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Friday, September 17, 2021

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News + PoliticsThe Agenda: Why Breed and Lee are blocking Sanctuary...

The Agenda: Why Breed and Lee are blocking Sanctuary City legislation

Plus: An attack on SRO hotels ... and why is the mayor cracking down on pot growers?

You can see the shape of the new Board of Supervisors, and the impact of the November election, with the decision by President London Breed not to allow a speedy vote on providing legal counsel for undocumented immigrants.

Breed’s refusal to allow a waiver of the rule mandating a 30-day waiting period for all new legislation means that the Campos proposal will be kicked over to the new board – which will lack a progressive majority.

Board President London Breed and Mayor Ed Lee are all in favor of Sanctuary city -- in theory
Board President London Breed and Mayor Ed Lee are all in favor of Sanctuary city — in theory

And it puts in stark contrast the public comments of the mayor, who insists he supports the Sanctuary City concept, and the reality of what happens when that policy hits the ground.

Campos is asking the city to allocate $5 million to guarantee that every immigrant facing deportation proceedings have the right to a lawyer. Half of that money would go to the Public Defender’s Office, and half to community-based organizations that work with immigrants.

He’s asked for an immediate supplemental appropriation because the election of Donald Trump creates an emergency situation, something pretty much everyone agrees on. It takes a while to hire people, and if the city wants to be out in front of the situation – if we want to be ready when the deportations start – the process has to start now.

But Breed has said no, it has to wait. I asked her why, and she didn’t respond.

But let me suggest what’s really going on, based on what I am hearing from solid sources (and my own understanding of how City Hall works):

Breed is listening to the mayor, who doesn’t want this plan at all. Lee was happy to hold hands and sing Kumbaya with everyone at City Hall after Trump’s election, and to talk about how we all love Sanctuary City, but his key people – that is, Chief of Staff Steve Kawa and media advisor Tony Winnicker – are demanding a much more limited approach.

For starters, they don’t want the public defender involved at all.

Why? Because the public defender (who happens to have the best infrastructure and the best ability to quickly ramp up and handle intake and other key issues) represents, by definition, people who are accused of crimes.

And the Mayor’ Men want to make a distinction between “good immigrants” and “bad immigrants” – that is, they don’t want to defend people who, rightly or wrongly, are charged with a crime.

That’s a horrible position to take, particularly since a lot of people, including immigrants, are arrested on charges that are not only wrong but wind up being dismissed. The PD’s Office is uniquely qualified to sort this all out. But the Mayor’s Men say no.

And why is Breed going along? Well, she really wants her aide, Conor Johnston, to be appointed to the D8 supe seat vacated by Scott Wiener.

So without a waiver, this will be bounced to the next board – and Campos will be gone.

On one level, that’s just stupid: Hillary Ronen, who will succeed Campos, is just as committed to this concept, and will simply pick it up. But the next board will lack a six-vote majority – control of the board will be in the hands of the mayor’s allies. So the plan could be watered down, defunded, or changed so that the public defender has no role … and then the mayor won’t have to veto it, and can tell everyone how much he loves Sanctuary City.

It’s kind of sick, really. But that’s what happens when the people who call themselves progressives but are really allies of the mayor get the support they need from some people who ought to know better and wind up getting elected to the board.

It appears, as far as I can tell at this point, that the decision of the board president can’t be appealed to the full board. But there will be a rally at noon Tuesday/6 at City Hall to urge Breed to reconsider.

And while the supes are ducking all over this issue, Shaping San Francisco will hold an event Wednesday/7 called “Divided We Fall: Immigration and Scapegoating.” It features Lara Kiswani of the Arab Resource and Organizing Committee, Grant Dil of the Angel Island Immigration Station, and author Bill Ong Hing of USF Law School. 7:30pm, 518 Valencia.


It’s no secret that Randy Shaw and I have our disagreements, but he’s got a strong, important piece today about an issue that I had missed: The Planning Commission will hear Thursday/8 a proposal that would gut the city’s residential hotel conversion ordinance.

The legal elements are complicated, but the bottom line is that developers would be able to convert SROs — a critical part of the city’s low-income housing — into tourist hotels without replacing the lost units:

The premise of the applications to be heard on December 8 is that it doesn’t matter how much hotel owners actually pay for replacement housing;  instead, all they must do is find a housing developer willing to define their project as “replacement housing” for converted residential SRO units.

Here, applicants are using as their “replacement housing.” an entitled Tenderloin project at 361 Turk/145 Leavenworth. A project approved as a stand- alone project in 2015 that did not need conversion money to be built.

This faulty premise—that there need be no connection between the hotel converter’s financial contribution and the construction of replacement housing— underlies the conversion applications up for approval this week. Applicants have failed to provide any evidence that applicants are either building or contributing money for replacement housing, or that any funds potentially paid actually replace converted SRO units.

So which members of the commission are going to accept this scam?


Meanwhile, it appears that the mayor will not appoint a new supervisor for D8 until after the holidays. That leaves the board with ten members for the next two weeks; no big deal, since there are still six progressive votes for whatever comes up, and the new appointee won’t be one of them anyway, and everything changes in January anyway.

Still: The mayor seems to have trouble making up his mind. He still hasn’t appointed a police chief (although he told me we would have someone by the end of the year). And if Sup. Norman Yee has his way, the process will get a bit more interesting: Yee has a resolution coming to the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee Thursday/8 calling on the mayor and the Police Commission to require that the chief live in San Francisco.

They all have, I think, in the 35 years that I’ve been here. And it makes sense to have the people in charge of emergency response services – the police chief, the fire chief, the heads of other key departments – not to be separated from the city by a bridge or tunnel if there’s, say, an earthquake.


Here’s an interesting one: The mayor wants to make it harder to grow pot indoors in the city’s industrial districts. The proposed resolution, which you can read here, would require a Conditional Use permit for any indoor ag cultivation (and let’s face it, we’re talking almost entirely cannabis here.)

I say interesting because there are a couple of factors going on. I have heard – anecdotally, but still persuasively – that indoor cannabis farms are driving up the price of Production, Distribution, and Repair space, not as intensely as tech offices but still, potentially crowding out other uses.

On the other hand, it’s a thriving industry – not one that requires a huge workforce, but there are people working in the biz and you don’t need a college degree to do it, and it pays, I am told, relatively well. It’s certainly “production.”

At some point, we will need a union of cultivators, trimmers, and associated workers. And we will need to address the zoning question of indoor ag. In the meantime:

Why is Mayor Lee picking on this particular business when he has allowed tech offices to take over PDR space at willviolating zoning laws with impunity – for years?

Why is cannabis a problem when tech offices – which drive up land costs even more – are just fine?

I’m all for good, tight, well-established zoning regulations. But let’s be fair – if we are going to crack down on pot farms, let’s crack down on the mayor’s buddies, too.

Either that, or maybe Ron Conway will invest in some pot farms, and this issue will vanish just like the rest of them.


Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. Well, the repeated claim that it was murder came from the anti-Mirkarimi crowd. They would twist anything to attack him. And yes, I feel badly for her family, but was not happy with their lust for vengeance.

    And I disagree about Lee. It is mean-spirited, and can act pretty childish at times. And Lee did not really win by wide margins. In 2011, he only won after 12 rounds of ranked choice counts. In 2015, he came very close to losing to one of three unknowns. He only got about 55% against three unknowns. If it had gone into ranked choice, Lee would have probably lost as the three candidates ran under the banner, “Vote One, Two, Three, Get Rid of Lee!” He likely did get many second and third place votes. And probably any serious candidate would have easily beaten him. Remember, he had very poor approval ratings.

  2. Gotta agree with Geek Girl, it was an accidental death, involuntary manslaughter. Just as devastating for her family as a car accident or a brain aneurysm – a young woman died unexpectedly.
    4th Gen SF (I’m 3rd Gen SF) you seem to be missing a logic chip.
    Oh yea, Geek Girl, Lee is turning out to be the mayor we NEED. We will always have self promoting, say anything clowns on the BOS but we need an adult with veto power. Voters know this and that’s why Lee was elected twice by sizable margins.

  3. Because it refers to my past. I was a geek growing up. And again, I am not unfeeling. Yes, a LOT of POC are murdered. But funny, they don’t get much attention. And are rarely solved.

  4. No, it is only murder if there is intent, and malice. It doesn’t matter what the race is. In this case, it was an accident, not murder. There was no intent to kill. And you really should refrain from trying to use insults to make up for your lack of arguments.

  5. Also if you’re retired why are you calling yourself a GIRL? You’re ancient and unfeeling. BTW, there have been POC also murdered in the same way right here in CA.

  6. It’s only murder to you, a white person, if a brown or black person was killed? Got it. You have Asperger’s.

  7. You are mostly quite wrong. I am a retired female, who is not TG. I have a background in computers, but that should be obvious from my username. I do not have Asperger Syndrome. And I am quite sensitive. I am just not a right wing adherent who thinks that someone’s worth is based on being young, white, from a well-off family, and attractive. Had the victim been poor, and non-white, it would have been a different story. I hate that anyone died, but I do recognize that it was a tragic accident that was co-opted by the right to attack values and a sheriff they hated. I sympathize with her family over their loss, but not with how they allowed her death to be used as a political issue. And calling it murder does not make it so. In our system, one is presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law. That has not happened.

    And your attempts to slander me say far more about you, than anything about me.

  8. OK, LMG, and pls do not take this wrongly.

    You are FTM TG & in tech right? A coder? And on the aspie scale? Right? Excuse my unfiltered bluntness, but that is my take on you, am I right?

    And, I’m telling you this because you are missing that “sensitivity chip” & you are talking about LOGISTICS when we’re talking about a beautiful woman who would have been 34 today as a matter of fact. Who has been murdered. You are talking about semantics.

    And the reason I said “aspie” is clear as day if you think about it. You have 0 understanding of what it’s like to actually lose someone you loved, who had her whole life ahead of her….to murder.

    And no I did not know Kate personally, but I do empathize with people who lost someone tragically.

    Lastly, this is no shade on you, you honestly can not help it. I’m not upset at you. I really do believe you are aspie, and most likely MTF TG and you do not understand.

    Again, I’m not upset with you. Have a good evening.

  9. Now, I am going to have to demand that you explain this slur. Specifically, how is supporting justice over vengeance wishing them harm?

  10. You are positively wishing harm on the Steinle family & their friends & supporters. I screenshot everything you said. You should be proud of yourself.

  11. They have allowed the tragedy of their daughter’s death to be used for political gain. They may want to call it “murder,” but the law stands. I have no respect for those seeking vengeance, rather than justice.

  12. I’m taking a screenshot of what you said & passing it to people that know Kate Steinle’s family. I’m sure that what you’re saying will warm their hearts.

  13. You might try reading the whole article…. It states “The most common separates murder into two degrees, and treats voluntary and involuntary manslaughter as separate crimes that do not constitute murder.” Involuntary manslaughter is NOT murder. I have sympathy for anyone’s life, but I also have respect for the law. You are playing semantics

  14. It was not “murder”. Forensics ha established that. The bullet hit the pier, showing it was not aimed at her. Murder requires intent.

  15. Thank you. That was insightful, well explained, unbiased, and intelligent.

    Folks with the ability to take a complex issue -immigration is highly complex- and be able to lay it out with a clear and well thought out process through thinking critically is scarce these days.

    I couldn’t agree more with Charlain. This is the answer one must give every time one meets a frightened undocumented family who has been terrorized by domestic terrorists. I know of several whom I will share these a logical thoughts that make all the sense in the world. It will restore some calm -at least for now- to their lives until the next racist “Tweet.”

    I don’t want to ever have to see that reptile of a coward Lee or any of his cold blooded serpents -Breed + all fake progressive newbies- ever holding hands in a circle with terrified citizens from many origins of the world singing Kumbaya because Ed

    “YOU LIE”

    and you need stay in your snake pit with the rest of your spineless snakes.

  16. I can understand why Breed may want a little more time for thoughtful discussion on the measure. For one thing, the Public Defender is not “uniquely qualified” to handle immigration issues. A public defender, like a DA, is trained in criminal law, not immigration law. Immigration law is a highly technical and specialized field of practice and the Public Defender’s office is no more qualified to deal with immigration matters than a dentist would be qualified to perform brain surgery. Yes, I realize individuals going through deportation hearings may have criminal issues that lead to their deportation, but the Public Defender is not the best agency to coordinate servicing individuals who need immigration representation.

    Also, as others have pointed out, the Obama administration has been the most aggressive administration in recent history in pursuing deportation proceedings, so why has there been no cry until now for “crisis” funding to represent immigrants facing deportation? Trump is an idiot and a bigot, but nearly every expert has said he will have tremendous difficulty ramping up deportation beyond the current levels, and he certainly will not be able to do it quickly. Immigration court dockets are already completely overloaded, and it simply impossible to push people any faster through the system without a tremendous investment of time and resources, which Congress would have to approve. And, even in the Republican-controlled Congress, many representatives and senators hate Trump and hate big government spending and they would balk at spending billions and billions of dollars to ramp up deportations.

  17. It has now become a staple of troll comments to use “Trump penalties” as an argument against progressive policies in California.

  18. Breed is so bad at her job that there were 24 local propositions on the ballot. A qualified and competent president of the Board of Supervisors needs to be able to get legislation passed by legislators. Now Breed says she plans to be a bully. Bullies don’t have to do anything but be mean and vindictive and petty and rude and self-serving.

  19. Not at all. Your presumption of my race is actually racist. I’m mixed & have been posting here for years & was one of the first commenters on 48. But carry on with your racist assumptions about my race.

  20. What Tim is saying is that Breed should fast track the vote so that Avalos can cast the vote for D11 instead of Ahsha Safai.

    Meanwhile, the voters have just spoken and they rejected Avalos’ designated successor in favor of Safai.

    So we need to move fast in order to circumvent the will of the voters. That’s what Tim is saying.

  21. This comment should be cast in bronze and hung at the RNC, because this is exactly the kind of attitude that gave us President-elect Trump.

  22. Typical answers from disciples -bigots- who think the same as the president elect “Tangerine Turd” seeing themselves as entitled to the freedoms they take for granted.

    Ones only whites enjoy. Let me guess……you are all Caucasians?

  23. Remember that Supervisor Campos is termed out and needs to find a new job. He has the qualifications for assisting immigrants with deportation cases. Perfect fit.

  24. How is this an “emergency?” Trump will not even be inaugurated for 6 more weeks. The new board can deal with this.

  25. The City has a current deficit of $800,000,000; with the possibity of Trump penalties magnifying that. Do we really need to spend more money now on feel-good projects that are not even Trump-related, but are instead the result of Obama policies?

  26. London Breed is a self serving shape shifting illusionist. Smoke and mirrors. There’s nobody home in that flesh suit.

  27. Thx for your great info even if I vehemently disagree with your opinion on everything. Mayor Lee is doing a great job imho.

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