Supervisor Eric Mar: New murals, safer hotels

ADA merchant walk with mayor to support small businesses
On Thursday, Feb. 28, from 12:30 to 1:30, I will be walking the Geary corridor, from 19th to 22nd avenues, with SF Mayor Ed Lee to help spread the word about a new city assistance program for businesses on our Richmond commercial corridors. The ADA Small Business Assessment Program allows small business owners on commercial corridors covered by the city's Invest in Neighborhoods initiative to get a free inspection and a plan for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It also gives them access to grant money and a $1 million loan fund to make needed improvements.
For more information about this program, please go to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development's webpage at

I am also convening a Town Hall Meeting on this issue on Saturday, March 2, at the Richmond Branch Library (351 Ninth Ave., enter through 10th Avenue entrance), from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Supporting three new murals to beautify the Richmond
I am supporting the installation of three new murals in the Richmond. They are:

• Argonne Elementary School will have artists from Precita Eyes paint a mural depicting the history of the Richmond. This is the culmination of several years of work on the part of Argonne parents to beautify and green the neighborhood. I am proud to have supported these efforts and to have supported the community challenge grant that funded the mural;

• Green Apple Books is developing a new "bookish" mural with the aid of the San Francisco Arts Commission;

• Finally, I helped facilitate the development of a mural on the side of the new Grocery Outlet site on Geary Boulevard.
I look forward to watching these works of art develop and help enrich the cultural beauty of our neighborhood.

Making housing safer for the elderly and disabled

I am proud to announce that in late February the SF Board of Supervisors passed my legislation increasing safety in our city's Single Room Occupancy hotels (SROs) by mandating grab bars in bathrooms and working phone jacks in all rooms. In 2011, I called for a hearing on issues affecting some of our most vulnerable residents, seniors and people with disabilities living in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels, because this is a sector of our community that is growing and will face increasing challenges as they age in place. San Francisco's official policy is to support seniors to "age in place," however; the City has no comprehensive strategy for serving those who by choice or circumstance live in residential hotels.

The Mission SRO Collaborative, Central City SRO Collaborative, SRO Families United Collaborative and Senior Action Network have produced a report outlining the many issues facing seniors and people with disabilities who live in SROs. It also presented a set of concrete recommendations for mitigating these problems. I sponsored this legislation committed to help implement these recommendations. The legislation is the first step in maintaining that commitment.

The ordinance requires residential hotels provide rooms with working phone jacks and that they install grab bars in all shared bathrooms. The cost of these requirements is low relative to the benefits that all SRO residents will reap from having these modest, common sense and critically-needed quality-of-life and safety upgrades made to their buildings. The risk of a senior suffering broken bones from a slip in the shower or a disabled person not being able to communicate with service providers are problems that will be drastically diminished with the passing of this ordinance.

Though it will become effective within 30 days of its passage, there will be no notices of violations issued for the first six months after the ordinance passes. This is to give time for outreach to owners, the mailing that will take place, and for owners to have time to consult a technical assistance guide that is being developed.

Building permit fees will be waived for 60 days after the effective date of the ordinance as a means of encouraging owners to make these improvements quickly.

I wish to thank former SF Supervisor Christina Olague and current supervisors Jane Kim, David Campos, John Avalos and board president David Chiu for co-sponsoring this important legislation. I also wish to thank the incredible work of Senior and Disability Action, the Mission, Central City, Chinatown and SRO Families United collaboratives. Thanks also to the Department of Building Inspection and the Mayor's Office on Disability for their commitment to improving this legislation.

Finally, I wish to express my admiration to the SRO tenants who have advocated tirelessly for years to improve the conditions in their buildings.

March coffee hour with Eric
Join me for an opportunity to discuss community issues in the Inner Richmond area at the Velo Rouge Cafe (798 Arguello Blvd.), on Thursday, March 14, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. I look forward to chatting with all of you.

San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar represents District 1.