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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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San Francisco CountyCandidate for Supervisor, District 6

Photo of Sonja Trauss

Sonja Trauss

Housing Non-profit Director
4,759 votes (18.78%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Resolve the homelessness crisis by building more supportive and affordable housing, more emergency shelters, funding a right to civil counsel program to help keep people in their homes in the first place, and legalizing affordable housing city-wide.
  • Truly put pedestrians first by prioritizing street space for walking and other human powered transit, and taking away street space designed to be occupied by cars. We need wider sidewalks, more crosswalks and transit only lanes, and timed lights.
  • Set a precedent of a D6 that’s highly responsive to constituent needs. I will regularly talk with residents and businesses and make the political process more accessible to everyone.



Sonja Trauss is currently the Executive Director of California Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA, Sonja founded CaRLA in late 2015 when she discovered that while CA State Law requires every CA locality to build a certain amount of housing, those laws are routinely violated and that no organization was regularly enforcing those laws. CaRLA has ongoing lawsuits in Dublin, Solano County and San Mateo County. CaRLA has won or settled lawsuits in Lafayette, Marin County and Berkeley. These precedent-setting victories make future violations of the law less likely. 

In 2014, while working as a high school math teacher, Sonja started organizing pro-housing renters to advocate for policies that would create more housing in the Bay Area in order to prevent displacement and reduce housing prices and rent levels. Sonja was instrumental in building the YIMBY movement from just a few friends writing letters to the SF Planning Commission to a 1500 member group in San Francisco and many similar pro-housing groups all over the state of CA. 

During 2016, while CaRLA was litigating its first case against the City of Lafayette for trying to build 44 luxury single family homes instead of 315 moderate-income apartments, Sonja and her team discovered ways the Housing Accountability Act could be made stronger. So they wrote these into amendmendments and had them passed in 2017, as SB 167. 

Prior to moving to the Bay Area in 2011, Sonja earned a Masters degree in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis. During the recession, Sonja worked at Philadelphia Legal Services as a paralegal, helping to defend low income homeowners from foreclosure. She was involved with the arts, she founded a brigade called “The Vaude-villains” in the Philadelphia Mummers Parade which is a costume parade held on New Years Day. 

After graduating from Temple University with a degree in Philosophy, Sonja worked at her Neighborhood Advisory Committee as a neighborhood organizer. Before college, Sonja worked as a window washer and a bike messenger. 

Sonja lives at 7th and Natoma with her husband Ethan, who is an electrician and a small business owner, and her 10 month old son Anton.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

My number one priority for D6 is to resolve the homelessness crisis by ensuring adequate housing, at affordable prices and creating a social safety net. 

To reduce (or eliminate) homelessness we need to build more supportive and affordable housing, more emergency shelters and also fund the recently passed right to civil counsel program to help keep people in their homes in the first place. 

In order to build more supportive housing, we have to increase the amount of land available for this type of housing. Currently, affordable housing is effectively illegal in almost 80% of San Francisco. I would introduce an affordable housing overlay, legalizing affordable housing everywhere in SF.  

Most San Franciscans don’t realize that it is illegal to build affordable housing in 78.6% of San Francisco. Affordable housing developers have to be able to build at least 50 units at a time. This means they have to be able to build at least medium sized apartment buildings, but apartment buildings are illegal in most of San Francisco. In most residentially zoned areas, current city zoning law prohibits buildings with 5 or more apartments:

Typically, politicians have presented San Franciscans with a false choice, which creates false scarcity. We are led to believe that market rate housing has to compete with affordable housing because we don’t have enough room for both kinds of housing. In fact, we have plenty of room. San Francisco has the potential to have ten times as much land available for affordable housing as we do now.

In addition, I am supportive of Prop C, which would tax gross receipts to pay for housing, shelter, mental healthcare and homelessness prevention. If this ballot measure doesn’t succeed, I would put something similar on the ballot as a supervisor.

My second priority is to truly put pedestrians first by prioritizing street space for walking and other human powered transit, and taking away street space designed to be occupied by cars. Sidewalks can accommodate six times as many people as streets in any given time period. Because we have so many people seeking to move around in district six, we have to design streets to prioritize the most efficient uses. 

Many of the people using the sidewalks are low mobility - elderly, disabled, or traveling with young children. This is why it is essential that traffic move slowly and safely in our district, and we have shorter blocks, sufficient time for walking across the street, wider sidewalks and narrower streets.

We should also return benches and other street furniture to our public areas. As the mother of a young child (10 months old) I already wish there were benches for me to rest with the baby. People who are elderly or disabled have a similar need. Finally - public furniture can create a welcoming public community space for residents to meet each other and share. 

Some people oppose street furniture because they think it will be monopolized by drug users. I believe this is needlessly pessimistic. With or without street furniture, we need to address the public health crisis on our streets presented by rampant drug use. The way to address this is by creating safe injection sites, opening more detox centers (many have closed or moved out of SF in the past 5 years), and helping people avoid beginning, at least, an addiction related to becoming homeless by having enough shelter that no one should need to sleep outside.

We need 15-20 foot wide sidewalks, most streets no wider than 2 lanes of car traffic and crosswalks at every intersection. We need to protect and expand our network of alleys and small streets. Finally, I would like to have timed lights so that traffic north of division street and east of Van Ness goes no more than 25 mph. 

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