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Politics & Policy

Police contract, fentanyl crisis headline San Francisco supervisors’ agenda

Mayor London Breed addresses the supervisors at San Francisco City Hall to request more money to cover the overtime payroll for SFPD on March 7, 2023. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

San Francisco supervisors are putting a hectic week behind them as they hear from Mayor London Breed regarding next steps on reparations, and review a labor agreement with the city’s police union. 

They’ll also have it out with the City Attorney David Chiu on funding safe consumption sites. Meanwhile, outrage over an overpriced outhouse could turn into a debate on the city’s boycott law. 

For the whole kit and caboodle, check out this week’s agenda

After Delay, Breed Addresses Board

Mayor London Breed addresses the City Supervisors at City Hall to request more money to cover the overtime payroll for SFPD on March 7, 2023. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

Mayor London Breed is expected to answer questions from District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton regarding next steps on reparations policy Tuesday. She was originally scheduled to do so last week, but was upstaged after an act of vandalism knocked out the board’s broadcast. 

The board accepted a proposal for reparations for Black residents last month from a committee of the city’s Human Rights Commission, as one step in a more iterative process toward adopting a more formal policy. That committee will issue a report in June based on feedback from the board, which will consider the question again in September. 

That iterative process is expected to make the city’s reparations policy more achievable: Some of the attention-grabbing proposals in the draft plan, such as $5 million cash payouts to eligible residents, generated media backlash as well as criticism from the NAACP and other activist groups. 

In the meantime, Walton has followed up with moves to set up a formal reparations office with a working budget. After trying to claw away funds from a recently passed police overtime bill, he introduced a more formal $50 million appropriation on March 31. 

Breed is expected to speak to other issues during her appearance, namely the state of public safety and homelessness.

Speaking of Public Safety: Police Union Contract

Police officers respond to a child welfare call in Rincon Hill on April 6, 2023, in San Francisco. | Noah Berger for The Standard

Up for consideration Tuesday is a new labor agreement with the San Francisco Police Officers Association, forwarded from committee with positive—but not unanimous—recommendation April 6. 

One issue in committee was confusion over the total cost of the agreement. It was revealed the tentative agreement would cost the city $166.5 million, but at least one member of the committee was under the impression that it would cost significantly less. 

Supervisor Dean Preston, chair of the Government Audit and Oversight Committee,  questioned staff from the Department of Human Resources on the discrepancy, as the agreement had been described earlier, at least to him, as costing half as much. 

In committee, Preston said that he was initially told that the total cost of the agreement was $84.7 million.

A slide presentation referenced in the meeting shows that number as the cost for just the third year of the three-year agreement, which includes wages along with retention incentives for officers. Last month, the supervisors approved $25 million in additional police overtime to help maintain patrols.

“I was not confused by the presentation or the briefings,” said Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who also sits on the committee. “I don’t think anyone was trying to hide the ball here.”

In the end, committee members Stefani and Supervisor Connie Chan voted to recommend, while Preston opposed. A regular opponent of police funding, expect Preston to stand against the agreement Tuesday. 

Supes, City Attorney Hash Out Safe Consumption Funding

This building at 822 Geary St., pictured on Dec. 8, 2021, was considered to be converted into a safe consumption site. | James Wyatt for The Standard

Another contentious issue is set to be hashed out at Tuesday’s meeting, but in closed session.

City Attorney David Chiu will discuss with supervisors the thorny legal implications of public funding for safe consumption sites. The sites are still illegal under federal law, but a locally favored policy in dealing with the city’s fentanyl crisis. 

Much of the political support comes from the perceived success of the Tenderloin Center, which operated as a de facto safe consumption site for 11 months until it closed last December, and is credited with reversing 333 fatal overdoses. 

The city’s current plan is to adopt a plan similar to one deployed in New York, where the sites would be privately run and funded, which Chiu says will help shield the city from federal liability as long as no public funds are used.

Supervisors, meanwhile, want to use the $130 million plus in settlements due to be paid to the city from opioid litigation to fund the sites. Chiu says no can do, as when the city accepts the monies they become public funds. 

Leading the argument against him will be Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who briefly blocked acceptance of payouts from Walmart and CVS over the matter earlier this month. 

Oh, to be a fly on those walls. 

Sunset Spat Over Pot With Pasta

Scheduled for 3 p.m. is a special order permit appeal hearing for a cannabis dispensary at 18th Avenue and Taraval Street in the Sunset. That’s the location of a neighborhood fixture, the Gold Mirror Italian restaurant; the dispensary would be located on the second floor. 

While one might think that a convenient source for pasta would appeal to someone with a case of the munchies, It appears a lot of neighbors are not so hot on the idea. There’s an online petition with 1,700 signatures against the dispensary, and word on the street is that this hearing will attract a crowd. 

Noe Toilet Highlights Inconvenient Law

If supervisors accept a modular bathroom donation, a new public restroom could be installed at the Noe Valley Town Square. | Maryann Jones Thompson/The Standard

Tuesday may also mark the conclusion of the saga of Noe Valley’s costly commode, also setting the stage for a fight over the future of the city’s boycott law. 

New restroom facilities at the Noe Valley Town Square, originally estimated to cost $1.7 million and sparking public outrage, are up for approval this week. When combined with a new in-kind grant, the price to the city is now only $300,000. But there’s a catch.

As it turns out, the in-kind donation is from a Nevada company, and that violates city contracting rules. Administrative Code Section 12X prohibits city business in states with restrictive reproductive, voting or LGBTQ+ laws. According to the most recent compliance list, Nevada has restrictive abortion and voting laws. 

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman has led the charge on repealing section 12X, which according to the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office, is poorly enforced. According to Mandelman, it also punishes businesses for the sins of their state governments. 

Heard April 17 by the board’s Rules Committee, the repeal was referred with recommendation, but still looks likely to spark a fight at the board. 

Committee member Walton opposed the bill, noting that repeal would have “unintended consequences for small business contactors” and would “benefit big business.”  

Walton’s opposition reflects that of labor groups, as well as other lawmakers like Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who argued that Section 12X “should be reformed” but not repealed when Mandelman introduced the repeal Feb. 28. 

Meanwhile, committee chair and Supervisor Matt Dorsey asked to co-sponsor the repeal as he gaveled it out to the full board, calling 12X “a disservice to taxpayers” and noting that “there are better ways to express our values.” 

As a contest between the board’s performative and practical impulses, the vote over the 12X repeal should prove interesting when it comes to the full board, likely next week.