Mayor Lee hasn’t met with the press since his campaign fundraisers were charged with felonies, but reporters will get a chance to talk to him Tuesday/26 after he appears before the Board of Supervisors for “question time.”
And while none of the supes submitted questions about the latest scandal, Lee will have to respond to concerns about the cost of the Super Bowl and changes in the affordable housing rules.
Sup. Aaron Peskin asks:
Mr. Mayor: I have been fielding a high volume of complaints that the City did not act in its negotiations with the National Football League to host the Superbowl 50 promotional events, or take any precautions to ensure that San Francisco would be reimbursed for the tax dollars that are being used to accommodate the events. There have also been many complaints about the lack of transparency from the city side. Who in your office was the lead negotiator of this deal, and who are the members of the actual Host Committee?
It’s a good question. At the last hearing when this came up, Sup. Jane Kim tried, over and over, in vain, to find out who was in charge of this whole deal. Who was running the show in the Mayor’s Office, she asked. Nobody could provide an answer.
In fact, it seems today as if this whole mess was an uncoordinated team effort that left the city with a large tab. The rules for Question Time, which were gutted by David Chiu when he was board president, still allow supes to ask follow-up questions, and I hope Peskin is ready to pursue this, since the mayor, as is his fashion, will simply read a prepared statement that won’t directly address the issue.
Then comes Sup. John Avalos with this:
Mr. Mayor: Last Tuesday, you introduced a measure for the ballot that compliments Supervisor Kim’s Inclusionary Charter Amendment to double the inclusionary requirement for the June ballot, in response to an out of control real estate market and affordable housing crisis. Are you then going on the record as supporting the Charter Amendment, as reputable polling has revealed that 71 % of voters do?
The issue here is Kim’s attempt to increase the mandated percentage of affordable housing and to give the board the ability to increase it further. The developers are going batshit about this, saying it will end all market-rate housing construction. That’s what we hear all the time when these things come up. And of course, I have to ask: If we stop all market-rate housing, is that such a bad thing? All the new housing that’s getting built in places like SF and New York is for very, very wealthy people, and in many cases, nobody actually lives in the new units.
So how can the mayor possible oppose something that will mandate more affordable housing? We shall see.
Then sometime after 3pm, the supes will hear a critical appeal of the city’s determination that allowing essentially unregulated and unlimited Google buses is fine and doesn’t require an environmental impact report.
The city wants to make permanent a temporary program that legalized the buses and allows them to park, for an insignificant fee, in Muni bus stops. The appellants want the city to do a full EIR and look, among other things, at whether the shuttle program leads to more displacement.
It does: The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project has shown that evictions and rents have increased in the areas near the shuttle stops.
Much of the language in the appeal is legalistic and technical, and the Planning Department will want the supes to rule on the narrowest possible interpretation. But this is one of the first tests of the new progressive majority; in the past, favors for the tech world have typically passed with a 6-5 vote. Now Peskin, who has a long history as an environmentalist and critic of City Planning, is in the position to reject this EIR and this program and force a study that could show the larger impacts of the shuttle buses.
For example: If people who work in SF are displaced by higher-paid workers who want to live near the Google buses, and those people move to Stockton or Vacaville, and then drive to their jobs in the city (since there’s no other way to get here), does that add to the carbon-emissions problem that the buses are supposed to prevent?
More than the Google buses are at stake here. This is about whether the new board is willing to stand up to the mayor and the tech industry (which spend vast sums trying to keep Peskin from winning election).
But wait, there’s more.
The board will also vote on several different resolutions related to the shooting of Mario Woods, one calling for a Day of Remembrance, one calling for a federal investigation of the shooting, and one calling for more police accountability. The POA will be pushing supes to oppose all three.
Sup. Jane Kim is asking the board to vote to convene next week as a Committee of the Whole to consider her affordable housing Charter amendment, which would allow the measure to go to the ballot in June. It’s a procedural vote, but if there’s serious opposition from the mayor and the pro-developer supes, we’ll see it here.
And this will be the first week where the new committee assignments are in place. The Chron plays this all as some sort of Game of Thrones metaphor, but what it’s really about is the District 5 race.
Three of the most progressive supes – David Campos, John Avalos, and Eric Mar – have been given the fewest, and the least important, committee roles. Campos and Avalos have already endorsed Breed’s challenger, Dean Preston, and Mar may not be far behind.
Peskin, who has not made an endorsement in that race, came out relatively well.
I asked Breed why Campos, Avalos, and Mar were screwed, and she said: “Ask [the progressives] what they would do if the tables were turned and you’ll have your answer.”
The reality is that it doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as the pundits say. The political message is clear – Breed is going to be punitive to people who cross her – but the actual impact is pretty minor. There are two primary roles for committees – to consider legislation, and to hold city administrators accountable. In Sacramento or Washington, if a bill doesn’t get out of committee, it dies; in SF, committees rarely kill bills, and if there are six votes for the measure, it gets called out to the full board anyway.
As for the hearings, by tradition, supes who aren’t on a committee but care a lot about an issue are allowed to sit in and question city officials anyway.
I think Breed made herself look vindictive, and won nothing important in the process.