Immediately after being elected District 10 Supervisor in 2018, Shamann Walton got to work delivering on his campaign promises. In 2019, legislation Walton co-authored to close San Francisco’s aging juvenile hall by the end of 2021 was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors. Walton secured a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) commitment to eliminate switchbacks on the T-Third Street Muni Metro line, a practice that rerouted trains before they reached their planned final stop in Visitacion Valley. Walton also responded to a string of burglaries on the Third Street commercial corridor by creating a community safety plan that helped to apprehend the person responsible.
Walton has sought to protect public health in District 10 during the Covid-19 crisis. “From the very beginning we pushed the San Francisco Department of Public Health to provide a count of Covid-19 cases by district and zip code, as well as the number of deaths in these areas.” said Walton in a phone interview. “Working closely with Supervisor Ronen’s office, we secured $9 million in no-interest small business loans, up to $50,000 per business, and these businesses will have six years to pay the loans back. We also leveraged resources from community benefits agreements to go towards providing grants for Bayview businesses on the Third Street corridor specifically.”
According to Earl Shaddix, executive director of Economic Development (EDOT) a nonprofit that promotes commerce on Third Street, Walton is committed to helping small businesses surviving ongoing economic turbulence.
“Supervisor Walton was very helpful in assisting our organization to repurpose funds that we had slated for the rest of the year, including funds for a staff position and street events, and we were able to convert those funds into a direct relief fund for our Third Street merchants,” said Shaddix. “The grant program is available to for-profit businesses on the Third Street corridor, and the grant amounts are five to ten thousand dollars, to assist with rent, payroll, and other business expenses.”
In February, well before protests erupted over the latest alleged murder of an African American by a police officer, Walton introduced a Board of Supervisors resolution, unanimously approved, to launch a community process focusing on providing reparations to the Black community for the injustices of slavery.
“There have been disparities and negative impacts of slavery that have plagued the Black community for hundreds of years, not only across the country but here in San Francisco,” said Walton. “In San Francisco, we can look at the negative effects of redlining, outmigration and redevelopment pushing out families and businesses. We know that true reparations are owed to the Black community because we helped to build this country, and in doing so provided hundreds of years of free labor. It’s time to do something to amend that, and reparations are the way.”
District 10 is home to four public housing sites – Potrero Annex-Terrace, Hunters View and Alice Griffith in Hunters Point, and Sunnydale-Velasco in Visitacion Valley – that’re being renovated under Hope-SF, a private-public partnership between the Mayor’s Office, San Francisco Foundation, and Enterprise Community Partners. To avoid further displacement of low-income families-of-color, Walton co-sponsored the Right to Return Ordinance with Mayor London Breed and other members of the Board of Supervisors.
“What we want to do is make sure that families who lived on-site before renovation would have the opportunity to come back to a newly renovated, revitalized housing unit where there are also more community resources and opportunities. For the most part, that has happened, particularly in the development in Hunters View.” said Walton.
According to Hope SF, 70 percent of the families living in Hunters View prior to the renovation have moved back to the re-modeled complex.
“In Potrero Hill, we actually built a facility on a site where no one was previously living, so people didn’t have to relocate. Once the new building was completed those residents could leave their former homes and move directly into a new one. Different phases are going to require some folks to have to move off site, but for now the housing that’s been built was able to be built adjacent to current properties.” said Walton.
In 2019, 53 households won a lottery to be moved into the newly constructed apartment building built as project phase one. The Potrero Annex-Terrace complex is slated for completion in 2029 and will ultimately have 1,400 to 1,600 units available at a mix of prices.
The Right to Return Ordinance stipulates that people who formerly lived in Hope SF sites but moved away are given priority to transfer to newly renovated sites.
“If you lived in any Hope SF site at one point in time, once all our one to one replacements have been made you’ll become a priority as well, because that is the goal, of course, to keep families whole,” continued Walton. “We want to get our communities back to what they looked like and provide opportunities for families to come back to the communities they helped build. and have been a part of their entire lives.”
Walton wants to make sure that proper soil testing is done at the Hunters Point Shipyard, a former superfund site where public and luxury housing is being developed, to reassure current residents and prevent future construction on potentially hazardous land.
“Immediately after being elected, as promised, I said we should bring in academia to review testing protocols. We were able to secure University of California experts and scientists to come in to review the protocols that are proposed for Parcel G and reviewed protocols for the testing that had taken place on Parcel A.” said Walton.
Condominiums marketed under “SF Shipyard” are being built on Parcel A. Parcel G is still owned by the United States Navy.
“They did an independent review and they said that they believe that the testing protocols were adequate. But with that said, I still have been asking for more testing on Parcel A where our residents currently live to provide another level of reassurance. So, I’m going to continue to push for the appropriate testing because we have people who live on site who have bought homes and were promised safe communities, amenities, and thriving neighborhoods. My goal is to make sure that their community is safe first and that they also receive the amenities that they were promised, like grocery stores, in a vibrant community for their families to live and be a part of.” said Walton.
Recently, Walton has been working to increase the quality of grocery stores operating in Bayview-Hunters Point. Of particular interest is the former Duc Loi Pantry, on Third and Donner streets, which closed in January 2019 despite a $250,000 grant in 2016 from the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, as well as a $4.1 million loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“We’re talking to several different stores and markets to try to get them to come in and occupy the former Duc Loi Pantry site,” said Walton. “We are having conversations about creating a possible co-op where community members can buy groceries for others in the community and they can operate through a membership base. These are conversations that are not fully fleshed out, but obviously when you lose a grocery store you want to make sure that you bring another one in.”
Walton has been trying to leverage the fact that Foods Co., on 345 Williams Avenue, is located on municipal property to try to get it to improve its facility.
“As a city government we can talk to them about upcoming leases and try to push them to make some changes,” said Walton. “There’s some work, some quality improvements that they’re doing in terms of lighting, in terms of the parking lot, and now we’re asking for opportunities to bring in hot food options like we see a Costco or at Safeway, as well as making sure that produce and meat and other things are fresh. Foods Co. has gotten good grades from health inspectors, but I want to make sure that they understand that there’s a different feel when you walk to the Safeway store in other parts of San Francisco and that our community wants the same kind of feel and look and quality that they see in other areas. We’ve seen some change, but we’re going to demand that they make more changes and I think we should be able to achieve that.”
According to Abe Evans, an administrative aide for Supervisor Walton, the Williams Avenue lease is held by Cala Foods.
“The Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, the successor agency to the Redevelopment Agency, owns the property. Under Redevelopment Dissolution Law, OCII must transfer the property to the City. The lease will transfer to the City at the same time the property transfers. If Cala Foods, in its sole discretion, exercises its remaining options, the lease would remain in effect until 2031. The lease restricts the property for use as a supermarket. The lease was entered into in 1991, and has a 10-year term, with six five-year options.”
One of Walton’s campaign promises was to expand legislation that passed the Board of Supervisors in 2010 mandating 30 percent local hiring on all public work construction contracts greater than $600,000. Walton hopes to add similar requirements to the technology and healthcare fields but has yet to deliver on that commitment.
“The Supervisor has been very supportive of the needs of our community, particularly our needs in addressing our increasing population,” said J.R. Eppler, Potrero Boosters president. “He has strongly supported the Jackson Playground and Dogpatch Hub project and advocated on our behalf with development interests to ensure neighborhood priorities are met. Supervisor Walton represents a large, fractious district with a wide variety of serious concerns, and I’ve been impressed that he and his staff have been able to provide such time and resources on Potrero Hill and Dogpatch. We are optimistic about what we’ll be able to accomplish in the years to come. “
“He has been so responsive to our merchants,” said Shaddix. “We’re on calls with him all the time. He wants to know what’s going on. You know, he lives in the neighborhood. He rides his bike down Third Street, he walks down Third Street. When he is on his way down to City Hall, he drives down Third Street. He’s very visible on our corridor. He’s really committed to fighting against injustice and economic equality for these communities.”
“We have a fantastic relationship with the Supervisor’s office and the impact on our community has been very positive,” said Katherine Doumani, Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA) president. “Supervisor Walton has recognized that our community is facing an unprecedented amount of development and associated change, due to Pier 70, the Power Plant, UCSF encroachment and infill densification. He has assigned Abe Evans, a legislative aide, to specifically address issues affecting Dogpatch, from conflicts between industrial 24/7 uses and residents, to the influx of cannabis lounges. Shamann’s deputy, Percy Burch, is also available basically 24/7 to guide and support as issues arise and always picks up the phone whenever I call.”
In February Walton co-sponsored legislation with District 11 Supervisor Asha Safai to cease acceptance of new cannabis retail permits in San Francisco, an issue DNA has been vocal about.
“Currently we are struggling with an influx of cannabis retail and lounge operators who are taking advantage of an extremely permissive zoning designation for equity applicants affecting most of D10 from Dogpatch to Bayview. We are facing the potential of having five cannabis lounges in a five-block area.” said Doumani.
Asked about how he gets along with his City Hall colleagues, Walton said “For the most part the Board agrees on what is best for San Francisco, which you can see in our votes, which typically pass unanimously or nine to two or ten to one. The Mayor and I don’t always see eye to eye, most recently we disagreed on providing hotel rooms for unhoused people, which I am a strong proponent of. But we have been able to accomplish a great deal together. I love my job.”