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Monday, March 30, 2009

SF Gov InAction: Supes To Be Renamed 'The Super Friends' And Only Use Powers For Good. PLUS: Is Gavin Newsom a Cylon?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 10:59 AM


Monday, March 30, 1 p.m. - Land Use & Economic Development Committee I'm thinking of holding a garage sale. My worldly possessions -- not to brag -- include a bag of kumquats, a DVD of Waking Life, a book of commonly used Scottish phrases, and a bottle of something that this guy on the corner swears is wine. The city is also planning to hold a little garage sale. Up for auction: Seven parcels of land along the former Central Freeway right of way and Octavia Boulevard. Their value is estimated at $35 million. Our sales are scheduled for the same day, damn it. Isn't that always the way? If only Gavin Newsom would return my calls, we could avoid these kinds of mix-ups. Last week we were even wearing the same tie:
My tie
  • My tie
My tie
  • My tie
All proceeds from sales of former freeway parcels have to be used for construction and maintenance of Octavia Street and adjacent areas. According to planning documents, projects likely to be funded by the sales include McCoppin streetscape improvements and the development of McCoppin Garden; lighting and streescape improvements along Valencia Street, and a skate park, dog run, and basketball court under the new overhead freeway at Mission and Duboce Streets. Wait ... wait ... the city is going to improve the McCoppin streetscape in the next two years? Damn it, *I* was planning to improve the McCoppin streetscape in the next two years! It's right here in my planner! "Get milk; Stalk ex-girlfriend; Improve McCoppin streetscape!" Newsom -- we did it again! We've GOT to coordinate! Another big item on the Land Use agenda this week is a measure by Chris Daly about affordable housing. You ever think that maybe Chris Daly thinks a little too much about housing? You ever wonder if when Chris and his friends get together to watch Lost, he spends the whole hour thinking "You know, I could really develop the shit out of that island with affordable housing."?

I do. I also wonder if he thinks Gavin Newsom is a cylon. Which isn't so crazy.

Right now the developers of big residential buildings are required to designate about 15 percent of those units "affordable," or create a number of off-site affordable units within a mile of the development equal to 20 percent of the units in their development, OR pay the Mayor's Office of Housing "in lieu" fees that will be used by the city to develop affordable housing.

Daly has a measure before the committee that requires 10 percent of all the "in lieu fees" paid by developers, not exceeding $15 million, to go to the acquisition and rehabilitation of affordable housing sites of fewer than 25 units.

Huh. I have no idea what the specifics of the issue are here, but just eyeballing the measure it seems like a decent idea. Both the Mayor's Office of Housing and housing activists have gone on record as supporting it -- which may be a first.

But there are a few concerns, mostly based on the fact that we're in economic free-fall. With housing prices collapsing and development money scarce, the MOH only received $1.5 million in "in lieu" fees last year - and are expecting to receive even less in the future. Ten percent of $1.5 million, they point out, isn't a lot of money to play house with.

A bunch of small housing developments, MOH says, are also much more expensive to maintain than a few giant housing developments.

Yeah, but, geez people ... how many times have we tried ghettoizing the poor in giant low-income housing complexes, and how many times has that come back to bite us? I think the try/bit ratio is about 1:1. So by all means, let's do less of that.

Finally, Sophie Maxwell has a bunch of measures on the agenda to rezone and redevelop Vis Valley -- and all I can say is: Get out of her way. She's a swing vote.

Tuesday, March 31, 2 p.m. - Full Board of Supervisors

Wow, this meeting's a yawn.

Maybe they'll tell jokes.

They never tell jokes.

Remember, though, this is the day of David Chiu's big hearing to "discuss the Board's roles and responsibilities in the event of a City emergency."

That might be interesting, although in some ways it seems pretty obvious:

• Eric Mar will take the lead in any bay or ocean-based disasters, because of his ability to breath under water and communicate telepathically with fish;

• If rubble needs to be cleared away, Ross Mirkarimi can use his super strength and laser vision to destroy it;

• If the board needs to interrogate any suspects, Michela Alioto-Pier will use her magical golden lasso to make them tell the truth;

• David Chiu's robotic exoskeleton contains enough missiles to destroy any asteroid headed towards earth. Also, he's a consensus candidate.

What's there to talk about?

Wednesday, April 1

11 a.m. - Budget and Finance Subcommittee

Speaking of boring: So far the underlying purpose of John Avalos' new budget and finance subcommittee appears to be to get all the business that the public won't get up in arms about out of the way so that it won't get clogged up waiting for public comment on "what the Mayor's cut now" to finish.

If this is the case, then, John Avalos: I salute you.

How little does the public care about this stuff? Well, the three items on the agenda are:

• Adding a new position and eliminating and old one to the San Francisco Employees Retirees System;

• Approving $4.3 million of general fund reserves for Department of Elections to hold elections;

• Approving a bond for Westmont College by the California Municipal Finance Authority

Now honestly: Should the people who need to address the Supes on these measures have to wait forever because a line out the door wants to yell about systemic poverty? Of course not. Have a heart.

1:30 p. m - Budget and Finance committee

So what's the real Budget & Finance Committee working on? Well, compare this agenda to that one:

• A resolution adopting the City's 10-year capital expenditure plan

• A hearing on the Three-Year budget Projection Report

• A hearing on the Controller's Budget Improvement Project

• A hearing on the Monthly Overtime Report; and

• A hearing on the Mayor's proposed mid-year cuts to the Public Safety Departments

Four public hearings -- one on public safety cuts -- and a 10-year capital plan? Yeah, there's likely to be a lot more yelling here.


I just hope that Avalos doesn't think this is a permanent solution -- because it won't be. San Franciscans don't speak at public comment because they care about the issues. They speak at public comment because it's a chance to speak in public.

Sure, everyone would rather rail against racism, budget cuts, and cuts to the "racism fighting" budget -- but when the lines get too long at the budget hearing and there's no waiting at the subcommittee, they'll find reasons to get angry about $4.3 million for elections. As long as they get to talk, they'll be there.

Just you wait. The difference between public comment and an open mic is that they sell coffee at open mics.

Thursday, April 2

10 a.m. - Rules Committee

For anyone keeping score, David Campos is now on deck to be appointed to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District.

Does he know?

This meeting will also field appointments to the city's Historical Preservation Commission. I admit that I have not been following the nominations, but I should have been: One of Aaron Peskin's many parting gifts to the city (did you get the fruit basket?), this commission is bound to be the next frontier for major fights over development in SF.

There are also a number of proposed amendments to the city's conflict of interest code up for a vote today -- but the specific legislation isn't available as of this writing, so I can't tell you what. Those of you who didn't know that SF had a conflict of interest code can be excused, since the ethics commission historically has no interest in causing conflict by enforcing it.

3:30 p.m. - City and School District Committee

I've got to hand it to Sean Elsbernd -- he runs a pretty tight ship. This committee has traditionally skipped more meetings than it's held, and its agendas have often ended up being single-item public hearings on a topics that it was already too late to really address.

Since taking over -- and I grant you that wasn't too long ago -- Elsbernd has kept the committee meeting, and kept the agendas focused on (usually) two hearings about issues and programs that -- while it would have been better if someone had done something about it 10 years ago -- are still worth looking at now.

Not that anything will come of it; this is San Francisco, after all. But it's nice to see.

Today's meeting will feature a hearing on where the district's school assignment system is. Short answer: "Still fucked." Long answer: "We've had many productive dialogues with concerned community members and are attempting to address concerns raised in an equitable manner that focuses on the needs of the present while not overlooking the injustices of the past. We expect the report that's being written to advance the issue significantly, and thank you for your patience."

Also on the agenda: A review of programs and services available to homeless children and youth enrolled in the school district, and how the city, district, and community partners can better coordinate them in the future.

See? That's a pretty good meeting.

In the event of a city emergency, I nominate Sean Elsbernd to use his incredible agenda-writing abilities to write an agenda for saving the city.

Then he can refer it to the Land Use & Economic Development Committee, where it will probably be transferred to the Government Audit & Oversight Committee, and voted on within a year.

We're all doomed. Have a great week.

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Benjamin Wachs


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