TogetherSF Action: Advocacy group pushes for city charter reform, more power to mayor's office

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
TogetherSF Action: Advocacy group pushes to reform city charter
A civic engagement and advocacy group called TogetherSF Action spoke on Monday about plans for reform that will be on the 2024 ballot.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A civic engagement and advocacy group called TogetherSF Action spoke on Monday about plans for reform that will be on the 2024 ballot.

TogetherSF Action says they are pushing for a bold reform package. They say the people of San Francisco are tired of waiting for change.

"Most voters view the mayor as the CEO of the city," said TogetherSF Action Executive Director Kanishka Cheng.

More and more people seem to be frustrated with the direction of San Francisco and what's happening when it comes to problems such as the fentanyl crisis, homelessness, crime, and housing.

TogetherSF Action says the change the city needs starts with amending the city charter.

"The powers of the office of the mayor have been whittled down by mostly politically driven measures," said Cheng. "This has resulted in no one being in charge and no one for voters to clearly hold accountable."

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TogetherSF Action proposes a reform package.

"What we are trying to do is restore the authority that the mayor used to have in 1996," said Cheng.

The two charter amendments include:

  • Cutting the number of city boards, commissions and advisory bodies by half.
  • Empowering the office of the mayor to hire and remove department heads without commission approval.

"These two measures provide clear authority over who's in charge in SF government so voters can get beyond the endless finger-pointing that voters get stuck in now and be able to hold elected officials accountable," said Cheng.

Some business owners and San Francisco residents back the proposed changes.

"If you want to find an answer to homelessness, there are more than four commissions that say they are responsible for it," said Bill Maggs, a resident of San Francisco's Mission District.

Maggs believes streamlining government will be a big help.

"Why in the world do we need 130 commissions? Why do 1,200 people need to share power with the crest of city government?" asked Maggs.

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Max Young owns several businesses including the Bamboo Hut on Broadway. Young used to own Mr. Smith's Bar in the Mid-Market area too.

"My business at 7th and Stevenson was directly impacted by drug dealers taking over my corner. I shut it down in 2019. I'm still unable to open," said Young.

Young hopes the charter amendments will help make San Francisco streets safer.

"This holds people accountable. We need mayor to be accountable. We need our leaders to be accountable. Right now. The mayor cannot hire and fire her leaders we've got a problem. If she can't appoint smart people to lead the departments, how are we going to succeed?" said Young.

In January, TogetherSF Action will start gathering 50,000 signatures for each measure to qualify for the November ballot.

ABC7 News reached out to several San Francisco supervisors, commissioners, and community advocates.

Most of them were not prepared to comment yet saying that they just don't know enough about the reform package.

Supervisor Andrew Peskin shared a statement stating: "I'm opposed to billionaire-funded TogetherSF buying elections rather than working with elected lawmakers and the public to forge common sense solutions."

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