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Politics & Policy

SF supervisors to hear reparations plan Feb. 7

Supervisor Shamann Walton speaks during a debate with District 10 candidate Brian Sam Adam at the Bayview Opera House in San Francisco on Nov. 2, 2022. | Chris Victorio for The Standard

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to schedule a hearing on the recently released draft of the city’s African-American Reparations Plan to be held during their next regular meeting on Feb. 7. The special order hearing will be held at 3:00 p.m.

The draft plan was produced by the African American Reparations Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Commission, a 15-member body tasked with coming up with the recommendations over a two-year term. 

It includes multiple proposals of financial compensation for Black residents who meet specific tenure criteria, ranging from debt relief to, most controversially, paying a one-time, lump-sum of $5 million. 

The draft also lays out the historical justification for the program, including both the legacy of chattel slavery as well as more contemporary racist practices by San Francisco government that have perpetuated Black poverty, such as the “Urban Renewal” redevelopment policies in the latter half of the 20th Century. 

Conservative groups like the Hoover Institution have been picking apart the proposal. 

“The tax consequences of this proposal would turn San Francisco into a 21st-century version of Detroit, which has lost 60% of its population since 1950,” writes Hoover fellow Lee Ohanian.

Supervisor Shamann Walton sponsored the legislation that led to the draft plan which passed in December 2020. He recently told San Francisco Chronicle columnist Justin Phillips that the currently suspended Cannabis Business Tax could be used for funding.

The draft plan is the result of two years of work by the Advisory Committee, including studying other reparations schemes, such as those benefiting Holocaust survivors and Japanese American internment survivors, as well as the African American reparations program passed in Evanston, Ill. in 2019.

A man walks by a sign welcoming people to the city of in Evanston, Illinois, on March 16, 2021. A suburb in Chicago is set to become the first place in the United States to provide reparations to its Black residents, with a plan to distribute $10 million over the next decade. Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

The Evanston program was the first African American reparations scheme to be enacted by a US city, setting aside $10 million to be paid out over ten years. The first disbursement consists of of $25,000 grants which can be used for housing down payments, mortgage assistance, or house repairs.

“The United States and San Francisco has a history of inflicting trauma on communities of color, and that trauma continues to exist in the Black community,” Walton said in presenting the legislation to the supervisors’ Rules Committee back in November of 2020. “This is not the America we envisioned, but this can be the San Francisco that we need to correct the wrongs of history.”

The final report on the plan is due in June, and will include feedback from the supervisors.