The Agenda

Two big (and environmentally awful) projects — and a step toward saving the Mission

Greenaction's Marie Harrison testified against the India Basin plane

The India Basin environmental impact report, which was more-or-less rejected by the supes two weeks ago when the local air board said the construction proposals would cause too much airborne pollution, comes back to the board Tuesday/16.

Greenaction, a Bayview Hunters Point environmental justice group, appealed the EIR on the project, which involves the construction of 1,500 new housing units on the edge of the Hunter Point Shipyard, where we now know there is still at least some radioactive contamination. At the hearing two weeks ago, Greenaction representative Marie Harrison, who was carrying an oxygen tank because of her respiratory problems, said that the development would cause further damage in an area that already has the highest asthma rates in the city.

Greenaction’s Marie Harrison testified against the India Basin plan. Photo by Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner.

A representative of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said that the construction would cause unacceptable levels of pollution and that the plan needed changes.

The air-pollution issues are nothing new: The EIR acknowledges that there are air-quality problems that can’t be mitigated. But the Planning Commission decided that the city’s need for housing is so great that it overrides those concerns.

So now the issue is back before the board, which only very rarely overturns EIRs. Sup. Malia Cohen, who represents the district, supports the project. But as Tony Kelly, candidate for D10 supe, told me,

I’ve been around a while, but it’s still a shock that, in San Francisco in 2018, the city might approve a building project next to the Shipyard that hasn’t really considered how safe the dirt is, has environmental impacts that can’t be mitigated, and deliberately avoided communities that don’t speak or read English. And the official reason the city might approve the project anyway is, they want the money and the expensive housing. If this gets approved, how wrong does a project have to be to get rejected?

Shamman Walton, who is also a leading candidate in D10, told me he doesn’t have enough information to take a position on the project EIR.

And then the supes will have to deal with the Central Soma Plan, which pretty much everyone agrees is a mess– too much office, too little housing, no concern for massive new traffic problems. The board approved the EIR September 25 despite all those issues, and Sup. Jane Kim, who represents the district, said she wants to add a lot more housing to the mix.

I asked Kim why the city needed to make room for that much more office space in the first place, why this level of growth is a good thing for anyone. “I get that argument,” she said.

But that argument – that the city can’t possible handle the impacts of this rapid office and job growth – is generally dismissed by planners, and frankly, by most of the supes.

So the plan itself comes before the Land Use and Transportation Committee Monday/15 and the full board the next day.

Two weeks later, Land Use and Transportation will hold a hearing called by Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer to talk about the idea that private buses should be able to use the city’s Muni-only lanes. If the Muni-only lanes are meant to speed up the city’s transit system, clogging them with Google buses would seem counterproductive – but that’s what the MTA is considering at this point. Transit and environmental advocates are urging people to contact their supes in advance of the hearing and express opposition to the plan.

Sup. Hillary Ronen has introduced legislation that might make some impact on the dramatic gentrification of the Valencia Street corridor and surrounding areas and the displacement of long-time neighborhood businesses by high-end restaurants and brewpubs.

The measure would require conditional-review permits for new restaurants and would ban new brewpubs in the area roughly bounded by 14thStreet, Guerrero, Cezar Chavez, and Potrero.

Ronen also wants to block the merger of ground-floor commercial spaces resulting in spaces larger than 1,500 feet (except for legacy business, arts, and community uses). And she would require than any new developments of more than 10,000 square feet provide storefront space of less than 1,500 square feet.

Light industrial use would be legal in most areas, and a conditional-use hearing would be required if any legacy business is replaced.

This is just a start; there’s a lot to be done to save what’s left of the Mission. But it’s a step forward, and the Planning Commission will hear it Thursday/18.

Who supports real rent control — and environmental justice in Bayview?

All 11 supervisors will have to take a public stand Tuesday/2 on Proposition 10, the statewide ballot measure that would allow cities to impose effective rent control. Sup. Aaron Peskin has sponsored a resolution in support of the measure; it could have gone through two weeks ago, but Sup. Malia Cohen insisted it be sent to committee first, saying she wasn’t sure about the impacts on homeowners in her district. (There are no impacts on homeowners, just on landlords and tenants.) The Land Use and Transportation Committee heard the measure and sent it back to the full board – with an amendment that states that San Francisco has no plans to extend rent control without an economic analysis by the city controller. Sups. Ahsha Safai and Katy Tang were concerned about rent controls on single-family homes.

This is one of the two most important issues on the November ballot (SF Proposition C is the other).  And we will get a chance to see where every member of the board actually stands on tenant rights.

The board will also hear an appeal of the Environmental Impact Report on a big project in India Basin that would allow for 1,500 new residential units and 15 acres of parkland in an old industrial area that may still have toxic materials buried in the soil.

A lot of the news media coverage of the issue has focused on the future of a popular Russian spa near the site.

But Greenaction, an environmental justice group, appealed the EIR, saying that the project would cause increased air pollution in an area that already has the worst air quality (and highest rates of respiratory disease) in the city. The EIR admits there are environmental problems that can’t be entirely mitigated, but the Planning Commission decided that the city’s need for housing is so important that it overrides the potential downsides.

Tony Kelly, a candidate for D10 supervisor, told me that

I’ve been around a while, but it’s still a shock that, in San Francisco in 2018, the city might approve a building project next to the Shipyard that hasn’t really considered how safe the dirt is, has environmental impacts that can’t be mitigated, and deliberately avoided communities that don’t speak or read English. And the official reason the city might approve the project anyway is, they want the money and the expensive housing. If this gets approved, how wrong does a project have to be to get rejected?

The hearing will start sometime after 3pm.

The Planning Commission will, after months of delay, hear a proposal Thursday/4 to build a Whole Foods store on Jackson, between Polk and Van Ness, the site of the old Lombardi Sports. Neighbors have argued that the site is too valuable just for a two-story grocery store and that the project should also include housing.

The commission sent the plans back to the developer and asked for an alternative that included housing – but the developer now says that’s pretty much not going to happen. The existing building isn’t capable of handling the weight of several more stories on top, according to a report by the engineering firm Santos and Urrutia, which the city is suing for allegedly violating building codes.

So, the developer says, the building would have to be torn down and rebuilt, which this owner has no desire to do. Otherwise: No housing, just Whole Foods.

Several commissioners have been dubious about this project from the start. Let’s see how they handle the latest.

Also Thursday/4:Legal Assistance to the Elderly holds its annual party and fundraiser at Johnny Foley’s Irish Pub. Fell disclosure, I serve on the board of this organization – so I can vouch for the fact that it does amazing work protecting one of the city’s most vulnerable populations, low-income seniors and disabled people. It’s $25 at the door. 5pm to 7:30 pm, 243 O’Farrell.

The Climate Change Agenda for the week

Marchers demanding real solutions to climate change kicked off a week of events. Photo by Sunshine Velasco, courtesy of

More than 30,000 people marched for climate justice in San Francisco Saturday – and that was just the start of a series of events designed to coincide with Gov. Jerry Brown’s Climate Summit.

While the politicians are making their public statements, the grassroots will be working to connect climate change and racial, economic, and social justice.

Marchers demanding real solutions to climate change kicked off a week of events. Photo by Sunshine Velasco, courtesy of

Here are the week’s events (thanks to Marie Choi for compiling the list)


9am – Intertribal Prayer, Teach-In, and Direct Action Training at the West Berkeley Shellmound – Save West Berkeley Shellmound and the Indigenous Bloc for RISE Days of Action will lay down prayers, offer songs, and learn about the struggle to protect this ancient burial/ ceremonial and village site of the Lisjan/Ohlone people.  A direct action training will follow the ceremony. 

1pm – Toxic Tours, Solutions Tours, and Art Builds.  Community groups are hosting tours in Richmond, Bayview Hunters Point SF, SF Chinatown, SF Excelsior, and East Oakland to share how people living in frontline communities are fighting big polluters and building community-led solutions to climate change. 


8am – RISE Against Climate Capitalism – Direct Action to Shut Down the Carbon Market Investors Meeting, 55 Cyril Magnon Street, San Francisco –  Idle No More and Indian People Organized for Action are holding a nonviolent direct action including prayer, teach-in and street mural painting outside of a carbon market investors meeting.  “People of the world are being led astray by polluting industries and elected officials promoting climate capitalist systems like carbon trading and carbon tax shell games. These systems… allow the fossil fuel industry to continue to harm Indigenous people and communities around the world from extraction to transport to refining.”


10am-8pm – Solidarity to Solutions Summit, Cesar Chavez Park in San Francisco – The Solidarity to Solutions Summit (#Sol2Sol Summit) will highlight frontline communities’ solutions that address the interlinked crises of climate, economic, and racial justice. Through cross-sector, solutionary strategy exchange, community leadership development, creative actions, and democratic popular assembly, we will provide direction on bold and transformative pathways for change and shift the narrative around false top-down market-driven solutions and techno-fixes. 


7am-12pm – Stand with Communities, Not Corporations!, Jessie Square, 736 Mission Street, San Francisco.  This is taking place outside of the Global Climate Action Summit to protest “Jerry Brown’s promotion of continued fossil fuel production, carbon trading markets and other incentives to oil, gas and other polluting corporations, perpetuates climate change and decimates indigenous communities and working-class communities of color around the world.”

At some point, the Board of Supes is going to make a final decision on the Central Soma Plan, and it’s going to put Sup. Jane Kim in a difficult position.

Kim has been a supporter of the massive rezoning effort, which would create as many as 63,000 new jobs but housing for less than half that number of people.

Now Kim says she wants to increase the amount of housing, but she’s facing a structural problem: The city did an environmental impact report on the entire plan five years ago, and the EIR only analyzed a plan with a maximum of 8,300 housing units. So now the Planning Commission and the Supes can only approve a plan that fits in those parameters – unless they scrap the EIR and start the process over again.

Which could take another two years – but in the meantime, existing protections for blue-collar jobs would be in place along with limits on new office space.

The South of Market Community Action Network, which Kim has been close to in the past, is incensed by the plan and has filed an appeal of the EIR:

The new Central SoMa Plan is a rezoning of the South of Market that caters to private interests and highlights the ongoing struggle of working-class communities in San Francisco.… The likely result of this change in zoning is the displacement of existing PDR jobs, and increased land values which means increased rents for both residents and businesses. 

SOMCAN is joined by Central Soma Neighbors and the Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium.

The EIR appeal has been delayed by the board several times, as Kim has sought to increase the amount of housing in the zoning legislation. But she can’t go beyond what the EIR has analyzed.

There are lots of technical details in the appeal. Among other things, the YBNC notes that the EIR entirely dismissed any discussion of the fact that the addition of a small city to the existing Soma would create a serious demand for new public services:

In general, despite the projected daily population increase of 78,800 persons as a result of the Plan by 2040, the Initial Study concluded that the need for additional Police, Fire, and “other” public services would have a “less than significant impacts,” and thus this topic was excluded from technical and public evaluation in the DEIR.

This is a questionable assumption on its face – 78,800 people are the size of new city! And the Initial Study did not cite any technical analysis of the needs for Public Services for a daily population of this size, or lack thereof.


Despite their undeniable presence in the Plan Area in substantial numbers during the last 30 years, neither the Initial Study nor the Project DEIR specifically addressed the environmental issues related to the homeless population, and the resulting Public Services impacts. But the associated demand for public sanitation, health, shelter, and safety services is absolutely obvious to everyone today and is a major civic controversy.


The area defined as the Central SoMa Plan Area is a neighborhood. While we are not opposed to further growth, we are opposed to Planning’s proposed transformation of this neighborhood into a new Financial District. The scale of development and the mix of commercial, office and high end luxury development described in the Plan are not conducive to a healthy neighborhood.

The DEIR is also negligent in assessing the new impacts of ride-hailing/ Transportation Network Company (TNC) services like Uber and Lyft. The references in the DEIR on pages IV.D-65 and IV.D-76 are completely inadequate. Their impact can in no way be equated with bicycles in terms of traffic or environmental impact. Their vehicles circle endlessly as they aim to be proximate to the next person who orders their services such as rides and food deliveries. As more office space and more residences are built in the Plan Area, the volume and impacts from these services will increase dramatically.


The DEIR upzones large swaths of Central SoMa. Upzoning of property increases the values of the underlying land, which leads to increased costs for residential and commercial tenancies and increased sale prices. Therefore existing residents or small businesses that are paying less than the new market rate will be forced out.

But the overall issue for the supes is deeper: Should they scrap the existing, out-of-date, area-plan EIR and start the process over again? Or should they accept what it pretty clearly a plan that will make the jobs-housing imbalance in the city much worse – with all the displacement impacts that involves – just because five years ago a flawed EIR was approved?

Kim has always supported increased density in her district, often demanding (and getting) in exchange high levels of affordable housing. The Central Soma Plan sets affordability levels at 33 percent.

But her own progressive constituents aren’t happy here.

SOMCAN’s appeal will finally be heard, it appears, Tuesday/11. The group is encouraging the public to show up and testify; the hearing begins at 3pm in the board chambers.

David Talbot, the author, activist, former Chronicle columnist, and progressive activist will be talking with environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.Wednesday/12.From Talbot:

I obviously have a LOT to talk about with Bobby, whom I’ve known for many years. Among our topics will be Bobby’s remarkably honest and insightful new memoir, American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family, his recent prison visit with Sirhan B. Sirhan — the man convicted of assassinating his father; why he has come to doubt the official versions of both the JFK and RFK assassinations; and Bobby’s involvement in the recent landmark court decision against chemical giant Monsanto for failing to warn consumers about the carcinogenic dangers of its herbicide Roundup.

I’m sure that Kennedy will have a lot to say about Election 2018, the Trump apocalypse and other burning topics too.

You can buy books from both Kennedy and Talbot (I haven’t read the Kennedy book, but The Devil’s Chessboardis really, really good) and hear the discussion starting at 4:30pm.

McRoskey Mattress Factory, 3rd floor loft, 1687 Market Street, San Francisco. Donations $5/Tickets at the door.

Should private shuttles be able to use Muni-only lanes?

Google buses slow down Muni. Photo by Larry-bob Roberts

San Francisco transit planners have been working for years on a proposal to create bus-only lanes on Geary Boulevard. It’s called Bus Rapid Transit, and the idea is that – since we (unfortunately) don’t have a subway line underneath the Geary corridor, we can do the next best thing by creating lanes just for Muni.

Time the traffic signals right, keep cars out of the way of buses, and people can ride faster from the Richmond and the Western Addition to downtown.

Google buses slow down Muni — and sometimes block bus stops, forcing the public buses to let passengers off in the middle of the street. Photo by Larry-bo Robert

The plan comes up for discussion at the MTA’s meeting Tuesday/21 – and there’s a twist.

Activists have discovered that Muni’s current proposal would allow not only Muni buses but private shuttles, like Chariot and the Google buses – to use the city’s public transit-only lanes.

Environmentalist and transit advocate Sue Vaughan (who has also written for 48hills) asked at an MTC Citizens Advisory Committee meeting in July whether private shuttles would be allowed to use the BRT lanes. MTC staff didn’t have an answer at that point – but a series of follow-up emails obtained by Vaughan show that the department believes under current rules, any private company that runs a bus with a capacity of more than ten people (including the driver) would count as “transit” and would be allowed on what were originally described as Muni-only lanes.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez first broke this story Aug. 19 in the Examiner.

A July 26 memo from Liz Brisson, major corridors manager for the Sustainable Streets Division, which Vaughan shared with me, states that

commuter shuttles or private transit vehicles such as Chariot would be allowed to use the lanes if using vehicles designed, used, or maintained for carrying more than 10 persons.

That’s a big deal. It’s as if the city said that anyone who could afford a private train car could run it on the Muni Metro tracks.

And, of course, the Google Buses and the Chariot shuttles are going to do exactly what BRT was meant to avoid: Slow down Muni.

The entire BRT project is up for discussion at the MTA meeting, and while the private shuttle issue isn’t specifically on the agenda, I’m sure it will come up in public comment.

“The SFCTA and SFMTA have been working on this project for at least 15 years, dating back to the passage of Prop K in 2003, the sales tax that set aside funds for Geary LRT studies among other projects,” said Vaughan. “As the project has developed, It has always been the public understanding that Geary BRT, from the avenues to Van Ness, would be for public buses only. And we demand that dedicated lanes along Geary from Stanyan to Gough remain that way.”

Vaughan added:

The environmental impact report did not analyze the impact of private, for-profit buses (which includes casino buses, tour buses, and Academy of Art University buses, as well as Chariots, tech shuttle buses, and perhaps future Uber or Lyft buses) on the flow of Muni. And it certainly didn’t ask the question. Not one Geary Rapid Diagram has ever depicted a Chariot or a tech shuttle bus in a red lane.
Of added concern is the fact that there are no limits on the number of Chariots, tech shuttle buses, casino buses, or tour buses that can be in operation in the city. As of February 2018, there were 996 commuter shuttles with placards, although there are not necessarily that many in operation at once during commute hours. (That’s more than the city’s entire fleet of rubber tire vehicles, and the tech shuttles only run during commute hours and only along certain routes as of now.) I don’t know how many Chariots, casino buses, tour buses, or other vehicles that fit the definition of a bus are in operation in San Francisco now. How is Muni going to be able to expand to meet the needs of a growing population and to combat climate change if it’s competing for lane space with other vehicles? And why isn’t the SFMTA planning to charge for access to dedicated lanes?

The meeting’s at 1pm in Room 400, City Hall. If you can’t make it and want to comment, you can email [email protected] with subject line “Geary Rapid Project.”

The Agenda, July 22-July 29: The new (same old) Planning Commission …

Sup. Malia Cohen, I am reliably told, promised progressives on the board that she would re-appoint Planning Commissioners Dennis Richards and Kathrin Moore if they elected her board president. In fact, if she hadn’t agreed to that, and indicated she was leaning toward more developer-friendly appointees, I suspect she would not have been unanimously chosen.

And true to that deal, Cohen has asked the board to approve Moore and Richards for new four-year terms. Mayor London Breed has asked the supes to re-appoint her two candidates – incumbents Rodney Fong and Milicent Johnson – suggesting that she intends to follow the same basic planning policies as the late Mayor Ed Lee.

None of these nominations are any surprise – but they would suggest that the 4-3 split on major issues, with the mayor’s commissioners siding with developers and the supes commissioners more open to the neighborhoods and community concerns – is going to continue through the Breed Administration.

For those (like the Chron) who say there was no big policy difference between the candidates, here’s the first example where that’s demonstrably wrong: Either Sup. Jane Kim or Mark Leno would very likely have appointed more progressive candidates to this most crucial of city commissions.

The appointments come before the Rules Committee Wednesday/25.

The Rules Committee will also be looking at two appointments to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force – appointments that have been delayed for months.

It’s a sensitive issue: Some of the supes have been openly hostile to the Task Force, which has as one of its jobs holding supervisors accountable for violations of the ordinance. There are only two nominees for the two spots, and both appear eminently qualified: Matthew Cate is a former reporter who is now a lawyer, and Lila LaHood is publisher of the SF Public Press.

The nominations are happening as sunshine advocates are discussing the possibility of a 2019 ballot initiative to close some loopholes, strengthen the Task Force by turning it into a commission, and update some of the open-government rules.

San Franciscans for Sunshine, which is pushing the new rules, is led by journalists and open-government advocates who are frustrated, as I am, by a persistent problem: Public officials simply defy the Sunshine Ordinance, and nothing happens.

Documents that ought to be released are never disclosed – or they vanish. (I know for a fact that a number of public officials have sent text messages on their phones during public meetings – and the law now says those are public – but when I’ve asked for them I’m told they don’t exist.)

The city attorney is almost by definition conflicted: That person has to by law represent public officials – and advise them on what’s public and what isn’t. It’s hard for the city attorney to tell an official to make something public when the city attorney also has to represent that official if they get in trouble for failing to disclose records.

Add to that the fact that technology is changing rapidly: The existing law never foresaw that much of city business would happen through text messages on private phones.

You can read a draft of the new ordinance here, although it hasn’t been updated to show all the recent changes. If you want to get involved in the campaign contact [email protected].

The Board goes on summer recess after this week. The Police Commission doesn’t meet this week. So things tend to slow down at City Hall the first couple of weeks of August. But we will be watching and updating you on anything that is going on.

Too many jobs, too little housing in Soma

All the yellow blocks show where new buildings could be allowed in Central Soma

The Central Soma Plan – which will open South of Market to the equivalent of a new downtown, with office space for at least 33,000 more workers and housing for 8,300 people – comes before the supes twice this week.

On Monday/16, the Board of Supes Land Use and Transportation Committee takes up the crux of the legislation that would rezone a fairly large swath of the city.

Then, on Tuesday/17, the full board hears an appeal by several community groups who are challenging the validity of the plan’ Environmental Impact Report, saying that, among other things, it grossly underestimates the impacts of adding more jobs than housing to a city that already has a severe housing shortage.

All the yellow blocks show where new buildings could be allowed in Central Soma

The Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium, one of the appellants, argues that the EIR doesn’t adequately address the new growth:

New residents and workers – +9300 and +36,400, respectively, according to the EIR at IV-6 – will so increase the resident and daily population of Central SOMA that they will require substantial new services. The 2015 Initial Study improperly scoped out this issue and the EIR Responses to Comments improperly deferred it. With population increases at the scale of a new city, to keep our City livable reasonably foreseeable facilities must be studied and planned for now as part of the Plan.

Another material defect is the EIR’s failure to evaluate and mitigate cumulative impacts on public services and need for recreation facilities that will be created by the growth of resident and worker population in the entire Central City of San Francisco over the same time span, including the Central Business District and adjacent neighborhoods as well as Central SOMA – thus South of Market, Central Market, the Tenderloin, and Chinatown. Up to 100,000 more residents and 50,000 more jobs may materialize. At that scale, new public services and facilities will be needed, and there has not yet been environmental review or mitigation of this cumulative scenario in any San Francisco EIR to date.

SOMCAN, the South of Market Community Action Network, argues that the EIR fails to disclose the “severity of the level of impact” of the “creation of a second Financial District,” the role of Uber and Lyft in the transportation mess, and the economic impacts of displacement that’s likely when there are more workers pouring into a region than there is housing for them.

Central Soma Neighbors, also part of the appeal, argues that

The Central SoMa Plan essentially creates a second Financial District South of Market, creating 63,600 new jobs, but only 14,500 new housing units. (DEIR, pp. IV-6, IV-5)1. In other words, the Plan creates 50,000 more jobs than housing units (more than four times more jobs than housing). This only exacerbates the City’s jobs-housing imbalance, which will result in even greater demand for limited housing, higher housing prices, more displacement, and more gentrification. Clearly, the City should go back to the drawing board.

The number of housing units and jobs is never going to be exact; that’s driven by what developers want to build. It’s possible that, if demand for office space is strong enough, developers will try to push the office numbers even higher; it’s possible that, if demand for high-end condos remains apparently insatiable, those number could go up, too.

All the city does in this plan is create zoning rules that allow an increase in both types of development.

The plan calls for 33 percent of the new housing to be below-market-rate, which is way higher than what planning rules now require – but well within the range of what Sup. Jane Kim, who represents the district, has negotiated with developers.

Kim, a sponsor of the plan, noted when she introduced it that

I am very proud that the Central SoMa plan sets a new standard for the City with 33 percentaffordability throughout and zero loss of any existing arts or manufacturing jobs,” said Supervisor Jane Kim. “It will be the first new area plan with an eco-district that implements Vision Zero from its inception, designed with robust community benefits such as parks andrecreational open spaces for our entire city to enjoy for decades to come.

The level of development the plan allows could bring in $500 million for city services, supporters say. And if it leads to the development of 9,000 housing units, 3,000 of them would be below-market-rate, which is a big number.

The overall issue here: With the tech boom shifting Silicon Valley more and more into San Francisco, there’s a shortage of office space. The prices are soaring, which makes it harder, planners say, for small businesses and startups to find affordable space.

But at the same time, we have seen the result of bringing too many high-paid jobs into the city when there’s no housing for those workers – and by any analysis, this is going to make the situation worse.

Some argue that, if the cost of office space drives tech jobs back to the Peninsula, the workers will still live here. That’s been true because the city has enabled it by authorizing the Google buses – and refusing to take a stand against Peninsula cities that build no housing at all.

The Land Use Committee meets Monday at 1:30pm. The appeal comes before the full board Tuesday at 3pm.

The Budget and Finance Committee meets Thursday/19at 10am to consider two tax measures that might be headed to the November ballot. Sups. Aaron Peskin, Jane Kim, Hillary Ronen, Norman Yee and Sandra Fewer want to impose a gross receipts tax on Uber and Lyft (and any other ride-share companies that bring in more than $500,000 a year) and any future companies that offer rides in driverless vehicles.

This will be the first chance for Sup. Rafael Mandelman to join what should be a six-vote majority to put this on the ballot.

Not clear how much money it would bring in (these companies won’t share that data), but Uber and Lyft have done serious damage to Muni, congested the streets, and treat their drivers badly. The idea that they should pay a reasonable city tax is a no-brainer.

Then Sup. Malia Cohen wants to add a gross receipts tax on recreational cannabis. This one’s a little more complicated: There’s no question that this growing industry is going to make a ton of money and needs to share that with the city. The issue that new cannabis outlets are raising is that, when the price of legal bud goes too high, people go back to the black market.

But Cohen’s ordinance exempts the first $500,000 in sales, so it’s not going to prevent new outlets from getting started, and after that it’s set at a pretty minor 1 percent, which can go up to as much as 5 percent after 2020. That means a store that sells $1 million worth of cannabis product would pay $5,000 a year to the city. Doesn’t seem like an industry-killer to me.

Protest Salesforce and its connection to ICE!

Salesforce, which occupies that giant building that has come to dominate the SF skyline, has a contract with the US Customs and Border Patrol, part of ICE – and part of the operation that is tearing kids away from their families.

More than 700 Salesforce employees have signed a petition asking the company to drop its contracts with ICE. So far, CEO Mark Benioff has refused that demand.

So the SF Progressive Alliance and other allied organizations will meet in front of Salesforce Tower Monday/9 at 10am to call on Benioff to cancel the CBP contract.

This is part of a growing movement by tech workers to divest their organizations of any connection to Trump’s family-separation machine.

The rally’s at 415 Mission. Like the building, it will be hard to miss.

The Police Commission meets in closed session Wed/11to discuss with legal counsel the case of Rain O. Daugherty v. City and County of San Francisco.It’s a critically important case – and the fact that it’s under discussion is intriguing.

The case goes back to 2011, when former Sgt. Ian Furminger was under federal investigation for a serious of corruption charges. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to prison – but he sought bail while his case was appealed, and the US Attorney’s Office, in a filing opposing bail, released a series of racist, homophobic text messages between Furminger and four other officers.

The four were fired – and one of them, Daugherty, sued the city demanding his job back. His argument: Under the Peace Officers Bill of Rights Act, there’s a statute of limitation on any disciplinary action of one year.

That means if a police department knows an officer did something wrong and doesn’t act on it for 12 months, that officer is off the hook.

The SFPD was cooperating with the feds on the investigation of Furminger – and as part of that procedure, the handful of SFPD officers working with the US Attorney and the FBI agreed to keep secret any information that they received relevant to the case.

That meant the lieutenant in charge of working with the feds could not tell anyone – including his supervisors, up to the chief – about the information the investigation turned up.

In 2012, the feds got a warrant to search Furminger’s phone and got ahold of the texts. Daugherty claims that the statute of limitations started at that moment – and since he wasn’t fired until 2015, the discipline was moot.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association funded Daugherty’s lawsuit. A Superior Court judge agreed with the cops, and the city appealed.

The Court of Appeal overturned that ruling May 30,issuing a precedent-setting decision upholding San Francisco’s right to fire the four officers. The statute of limitations was, by law, “tolled,” or put on hold, during the course of the confidential federal investigation, the court ruled.

Since this sort of investigation by outside agencies is no uncommon, and there are other circumstances were the one-year statue can’t possibly be met, the ruling gives cities far more latitude in disciplining rogue officers.

So why is this on the Police Commission agenda? Maybe so the commissioners can talk about how to implement it. I hope it’s not because the POA is threatening to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Board of Supes Tuesday/10will consider Mayor Mark Farrell’s second nomination of Joe Marshall for re-appointment to the seven-member panel. The board has in the past refused to consent to Marshall or Sonia Melara, another mayoral appointee, saying that they have not been tough enough on the POA.

Melara has withdrawn from consideration.

One could certainly argue that, while Farrell has every right to make this appointment, Mayor Breed will be sworn in the next day. I have a lot of disagreements with Breed, but she has been good on police accountability.

Also on the Board agenda, way down at the very end: A resolution by Sup. Hillary Ronen that calls out PG&E, talks about the history of the Raker Act, and asks that all city departments and the SF Public Utilities Commission work to be sure that as much of the city’s clean public power as possible gets to customers in the city.

This is just another shot across the bow to PG&E, which has picked a dumb fight with the city. The supes and the mayor could go a step further, if there’s political will: Set a deadline (Sept. 1 seems reasonable) for PG&E to knock off all of its nonsense and reach a deal with the PUC – or the city will begin using its Prop. A revenue bonds to build out its own municipal distribution system.

The Agenda: A new board prez, $275K for a police shooting …

Demanding justice for Amilcar Lopez

Mayor-elect London Breed has officially informed the clerk of the board that she is stepping down as board president and to schedule a vote Tuesday/26 for a new president. The obvious move: Keep the incoming progressive majority from electing someone who would set committee assignments and control legislation until next January, when the moderates hope they can take back the board.

A supervisor can’t vote on their own appointment as mayor – but can vote to make themselves a board prez. So with Breed still voting, there are five sure votes for whoever she wants, and five sure votes against that plan. The person who will decide if Breed gets away with this is outgoing D8 Supe Jeff Sheehy, who I’m sure is under immense pressure from the Big Tech and Real Estate camp that backed Breed.

Demanding justice for Amilcar Lopez

This will be a major political showdown. It’s on the agenda for 3pm.

Among the items on the board’s consent agenda – issues that are considered routine – is this:

Settlement of Lawsuit – Juan Perez and Margarita Lopez Perez – $275,000. The lawsuit was filed on April 24, 2015, in United States District Court, Case No. 15-cv-1846; entitled Estate Of Amilcar Perez Lopez, by and through successors in interest, et al. v. Chief of Police Greg Suhr, et al.; the lawsuit involves a fatal officer involved shooting on February 26, 2015; Plaintiffs are Juan Perez and Margarita Lopez Perez and estate of Amilcar Perez-Lopez; the settlement involves an alleged civil rights violation. (City Attorney)

Let’s back up for a moment.

This is, apparently, the final chapter in a terrible case of police misconduct,the 2015 shooting of Amilcar Perez Lopez. This was one of the flashpoints that led to the resignation of Chief Greg Suhr. It was a major community issue, the subject of a lawsuit that the city is now prepared to settle.

The $275,000, less legal fees, will be a huge help to the Guatemalan family of the young man, who relied on the money he sent home. That’s all fine.

But the fact that the city has settled suggests that City Attorney Dennis Herrera and his team knew there was at least some chance that a jury would have found the cops and the city negligent and awarded a whole lot more.

Which raises the question: Have the officers who shot Amilcar been disciplined in any way? They faced no charges from the district attorney. They have returned to work. And the city is out $275K.

This will pass on the consent calendar, and eventually the case will fade from public consciousness. There is at this point no accountability for police officers who cost the public large sums of money in civil suits.

A move to dramatically change public notice requirements for development projects– hidden behind Mayor Mark Farrell’s rhetoric of facilitating affordable housing – was continued and is back at the board this week. It will be eclipsed, of course, by the drama of the board presidency – but it will also be a sign of how Breed, and her allies, view the public process and balance the desires of developers with what the community wants.

The SF Tenants Union, which is one of the most important political organizations in the city, is holding its annual fundraiser Thursday/28, honoring the Outstanding New Organizers of 2018 – Democratic Socialists of America, for their work on Prop. F, and Veritas Tenants Committee, for organizing against one of SF’s largest landlords. The group will also add Carol Bettencourt of the Eviction Defense Collaborative to the Tenant Hall of Fame. You can get more info and tickets here.

The Agenda, June 11-17: A chance to move beyond PG&E

Sup. Hillary Ronen wants to know why PG&E is such an obstruction to public projects

No matter who wins the mayor’s race, there’s a lot of good news from the San Francisco election – and one of the sleeper issues is the passage of Prop. A, which allows the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to sell revenue bonds for clean-energy projects.

If we have a PUC that’s willing to defy Pacific Gas and Electric Company – and a Board of Supes that’s willing to go along – the city now has the potential to start building out its own environmentally sound energy infrastructure.

That could save ratepayers billions of dollars and improve the creaky infrastructure of an aging and failing private utility that might be out of business soon anyway.

And, by the way, enforcing federal law and breaking up PG&E’s illegal monopolyin the process.

Since the 1920s, the city has tried repeatedly to do what the Raker Act of 1913 requires: Use the Hetch Hetchy power project to create a municipal electric utility. Munis historically have lower rates, better service, and more clear power than private companies.

But to deliver the city’s own clean hydropower to residential and commercial customers, the city would need to buy out the lines and poles that carry that power to end users. And in every case, the bond measure to buy out PG&E’s facilities had to go on the ballot, and the company spend whatever was necessary to shoot down those bond acts.

Sup. Hillary Ronen wants to know why PG&E is such an obstruction to public projects

Now PG&E is reeling from the North Bay firesand the potential of billions of dollars in legal liability. The company has no credibility left in San Francisco. CleanPowerSF is taking off, and will soon have nearly every residential and business customer in the city buying power from a public co-op. (You can sign up here.)

And nobody in their right mind would buy PG&E ancient, crumbling local infrastructure today.

Now, the city has the right to build clean-power projects (like major solar installations or wind turbines), and build out modern power lines to deliver that energy to customers – and pay for it with the revenues from sales. No risk to the city’s General Fund or property owners.

At the same time, the city could (with just a little bit of money) run fiber-optic cable next to the power lines, and build out a municipal broadband system.

A lot of city services are expensive; Muni will always lose money. So will SF General Hospital. You don’t bring in revenue hiring cops and firefighters.

But selling power and broadband are lucrative operations. Santa Clara used some of the money it makes from its public-power system to lure the 49ers south. Other cities with public power use the profits to keep taxes lower and pay for services.

So this is a winner for everyone –except PG&E (and Comcast and AT&T, if we are willing to get into the muni broadband business).

And this is all happening in the wake of PG&E’s decision to make it harder for city projects and agencies to get access to the grid.

Sup. Hillary Ronen has asked for a hearing at the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee Wednesday/13to look at how the company is blocking city projects from access to city-owned clean power. We shall see if PG&E even shows up.

But the larger issue that the supes can now start to address is: Why are we still relying on PG&E to deliver the city’s own power through its unreliable grid? Now that Prop. A has passed, the city can start running its own wires, and bypass the corrupt, dying, private monopoly entirely.

The meeting’s at 10 am in Committee Room 263.

The (Election Day) Agenda: It’s going to be close

Really -- in this race, it's going to be close

Election Day is Tuesday, June 5. All the polls are clear: This is close, and second-place votes are going to determine the winner. I predict that the three major candidates, London Breed, Jane Kim, and Mark Leno, will all wind up with between 20 and 30 percent of the vote, and the margins may be so close that we won’t actually know who the next mayor is until several days after the election, when all of the election-day absentees are counted.

Really — in this race, it’s going to be close

The Department of Elections plans to start posting early results here at about 8:45pm; those will be the traditional vote-by-mail ballots, which tend to be older, somewhat more conservative voters (although that’s changing).

After that, the department will update results on a regular rolling basis about once an hour as new numbers come in. If the past is any guide, most of the ballots will be counted by midnight.

But that’s just the start. There will be tens of thousands of VBM ballots that are dropped off at City Hall or a polling place on Election Day, and each of them has to be certified and counted, which can take three or four days (or more). Elections will release those results at 4pm every day.

During the first and last results release, Elections will also run the ranked-choice-voting program to give us some preliminary idea where the mayor’s race stands.

We will be following the results as they come in and giving you analysis and reporting at 48hills, and live updates on Twitter (@48hills).

Election night parties: London Breed will be at Delancey St., 600 The Embarcadero. Jane Kim will be at the Foundry, 1425 Folsom St. Mark Leno will be at Jane Warner Plaza. You can figure on most parties getting underway by 8:30pm and going on until the last votes are counted.

I will update with any other election-night parties when I find out where they are. Please let me know ([email protected]).

The New York Times surprised me this week with a story saying that the tech industry “is hanging back”in the San Francisco election. There are some fascinating moments in the story:

Mr. Benioff called Mr. Conway “the Koch brothers of San Francisco,” a reference to the siblings who are heavy backers of conservative causes. He added: “That is his prerogative as a citizen of the United States. He feels he’s doing the right thing. He’s a good person. But he doesn’t speak for me or tech.”

And this, which is largely accurate, particularly when it comes to the Mayor’s Office:

“San Francisco, despite its reputation, isn’t especially left wing,” said Ben Tarnoff, a San Francisco historian and editor of Logic, a new magazine focused on deepening the discourse around tech. “Its political leadership is reliably socially liberal, but it has largely governed within the policy parameters set by the real estate and tech industries.”

But overall, reporter David Streitfeld interviewed tech industry leaders, who mostly told him they were too busy or didn’t want to get involved in the mayor’s race.

I disagree. Big Tech is all in on this mayor’s race, with huge amounts of money pouring into superPACs, mostly supporting London Breed and attacking Jane Kim and Mark Leno.

Yeah, the tech folks are trying to hide – Ron Conway even told his allies how to give money that wouldn’t be disclosed until the very end. But Big Tech is by far the dominant force in this town right now, including the selection of the next mayor.

We hear a lot, especially during elections, about “progressive candidates,” and – the Times story above aside – there has been a lot of discussion of how, in the words of Willie Brown, “there’s not a cigarette paper’s worth of difference” between the major candidates.

The SF Public Press just came out with a detailed study that suggests otherwise.

A data-driven analysis by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and in partnership with the Public Press, reveals what many political observers of San Francisco City Hall have been saying for years.

London Breed, president of the Board of Supervisors and candidate for mayor in the June 5 election, is a political moderate, close to the middle, even though she has eschewed that tag. Based on a moderate-to-progressive scale, relative to the city’s generally liberal bent, her closest ideological colleagues are District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee on the progressive side, and appointed District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who is running for election, farther on the moderate scale, though he declines to label himself one.

The Public Press and the UC David researchers looked at more than 400 votes and mayoral actions – in other words, they did what the Chron can’t seem to do, and went beyond what the candidates say and promise and instead looked at their records. Which is a much better indicator of future behavior than any campaign promise.

The Yimby crowd might want to take a look at this June 2 NYT story about Vancouver– a city that has been building highrise housing rapidly and still seeing radical price shocks.

The figures show, however, that unlike other expensive West Coast cities like San Francisco, where the housing supply has long lagged behind population growth, Vancouver has consistently produced new housing. Over the past decade, the housing stock has grown by about 12 percent, while the population has grown by about 9 percent, according to the city.

This disparity has persuaded the city to broaden its measures beyond just a push for new buildings to efforts like the empty homes tax.

“It’s getting out of the mind-set that just more is better,” said Gil Kelley, the city’s general manager of planning, urban design and sustainability

There are plenty of homeowners in Vancouver – as there are in SF – who would be happy to see prices fall. This idea that homeowners want to block new housing to preserve their own property values doesn’t hold up in the polls:

In 2016, the nonprofit Angus Reid Institute in Vancouver found that roughly two-thirds of residents in the metropolitan area wanted home prices to fall, including half of homeowners. More startling was that one in five homeowners in the survey expressed a desire to see home prices fall by 30 percent or more.

Count me in. Some of us just don’t believe that building more market-rate housing is going to bring prices down. And the data from up north suggests we may have a point.

I will repeat my earlier point: This race is very, very close. You can still register on Election Day and cast a provisional ballot. You can vote all day Monday and Tuesday City Hall, you can find out where your precinct polling place is with this handy utility. You can vote for up to three candidates, and it does your first choice no harm to pick a second (and it does you no good to only vote for one).

Low-turnout elections, and this will be one, tend to help those who can get their voters to the polls. Whatever candidate you support, your vote matters. And these days, it’s so easy there’s no excuse not to vote.