Wednesday, January 27, 2021
News + Politics Will supes block hotel evictions?

Will supes block hotel evictions?

Eight votes will be needed to block a mayoral veto. Plus: Is anyone on the board going to stand with Mark Zuckerberg? That's The Agenda for Dec. 13-20.


I was fascinated to read former Mayor Willie Brown’s Chron column Sunday: He argues that public officials need to use science to base their COVID decisions, because:

As we enter this darkest phase of the pandemic, it is more important than ever that people follow the safety rules being laid down by our health and political leaders.

But when those leaders order shutdowns with no science to back them up, people who demand explanations and get no answers can lose faith that they’re being given the straight story.

In other words: It’s critical that people are able to have faith in their elected leaders at a time like this. He’s right; anything that undermines faith in government right now (and I’m not just talking about COVID; climate change, among many other issues, will require faith in collective action).

But this is coming from a guy who said less than a week ago that a little corruption in government is just fine:

But people do not think, I don’t think, in terms of someone buying you a drink, or buying you dinner, or anything of that nature, that there’s anything that caused them to influence or give up their responsibility to public service for the benefit of the public.

So leaders who are going out of their way to keep the public safe from COVID are undermining faith in government, but leaders who take favors from developers and then help them get contracts have done nothing wrong.

There is something deeply disturbing here.

The Board of Supes will consider Tuesday/15 a measure that would block the city from moving residents out of shelter-in-place hotel rooms for at least another 60 days. The Mayor’s Office is looking to wind down the SIP program, which has given some 2,300 formerly unhoused people a safe, warm, secure place to live during the pandemic.

Plenty of people are still on the streets during COIVD, while the mayor wants to close down hotels rooms.

But the pandemic isn’t winding down, the federal government is still paying 85 percent of the cost of the program, and there are still at least 6,000 more people living on the streets.

The Mayor’s Office says that there are other long-term housing alternatives (600 units of supportive housing are open right now) and that hotel residents should be moved into them, and into other “safe” shelters or tent cities.

Sup. Matt Haney, who is sponsoring the ordinance, argues that instead of closing hotel rooms, if the city can move some hotel residents into supportive housing, those rooms should be available for people now living on the streets.

When the measure came up in committee, Sups. Shamann Walton and Sandra Lee Fewer voted in favor, and Sup. Rafael Mandelmen voted against. Since the mayor clearly doesn’t agree with the supes, it would take eight votes for a veto-proof majority. That will be close. (UPDATE: Since this is emergency legislation it will take eight votes no matter what.)

Then the board will take up a measure that would have much less immediate impact – but send a strong message. That proposal would put the supes on record as denouncing the decision to put the name of Mark Zuckerberg on San Francisco General Hospital. The measure passed out of the Government Audit and Oversight Committee 3-0, with little in the way of organized dissent.

For many years, under the late Mayor Ed Lee and the current mayor, tech has been sacrosanct in this city. But things, maybe, are changing, and this is one sign.

I will be watching to see if any of the supes decide they want to defend Zuckerberg.

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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