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Politics & Policy

SF Board of Supes in 3 mins: An apology to Chinese Americans, police settlement kicked down the road, Gotham Hotel gets the Project Homekey treatment

San Francisco Supervisor Connie Chan, seen in a file photo from 2020, has put forward a City Charter amendment that would grant considerably more appointment power over the city’s commissions to the Board of Supervisors. The proposal was continued Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. (Photo By Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Note: This story was first published at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and was updated at the conclusion of the meeting Tuesday evening.

This week’s Board of Supervisors meeting was short but eventful, as the city’s Chinese American community was recognized for its work during the pandemic and historical wrongs were acknowledged. The agenda also included more supportive housing and a fresh face for the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Agency Board. (As always, if you’re looking for the full kit and caboodle, check out the meeting’s full agenda.)

Tuesday’s meeting began with statements from Board President Shamann Walton celebrating Black History Month (“Black history is American history,” said Walton) as well as Supervisor Connie Chan, who noted the passing of three Lunar New Years since the Covid pandemic began. 

“You will remember that 2020 was the year of the Rat, when the disease came; 2021 was the year of the Ox, when we worked hard (to fight it), and now we bring in the year of the Tiger, when the city comes roaring back,” said Chan. 

Police Settlement

Supervisor Catherine Stefani moved to continue a $700,000 settlement over the alleged police beating of domestic violence suspect Dacari Spiers to next week’s closed session. 

Stefani, who opposes the settlement, repeated allegations that District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office pressured an investigator to remove evidence regarding alleged violent conduct by Spiers. Police Chief Bill Scott also accused the DA’s Office of removing a report that would complicate the prosecution of the responding police officer, Terrance Stengel, for excessive force. 

“I am very concerned about how this domestic violence case is nonchalantly being brushed aside,” Stefani said.

Supervisor Dean Preston, chair of the Government Audit and Oversight Committee, which referred the settlement to the full board with recommendation, said he did not see how the settlement “impacts the police misconduct case,” but he acquiesced to the continuance after hearing support from other supervisors. 

The continuance echoed actions taken at  Monday's Rules Committee meeting, where the reappointment of Juvenile Probation Commissioner Andrea Shorter, who is also a spokesperson for the Boudin recall campaign, proceeded with no recommendation, setting the stage for the board to block Mayor London Breed’s reappointment recommendation. 

That meeting also resulted in the tabling of Mayor Breed’s Better Schools Initiative, along with further amendments to Charter Amendments set for the June ballot. 

Making Amends in Chinatown

Supervisor Chan issued commendations to the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce for their assistance to neighborhood businesses during the pandemic, and from fellow Supervisor Gordon Mar for the All American Medical Group for volunteer vaccination efforts to elderly Chinese immigrants in the neighborhoods. 

Then came Supervisor Matt Haney’s resolution to apologize to the city’s Chinese American community for historical mistreatment. The resolution passed unanimously without discussion, making San Francisco the fourth city in California to pass such a resolution. 

Haney, who is running for the state Assembly in the 17th District, has prioritized  the Chinese American community during the race. If endorsements are any indicator, support is split between him and former Supervisor David Campos. The Rose Pak Democratic Club has endorsed Campos, while both the Edwin Lee and Chinese American Democratic Clubs jointly endorsed Haney along with candidate Bilal Mahmood. Additionally, community leaders like former Port Commissioner Pius Lee and Police Commissioner Larry Yee support Haney. 

Haney and other members of the Board are scheduled to hold a rally Wednesday morning in Chinatown to celebrate the resolution, along with “other budget investments in the AAPI community.”

Housing and Transit Moves

A resolution authorizing the purchase of the former Gotham Hotel at 835 Turk St. for use as supportive housing under the state Homekey program also passed without discussion. The site replaces the former Kimpton Buchanan Hotel, which was rejected after pressure from the Japantown community.

Later in the session, Mayor Breed’s appointment of city of Napa development specialist and longtime Excelsior resident Stephanie Cajina to the Muni board was confirmed. Cajina will be the first Latinx SFMTA commissioner since Joel Ramos left the board in 2018. 

Supervisor Hilary Ronen thanked Mayor Breed for an “incredible appointment” of a “young and up-and-coming leader.” As a former advocate for the Excelsior neighborhood, Cajina has called for better Muni service in the city’s outer neighborhoods. 

The session moved on to Roll Call, where a number of new items were introduced, including a budget supplemental from Supervisor Chan to fund free parking at the Portsmouth Square garage in order to boost Chinatown shopping and dining during the Lunar New Year holiday. A proposed Planning Code amendment would also allow commercial and residential tenants to participate in the permit appeals process.