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News + PoliticsBreed's ABAG rep doesn't live in San Francisco

Breed’s ABAG rep doesn’t live in San Francisco

Sonja Trauss, appointee to policy agency, is now registered to vote in Oakland.

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The Regional Planning Committee of the Association of Bay Area Governments has nine members representing cities. The powerful panel promotes development goals for the region, and although one slot is empty, seven of the eight current members are either mayors, deputy mayors, or City Council members of cities in the Bay Area.

There’s one person on the panel who was never elected to anything. That’s Sonja Trauss, a founder of the Yimby movement and failed candidate for District 6 supervisor in San Francisco.

She’s tagged as the representative of the Office of the Mayor, San Francisco.

Mayor London Breed with Yimby activists. She appointed Sonja Trauss, upper right, to ABAG, but Trauss (who ran for D6 supervisor) no longer lives in the city.

Her appointment  controversial in 2019, and Sup. (and ABAG member) Gordon Mar said she was the wrong person for the position. but she was approved by ABAG anyway.

But now it appears she doesn’t live in San Francisco.

Trauss signed a petition to the Berkeley City Council listing an Oakland zip code. We checked a bit further: According to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, Trauss registered to vote in Oakland in 2020, two years after she lost the D6 supes race.

The rules for membership on ABAG committees don’t have any particular residence requirements, John Goodwin, a spokesperson for ABAG, told us.

But he noted:

With that said, city/town representatives are appointed by City Selection Committees in each county and these representatives have been mayors or councilmembers.

There is no City Selection Committee in San Francisco. The supes appoint their representatives, who represent the county in the city and county, and the mayor appoints her representative for the city.

That’s how Trauss got on the board.

Mar told me that it’s wrong to have someone who doesn’t live in this city anymore be one of our reps. “I think that’s inappropriate. This is a regional planning board and people should represent their cities,” he said. “I am going to bring this up with the Mayor’s Office.”

Trauss refused to discuss her residence with us, saying that the question was “creepy.” I don’t think it’s creepy to ask someone who represents San Francisco on a regional panel whether she lives here, any more than it’s creepy to ask if someone who wants to be on a city commission lives in the city.

I don’t care where Trauss decides to live; that’s her business, and many San Franciscans have sought housing alternatives in the East Bay. But if you want to represent San Francisco on a regional planning body, it’s fair to say you ought to live here.

It’s possible the Mayor Breed didn’t know that Trauss had moved out of town. It’s possible she doesn’t care.

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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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