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Monday, April 12, 2010

Your Rundown on the Week in S.F. Government

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Plastic bags have unintended consequences
  • Plastic bags have unintended consequences
San Francisco public officials love -- and we mean really, really love -- to dabble in bold social experiments. Whether they're trying out a novel scheme for government-controlled electricity service, legally enshrining the right of cats to keep their nails intact, or preserving the slowest public-transportation system in the history of humankind, the boys and girls at City Hall like to get their first.

Of course, it's in the nature of experimentation that your projects don't always go as planned. Cue another favorite pasttime of the pols at City Hall: public hearings on the efficacy of bold social experiments. In that vein, city supervisors are taking some time this week to revisit to headline-making San Francisco initiatives: The city's plastic-bag ban and efforts by the school district and district attorney's office to reduce truancy.

At the full Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi -- author of 2007 legislation that reduced the use of those flimsy plastic bags you used to be able to get at supermarkets -- is proposing a new bill that seeks to address some of the law's unintended consequences. According to the ordinance, the ban has resulted in some stores simply handing out thicker plastic bags (which can be defined as "reusable" under the 2007 law) which people then proceed to throw away like the old ones. In other words, the bag ban hasn't resulted in fewer plastic sacks going into landfills; it's just made them heftier.

Later in the week, the supervisors' City and School District Committee will hold a hearing, at the behest of District 8 Supervisor and declared mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty, to assess how the fight against rampant truancy is going. District Attorney Kamala Harris, a candidate for state attorney general, has trumpeted her office's efforts to crack down on truants by prosecuting their parents. Dufty apparently wants to hear more.

At the full board meeting Tuesday, the supervisors will also hear an appeal to the Municipal Transportation Agency's efforts to declare the city's public-transit system in a state of fiscal emergency. Such a declaration allows the agency to proceed with potential service cuts without undergoing state environmental review, and Muni rider and activist David Pilpel has opposed the declaration, arguing in a letter to supervisors that he represents "many less active public transit riders who would be adversely affected by the proposed transit service reductions." As ever with matters Muni-related, expect some theatrical public comments.

Speaking of Muni, on Wednesday the supes' Budget and Finance Committee -- conducting a special outside-the-dome meeting at Horace Mann Middle School on 23rd Street -- will hold a hearing on how the transit agency plans to spend $36 million in state transportation funding.

Odds and ends: On Tuesday, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will consider authorizing $2.7 million in grants to fund landscaping and irrigation improvements that would reduce water use. And any wonks out there looking for a chuckle into their shirtsleeves can head over to City Hall this morning, where Supervisor Chris Daly has commandeered the proceedings of the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee to demand a "formal, written apology" from Lennar Corporation for the decision of a security guard employed by the developer to carry a firearm at a public meeting.

Image   |   Anosmia

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Peter Jamison


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