Council, staff and I continue to try to balance to the urgency of
demands to address racial justice and police reform with the ongoing policy
decisions before us. We face four concurrent crises: homelessness,
climate change, the pandemic, and racial justice. They are
interrelated. All are equity issues and all require both immediate action
and sustained commitment to implement structural change in our city, county,
state and nation.
On Council’s agenda, these issues appear incrementally. We address them
following separate decision- making timelines. But their pathways
converge; and decisions in one area inform decisions in another.
This week’s only council meeting on Wednesday was solely devoted to
reviewing the new draft of the Climate Action Plan 2.0. This new version
reflects the insights and priorities that emerged in the Mayor’s Ad Hoc
Committee that was reconvened in 2020 to strengthen the plan’s actions,
accountability and community engagement. It is greatly improved with more
specificity and timelines. It also includes a robust list of community
ideas that can and will be considered as additional strategies for meeting our
goals. The report is honest: it clearly states where we stand. I
was asked in the first Ad Hoc Committee meeting if Council is serious about
meeting their Climate Recovery goals. My answer is yes. This
document puts that work on a strong foundation, but there are more strategies
to build, more data to gather, more investment and examination of new
strategies to get us there. Please review it and comment. Council is
scheduled to vote on the final version on July 29th.
This week I listened to both the Human Resources Commission special session
hosting representatives of Black Lives Matter advocacy groups; and the Police Commission.
I joined Councilor Claire Syrett and Manager Sarah Medary in a walking tour of
Whiteacker to discuss their proposal for providing more sanitary housing sites
for the homeless; and I continued to reach out to community activists to talk
about how we as a city can turn the corner from protest demands to engagement
in local solutions.
There is incredible, strong work on solutions underway in this community.
Addressing homelessness is urgent. COVID-19 has worsened an already dire
humanitarian crisis by reducing available shelter capacity and exposing more
people to the potential of losing their housing. The city’s return to
some enforcement of camping bans shines a light on the injustice of this
situation – there is nowhere for people to go. And police continue to be
the first responders to complaints about homeless campers in too many cases.
The Council and County Board will meet on July 28th to review and hopefully
prioritize our actions in addressing both the immediate need for shelter sites
and our longer-term investment in a permanent shelter and other system
improvements. The Human Rights Commission has forwarded a strong
statement and recommendations; as has the Kindness Campaign. Council will
also look at the Community Safety Initiative on July 20th to understand and
consider their options in light of demands to reallocate funds. None of
these discussions is simple; all are urgent.