For San Francisco Democratic central committee

About Rafael

Growing​ ​up​ ​in​ ​the​ ​City,​ ​Rafael​ ​attended​ ​Brandeis​ ​Hillel​ ​Day​ ​School​ ​and​ ​Lick-Wilmerding​ ​High School​ ​before​ ​going​ ​to​ ​Yale​ ​on​ ​scholarship.​ ​While​ ​at​ ​Yale​ ​he​ ​studied​ ​affordable​ ​housing​ ​and community​ ​development—returning​ ​in​ ​the​ ​summer​ ​to​ ​teach​ ​at-risk​ ​San​ ​Francisco​ ​middle​ ​school students. 

After​ ​receiving​ ​a​ ​masters​ ​degree​ ​in​ ​public​ ​policy​ ​from​ ​Harvard​ ​and​ ​a​ ​law​ ​degree​ ​from​ ​UC Berkeley,​ ​Rafael​ ​returned​ ​home​ ​to​ ​San​ ​Francisco.​ ​As​ ​a​ ​District​ ​8​ ​resident​ ​for​ ​the​ ​past​ ​two decades,​ ​Rafael​ ​has​ ​been​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​advocate​ ​for​ ​D8​ ​neighborhoods​ ​as​ ​President​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Noe Valley​ ​Democratic​ ​Club,​ ​Commissioner​ ​on​ ​the​ ​San​ ​Francisco​ ​Board​ ​of​ ​Appeals,​ ​Chair​ ​of​ ​the San​ ​Francisco​ ​LGBT​ ​Center,​ ​and​ ​President​ ​of​ ​the​ ​District​ ​8​ ​Democratic​ ​Club. 

As​ ​an​ ​urban​ ​development​ ​attorney,​ ​Rafael​ ​has​ ​helped​ ​build​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​affordable​ ​housing units​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​Bay​ ​Area.​ ​He​ ​sweats​ ​the​ ​details,​ ​doing​ ​what​ ​it​ ​takes​ ​to​ ​make​ ​affordable housing​ ​and​ ​livable​ ​communities​ ​a​ ​reality. 

Rafael’s​ ​commitment​ ​to​ ​building​ ​housing​ ​and​ ​ending​ ​homelessness​ ​is​ ​personal.​ ​When​ ​he​ ​was eleven-years-old,​ ​Rafael's​ ​mother’s​ ​mental​ ​illness​ ​started​ ​her​ ​spiraling​ ​down​ ​a​ ​path​ ​that​ ​led​ ​her into​ ​repeated​ ​hospitalizations​ ​and​ ​ultimately​ ​homelessness.​ ​Rafael​ ​became​ ​responsible​ ​for​ ​his own​ ​care—finding​ ​housing,​ ​getting​ ​himself​ ​on​ ​Medi-Cal​ ​and​ ​to​ ​his​ ​own​ ​doctors​ ​appointments, and​ ​getting​ ​himself​ ​through​ ​high​ ​school.​ ​As​ ​an​ ​adult​ ​he​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​secure​ ​a​ ​guardianship​ ​for his​ ​mother,​ ​and​ ​find​ ​her​ ​the​ ​long-term​ ​care​ ​she​ ​needed. 

Saving City College

It​ ​was​ ​a​ ​path​ ​made​ ​possible​ ​by​ ​the​ ​dedication​ ​of​ ​educators​ ​in​ ​Rafael’s​ ​life,​ ​and​ ​making​ ​sure​ ​San Franciscans​ ​have​ ​access​ ​to​ ​education​ ​is​ ​why​ ​Rafael​ ​ran​ ​for​ ​City​ ​College​ ​Board​ ​of​ ​Trustees​ ​in 2012.​ ​Elected​ ​by​ ​a​ ​wide​ ​margin,​ ​Rafael​ ​became​ ​President​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Board.​ ​He​ ​​​was​ ​widely acknowledged​ ​for​ ​steering​ ​the​ ​80-year​ ​institution​ ​through​ ​its​ ​recent​ ​accreditation​ ​crisis. 

A​ ​strong​ ​advocate​ ​for​ ​students,​ ​Rafael​ ​was​ ​praised​ ​for​ ​his​ ​cool​ ​head​ ​and​ ​for​ ​not​ ​being​ ​afraid​ ​to make​ ​hard​ ​calls​ ​to​ ​save​ ​the​ ​institution.​ ​His​ ​leadership​ ​ensured​ ​that​ ​City​ ​College​ ​would​ ​weather the​ ​crisis​ ​and​ ​implement​ ​new​ ​innovative​ ​programs​ ​like​ ​Free​ ​City​ ​College. 

A Progressive City That Works

Rafael is a principled, pragmatic progressive who is always looking for ways to make local government more effective and responsive.  Elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in June 2018, Rafael has spent his time in office focusing on the issues that San Franciscans care about most: housing and homelessness, mental health and substance abuse, public safety, small business, and public transportation.  He currently serves as Chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee and a member of the Budget Committee.  He serves as Vice Chair of the County Transportation Authority, represents San Francisco on the Association of Bay Area Governments and is an alternate member of the California Coastal Commission.


City Hall Accomplishments

Mental Health and Substance Use

As a member of the Budget Committee, Rafael worked to stop the loss of vitally needed board and care residential facilities.  He led local efforts to expand conservatorships for people suffering from mental illness and substance use disorder and regularly cycling through our City’s emergency rooms.  And he called for the formation and co-chaired a Meth Task Force to assess the methamphetamine crisis and propose solutions for local action.


Rafael hears everyday from constituents frustrated by unreliable Muni service.  In response, he called for the convening of a Transit Performance Working Group to bring together national experts and local stakeholders to identify priority areas for immediate action by the new director of the MTA.


Working with environmental advocates, Rafael passed legislation declaring a Climate Emergency in San Francisco, and following on that declaration and a subsequent report identifying buildings as a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, has been working with the advocates, labor and other stakeholders on legislation to reduce those emissions.  Rafael has also been helping lead the Board’s efforts to identify new funding for tree planting in San Francisco.


The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Rafael's resolution in support of AB 5, a historic bill that protects workers by preventing corporations from improperly classifying them.

LGBT Issues

Rafael has held hearings on the City’s LGBTQ data collection, passed legislation establishing the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District, and joined Mayor Breed in declaring San Francisco Open to All.