Chamber releases poll results showing homelessness remains top concern; broad support for housing and transportation projects
SAN FRANCISCO – Today the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce announced its Board of Directors has named Rodney Fong as the next President & CEO. The announcement was made at CityBeat, the organization’s annual meeting and public policy breakfast convening 1000 of the city’s top civic and business leaders. The Chamber also unveiled the results of its annual Dignity Health CityBeat poll, showing current voter attitudes on life in San Francisco.
“I am honored to lead this organization during a time of tremendous change and challenge for our city and our business community,” Fong said. “The Chamber has a rich history to celebrate, but it also has many challenges ahead with a range of issues, including homelessness, to major advances in technology and the resulting effects on the city’s landscape. Now is a time to embrace this new era, hold firmly to the mission of attracting, supporting and growing business in San Francisco, and to expand initiatives to reach more members and partners. The Chamber has the ability to not just grow with the pace of the city, but to lead the conversation around solutions to our major issues,” he said.
“Rodney is a proven business leader and will be an innovative partner to the San Francisco business community,” said John Gingrich, chair of the Chamber Board and Chief Revenue Officer at Humu. “After a thorough and thoughtful search, the Chamber’s Board of Directors unanimously agreed that Rodney’s unique blend of experience in business and public service, is the perfect foundation to drive our organization into the future.”
Fong, a fourth generation San Franciscan, has an extensive business and civic background, including serving on the San Francisco Planning Commission for eight years, with two years as President. He formerly served as President of the San Francisco Port Commission, Chair of the San Francisco Travel Association and on the boards of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, Fort Mason Center, Fisherman’s Wharf Merchant’s Association, Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, and the Bay Institute.
As the president of Fong Real Estate Company, Fong oversees leasing and tenant concerns for properties including the 100,000 square foot Wax Museum Entertainment Complex building in the heart of historic Fisherman’s Wharf, as well as Broadway Apartments. He also served as a third-generation operator/owner of the world-famous Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf until its sale in 2013.
In addition to announcing the new president & CEO, the annual CityBeat Breakfast explored diverse thought leadership on a range of challenges and opportunities facing San Francisco. Speakers included Mayor London Breed, Katrina Lake, Founder and CEO of Stitch Fix, Josh Burgess, VP of Global Community at the Unreasonable Group and Michael Pugliese, Economist with Wells Fargo. The Chamber also acknowledged Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The 2019 Dignity Health CityBeat poll showed that despite 52% of voters saying quality of life in the city is worse, 64% of people would rather live in San Francisco than anywhere else.
However, anxieties about homelessness and cost of living remain high – when asked what they feel are the major issues facing San Francisco today, 64 percent of respondents said homelessness, up from 44% in 2018. The other top issues were cost of rent/affordability at 41% and cost of owning a home at 30%. Jobs and the economy were cited by 24% of voters, up significantly from just 5% in 2018.
As concerns over homelessness grow, so does support for safe injection sites. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they support opening a supervised safe injection site for illicit drug users, up from 67% in 2018.
San Franciscans are supportive of several solutions, many related to transportation – the backbone of our city. Seventy-seven percent support constructing new tubes for BART, 80% support continuing construction of high-speed rail and 84% support developing additional ferry routes.
Housing also remains a top issue for voters. Sixty-three percent of voters said the availability of housing is worse in the city than a year ago. But there is strong support for solutions, especially building more and taller housing near our transit corridors. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they support building higher density near housing and job centers, with just 20% opposing.
“The poll says residents are invested in San Francisco such that they want to solve our problems,” said Mark Klein, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Dignity Health and Chair of the Chamber’s Public Policy Committee. “Our legacy of innovation together with this being the knowledge capital of the world says we will find the solutions. Our values and ideals compel us to do so.”
About the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is the largest and most influential business membership organization in San Francisco. The Chamber represents businesses of every size and industry in San Francisco and across the Bay Area. Acting on our mission to attract, support, and grow business through advocacy, economic development, and business development in San Francisco, the Chamber delivers more than 250 programs and events each year and advocates for a prosperous economy and high quality of life for everyone who lives, works and visits the city. More information about the Chamber is available at SFChamber.com.