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Politics & Policy

After delay, supervisors to review reparations plan

Supervisor Shamann Walton attends the Board of Supervisors meeting within the Board of Supervisors Chambers at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. | Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard

This week, the Board of Supervisors will finally take a look at the city’s reparations proposal for Black residents, which attracted more heat than light when it was initially unveiled. The board will also hear an update on police reform efforts ahead of initial committee hearings on Mayor London Breed’s police overtime funding proposal

As always, wonks can check out the rest in this week’s agenda.

Homelessness Commission Takes Shape

Tech executive Vikrum D. Aiyer has withdrawn his application for a seta on the Homelessness Oversight Commission. | Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

On Monday, the board’s Rules Committee evaluates nominations for the new Homelessness Oversight Commission created by Proposition C, approved by voters last November. Seven people need to be appointed to the body—four by Mayor London Breed, which are approved by the board, and three directly by the board.

The four mayoral appointees include: 

  • Sharky Laguana, former Small Business Commission president
  • Jonathan Butler, a researcher in family community medicine at UCSF
  • Katie Albright, the CEO of Safe and Sound, a national children and families advocacy group 
  • Vikrum Aiyer, a tech executive and former Obama Administration official who withdrew his name from consideration 

Aiyer’s nomination drew scrutiny due to ethical missteps he made while at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, filing false expense reports and misrepresenting his academic credentials. After initially defending himself, pinning the missteps on being a young government official, Aiyer withdrew Friday, outlining his position in a San Francisco Chronicle column

On Monday, the committee voted to recommend Laguana, Butler and Albright to the full board. A replacement nomination for Aiyer is forthcoming from the mayor's office.

The committee also recommended BART Director and former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Booksmith proprietor and activist Cristin Evans, and Joaquin Whit Guerrero, a Conflict Navigator at the California State Bar, to fill the remaining seats.

The full board will vote on the recommendations later this month.

Supervisors Hear Reparations Plan 

Supervisor Shamann Walton speaks at the opening of the new Lucky Bayview grocery store in San Francisco on Oct. 26, 2022. | Mike Kuba/The Standard | Source: Mike Kuba/The Standard

The top-line item at Tuesday’s full board meeting is a special order hearing on the draft San Francisco Reparations Plan at 3:00 p.m. 

Produced by the African American Reparations Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Commission, the draft plan includes multiple proposals of compensation for Black San Franciscans who meet specific criteria.  

Recommendations range from debt relief to affordable housing assistance to a $5 million lump-sum payment for each qualifying Black resident. That last proposal sparked significant controversy in the national press. 

The $5 million payments idea is just one option and has been described as an anchor in negotiations over more realistic plans to provide relevant investments and services to reverse the effects of historical inequality and discrimination against Black residents. 

A reparations policy enacted in Evanston, Illinois, in 2019, the first in the nation to be implemented, set aside $10 million to be spent over 10 years on a number of initiatives, beginning with $25,000 grants for housing assistance.  

The board’s hearing was postponed for a month when its chief sponsor, District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, experienced travel delays on his return from a birthday trip to Colombia. The postponement was criticized by stakeholders at a Feb. 7 board meeting

Sex Work Resolution Up Again, Maybe

Supervisor Hillary Ronen speaks at a rally outside City Hall in February 2023.
District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen speaks at a rally in defense of sanctuary in San Francisco outside City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. | Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard | Source: Michaela Vatcheva/The Standard

District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s resolution calling for Sacramento to legalize sex work, which was introduced out of desperation for a solution to a spike in street solicitation on Capp Street, is also on Tuesday’s agenda, having been continued twice already. 

The resolution has been conflated in the national press as a plan to create a “red-light district,” which Ronen denies. 

Meanwhile, Assemblymember Matt Haney told the Standard he was never contacted about the resolution and would not support responsive legislation. 

Will the resolution be continued again or tabled, or could it actually come to a vote?  We’ll see. 

Bigger Penalties for Illegal Buildings

Ronen’s legislation to increase fines for violating city planning or building codes to $1,000 per day is also up for approval by the board Tuesday. 

The bill was drafted in reaction to what was seen as a paltry penalty in the case of a Portola apartment complex, where builders shoehorned in 20 additional illegal apartments, highlighting a culture of corruption at the Department of Building Inspection.

The residents of those unwarranted units now face eviction; that inspired another bill from Ronen to give tenants displaced from illegal units a leg up in affordable housing applications, which will be considered later this month. 

Police Reform Update 

In February, Police Chief Bill Scott announced a plan to increase the uniformed officers in the districts of the city with majority Asian populations. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

The board will also hear an update on the Collaborative Reform Initiative between the San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Justice, focusing on use-of-force, equity and transparency issues. 

The Collaborative Reform Initiative was launched in 2016 in response to public outcry over the shootings of Mario Woods and Luis Góngora Pat. The DOJ identified five areas of concern where SFPD needed to make reforms; the department started issuing updates in summer 2020 and has been making regular progress reports since. 

The last update was heard by the board in September, when supervisors questioned progress on reforms despite Chief Bill Scott reporting “substantial compliance” in more than 90% of the initiative’s recommendations. 

Any salient points from the hearing could come up again Wednesday, when the board’s Budget and Appropriations Committee will consider a $27 million police overtime supplemental Breed wants to see passed to keep police and ambassador patrols on the streets. 

While supported by a majority of the board, it needs eight votes, and a handful of supervisors could block the bill