David Chiu (D), was elected to represent the 17th Assembly District, which covers San Francisco’s eastern neighborhoods, in 2014, after serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, District 3, for the previous five years, including as Board president.
“I’m a big supporter of David Chiu,” said Bruce Agid, Berry Street resident. “I’ve watched him when he was on the Board of Supervisors as District 3 Supervisor and president of the Board. I was impressed by the way he could collaborate and work with the Board, gaining consensus on measures to move things forward. He has a really good feel for the issues. It’s so critical to find common ground. Elected officials can be very ideological, but that’s not necessarily effective at the end of the day. David has demonstrated that he can move things forward.”
Agid is pleased with Chiu’s recent work on immigrant’s rights, including a Chiu-authored bill signed into law in October that prohibits employers from allowing federal immigration agents on private property without a judicial warrant. Chiu championed the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, passed last fall, which forbids landlords from disclosing the immigration status of their tenants to authorities.
Chiu chairs the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, which focuses, in part, on addressing housing supply shortages for those earning low and middle incomes. Former Mayor Art Agnos is satisfied with Chiu’s record on civil and human rights, as well as environmental issues, but wants to see the legislator do more to alleviate the housing affordability crisis.
“The central issue in San Francisco is how we’re going to use our land and for whom,” said Agnos. “We need to manage development in a way that preserves a sense of opportunity for newcomers and creates affordability for the poor and middle class. How that challenge is addressed is going to determine a lot about the livability of our City. David Chiu is not as aggressive as I would like on land use issues; he pays too much deference to how much developers say they can afford in terms of affordable housing.”
Chiu co-sponsored Assembly Bill 1506, to repeal the Costa Hawkins Act of 1995, which prohibits rent control on single family homes and newly constructed residences. The bill remains in the committee he chairs. Rhode Island Street resident and elected Assembly delegate in District 17 – a Democratic Party position to represent community interests – doesn’t believe that Chiu is truly invested in the measure’s passage.
“He will always support a progressive measure when he knows that it will lose,” Becker claimed. “He’s not driven by convictions, but wants to gain and retain political power. This February, when he came out with the measure that would repeal Costa Hawkins, he didn’t consult with any neighborhood group or anyone that would support him. Instead he held a press conference with realtors.”
Becker thinks that Chiu’s handling of AB 1506 is part of a larger trend of inadequately following through on legislation. Senate Bill 562, co-authored by Chiu, would grant Californian’s universal health care access through a single-payer, government-run program. Becker criticized Chiu for not referring to the bill during a special October commission convened in Sacramento for Assembly members to examine state healthcare options.
A bill sponsored by Chiu, aimed at helping the chronically homeless, will take effect next month. AB 74, or the Housing for a Healthy California Program, will harness federal and state funds to build housing and provide rental assistance to homeless individuals while creating access to social services. The measure’s goal is to reduce healthcare costs associated with homelessness by ensuring that those who lack shelter are housed. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill last fall.
“California is home to twenty percent of the nation’s homeless population and one-third of the nation’s chronically homeless population. I’m gratified that Governor Brown is helping to advance significant and innovative solutions to address this crisis,” said Chiu. “This new program shifts the paradigm for how we tackle homelessness among people who have been without a roof for far too long.”
Alabama Street resident Debra Walker first met Chiu a decade ago when they were Democratic County Central Committee members. Walker recalled a tight race in 2014 between Chiu and his opponent, David Campos, former District 9 Supervisor who’s now DCCC chair. Chiu garnered 51 percent of the vote during that election. Walker thinks that the divisiveness of that race is behind the two political figures; they’re both working on strengthening the Democratic Party. She’s pleased with Chiu’s legislative work, particularly his support for affordable housing measures, LGBT and women’s rights, and domestic violence issues.
“People want to be inspired by candidates who have real solutions,” said Walker. “David does that across different ideologies. Our leadership represents all of us; we all focus on what matters to us individually, but everyone else does that as well. David listens to people with different perspectives and that’s something we need desperately. Our issues are so deep and complicated here that it’s easy to get sidetracked away from what’s happening in Washington. We need someone who can be effective at addressing issues on both the local and national levels.”
Fellow Alabama Street resident Mari Eliza is similarly pleased with Chiu’s record on social justice issues that impact women, children and immigrants, as well as work he’s done to protect public health and safety. Chiu spearheaded AB 418, which bolsters protections for domestic violence survivors by allowing them to terminate their rental lease without penalty so they can find safer accommodations. He voted in favor of AB 569, which prohibits the firing of employees who’ve had an abortion, and AB 671, a measure to bolster air quality regulations. However, Eliza is concerned that Chiu will support higher taxes.
“Gentrification has become a major topic,” commented Eliza. “Living standards are plummeting as the cost of living goes through the roof. Most voters are tapped out. They cannot support more taxes for pubic capital improvements. His stand on taxes will effect Chiu’s popularity during the next election.”