Immigration reform, affordable housing, job programs top agenda of Chamber delegation to Washington, D.C.

By Bob Linscheid

San Francisco’s red-hot economy has created untold opportunities for entrepreneurs and dreamers of all types. A recent study by a division of the London-based Financial Times named San Francisco as the top city in the United States for economic potential. The Milken Institute, an economic think tank, says our city is the best place for creating and sustaining jobs in the nation.

Good news.

Yet we know that San Francisco faces many challenges — skyrocketing rents and home prices, commutes that are longer and more crowded than ever, a tough job market for those just entering the workforce.

Businesses also face challenges as the competition for talent drives up salaries while the cost of doing business, from making the rent to conforming to regulations, keeps rising.

At the Chamber of Commerce, we believe we can overcome these challenges and build a more successful, more diverse and more inclusive city. On Wednesday, the Chamber will lead a delegation of business, civic and government leaders to Washington, D.C. to ensure our voice is heard on Capitol Hill and that our federal representatives have a deep understanding of our city’s needs. Here are our priorities:

We support the creation of affordable housing by ensuring the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which provides private developers with an incentive to build affordable rental housing, remains intact. San Francisco needs additional federal assistance to rebuild public housing. We oppose attempts to curtail funding that provides affordable housing to seniors and disabled individuals who are our most vulnerable residents.
A diverse mix of housing accessible to all is the only way we will stay a vibrant and culturally inclusive place to live.

We will advocate for improvements on our roads, on rails, in the Bay and in the sky.
Federal highway funding must support long-term needs, not simple short-term fixes. We need to stop debating and ensure that high-speed rail remains a priority.
Both private and military vessels need access to dry docks along our waterfront with funding for dredging. And we need support for 21st-century air traffic control operations that keep us safe in the sky.

The Chamber supports comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our broken immigration system and works to rebuild the American economy by putting people to work. We also support a pathway to citizenship that provides undocumented immigrants a way to become legal citizens who pay taxes and participate fully in their communities.
While these are among our top priorities, we have many others: supporting President Barack Obama’s summer jobs programs for youth and the American Jobs Act, which includes tax cuts to help small businesses hire and grow. We back the full implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.

All of this and more will be on our agenda as we meet with U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier and other Bay Area representatives, as well as top Obama administration officials.

We invite you to join the conversation by following us on Twitter and on Facebook at the hashtag #CityTripDC2015.

Bob Linscheid is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

This article first appeared in the May 7 edition of the San Francisco Examiner.