San Francisco’s citizen-level optimism 

Is San Francisco on the right track? Need you ask? Of course it is. How could a city with such a colorful, creative past not be forging a bold path to the future? Still, the local Chamber of Commerce regularly measures how residents feel about their prospects, this week revealing results of its newest survey. The pleasant news: Fifty-six percent of those canvassed said The City is on the correct trajectory, compared with 33 percent who registered that assessment two years ago.

The positive tidings may come as a surprise to those accustomed to reading about scandal at the highest level of political leadership, not to mention those who witness and experience the never-ending problems of homelessness, crime, unreliable public transportation and other nettlesome issues. Indeed, 41 percent of the respondents, according to pollster David Binder, keep homelessness and panhandling at the top of their list of problems needing to be addressed.

Turning to politics, a strong 72 percent approved of the job Mayor Gavin Newsom is doing — this despite his recent admission of an affair with the wife of his top aide and checking himself in for alcohol-related rehabilitation. Such a showing certainly puts wind behind the mayor as he enters a re-election campaign this year. The number should discomfit the mayor’s left-tilting rivals on the Board of Supervisors, who seem to have worked overtime to make The City unwelcome to business.

It’s not as if Newsom somehow pulls city government to the right. He has managed to set a progressive agenda for The City, launching initiatives on health care and eco-friendly programs while not alienating substantial portions of the business community. It’s a course that serves him well with the greater population of San Francisco.

To remain optimistic and live in The City, one need do no more than consider its past energy and watch it continue to remake the skyline South of Market. "This struggling town shall be a vast metropolis," wrote Mark Twain, who spent no small period of time here. "Has any other city a future like San Francisco?" To ask that question is to answer it.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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