Mayor Ed Lee Reinforces Sanctuary City Commitment

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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee delivered his State of the City Address on Jan. 26, 2017.  (Erasmo Martinez/KQED)

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee delivered his State of the City speech Thursday, outlining the city's opposition to the Trump administration's proposals. He also spoke about increasing affordable housing and about reforms to the San Francisco Police Department.

The speech comes a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to eliminate funding to sanctuary cities. Although Lee did not mention President Trump by name, he started by attacking the president's policies and restated his position to keep San Francisco's sanctuary city policies.

The mayor's tone remained hopeful as he spoke of unity.

"We are a sanctuary city now, tomorrow, forever," he said to a standing ovation at the Hibernia Bank building in the Tenderloin.

The mayor also reinforced San Francisco's commitment to diversity and even challenged Republicans to view San Francisco as a template for America.


"The Republicans talk about 'American Carnage,' " Lee said. "I say, come see San Francisco, come experience our celebration of diversity and our economic success."

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer said the speech provided the right message in a time when the city is uncertain what the future holds.

"The strong commitment to our sanctuary city and our residents who are the most vulnerable was just heartwarming," Fewer said. "I think it is going to send a wave of relief to all those that are terrified."

San Francisco receives about $1 billion in federal funds and operates on a $9.6 billion budget. There is no clear idea how officials will proceed if there are federal cuts, but Fewer said she will be part of a new committee, formed by Supervisor London Breed, to look at the potential shortage of funds.

The mayor also focused on police reform. Lee said police officers will begin new use-of-force training next week. He said 56 percent of the Police Academy's new recruits are people of color. Lee's Police Department policy proposals include de-escalation training and providing officers with an alternate option "between a baton and gun."

The reforms arrive at a time when the San Francisco Police Department has come under increased scrutiny following high-profile officer-involved shootings, which led to the resignation of Police Chief Greg Suhr last year.

At some point, the mayor shifted his attention to the city's accomplishments.

In terms of jobs, the unemployment rate is now down to just under 3 percent. As for affordable housing, Lee said more than 13,000 of 30,000 promised new or rehabilitated housing units have been built since 2014, and 42 percent are designated for low-income and middle-income residents.

And to help deal with the homeless crisis, San Francisco will open two new Navigation Centers. The Hummingbird Place will be located at San Francisco General Hospital and the other will be in the South of Market neighborhood.