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All the Things You Missed at the Board of Supervisors Meeting

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Guest post by Wesley Wells

We’re sitting through the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meetings and breaking them down for you so you don’t have to! Here’s the mini minutes for the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

While the full agenda for the meeting can be found online and the official minutes will be put up in the coming days, these are the unofficial mini minutes that highlight interesting things that came up in Tuesdays 5-hour-plus meeting.

It started off with a short speech remembering Congressman John Lewis the Civil Rights Leader who passed away recently. The first 7 items on the agenda were mostly lawsuit settlements ($7mil to Square for tax issues, personal injury settlements, and some planning code amendments) these kinds of items are generally just rubber stamped at BoS because the details are dealt with in other committees.

Creating an Office of the Public Advocate

The first big item on the agenda that caused some controversy was Supervisor Mar’s piece on creating an office of the Public Advocate. Five of the supervisors were in support, believing that the City would benefit from creating a dedicated small team whose full-time responsibility would be proactively tackling anti-corruption, investigating whistleblower complaints, and going beyond just legal violations. The six other supervisors felt that the Board of Supervisors, City Attorney, Controller’s Office, and Ethics Commission all already have responsibility for rooting out corruption and further expenditure on an entirely new department and bureaucracy was not necessary. The vote failed.

Read more right here.

Creating the Department of Sanitation and Streets

Despite the name, the next item wasn’t trying to create a new department as much as it was trying to extract parts of an existing one. Supervisor Haney did a remarkable job of explaining how the Department of Public Works is an enormous department with control of building surveyors, architecture, and public infrastructure… and little time for street cleaning, it doesn’t even have a legal responsibility to clean the sidewalks. He was arguing for the creation of a new department called Sanitation and Streets and the creation of a commission to oversee them both (The Department of Public Works is one of the city departments that has recently been embroiled in scandal). Apparently he has front-line worker support for this too. In order to get the item passed it was agreed that the Commission would be created first, to give Public Works some guidance and strategy, and if that didn’t work then the Board of Supervisors would create the new department by July 2022 if still necessary. The item passed and SF will be able to vote for it in November.

Create the Sheriff Department Oversight Board

Supervisor Walton spoke to this item about creating an oversight board to focus on justice reform in the Sheriff’s Office. He said the board would be made of 7 members who would be trained and it was the first step in building community trust. The board would appoint an inspector general, compel and recommend best practices, and investigate any complaints levied against staff in the Sheriff’s department. The item passed and SF will be able to vote for it in November.

Charter Amendment – Police Department Staffing Levels

This charter amendment looks to remove the minimum police staffing requirement. It was supported by the SFPD Police Chief too as he explained that the SFPD had already been working with members of the board to create metrics to better understand staffing needs and was happy to see the arbitrary number of nearly two thousand officers removed. The item passed and SF will be able to vote for it in November.

Read more right here.

Other Items Discussed:

  • Extending a range of contracts with the Airport.
  • Accepting a $2million grant from Department of Homeland security to create a team to look out for nuclear weapons.
  • Public works will be able to impose penalties and fines for illegal dumping.
  • The health code has been amended to allow adult sex venues to relax rules (There were some weird rules from the 70’s about locked doors, supervisors, and other issues). Read more right here.
  • Board of Supervisors condemns the increase in racial profiling.
    • Interestingly this one included wording about how the City will call for a boycott of any business that profiles or discriminates against people based on protected characteristics.
  • Presentation on the Chase Center

Roll Call for Introductions

This is when the supervisors give an oral introduction to what they will be bringing to committees in the next few days/weeks.

Supervisor Haney is working with others to introduce a “Right to Safely Protest Act” which would create legislation to control the weapons used by police during protests and guide their practices and policies for investigations.

Supervisor Walton has been working with others on creating a tax to support Caltrain and reconfigure the governance of the rail lines. More info right here.

Supervisor Stefani wants to create the No-GRAFT act which will close loopholes in the way the City awards contracts. More info right here.

Supervisor Ronen will be working on how The City can support Schools/Parents/Teachers have a much more successful distance learning in the fall.

Supervisor Haney is also looking to introduce some legislation on oversight of housing stock.

Supervisor Mandelman wants to draft legislation to raise minimum healthcare services for SFO airport workers and their families.

Supervisor Peskin will be introducing something to waive the fees for using public rights of way for two years in light of Covid.

Supervisor Fewer is looking at oversight of public banking. More info right here.

If you have an interest in any of the items that these supervisors are working on over the coming weeks, you can reach out to them right here.

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