The Agenda, Oct. 1-8: Big changes at Ocean Beach …

... and more depressing news about the jobs-housing balance. We look at the week ahead

The San Francisco Police Commission pulled a discussion of Tasers off the agenda last week — just as an Oakland man died after being zapped by one of the devices.

An Oakland officer shot the Taser at an African American man who police said was fleeing a car accident. He died in the hospital, and although the cause of death has not been determined, Tasers have been implicated in numerous fatalities

The SF cops have been pushing for the stun guns for years, although the Police Commission hasn’t approved them. Now Chief William Scott thinks he has a commission more willing to gal along, so the issue is back.

It was set for a hearing Oct. 4, and opponents were organizing to show up and testify. There’s been pressure from both sides on the commissioners.

Activists expect the item may be back on the agenda for the Oct. 11, and will be closely watching Robert Hirsch, the newest member of the panel, who was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee, who favors Tasers

The mayor has four appointees. The three members appointed by the Board of Supes have not in the past been favorable to these “less-lethal” weapons.

If the commission approves arming the cops with Tasers on a “party line” 4-3 vote, then Lee will have to take responsibility for their use — and abuse.


The Planning Commission will consider Thursday/5 a plan that will lead to some dramatic changes to the Western edge of the city. Facing constant erosion and threats to some of the city’s critical sewage infrastructure, the commission is looking at a Western Shoreline Area Plan that would involve the eventual closure of the Great Highway between Sloat and Skyline and the removal of some of the Ocean Beach parking lots.

Mother Nature Bats Last: The southern end of the Great Highway is not long for this world

The proposal amounts to what planners call “a managed retreat” from waterfront development, replacing the road with a trail, removing artificial shoreline armoring, and restore the southern portion of the beach with sand dunes and native plants.

It’s a pretty profound change for that part of town, and hasn’t received a whole lot of publicity. The Sierra Club is mostly on board, but wants to see the commission mandate that new development in the area be discouraged — unless the developers can prove that they will be responsible for any costs of protecting their property from sea-level rise and erosion.

Some residents have complained that the move will re-direct traffic onto Sloat and other city streets — but from the evidence we’ve seen so far, and the reality of climate change, the existing southern end of the Great Highway doesn’t seem long for this world anyway.

You can read all the documents, comments, and responses here. The hearing in Room 400 starts at 1-pm.


The commission will also hear a report — from my perspective, a pretty depressing report — and what’s known as the “jobs-housing balance.” The commission gets an update every six months on how the city is meeting its housing needs for new job creation, and the answer right now is: Badly.

From the official department memo:

The percentage of San Francisco workers in all income brackets less than 140% AMI who live in San Francisco declined since 1990, with the greatest declines at lowest brackets. This means that San Francisco’s housing stock is increasingly being occupied by a greater share of its higher wage workforce, and its middle and lower wage workforce is increasingly commuting into the City.

In fact, San Francisco has more jobs per housing unit (1.75) than most places in the US, and certainly more than most of the Bay Area. The planners note:

Ultimately, the construct of a “jobs-housing balance” is a function of transportation system dynamics and must be considered at a sufficiently broad geographic lens, most practically at a regional and multi-city scale, particularly in a complex region such as the Bay Area, and not particularly relevant at a neighborhood or development site scale.

Yes, but the transportation system dynamics are brutal on people who have to live in Brentwood or Antioch and commute to the city. Public transit is somewhere between nonexistent, slow, and expensive, so many of these commuters drive cars (on a freeway and bridge system never intended to handle this much load).

And yet, the commission constantly approves new offices for high-end workers (and the conversion of PDR space to offices), along with the construction of high-end housing that the remaining lower-income workers can’t possibly afford.

It’s crazy: Even the commission staff seems to realize that what is happening is unsustainable. Yet it keeps happening, every week.