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Details From This Week’s 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 28, 2020. The full agenda can be accessed on the BoS website.

This week’s meeting eventually included discussion about Caltrain. Irritatingly, the agenda was written in such a way that it indicated the item would up for discussion around 3 p.m. and would be open for public comment. Considering the commotion about Caltrain’s funding and governance, it would have been helpful if the board stuck to the schedule and allowed members of the public to call in. They instead focused much of their early time on light availability in the library, unfortunately pushing the Caltrain conversation out past 5 p.m. and making it nearly impossible for the average person to hold out and engage with the process. 


The debate kicked off with a San Francisco County Transportation Authority presentation on the proposed three-county 1/8-cent sales tax. San Francisco supervisors argue that San Mateo has too much governance control over Caltrain and the land surrounding the railway. They see the funding measure as a way to more equally distribute Caltrain control and management. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties appear to be in broad agreement, but San Mateo County sees it differently and questions the legality of the move.

There have been calls by San Mateo County officials and Caltrain advocates calls to introduce a “clean measure” that drops the power play for governance control.

The measure’s success requires two-thirds voter approval across all three counties in November. If the vote fails in November, Caltrain can either request additional federal funds or hope that the other two counties continue funding the system through transportation budgets. See the whole debate right here starting at 03:35:25. The item passed, but a new “clean measure” will be introduced and voted on before it has the chance to make it to November’s ballot in all three counties. 


Voters will also have a final say in November over the proposed CEO tax introduced by Supervisor Matt Haney. If passed, San Francisco CEOs who earn 100 times more than their average worker would be subject to a tax equalling at least 0.1 percent of their gross receipts. If companies make no substantial changes to wages or organizational structures, then it is expected to bring in some $140 million a year. It will only apply to executives at large companies making more than $2.8 million a year — small businesses would be exempt. The legislation largely mirrors a similar tax established in Portland, Oregon, which resulted in additional revenue of between $2.5 and $3.5 million last year. The item passed unanimously and SF voters will consider the tax in November. 

Social Housing Act

This item is primarily a house cleaning effort. California’s Constitution still includes remnants of the redlining policies meant to keep neighborhoods segregated. The state’s Article 34 prohibits the creation of public or private low-income housing units without local voter approval. The Social Housing Act seeks to extend San Francisco’s authority to acquire and build affordable housing without the ballot box. This piece of legislation is not a mandate for the creation of the 10,000 units, it simply clears the path for future municipal housing developments. Read more from the SocialHousingSF campaign hereThe item passed and the measure will be voted on in November. 

Small Business and Economic Recovery Act

This piece of very complicated legislation ties together a number of tax changes that would mostly benefit small businesses. Essentially, payroll tax would be retired and replaced with the “gross receipts system.” If passed, businesses with gross receipts totaling less than $2,000,000 would be exempt from paying the tax, which is expected to benefit 3,100 businesses. Small businesses making less than $1 million will also see further reductions in the tax structure. No other tax increases will be considered until January 2022, and even then, only if the economy has recovered. The full charter amendment text is available onlineThe item passed and SF will be able to vote for it in November. 

Chase Center 

Last week the Office of Investment and Infrastructure gave a presentation on the Chase Center redevelopment efforts. They are requesting permit modifications to allow for more hotel rooms and retail spaces in the neighborhood. The Board of Supervisors asked the OCII, the Planning Department and the Office of Racial Equity to review the project as a whole to assess community needs and ensure it doesn’t pose a gentrification threat to the area. A “Community Realm Plan” would be prepared and presented following the extensive review.

This week the board also clarified the number of childcare facilities being created and found there are seven sites either built or in the pipeline, including one with 59 spaces.

Other items discussed:

  • Celebrating July as Disability Pride Month: This July marked the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Continued exploration of the creation of a California State Bank: Supervisor Fewer is working on this at the state level.
  • The Pier 45 fire has been declared an emergency, which frees up the bureaucracy around contracts to fix and repair.
  • Adoption of good foods standards for hospitals and jails establishes policies for the Sheriff’s Department and Department of Public Health around food procurement to ensure high quality, sustainable food is being served.
  • The Planning Department granted the building next to the Golden Gate Library an exemption from environmental review, however, parts of an environmental review were conducted anyway. Therefore, supervisors agreed to appeal the exemption and require the environmental review to be completed properly.

Roll Call for Introductions

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

Supervisor Shamann Walton wants to officially declare August Black Business Month. This August marks the 17th Black Business Month. You can access a list of Black-owned businesses in San Francisco right here

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer wants the Controllers office to share an update about the City reserves in light of the Mayor’s budget speech on Friday.

Supervisor Matt Haney is working with others on a post-pandemic homelessness housing plan. He is aiming for an unequivocal commitment to house people who were brought inside during the pandemic and ensure they are not put back on the streets. Mayor London Breed’s homelessness recovery plan is available right here.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin is issuing a letter of inquiry into the SFPD and their coordinated surveillance in Union Square during recent protests. This comes after the Electronic Frontier Foundation found mass surveillance had been used by law enforcement in coordination with the Union Square businesses. The public can access the EFF report here.


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