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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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City HallThe AgendaCan SF run its own bike-share program (and challenge the privatizers?)

Can SF run its own bike-share program (and challenge the privatizers?)

Plus: The June 6 ballot shapes up—and will the Police Commission take civilian oversight seriously? That's The Agenda for Feb. 14-21


The direction of future transportation in the United States has been private. Tech companies have found ways to monetize ways of getting around that once were in the public domain; Uber, in fact, has made it very clear in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that its long-term plan is to replace public transportation worldwide:

We believe we can continue to grow the number of trips taken with our Ridesharing products and replace personal vehicle ownership and usage and public transportation one use case at a time, including through continued investment in our affordable Ridesharing options, such as Uber Bus and Express POOL.

But Sup. Dean Preston is offering a different approach. He’s proposing that the city dispense with, or at least compete with, the likes of Lyft and offer a public bikeshare program.

Bikes from a company now owned b Lyft at a debut in San Jose in 2013. Wikimedia Commons image.

It’s an idea that works in Washington, DC. It could be a source of revenue for the city. More important, it’s a pushback against the privatization of everything, and if it’s successful, it could pave the way for other city programs (including municipal broadband and public power).

Preston has asked the Budget and Legislative Analyst to prepare a report on how the city could implement municipal bike share, and the Government Audit and Oversight Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on that report Thursday/17. That meeting starts at 10am.

It’s going to be a busy June ballot, and the list of ballot initiatives is starting to shape up. Between the Rules Committee and the full board, the supes will move forward—or kill—a long series of proposals in the next couple of weeks.

There are three slightly different versions of an ordinance to change the way garbage rates are set—and more important, all three of them would get this out of the City Charter. Since 1934, Recology has had the exclusive right, in the city’s version of the Constitution, to collect garbage and recycling at rates that are set in a way that is wide open for corruption.

The measures would change that—and Recology at one point threatened to go to the ballot with its own measure. Sup. Aaron Peskin responded by threatening to put the entire contract out to bid, which seems to have killed that effort.

The Rules Committee will hear the various versions, which will probably be reduced to one, Monday/14 at 9am.

That committee will also hear proposals to:

—Require employers to provide emergency medical leave during a public-health crisis. This one, by Sups. Gordon Mar, Hillary Ronen, Connie Chan, and Dean Preston, is headed for the ballot anyway (four supes can put an ordinance before the voters), but the committee needs to hold a hearing on it anway.

—A measure by Sups. Catherine Stefani, Matt Haney, Rafael Mandelman, and Ahsha Safai that would create a new Office of Victim and Witness Rights. This one is also headed to the ballot, and some see it as an attack on District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

—Mayor London Breed’s proposal—and the mayor can put an ordinance on the ballot by herself—that would

authorize the Police Department to acquire and use surveillance technology with respect to certain criminal events, as defined, and criminal activity that is concentrated in certain geographically distinct areas.

The supes don’t like this idea, and have shot it down repeatedly. So she’s going directly to the voters.

So are the supes: Peskin, Preston, Chan, Hillary Ronen, and Shamann Walton, have their own measure that would regulate the acquisition and use of surveillance technology.

—Sups. Peskin, Preston, Chan, Gordon Mar, and Walton want to tighten the rules on “behested payments—that is, donations made to organizations at the request of city officials—to include some city contractors.

That hearing starts at 9am.

The full board will consider putting on the ballot Tuesday/15 charter amendments that would

—Overhaul the scandal-plagued Building Inspection Commission.

—Limit recalls when the office holder will be on the ballot within a year anyway—and ban people appointed to fill a seat vacated by a recall from running for the full-time position. That would limit the power of the mayor to take advantage of recalls to put their allies in office.

San Francisco is one of very few counties that gives the chief executive the power to fill by appointment any vacancy in local office.

Oh, and the supes will take a final vote on settling the lawsuit filed by Decari Spears over a police beating that has become the focus of a move against police accountability by Chie Bill Scott.

The officer who broke Spears’ bones is now facing a criminal trial. But the supes voted 9-2 to settle for $700,000 a civil lawsuit he filed against the city. These things are pretty routine when the City Attorney’s Office recommends settlement; given the severity of the injuries, and the lack of evidence that Spears broke any laws or should have been arrested, $700,000 is probably cheap.

Sup. Catherine Stefani, the most conservative member of the board and an ally of the cops, voted against the settlement, essentially siding with the chief and the SF Police Officers Association. But Sup. Rafael Mandelman also voted no—which is something of an embarrassment for someone who ran as a progressive. He has the chance to vote yes on second reading—or to stick with the foes of police reform.

The same issue, in essence, will be before the Police Commission again Wednesday/16—and the panel’s decision will be profoundly important.

Last week, the commissioners made very clear that they were unhappy with the chief’s decision to pull out of an MOU that allowed independent investigations of police shootings and serious misconduct.

But Scott didn’t back down—and the only way this is going to change is if the commission exercises its statutory authority to order the chief to re-instate the MOU.

That would demonstrate, to a degree we haven’t seen in years if ever, that the Police Commission is serious about civilian oversight of law enforcement.

Or it would show that the panel is unwilling to challenge the chief and the POA.

The meeting starts at 5:30.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
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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