans know that our diversity — LGBTQ San Franciscans, immigrants, not-so-recent immigrants, seniors and those with disabilities, and others — make us who we are.
Here in California, we can protect the rights we’ve won, fight for true equality for everyone who calls our state home, chart the way forward and set the national conversation.
As a son of immigrant parents, fighting for immigrants is profoundly personal to me. I would not enjoy the life I have — my family, friends, the honor of representing the 17th Assembly District — if not for their courage.
San Francisco has welcomed many generations of new Americans. During the Trump era, it has been critical to not only protect our immigrant friends and neighbors, but send a message of hope to the rest of the country: that civil rights are not dependent on immigration status. That if you call California home, you are entitled to equal treatment under the law.
This year, as Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, I joined other legislators and organizations across the country in a successful lawsuit against the Trump Administration to eliminate its proposed citizenship question in the 2020 Census, which would have deterred immigrants from participating and cost our state billions of dollars of federal funding.
In 2017, I authored the Immigrant Worker Protection Act to ensure that hardworking immigrants — of which there are so many — could not be swept up in ICE raids while at work. That same year, I authored the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, which prohibited landlords from evicting tenants based on their immigration status.
In 2015, I teamed up with the former chair of the Latino Caucus to establish the One California program, which today provides tens of millions of dollars each year to support community-based organizations working within California’s diverse communities that are assisting immigrants in the naturalization process to become citizens.
Our LGBTQ community’s contributions to life in San Francisco are one of many things that set our City apart — and it is my deep honor to fight for LGBTQ San Franciscans every day in the Assembly. While we have come a long way on LGBTQ rights as a nation over the years (with San Francisco leading the way), we still have a long way to go to reach true equality.
We must explore every opportunity to fight for our LGBTQ friends and family; that’s why I’ve successfully authored several bills ensuring that health, human services, education, and employment-related government agencies collect voluntary data on sexual orientation and gender identity. Having better data allows California to evaluate how well we’re serving our LGBTQ communities — and it holds our state accountable.
As a father of my young son, I have sought to champion the rights of LGBTQ parents and families. I was honored to work alongside advocates to pass our state’s landmark assisted reproduction law that protects the rights of couples to grow their families in California, as well as the Surrogacy Parentage Protection Act to protect parents of children conceived through surrogacy in California from having the rights violated in other states.
In 2019, I worked with the Transgender Law Center and Equality California to pass AB 711, which ensured that California school districts accurately reflect students’ chosen names and pronouns on their records and diplomas. This accurate information can ensure graduates applying for a job or higher educational opportunities are not discriminated against — and I was proud Governor Newsom signed our bill into law.
Throughout my career, it’s been important for me to be a strong male ally for women’s rights — because while we thankfully don’t live in a state where women’s reproductive rights are being stripped away, California has a long way to achieve true equality for 51% of our population.
Soon after arriving in Sacramento, I authored the Reproductive FACT Act, a first-in-the-nation law requiring facilities that provide pregnancy-related care to distribute a notice of reproductive health rights, while mandating that unlicensed facilities disclose their status. I worked with then-Attorney General Kamala Harris to write the bill and with now-Attorney General Xavier Becerra to defend it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
From my days as a criminal prosecutor, I’ve stood up for survivors of crime, violence, and sexual assault. In the Legislature, I’ve passed historic rape kit transparency laws, delivering justice for sexual assault survivors by requiring law enforcement to track all future untested rape kits, and requiring a one-time statewide audit of all untested rape kits in California. I also authored the Right to a Safe Home Act in 2018, which protects survivors of crime and abuse from being evicted simply for calling emergency assistance. And I’ve been a stalwart supporter of recent state laws to address the #MeToo movement, including ending the statute of limitations on sexual assault cases.
Building Sustainable Communities
I work every day on behalf of my constituents — to improve their daily lives, keep our communities safe and healthy, and pave the way for a better future. But there is one constituent who I think about more than most: my son, Lucas. And I think about what I, as a lawmaker and as a father, owe to him.
More than anything, what I owe him — and every other young San Franciscan — is a city, a state, and a planet that is healthy, safe, and stable. Generations of leaders and lawmakers before mine, as well as our current generation, have abdicated that responsibility. We have to make up for lost time.
A greener City and State
My fight for a cleaner, more sustainable City goes back to my time on the Board of Supervisors, where I passed bold legislation that increased energy efficiency in our buildings, expanded urban agriculture, phased out wasteful plastic water bottles, better managed water reuse, and championed the safe disposal of unused and expired pharmaceutical drugs.
In the Legislature, I have authored new laws to streamline the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, make easier the local permitting of renewable energy storage technology, reduce food waste through standardizing food labels, and build sustainable neighborhoods on BART-owned land next to BART stations.
This past year, I passed AB 619, which allows event organizers to use reusable food and drink containers. Up until now, some of our City’s most treasured events, like Outside Lands, resulted in a massive sea of trash being left behind in our public green spaces. Now, San Franciscans can make the greener choice to serve food and drinks with reusable containers — going a long way to beautifying and green-ifying our City.
Until I had to start driving to Sacramento and had my son, I didn’t own a car in San Francisco. To get around the City, I love riding my bike, riding BART and Muni, and walking around town. Every day, I’m reminded of how critical a well-functioning transit system is — to our quality of life, to making San Francisco greener, and to keeping us connected as a City.
We’ve all seen MUNI costs go up — while the system faces cuts to service and its drivers. On the Board of Supervisors, I led fights to restore those service cuts and ensure required audits of the system, so that our fares and monthly passes get us the best public transit experience possible.
I have also worked hard to promote cycling in San Francisco: I have fought for more bike lanes on our City’s streets to promote bike safety and reduce congestion, for increased enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians, and to make Market Street car-free.
In the Legislature, I’ve been a proud champion of funding for transit and transportation. In recent years, I was the Assembly lead for Regional Measure 3 (RM3), a bold, traffic-relief plan authorized by the State Legislature and successfully passed by Bay Area voters in June 2018. In the coming years, RM3 will be providing $4.5 billion of funding to improve transportation, invest in transit and provide congestion relief in the Bay Area. In addition to investing in Muni and Caltrain, RM3 will provide new funding to replace aging BART cars, extend BART to San Jose and Santa Clara, expand and improve ferry service, accelerate planning for a second Transbay rail crossing, and many other critical public transit improvements.
San Francisco families deserve a healthy, sustainable place to live — regardless of their zip code, or how much money they make. Unfortunately, many San Francisco families are still discovering lead paint in their homes, a serious danger to our kids. In 2018 and 2019, I led a coalition of lawmakers, and environmental and public health advocates to protect families in a successful fight to hold lead paint companies accountable for damage they have caused over the decades.
In 2019, our Governor signed my AB 206 bill to protect homeowners from lawsuits threatened by lead paint manufacturers that would have intimidated anyone who participates in local lead abatement programs. Our law will ensure that homeowners who do the right thing for their families by removing toxic paint were protected from predatory companies. San Francisco homeowners will be able to avail themselves of $21 million of cleanup programs in the coming years without fear of litigation.
Everyone has the right to a long, healthy life — regardless of your race, immigration status, zip code or income. To defend this right, I’ve fought on multiple fronts: standing up to corporations who rip off patients, expanding funding for programs that keep families healthy, and doing all I can to protect our kids from disease.
Skyrocketing drug prices
A national driver of healthcare costs has been exorbitant prices for prescription drugs, particularly those that cost far less in other countries. While Congress and President Trump have been unable to tackle this issue, I led the fight in the Assembly to increase the transparency of high-cost drug prices in California and require pharmaceutical companies to report data to the public regarding the cost of producing high-priced drugs, and in 2017, we passed the strongest drug price transparency law in the country, SB 17.
Patients over profits
It’s no secret: our healthcare system does not serve everyone equally and needs major reform — to hold institutions accountable and ensure fair levels of treatment for everyone. That’s why I introduced AB 1611 in 2019, to protect millions of patients with health insurance from exorbitant emergency room bills. This practice has victimized patients twice: first, for an initial emergency, and second, for a heart-stopping surprise bill. After a medical emergency, the only thing a patient should worry about is how to get better, not whether a hospital bill could lead to financial ruin.
Health care for all
Health care should be a right that doesn’t depend on whether a President has declared a war on immigrants. However, until recently, millions of Californians — our neighbors, coworkers and family members — have lacked health insurance because of their immigration status. This is why I’ve helped to author multiple bills to expand coverage for all Californians, regardless of status. I’m proud that in 2016, we successfully expanded Medi-Cal, our Medicaid program, to all children regardless of immigration status, and then in 2019 to all young adults under 26. Someday, we will have health care for all, but in the meantime, these laws have been important steps forward.
Healthy nail salons
Nail salons are part of an $8 billion industry in California — whose owners and workers are over 80% Asian, often with limited English skills. Unfortunately, too many nail salons involve toxic chemicals and unsafe conditions for workers and customers, but that doesn’t have to be the case with alternative healthy nail products. While I was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, working with health care, environmental and labor advocates, I established the first Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program in the state, and in 2016, we passed the California law which took that work statewide, creating guidelines for local agencies to implement Healthy Nail Salon Recognition programs.
Medically tailored meals
As Trump has proposed eliminating funding for healthcare programs for seniors and low-income families, working with Project Open Hand and the “Food is Medicine” coalition, I helped to champion a new healthy food pilot program in our state budget to provide medically tailored meals that meet the nutritional needs of low-income residents living with serious health conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart failure or renal disease. Similar programs in other states have been shown to cut health care costs in half.
Strengthening child vaccination rules
All parents have one thing in common: we will do anything to protect our kids, particularly from diseases that are entirely preventable. That’s why I helped to authored SB 277 in my first term, the first major bill to require vaccinations for children before attending school. Aside from a child’s possible existing medical reasons, there is no reason they should not be protected from the diseases we have all but eradicated – and their classmates should not be protected as well.
Education & Economic Justice
Especially in a city like San Francisco, where wealth disparity between our neighbors is wider than in most other cities, it’s critical that we do everything we can to ensure financial stability for everyone. If someone wants to lift themselves out of the situation they’re in — by way of education, employment or anything else — the California dream should be within their reach. And I have fought every day in Sacramento to make that dream a reality.
Preventing school bullying
In recent years, particularly after the election of Donald Trump, California has seen a rise in the number of bullying incidents in the classroom, victimizing students of immigrant, LGBTQ, Muslim and African American backgrounds. Working alongside an amazing coalition of advocates for our diverse communities, I passed a law requiring the California Department of Education to develop policies to train educators across the state to identify and prevent bullying in the classroom.
Staying in school during financial crisis
During our state’s affordability crisis, we have too many college students who have been forced to drop out of school because of a financial emergency caused by an eviction, medical emergency or family situation. Getting a college education should be within the reach of everyone, even if they experience an unforeseen financial crisis. In 2019, I successfully authored AB 943 to allow community colleges to establish emergency financial aid programs so students can stay in school and graduate.
Free community college
San Francisco led a national conversation by establishing free community college. At a time of declining college enrollment and a projected shortage of future college-educated workers, California has to lead when it comes to student affordability. I was honored to work alongside Assemblymember Miguel Santiago to author our landmark state law that now provides every Californian with two years of tuition-free community college.
Holding for-profit colleges accountable
For-profit colleges make a fundamental promise to students, that in return for paying enormous sums of tuition, students will get a high-paying job after graduation to help them pay off their debt. President Obama instituted a law holding these colleges accountable for making that promise — but when Donald Trump of Trump University took office, Betsy DeVos rolled that back, once again allowing many of these colleges to rip students off with no accountability.
We have to lead the resistance against the Trump-DeVos agenda from here in California — and that’s why I successfully authored AB 1340, an important first step. Our new law allows the state to collect data on these colleges’ promises of good-paying jobs, the first key step to holding them accountable in the future.
Making history with public banks
Californians taxpayers have few banking options when it comes to where taxpayer dollars are invested. Unfortunately, hundreds of billions of these dollars are entrusted with the world’s largest Wall Street banks, who in turn invest our dollars in industries antithetical to California values — with gun manufacturers, fossil fuel industries, private private prisons, and more — while consumers have been victimized by the mortgage foreclosure crisis, predatory lending, skyrocketing student loans, and millions of fake bank accounts opened in their names. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
That’s why I was enormously proud to author AB 857, a history-making bill that will allow California communities to create their own public banks. This would allow a city’s residents to work together and build a financial institution they can fully trust — and, what’s more, that bank would invest in public projects for the community. When Governor Newsom signed this bill, it put California at the forefront of a national movement; I look forward to seeing the ingenuity of San Francisco and California communities brought to bear in this revolutionary way.
Fair chance licensing
Until recently, the vast majority of 8 million Californians who have an arrest or conviction in their past have been prevented from applying for the 30 percent of California jobs in almost 1,800 occupations that require a license or certificate from a state oversight board or agency. If California is serious about rehabilitation, we need to walk the walk and not block people from accessing jobs after their involvement with the justice system has ended. I was proud to author a new law in 2018 that increases employment and reduces recidivism by allowing Californians with certain older, non-violent convictions or arrests to apply for occupational licenses they need to become employed.