Sponsored link
Saturday, March 25, 2023

Sponsored link

City HallThe AgendaFinally, public discussion on reparations begins this week at the Board of...

Finally, public discussion on reparations begins this week at the Board of Supes

Plus: Should remote comment be abolished? And what about planning for flooding? That's The Agenda for Feb. 5-12

-

UPDATE: Walton’s office just announced that the hearing will be moved to March 14.

I would expect Fox News go ballistic over the entire concept of reparations, and super ballistic over the San Francisco draft plan, which was released in December 2022.

But it’s also created a lot of frankly racist response in San Francisco, especially on Twitter (read the replies):

The bottom line, as Justin Phillips notes in the Chron, is that the draft is just a draft —and the first hearing on the proposals will come Tuesday/7 at the full Board of Supes meeting.

Sup. Shamann Walton says the reparations numbers are too low, and there’s ample evidence to support that. Photo by Ebbe Roe Yovino Smith

The ringhtwingosphere, and even a lot of local folks, have jumped on the idea of a $5 million cash payment to Black residents. That would cost like $100 billion, ten times the city budget! No way!

Well, yeah, but there are also around 60 billionaires in San Francisco, and lots more people worth more than $100 million. And if we’re honest, we have to admit that a lot of that wealth came, historically (and even fairly recently) at the expense of Black people.

I haven’t done the math, and I wish the draft report had spent more time on the numbers (it’s going to be a bit complicated) but even if you just go back to World War II and you calculate the amount of multi-generational wealth that Black residents have lost through racist housing policies, Redevelopment, racist banking, predatory loans, a racist education system, a racist War on Drugs, and a long list of other discriminatory practices, $5 million a person doesn’t seem that outrageous at all.

And I’m not even starting with the birth of the state and the impacts of slavery on early Black residents.

In fact, Sup. Shamann Walton says the number is way too low.

I’m also not saying that San Francisco can afford to do this alone; it’s a statewide and national problem. But this kind of discussion is important, and there’s a lot more to the draft than the Fox headlines would suggest.

The supes will hear it, for the first time, in a Committee of the Whole at 3pm.

The Pandemic, of course, changed so much, and much of it for the worse in this city, but one of the interesting changes it also brough was remote commenting at the Board of Supes and board committees.

For a while, all the city agencies met remotely, and the only way the public could comment was by calling in. Then everyone got back to meeting in person (for the most part), but people who couldn’t or didn’t want to come to the meetings in person could still call in.

Now Sup. Rafael Mandelman wants to end that. The Rules Committee will consider Monday/6 a measure that would end remote participation by supes, meaning if a supervisor is sick and can’t make the meeting in person, they’ll just miss the meeting, which is pretty rare and was never a huge deal.

But it would also end remote public comment, meaning that anyone who wants to testify to a committee or the full board will need to be there in person.

That’s always been hard for people with full-time jobs, particularly since public comment often goes on a while and it’s hard to know exactly when an item will come up. So you have to set aside several hours, at least, to be able to get your two-minute comments in.

Mandelman told me that the increased public comment that comes with remote comment takes a lot of time, and that “I’m not sure what is added by the additional hours of people commenting, when under district elections there are so many ways to meet with your supervisors. I don’t think this is the most effective way of influencing a body, and I’m not sure it leads to better decision-making.”

From a letter to the board from activist Marc Norton:

I am informed that the Board of Supervisors is considering eliminating remote commentary. That is a fundamental attack on democracy. Eliminating remote comments means making it very, very difficult for working people, for disabled people, for seniors, for people with families and many others to have their say. It sounds like you just do not want to hear from us.

I understand that allowing remote commentary means you have to listen to some crackpots. But eliminating remote commentary in order to solve that problem is truly a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Don’t do it.

Nobody forced any of you to run for public office. If you don’t like the obligations that go with your office, get another job.

Mandelman told me that the increased public comment takes a lot of time, and that “I’m not sure what is added by the additional hours of people commenting, when under district elections there are so many ways to meet with your supervisors. I don’t think this is the most effective way of influencing a body, and I’m not sure it leads to better decision-making.

I spoke with SF Public Utilities Commission General Manager Dennis Herrera Jan. 3, after the first round of early-year floods, and asked him if the new climate reality would mean San Francisco might have to change some of its development patterns. “We have to look at everything,” he said.

The Planning Commission will consider Feb. 9 a housing development at 98 Pennsylvania that’s either in a flood zone or right on the edge of own, depending on whether you look at the city’s “100 year flood map” that depicts areas likely to be under water in a once-in-a-century storm that may now be an annual event—or whether you were out and about in that area on New Year’s Eve.

I was. It looked like this:

The project has an underground garage, and the planners don’t seem to have any concerns at all about flooding; the staff memo on it only mentions the issue in passing, and leaves it up to the developer, who said everything was just fine.

It’s not even clear who the project architect is. The name on the plans is SIA Consulting, which was linked to part of the city’s ongoing corruption scandal. Environmental lawyer Sue Hestor asked the planners:

98 Pennsylvania plans in 1/5 staff report had “vertical” strip along right edge of each sheet with SIA Consulting Corporation, identifying person who drew the plans, and date of that drawing.  Plans in 2/9 staff report have a strip at bottom with SIA Consulting Corporation, each dated 12/15/2021 and say drawn by R.K.  What architect or architectural firm is offering its license as a guarantee of the accuracy of the renderings? When an architect submits project plans, their license is on the line.  Please explain plan date discrepancy.  Who is licensed architect?

Potrero Boosters activist Alison Heath also raised the question in a letter to planners:

We have been told the project sponsor hasn’t hired a mechanical engineer or landscape architect, and there is no licensed architect on staff at SIA.

A licensed architect, I am going to presume, might be thinking about preparing a building for the potential of floodwaters lapping against its sides.

The project was approved in 2016 as a five-story building with 48 units, but (like so many housing projects in this city) was never built. Now, using the state’s Density Bonus Law, the developer, Ciaran Harty, wants six floors with 64 units, ten of them affordable.

It’s now a parking lot. It’s in a neighborhood where there’s not a lot of threat of displacement from market-rate housing. The Boosters have issues with the design, which like much new housing is really ugly, but overall, it’s hard to support new housing in the city and oppose this, and the Yimbys will be all over anyone who does.

Except that, as Herrera told me, we have to look at everything. And anything in Mission Bay is going to have to be built with the idea that serious flooding is the new normal.

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 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.

Top reads

UCLA’s secretive neoliberal housing conference

It's worse than Davos: A one-sided policy event with no dissenters—and no reporters unless they sign gag orders.

Supes hearing misses the point on homelessness

Mandelman seeks radical change in policy away from permanent housing while poverty and neoliberal capitalism take a back seat.

The massive fiscal crisis nobody at City Hall is talking about

San Francisco can fund less than ten percent of its critical infrastructure needs under self-imposed property-tax limits

More by this author

Supes hearing misses the point on homelessness

Mandelman seeks radical change in policy away from permanent housing while poverty and neoliberal capitalism take a back seat.

SF has no program in place to prevent SRO evictions from creating homelessness

Hearing shows a gap that puts people who were housed back on the streets.

Report shows 911 calls are down, crime is down—and police overtime is way up

Budget analyst raises questions about police budget as Preston calls for a full audit.
Sponsored link
Sponsored link

You might also likeRELATED