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City HallThe AgendaSF cop fires gun out the window in Santa Rosa. Cops fail...

SF cop fires gun out the window in Santa Rosa. Cops fail on internal affairs reviews

Plus: Reviewing the Valencia St. bike lane, are there enough mental-health treatment beds ... and what's up with Wiener's new attack on CEQA? That's The Agenda for Feb. 18-25

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Sometimes, you just have to present these things without comment. The Police Commission will discuss Wednesday/21 the latest Firearms Discharge Review Board report, which includes this:

On Wednesday, July 5th, 2023 at approximately 0430 hours, an SFPD Officer was off-duty and inside their residence in Santa Rosa, CA. While inside their bedroom, the Officer attempted to unload their personally owned firearm, an HKP 2000 9mm handgun. The Officer pressed the magazine release button when the firearm slipped from their hand. The Officer attempted to grab the firearm. The Officer accidentally pressed the trigger when they grabbed the grip of the firearm, which released one round from the barrel.

The Officer observed that the bullet shot through the top portion of their bedroom window, creating a small hole. The bullet followed a trajectory in an unknown direction. The Officer conducted a search for anyone who might have been shot and found that nobody was injured. The Officer contacted the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office who declined to respond to the scene based on the fact nobody was injured.

The panel concluded that this was “Not in Policy/Improper Conduct.”

Okay, well, two comments: This happened at 4:30am. A bullet went flying through a Santa Rosa neighborhood and apparently nobody knows where it landed.

The Department of Police Accountability says the cops are failing to police their own.

The commission, as is normal policy, doesn’t release the name of the officer or the specific discipline, if any.

The commission will also receive an audit from the Department of Police Accountability on officer misconduct cases. It’s pretty scathing:

IAD needs to improve data tracking to ensure that it completes the misconduct investigation and discipline notification process within the statute of limitations. If IAD fails to complete the process within one year, SFPD may be limited to nonpunitive measures, even in cases where punitive actions are warranted.

SFPD does not set time frames for resolving appeals of intended disciplinary actions, which can delay accountability and undermine perceptions of fairness. Longer resolution times severely compromise the impact of discipline on the officer, as well as the message to the rest of the department and to the community regarding accountability.

Also:

A lack of investigation tracking and limited guidelines hinder the effectiveness of IAD’s handling of allegations of officer bias. IAD did not require investigators to identify and track investigations involving officer bias. Also, limitations in IAD’s investigation guidelines may hinder SFPD’s ability to address bias.

And:

SFPD did not publish required information on officer misconduct investigations, which weakens transparency and oversight.

The commissioners will be able to ask the chief about the audit. The public can also weigh in.

That meeting starts at 5:30 pm, City Hall Room 400.

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board will discuss the Valencia Street Bike Lane project Tuesday/20, and I suspect we will see a good bit of public comment.

Merchants don’t like the center bike lane. A lot of bicyclists don’t like the center bike lane. I ride it almost every day, and I’ve never liked it; you have to cross traffic to get on the lane for about eight blocks, then cross traffic again to get out of it and back into the normal bike lane.

At the very end, or beginning, of Valencia, between 14th and Market, there’s protected land next to the curb, with cars parking to the left on the side of traffic. That’s much better for everyone.

That meeting starts at 1pm in Room 400, City Hall.

Everyone seems to be talking about more coercive, some would say punitive, measures to get people into mental-health and substance-abuse treatment. The state’s Prop. 1 will push more of that responsibility onto counties.

But there’s a bit of a problem here: San Francisco has nowhere near the treatment beds to meet existing demand, much less to expand services.

The Budget and Finance Committee, which will have to figure out where to get the money is a very, very tough budget year, will hold a hearing Wednesday/21 on the status of the city’s residential treatment bed expansion plan.

It will be an early test in what will be long, contentious hearings as the mayor and the supes seek to close a massive budget gap—while the mayor tries to increase spending on cops and wants to force welfare recipients into drug treatment, also a very expensive proposition.

That hearing starts at 10am.

The Phoenix Project, which is seeking to shed light on the (perhaps intentionally) confusing array of right-wing groups funded by billionaires who want to take over the city, holds its kickoff event from 6pm to 9pm Monday/19. RSVP here to get the details and exact location.

And about State Sen. Scott Wiener’s latest attack on CEQA: This bill isn’t just about housing. It would exempt almost anything anyone wants to build in a large part of San Francisco from any environmental review. The bill would cover the entire downtown area, most of Soma up to Sixth Street, and creep up the Mission to 13th.

The problem here is that CEQA exists for a reason, and it’s not, as Wiener suggests, inappropriate for developed areas. It’s been a powerful tool for making sure that projects in San Francisco get the proper review, including a look at the cumulative impacts of large-scale development on traffic, Muni, and other essential services.

In the early 1980s, a group called San Franciscans for Reasonable Growth sued the city under CEQA, saying that all of the analyses of new highrise offices looked at each project alone, and failed to consider how a whole lot of project all being approved at the same time would impact Muni.

From the critical 1984 Appeals Court decision about CEQA in San Francisco:

Second, we find it illogical that an EIR should carefully evaluate the direct impacts of one project which is “under environmental review,” but completely ignore the cumulative impacts of that project’s siblings in the same category.   Nothing makes the EIR’s subject project more “probable” or “foreseeable” than any of the other projects under review, just as nothing makes them less so.

All of the other EIRs paint a similarly grim picture of the impacts on Muni.16  The EIRs’ analyses, as far as they went, are corroborated by the former general manager of the Public Utilities Commission and member of the Commission, Richard Sklar, who stated at the Mission Project’s draft EIR hearing:  “I think that the EIR is deficient in pointing out how serious the transit impacts are—not only of this development but of all developments in downtown.   When we have numbers like 1.06 of capacity, 1.19 of capacity ․, it doesn’t give any picture of the impact on the riders of those routes attempting to get downtown to work in the morning and go home at night.   It is a horror.   Our major trunk lines to downtown are all over capacity.   This is talking about capacity problems above and beyond 50 percent above seated capacity.   That’s nearing cattle car status on the N line in the morning, the 38, and the 1 Express.   It’s no way for people to be transported to and from work, and yet we can’t add a bus or rail car or any other means to get the people downtown.   We don’t have the vehicles.   We don’t have the money, and the City’s chances of picking up additional money in many of the traditional ways are limited․”

However, had the EIRs considered a more accurate amount of cumulative development, they would have undoubtedly forecast greater catastrophe for Muni. Faced with that probability, the Commission might well have concluded that it was necessary to impose much stronger mitigation measures.   However, because the EIRs underestimated the amount of downtown development, the Commission had no opportunity to deal with the true severity and significance of its impacts, not just on Muni, but on the whole spectrum of environmental concerns potentially affected by high-rise development.

That didn’t stop the development of highrise offices. It just required city officials to take into account the huge impacts on Muni that these projects have, and to require more mitigation money to help Muni survive those impacts.

Also: Not every development is good. There are in fact projects that would do more damage to the city than the developer is willing to mitigate. CEQA doesn’t stop the city from approving those projects; it just says that the public needs to know what city officials are doing.

Given everything that’s been going on with CEQA in the past year or so, this could be a scary precedent.

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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