What Is Reset San Francisco?

ResetSanFrancisco.org is an online and offline community dedicated to identifying, debating and implementing reforms that will make San Francisco the best run city in America. Many of these reforms are part of what is being called the Government 2.0 movement – a push to make sure that our city government is using all of the modern tools available to make San Francisco City Hall more responsive, more efficient and most of all – much more effective. But whether it is new technology or just plain old-fashioned common sense, Reset is all about bringing better ideas to San Francisco City Hall.

How can Reset San Francisco help improve San Francisco?

One of the core values behind Reset San Francisco is our strong belief that government will be better if more voices are heard.  Right now, just a relatively few voices command attention at City Hall – and many of those who do speak out on a regular basis work for government or work for companies and organizations with a direct self interest in the outcome of legislation.  Most of these people speaking out are certainly knowledgeable and dedicated. But if only the people who are part of what City Hall calls “The City Family” are heard, then government decisions wont reflect what the broader community wants and needs. By creating a community where San Francisco residents can learn more about government reform, understand the power of Government 2.0, hear from experts, hear from each other and find tools they can use to be heard effectively at City Hall – we are giving more residents the power to make change.

Can you give me one example of what you’re talking about?

We can give you many – but let’s start with a simple one. Right now, most city Boards and Commissions meet during the day when most of us are at work or school. Reset is proposing requiring city agencies to take YouTube testimony just like regular testimony, so people who can’t make it to City Hall can still make their voices heard. With one simple and absolutely free change, we could open up public comment to just about everybody with access to a computer. If you like that idea – you can sign our petition to make your voice heard.

We can’t resist giving you just a couple of more. One of the most effective programs in San Francisco is GoSolarSF – the nationally recognized local solar incentive that has helped create hundreds of new jobs and jumpstarted a local solar industry – while protecting our environment. The city is proposing to drastically reduce this highly effective programs – and Reset has been offering in-depth analysis to show how the small investment actually pays for itself while paying enormous economic and environmental dividends. We’ve brought experts to the table to review the issue. And we’ve given residents a chance to weigh in to protect GoSolarSF.

What kind of stories does Reset follow?

Any kind of Government 2.0 story is interesting to us – and we try to bring our Reset community news of how government is becoming more effective wherever that is happening. To the extent that there is a nexus between Web 2.0 and Government 2.0, we also frequently cover Web 2.0 news. But most of all, we are focusing on those stories, topics and debates that will help make San Francisco city government more effective and make San Francisco an even better place to live.

So when the new Clipper Cards were melting down, we covered that story. When the city was trying to create a “Parking Trap” by writing more parking tickets just to raise revenue, we covered that debate. Because we know San Francisco can’t work better until the Municipal Railway starts to work regularly, we cover the MUNI closely. So from the 38 Geary, J Church, 22 Fillmore and 30 Sutter Stockton – we try to be there when something goes wrong (and when something goes right, like the experiment with the San Francisco Parking App).

Because Reset is fundamentally about making San Francisco a better place to live, we are interested in stories about easier ways to get around, like biking and walking. And because a stronger economy would make everything else easier, we also cover economic initiatives and new ideas to promote high wage jobs.

We also cover San Francisco culture, we cover housing issues, we cover public education and we cover public safety. Spend a few minutes at Reset San Francisco and you will get a good idea of the kind of news, tools and policy we are providing. Want more? Become a Member and help us grow this community.

These stories are grouped into categories on our site – and the categories are:  transportation, education, better government, the environment, tax reform, neighborhoods, public safety, jobs, housing, arts and culture SF Favorites.

How do I use Reset San Francisco?

You can start by visiting Reset regularly and reading the daily posts and the many comments. This will give you an idea of how the site is used and how the community is evolving. You can watch our Ask an Expert features, join our community events, watch a video, sign up for email updates and become a part of our online communities on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you like what you read, see and hear – please become a Member of the community, which allows you to post comments, blog and help shape the Reset community policy.

What If I want to get more involved?

You can become a Reset Intern, Volunteer with Reset, and most of all – become a Reset Member so you can post and blog regularly.

Why do you only allow posts from members?

We want to promote a civil and constructive debate where people feel encouraged to share even very bold ideas. While you do not need to give your real name to join and can remain anonymous, we felt the Membership step would give us the ability to better moderate a civil debate.

Who Is behind Reset San Francisco?

Reset is paid for by the Phil Ting for Mayor campaign and Phil posts regularly on the site and helps shape policy. But the site is for everyone who cares about reform in San Francisco – regardless of who they support for mayor.

But isn’t this just a front for Phil Ting for Mayor…

No. Many of us support Phil, and we certainly hope he becomes mayor, but that is not the point of Reset San Francisco. This is about building support for great policy and holding politicians accountable for implementing that policy – regardless of who gets elected.

Who is Phil Ting?

As Assessor-Recorder of San Francisco, Phil Ting is a solutions-focused, innovative reformer whose efforts have enabled him to generate over $295 million in new revenue for San Francisco and make sure everyone pays their fair share in property taxes. Ting was appointed and later elected in 2005, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking Chinese-American official at the time.

He has focused on reducing the assessment backlog from four to two years and every dollar that his office brings in means more money for the city to fund crucial programs for children, seniors and families. Ting is a champion for innovative and good government policies in San Francisco.

Prior to serving as the Assessor-Recorder, Ting also had a long history of civil rights advocacy – he was the Executive Director of the Asian Law Caucus, an organization founded in 1972 to advance and promote the legal and civil rights of the Asian Pacific Islander community. He is president of the Bay Area Assessors Association and serves on numerous boards including Equality California Institute and the California Alumni Association (Go Bears!).

Ting is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He lives in San Francisco’s Sunset District with his wife, Susan Sun and their daughters, Isabella and Madeleine.

Will it continue after the election?

Absolutely. We want this to be an ongoing forum for promoting Government 2.0 in particular, and government reform in general.

What if I disagree with Phil Ting?

That’s fine. And that’s already happened. This is about a respectful debate that helps us advance better policies. We don’t need to always agree to do that. The point is to create a better city – not just to elect one person.

Why do you criticize the Municipal Railway so much?

Our members are focused on MUNI because so many of use the San Francisco Municipal Railway every day. So when there is a Clipper Card disaster, we know about it. When the N-Judah starts throwing passengers off the train before getting to the end of the line (usually in the rain) that is happening to us. When the 38-Geary is so crowded nobody can board, we’re there. Or when four 24-Divisadero coaches are running together, we see.

We’re happy to report when the Municipal Railways does something right – like our review of the new SF Parking App called SFPark.

Why are you so critical of San Francisco politicians?

Are we really?

Seriously, we heard Phil Ting say once that San Francisco has the best politicians in America. The problem isn’t really with our politicians, but with how we elect them and how we hold them accountable.

When you think about it – we do have pretty good politicians. Dianne Feinstein, Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, even Jerry Brown is from San Francisco.  So if we create so many great politicians, how come our policy isn’t always as great?

That’s one of the key points behind Reset – creating a way to elect leaders and hold them accountable for promoting and implementing the kind of great policies that will make our schools better, the MUNI run, the economy stronger, the streets cleaner and safer. We are not trying to be critical of anyone. But we are offering a critique of how San Francisco can be a better-run city.

What is Government 2.0?

Good question. Government 2.0 means a lot of things to a lot of people. But to us Gov 2.0 is making sure San Francisco city government is as creative and effective as the rest of San Francisco. All over the city we are nurturing start up businesses that are driving the new economy. We want San Francisco city government to master the new tools that make these startups so effective. Whether that means using YouTube to take testimony, or Twitter to predict and prevent crimes, or iPhone apps to promote health, or any other of the new tools out there that would make San Francisco City Hall faster, more effective and more responsive to us.

Why does Phil Ting care about Gov 2.0?

The most progressive thing that government can do is to work for its citizens. The era of Gov 2.0 makes this concept more possible – and plausible – than ever before. Phil believes that reducing barriers to citizen involvement and therefore empowering citizens to hold their governments accountable will make for a better and more efficient city. Whether it’s paying your parking ticket online or submitting testimony to the Board of Supervisors via YouTube, harnessing the power of the Internet and online tools will serve to enhance our democracy.

What is Open Government?

Another good question. Some people think of it more like “Open Source” government, where data like MUNI bus routes is made available so third party apps can be programmed. Others use it more as a synonym for Sunshine in government – requiring openness from elected officials and greater public participation. Reset sees both of these parts of Open Government as important to implement in San Francisco.

How come you bring up ideas without taking a position?

We’ve been criticized by some folks for starting controversial discussion threads on issues without first taking a Reset position or a Phil Ting for Mayor position – but we think that is exactly the point of Reset.  We are trying to create a place where San Franciscans can improve their government and their city by exploring and debating even very controversial ideas. We hope this open and honest debate will help us unite around solutions, large and small. We think this kind of open debate requires creating a safe space where our members can say “what about this?” without having to reach a conclusion – so they can hear from others, get facts and get broad input before making a decision.

Phil Ting has said, “One of the most dangerous things you can do in San Francisco is tell the truth.” Sometimes many folks don’t want controversial ideas debated. We think better government means being willing to look at all ideas out there with an open mind.

Is Reset just online?

No – we also have regular events around the city. Stay in touch with us and we’ll let you know when our next “Pop Up” campaign event will be.

How can I help Reset?

The best way is to Become a Member and start contributing to Reset. You can also sign up for our newsletter. You can follow us on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. You can follow us on YouTube, come to our events or even – if the spirit moves you – make a contribution. All online contributions are used exclusively to build the Reset online community.

Can I submit a blog?

You bet. Become a Member and follow instructions to submit online.

What is your mobile presence?

Please use your mobile device to follow us and readout blog at http://m.resetsanfrancisco.org. We also have a pretty cool FlipBoard presence, so check us out on your Tablet if you have one.

What is the Reset Poll?

The Reset San Francisco poll is a regular online survey. We invite all San Francisco voters with emails on the voter file to participate. We report numbers for those voters who describe themselves as very likely or certain to vote. We regularly receive more than 2,000 responses with about 805 of respondents describing themselves as likely voters.

What is Reset Revealed?

Reset Revealed is our tame version of Wikileaks. We publish documents that our Reset correspondents send in that we think might be of interest to our readers. If you have information you think needs to see the light of day – go ahead and send it to [email protected].

What is Stories to Follow?

Law enforcement using smart technology to apprehend criminals

Stories to Follow is a feature where we take a story that has been published on another blog or in a newspaper and try to add some context and give our readers some tools they can use to take action. The mainstream media is frequently breaking great stories. We try to amplify those stories with any new information and ways to let elected officials and others know you want the issues reported to be addressed.

How can I get on your community calendar?

Send us items at [email protected].

What are Reset Inspirations?

Anybody trying something new in government inspires us. We certainly follow closely the Participatory Budgeting experiments that are giving residents more power to make decisions absent special interest political pressures. We are also following the Deliberative Polling plans being advanced around the world, and now being tied in California.

Who makes up the Reset Team?

Reset San Francisco is staffed by a very dedicated team of volunteers and part time and full time interns. On the professional side, the site is coded and maintained by Storefront Political Media based in San Francisco. The overall Storefront team is led by Eric Jaye, with Kate Maeder leading the content and design team and a broad group of Storefront staff helping with content, including Ben Shore, Eric Pugatch, Nick Vojdani and Bergen Kenney.

What if I want to work at Reset?

Send your resume and writing and other creative samples to us at [email protected]. No promises, but we probably will hire more staff in the future and are always looking for dedicated folks who think Government 2.0 and better government in general can make a difference for San Francisco.

If you have any other questions, contact us at [email protected].