Dean Preston has to be replaced.
GrowSF supports a more livable, sustainable, and affordable city. Dean Preston does not.
We firmly believe that Supervisor Preston's policies and actions have shown a disregard for fiscal responsibility, sustainable growth, public safety, and effective governance. We must hold him accountable.
Sign up so you don't miss any of the 30 reasons why we should Dump Dean Preston in 2024:
31 Reasons to Dump Dean Preston
With a keen focus on fostering economic growth, encouraging innovation, and supporting public safety, GrowSF has been a steadfast advocate for policies that position San Francisco as a city of opportunity and prosperity for all. Dean Preston has opposed these goals at every turn.
Dean Preston votes against building more housing, votes against businesses, and he doesn't care about crime that's affecting our residents and our small business community.
Don't believe us? Follow along every day in July for 30 reasons why we should Dump Dean Preston in 2024:
1. Dean Preston blocked the construction of over 30,000 new homes.
During his time as a San Francisco Supervisor, Dean Preston has helped block over 30,000 new homes for individuals and families.
His anti-housing policies have made San Francisco one of the most expensive cities in the world, and have made it impossible for many to live here.
2. Dean Preston opposed the School Board recall
Despite every precinct in his district voting to recall the School Board, Dean Preston opposed the recall of the School Board and stood by Alison Collins, who was recalled by over 3/4 of voters. Alongside School Board members López and Moliga, Collins was recalled for her racist tweets and her failure to address the learning loss of our students during the pandemic.
Dean Preston's opposition to the recall and continued support of Alison Collins and Gabriela López shows that he is out of touch with the voters in his district and cares more about the political careers of his friends than about great public school education.
To get a refresher on why 3/4 of voters supported the School Board Recall, read the GrowSF School Board Recall Voter Guide.
3. Dean Preston tried to defund muni
Dean Preston tried to defund Muni by approximately $200 million dollars by eliminating fare collection. This would have resulted in at least a 20% reduction in service, and would have made it harder for people to get to work, school, and other places they need to go.
He pitched it as "free Muni" but had absolutely no plan to shore up the $200 million in lost revenue.
Polls have shown that riders care far more about quality of service than they do about a $2.50 fare.
"When researching our forthcoming report, Who’s on Board 2019, we surveyed 1700 transit riders in seven different cities across the US. What we heard is that most low-income bus riders rate lowering fares as less important than improving the quality of the service. This suggests that if a transit agency had to choose between devoting funds to reducing fares or to maintaining or improving service, most riders would prefer the latter. The idea of making transit “free” turns out to be less appealing to the public than making improvements to transit."
Riders are asking for cleanliness, safety, faster service, and more frequent service, not free fares. Dean Preston's plan would have made all of these concerns worse.
4. Dean Preston will never compromise
Compromise is a great American virtue and absolutely necessary for effective governance. Dean Preston has shown that he is unwilling to compromise on anything, and doesn't even view compromise as a valuable trait.
In his first speech of the 2023 legislative season, Dean Preston reminded us what he thinks about compromise:
We deserve elected officials who will compromise with people they disagree with to move the city forward.
5. Dean Preston is associated with a fake news site
An investigation by the SF Standard discovered that Dean's allies at the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) created a fake news site called the "San Francisco Independent Journal" to promote Dean Preston and other DSA candidates.
"The Standard, along with experts in online disinformation campaigns, reviewed authors' pages on the website and found that more than a third of them do not appear to be real people."
— Josh Koehn at the SF Standard
That a sitting government official would be associated with and benefit from a fake news site run by his political cronies is shocking. Our elected officials should be held to a high standard of ethics and transparency, and Dean Preston has failed to meet that standard.
"No individual benefited from the SF Independent Journal’s coverage more than Preston. In the lead-up to a crucial runoff election in November 2020, when he defeated Vallie Brown to be re-elected to the Board of Supervisors, the website began publishing numerous stories touting his accomplishments. The positive coverage continued after Preston’s victory up until February of this year, often casting him as a champion for renters and labor unions. The top story on the website lauds Preston as the lone vote to defund the police and stand up for social housing.
The site published more than 70 stories since its 2020 launch through February 2022, when the last fresh story appeared. More than a quarter of these stories either gave Preston a passing mention or more directly praised him. A glowing Q&A with Preston was shared by the supervisor on his Twitter account."
— Josh Koehn at the SF Standard
6. Dean Preston fought against representing the Tenderloin
During the 2022 redistricting process, Dean Preston repeatedly fought against representing the Tenderloin. We think it's fair to ask: If Dean Preston didn't even want to represent the TL in the first place, why should he be re-elected to do it again?
"These redistricting maps are pretty much a crime scene at this point."
— Dean Preston on Twitter
When asked directly how he felt about representing the Tenderloin, he revealed he'd much rather keep his neighborhood the same. Sure, he included the necessary compliment that it'd be "an honor," but he immediately revealed his true feelings: "but not at the expense of losing half of District 5," was his response.
"Preston represents District Five, the boundaries of which the task force has considered overhauling by adding the Tenderloin and part of SoMa while removing the Haight-Ashbury and other areas in the district’s west side. Preston has been strongly opposed to those changes."
— J.D. Morris in the SF Chronicle
A Supervisor should cherish the responsibility and opportunity to represent one of the city's most racially diverse, culturally dynamic, and historically important neighborhoods. Not in spite of its current problems, but because of them. The Tenderloin deserves better than to be treated as a containment zone for crime, but a Supervisor who didn't want it in the first place isn't able to rise to the challenge.
7. Dean Preston tried to interfere in nonpartisan redistricting
During the 2022 redistricting process, Dean Preston was part of a partisan political faction that tried to interfere in the fair and nonpartisan redistricting process. This faction attempted a coup to replace three commissioners who weren't going along with their plan to gerrymander the city to their political advantage.
“I don’t know what in the world they’re thinking,” the Rev. Arnold Townsend, the chair of the task force [said]
— J.D. Morris in the SF Chronicle
Both Supervisors Preston and Peskin were big supporters of this coup.
"Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Dean Preston have both praised the Elections Commission’s consideration of replacing its appointees on the task force. [...]
Preston said the task force was “completely out of control."
— J.D. Morris in the SF Chronicle
In response to this partisan coup attempt, the redistricting task force released a strongly worded statement (PDF) condemning the attempt to interfere in the nonpartisan redistricting process:
"This proposal to remove us as Task Force members is not only an attack on the independence of our committee, but it also fundamentally undermines the public trust in our democratic process. If your Commission chooses to remove us from the Task Force only a few days before the redistricting process is finalized and after all the work we’ve been doing for weeks, the public will not, and frankly should not, have any reason to trust the legitimacy of the process or the fairness of our electoral system."
Quite simply, we cannot trust someone who will show such contempt for good government and democracy to hold elected office.
8. Dean Preston doesn't listen to Tenderloin merchants
When Tenderloin merchants asked for help from Supervisor Preston, he first ignored them, then he insulted them.
The Tenderloin Business Coalition is a group of merchants and business owners in the Tenderloin who are trying to survive in the middle of an open-air drug market. They've been asking for help from Supervisor Preston for months, and last December circulated a petition calling on Preston to help them close the open-air drug markets plaguing their neighborhood.
Preston responded with his typical disdain and misrepresentation: "I don’t spend as much time meeting with the business interests that have made it clear they want to arrest and incarcerate drug users in San Francisco."
The Tenderloin Business Coalition sent a scathing letter in response to Dean Preston:
"The TBC has never advocated for the arrest or incarceration of drug users. The TBC’s singular objective is unambiguous: To focus the attention of City leaders and resources on closing the open-air drug markets that have operated with impunity in our neighborhood for far too long. You can read the public demands we made in our petition which was signed by over 200 business operators and property owners from your district and previously submitted to your office.
We asked you for alternative strategies and you provided none
You seem only to be interested in action that promotes your own personal ideology.
Since you made it very clear that you would not support us, we have focused our time and energy on working with Mayor Breed, SFPD, City agencies and sympathetic supervisors of other districts"
— Tenderloin Business Coalition in a letter to Dean Preston
9. Dean Preston voted against the Tenderloin Emergency Initiative
This emergency declaration unlocked more support from the city to clean up the streets, prevent overdoses, and provide better safety & outreach services, but Dean opposed it.
"The declaration would put the city’s emergency management department in charge of the public health crisis response and speed up Breed’s ability to open a service center within weeks where outreach workers can refer people on the streets to housing and treatment."
Dean Preston and Shamann Walton were the only two supervisors to vote against the emergency declaration. They let their ideological opposition to any form of policing get in the way of helping the Tenderloin.
"Preston said [the Mayor's] hearing didn’t assure him the declaration wouldn’t be used for policing"
We can't let ideology stand in the way of common-sense solutions. We need a supervisor who will listen to the Tenderloin's families, merchants, and workers and work alongside the Mayor to solve real problems.
10. Dean Preston still wants to defund the police and abolish prisons
76% of San Franciscans want more police in high-crime neighborhoods. 45% of San Franciscans report being victims of theft, with over 50% of Black and mixed-race San Franciscans being victims. 79% of people say they feel more comfortable riding BART when there is a uniformed police officer or security present.
Yet Dean Preston STILL wants to defund the police and abolish prisons.
Dean Preston is criminally out of touch with the needs of families in the Tenderloin who are sick of living among open-air drug markets and rampant crime. The fundamental contract between citizens and our government is that we will be kept safe and all of us will follow the law. Dean Preston doesn't live up to that contract.
11. Dean voted against SFPD full-staffing
Dean Preston voted against the SFPD creating a full-staffing plan, which would help SFPD shore up its officer shortage.
As of July 2023, San Francisco only has about 1,500 police officers for a city of over 800,000 people, or about 187 officers per 100k. Meanwhile, the European Union average is about 330 officers per 100k. To meet the European Union average, San Francisco would need to hire 1,000 more officers, bumping our staffing from 1,500 to about 2,500 officers.
Nobody thinks the European Union is over-policed. Instead, they have an adequate number of police to ensure no officers are over-worked and they put their officers through rigorous training. We should copy this model. Well rested, well trained, and well paid officers will do their jobs better and be less likely to make mistakes.
But Dean Preston's focus on defunding police means we get fewer officers, who are are over-worked and under-trained. This is a recipe for disaster.
12. Dean called President Biden a "national disgrace" for supporting police funding
Showing how radical and out of touch he is with the needs of San Franciscans & Americans writ large, Dean Preston called President Biden a "national disgrace" for supporting police funding. Safe communities are not a partisan issue, and working across the aisle to ensure everyone can live somewhere safe is a testament to our Democracy's strength.
But instead of celebrating President Biden's bipartisan efforts, Dean Preston called him a "national disgrace". This is not the kind of leadership San Francisco needs.
13. Dean Preston voted against overtime funding for understaffed & overworked SFPD
Not only did Dean vote against a full-staffing plan (see reason #11), he voted against funding overtime for the few officers we actually have available to serve.
It's obvious that when you don't have enough workers, you need to pay overtime to cover all of the necessary work. This is especially true for vital public safety roles like police officers, especially given rampant property crimes in San Francisco. Ideally, we hire about 1,000 more officers to bring San Francisco in line with the European Union, but in the meantime we just have to pay overtime.
But Dean Preston voted against paying officers for their time. This is a slap in the face to our officers who are already overworked and underpaid.
14. Dean Preston opposes arresting fentanyl dealers
We know this sounds unbelievable, but Dean Preston thinks fentanyl dealers should not be arrested or prosecuted.
GrowSF asked every Supervisor a simple question: "Do you support the arrest and prosecution of the fentanyl dealers who are killing San Franciscans?" The only Supervisor to not say yes was Dean Preston.
"[Preston's] position stands in contrast with many residents and small business owners in the Tenderloin"
"Preston dismisses the approach as pointless"
— Heather Knight for The Chronicle
Fentanyl has killed over 3,000 San Franciscans since 2017, with about 1,000 of those deaths occurring in Dean's district. Since January 2020, Fentanyl overdoses have killed over twice as many people as Covid-19, yet Preston apparently thinks ignoring the problem will make it go away.
This is a public health and public safety crisis, and we deserve an elected official who takes it seriously.
15. Dean Preston fought against outdoor dining
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our city. They provide jobs, tax revenue, incredible food, and a sense of community. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we all came together to help them stay alive. From buying gift cards, to donating, to ordering takeout, we all did our part to help our favorite restaurants survive.
Outdoor dining was a huge boon for restaurants, allowing them to serve customers while keeping everyone safe. But as we emerged from the lockdowns and back to normal life, this beloved program was under threat. Ideologues like Dean Preston and Aaron Peskin thought we were being too friendly to the entrepreneurs feeding our city.
When the emergency orders expired and GrowSF helped make outdoor dining a permanent program, Peskin and Preston tried to kill it by making it illegal for restaurants to lock their spaces up overnight. Securing property is essential to prevent theft, graffiti, and destruction of property. Peskin and Preston knew restaurateurs would simply shut their outdoor dining program down rather than let their spaces get destroyed.
We think we should help small businesses thrive, not force them to be victims of crime.
16. Dean sided with NIMBYs to stop vital health and safety projects
During the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, city departments had to act fast to build safe spaces for essential workers and city employees, but NIMBYs Dean Preston and Aaron Peskin tried to stop them.
At issue was legislation from Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Matt Haney that would have made it impossible for one grumpy person to stop a city project if it’s important to public safety or health, if it can be reversed, or if it’s temporary.
Rather than support city workers in their response to a global pandemic, he upheld NIMBY process as the ultimate virtue and killed this common-sense good-government reform. We believe that the city should be able to build things — especially when it's to respond to an emergency. The rights of build-nothing and change-nothing curmudgeons should not be prioritized over the health and safety of our city.
17. Dean stopped the conversion of a vacant gas station into housing
Over 300 homes don't exist today at 400 Divisadero because Dean Preston sided with NIMBYs to stop the conversion of a vacant gas station into housing.
Where are Dean's priorities? Are they with families struggling to afford San Francisco? Are his priorities with young people and immigrants who want to move to San Francisco for opportunity? Are his priorities with the people who want to live in a walkable neighborhood with great transit and access to jobs? Are his priorities with the environment, and reducing our carbon footprint by building housing near transit?
Or are his priorities only to fight all change, damn the consequences?
18. Dean fought the expansion of UCSF hospital during a global pandemic
During the Covid-19 global pandemic, UCSF Parnassus proposed a plan to modernize, improve earthquake safety, and expand their hospital campus in order to bring life-saving treatments to more people. The plan would double the number of beds at UCSF hospital and bring new, advanced medical technology on-site. UCSF also proposed building new research facilities that would provide both great jobs and medical breakthroughs.
His stated reasons for opposing the project include "expanding beyond a “space cap” that was the subject of a 1976 agreement" and that the project was large:
It is, by any measure, a major expansion that will impact not only this campus and the surrounding neighborhoods, but the entire city.
San Francisco deserves an elected official who prioritizes the health of its residents over fear of change. We deserve an elected official who will support the expansion of our world-class medical facilities. We deserve an elected official who will support the creation of good jobs and medical breakthroughs. We deserve better than Dean Preston.
19. Dean also fought against 2,000 low-income homes at UCSF
Oh yeah, not only did Dean fight against expanding the UCSF hospital, he also opposed building nearly 2,000 homes for low-income and middle class people. He says he's pro-tenant and pro-affordable-housing, but he consistently kills developments that build homes for people who need them.
He used the standard good-sounding objections that the homes weren't affordable enough. But every time, these fights lead to building less housing overall. We need abundant housing, not nit-picked housing.
20. Dean Preston supports the court injunction keeping people in tents
Have you noticed there are more tents recently? That's because US District Court Judge Ryu issued an injunction (PDF) that is stopping San Francisco from moving people out of tents and into shelter. The injunction is outrageous and does not let city leaders make even incremental improvements for homeless who need housing and can get it.
But while Mayor Breed and City Attorney David Chiu are both fighting for the right to bring people indoors, Dean Preston is fighting to keep tents on the street. "The City should not appeal Judge Ryu's ruling," argues Dean Preston.
This injunction says that San Francisco cannot move a single homeless person unless it can house all homeless people. A reasonable person would think "surely if there's one open bed, we can bring one person inside." But Dean isn't reasonable. He believes we need to have ten thousand open beds before we can move one person indoors.
21. Dean Preston killed homeless housing in Japantown
We've all put our foot in our mouth on occasion, but comparing a homeless shelter to a concentration camp is a new low. Dean Preston compared a homeless shelter in Japantown to a WWII Japanese internment camp and then killed the project.
This shelter would have provided beds for over 130 homeless people, helping them connect with social and medical services, feel safe, and get off the streets and back on their feet. But nothing is ever good enough for Dean.
Rather than fight for the shelter, Dean Preston killed it.
22. Dean Preston's policies promote private security over public safety
San Francisco has upwards of 8,000 private security and just 1,500 officers. That's a ratio of over 5 to 1. The American average is just 1.3 to 1, according to Forbes, meaning that San Francisco has four times the private security of the average city.
It is not normal for a city to offload so much of public safety to private contractors who are not subject to civilian oversight, but when Dean Preston pushes forward polices that defund the police, it is the private security companies that benefit. When a government fails to provide security, people who can afford it will buy it for themselves.
We believe San Franciscans should have a well trained police force with civilian oversight, not a private security force that is accountable to no one. Does Dean?
23. Dean Preston hates the Blue Angels
Ok, we know this one is pretty silly, but not everything has to be high stakes and serious! Sometimes we just want to have fun. But Dean Preston is no fun.
Dean Preston hates the Blue Angels, and thinks we should make it illegal for them to fly over San Francisco. We think the Blue Angels are cool and a lot of fun to watch.
But beyond just being cool, the Blue Angels and Fleet Week boost morale for our troops, bring in millions of dollars in tourism revenue (see what happened last time parts of Fleet Week were cancelled), and is hailed as a "model for fleet weeks" around the country.
"[San Francisco Fleet Week] (SFFW) creates important and lasting relationships for its partners and generates over $10M in annual revenue for the city. SFFW is now recognized by the United States Department of Defense as the model for fleet weeks across the country."
We think it's great that San Francisco hosts the Blue Angels, and we think it's silly that Dean Preston wants to ban them.
24. Dean Preston still supports Gabriela López, who was recalled
Despite being recalled by over 70% of San Franciscans for her disastrous policies, Dean Preston still supports recalled School Board Commissioner Gabriela López.
López presided over a School Board that contracted a vendor to rebuild the teacher payment system, which has failed to pay teachers on time for over a year. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she refused to reopen schools even after private schools were back in session, leading to San Francisco's public school children experiencing some of the worst learning loss in the country. And she didn't even accept that those children were negatively impacted, instead calling it "different learning" in a bombshell interview in the New Yorker.
Dean Preston needs to accept the will of the voters and move on, not hang on to failed politicians.
25. Dean Preston backed Alison Collins after her racist anti-Asian tweets
Dean Preston was the ONLY Supervisor to not call for Alison Collins' resignation after her racist anti-Asian tweets surfaced. These tweets led to her ultimate recall from the School Board, which passed with over 76% of the vote.
Collins accused Asian Americans of using "white supremacist thinking" to "get ahead" and called Asian Americans "house n****rs" in a series of tweets that surfaced in March 2021.
She was removed from her position as Vice President of the School Board, and then sued the school district for over $80 million (the lawsuit was dismissed as meritless). Ultimately, frustrated parents organized a recall, collected 80,000+ signatures, and she was recalled. You can read more about Alison Collins and her recall on the GrowSF voter guide from February, 2022.
Why was Dean the only Supervisor to stand behind someone who clearly cared so little for Asian American students and families in San Francisco?
26. Dean opposes merit-based admission at Lowell
Lowell High School was ranked #54 in the country by US News & World Report, and is the #1 public high school in San Francisco. Admission to lowell has been merit-based, requiring high test scores and aptitude. But under the Board of Education which was recalled by San Franciscans, that admissions policy was changed to a random lottery. Now, test scores for incoming freshman have plummeted and high-achieving student from all economic backgrounds no longer have a path to a top-tier college education. Lowell's ranking has declined to #82 in the country since the change was implemented.
Dean Preston supports this change and has argued that the change "has been working."
This is out of touch with data from the school district and testimonials from students and parents. High aptitude students deserve a high performing public school that is accessible to every economic background. Now, high-aptitude students must pony up for private school to get the education they deserve.
27. Dean has never stated support for 8th grade algebra
Why has Dean Preston never stated a position of support for teaching algebra in 8th grade? Access to algebra in 8th grade is the biggest equity issue in our public schools right now, but Dean has been silent.
Equity advocates argued that banning algebra in 8th grade would improve Black and Hispanic math performance, but the opposite happened.
"Not only did [algebra] detracking not achieve its stated goals of advancing math equity in San Francisco, it actually harmed Black and brown students. By the end of 10th grade, Algebra 2 enrollments of Black and brown students declined[...] Instead, most of the district’s Black and Latino students ended up in a diluted “compression” course that lacked about 75% of the state’s precalculus “+” standards" [...] "between 2015 and 2019, at the state level, the eleventh-grade Black-White student gap grew by 11 points—from 94 to 105—while in SFUSD, the gap expanded by 15 points (from 143 to 158). The outcomes are even worse for Hispanic students. The Hispanic-White gap at the state level gap grew by only 5 points, but in SF, it grew by 31 points.""
Dean has clearly and loudly stated support for two of the biggest supporters of this failed idea (See Reason #24: Gabriela López and Reason #25: Alison Collins), and has never distanced himself from their positions on teaching math. Presumably, that's because he believes in the same failed policies.
Let's teach our kids math, not ideology.
28. Dean Preston opposed the Chesa Boudin recall
Dean Preston opposed the Chesa Boudin recall and called its supporters "conservatives" and declared its proponents guilty of spreading "smears" and "misinformation". This is a slap in the face to the residents of the Tenderloin, who voted in favor of the recall at almost 60%, and are tired of being treated with disrespect and like a crime containment zone.
You may disagree on the merits of the recall. Indeed, reasonable people can and do disagree. But we expect our elected officials to treat us all with respect. But Dean always reaches for insults.
29. Dean Preston ignores constituent emails
One of the most common complaints we hear at GrowSF is that Dean Preston ignores constituent emails and phone calls. If you've emailed his office and actually gotten a response, consider yourself one of the lucky ones! In his time in office he's built a reputation of being unresponsive or dismissive of constituent complaints.
We're working on a full analysis of Dean's responsiveness, but in the meantime, we'd love to hear your stories. If you've emailed Dean Preston and were ignored or brushed off, please drop us a line!
30. Dean Preston is just a mean person
From insults to threats to lies, Dean Preston is just a mean person. He's mean to his constituents, he's mean to his colleagues, and he's mean to his opponents. He's unable to disagree with anyone without labeling them a billionaire or a conservative, and he's unable to accept that anyone can disagree with him in good faith.
He seems to believe any deviation from socialism is because voters have been tricked, rather than accepting that some people just disagree with him.
We deserve a Supervisor who is kind, respectful, and willing to work with people who disagree with him.
We deserve a Supervisor who will listen to his constituents and respond to their concerns.
We deserve a Supervisor who will work with his colleagues to find common ground and build consensus.
We deserve a Supervisor who will accept that people can disagree with him in good faith.
We deserve a Supervisor who will treat everyone with respect.
We deserve better than Dean Preston.
31. Dean Preston blames victims
Have you been a victim of a car break-in? Dean Preston wants you to know that it's YOUR FAULT. Rather than sufficiently staff and fund police to prevent car break-ins, Dean Preston thinks the real solution is to blame victims for leaving things in their car.
Look, we didn't want to keep going after 30 reasons. We really didn't. But Dean Preston just keeps giving us more reasons to vote him out of office.
Your donations to GrowSF PAC will be used to oppose Dean Preston, and support a candidate that emerges to challenge him.
We are a small team working full-time, every day to help San Francisco. We had a lot of wins in 2022, but our work is not done. This year we are expanding our education efforts, advocating for good things around the city, finding candidates to run in 2024, and more.
We support a more livable, sustainable, and affordable city. We want clean & safe streets, great public schools, well-run transit, a vibrant and thriving economy, and more housing.
Many elections in SF end up being decided by literally dozens of votes. Our goal is to help you get informed on local issues, share ways to get engaged, and create change. Your vote can make the difference.
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