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Politics & Policy

After admitting to illegal lobbying, SF transit commissioner resigns

Gwyneth Borden, center, during a meeting of chefs and restaurant owners on March 16, 2020. | Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Gwyneth Borden, vice chair of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors, has resigned after acknowledging that she violated city ethics rules by lobbying on behalf of a restaurant seeking to legalize an outdoor deck.

Borden, a former planning commissioner who also ran the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, was paid $12,500 as a consultant for the Italian eatery Fiorella while unregistered as a lobbyist and was censured by the city's Ethics Commission.

In a text message, Borden admitted to the lapse and said it was an "honest mistake 3 years ago that I took responsibility for.

"The Ethics rules are many and non consistent but the letter of the law is what it is," Borden wrote. "I am not a rich person who can afford a steep fine."

The Ethics Commission was weighing fines of up to $37,500 for Borden's ethics violations, according to Mission Local.

Borden's exit leaves the seven-member SFMTA board with two vacancies. In a statement, a spokesperson for the agency said that board members are committed to the work and prioritizing attending board meetings.

SFMTA Board Chair Amanda Eaken called Borden's resignation an "enormous loss for SFMTA and San Francisco" and pointed to her work advancing Van Ness BRT, Central Subway, transforming JFK Drive to JFK Promenade and other initiatives.

Borden, who had served on the SFMTA board since 2014 and was reappointed by Mayor London Breed, said she would step back from public service but asserted that her prior lobbying had been politicized.

"I am also not going to be a pawn for those seeking to go after the Mayor," she said.

Annie Gaus can be reached at