What was expected to be a relatively light Board of Supervisors agenda turned lively with more details about the new Sanitation and Streets Department, and even more Recology legislation. There were also interesting background developments, including new committee assignments for board members, and an apparent accord on security camera rules.
New Committee Assignments
Committee assignments for 2022 were released last Thursday, and what they say about the direction of the board this year may be revealing.
- District 9 supervisor and Mental Health SF champion Hillary Ronen is now budget chair in place of the departed District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney.
- District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar continues as chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee. Haney’s old seat on that committee will now be held by District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar.
- Also of note: Haney’s successor as District 6 Supervisor, Matt Dorsey, only has one committee assignment: on the Youth, Young Adults and Families Committee.
Birthing the Sanitation and Streets Department
The Board unanimously passed an ordinance requiring the Department of Public Works to provide interim administrative support for the gestating Department of Sanitation and Streets, known as SAS for short—but not without airing concerns over ongoing issues.
- SAS was created by voter approval of Proposition B, whose main sponsor was the departed District 6 supervisor and now 17th District Assemblymember Matt Haney, in 2020.
- Midwifing the agency has proved complicated: a committee hearing late last month discussed increased costs and worker morale associated with its spinoff from the Department of Public Works. Read more here.
- Alluding to the revelations, District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin—always the board’s fiscal hawk—said he had “buyer’s remorse” over supporting creation of the new department, noting “the financial costs may not achieve the efficiencies we hoped for.”
- District 9 Supervisor Ahsha Safai said work on a union hiring hall agreement for the new department was progressing.
Speaking of Sanitation: New Commissioners
- The supervisors also approved appointments to SAS’ governing commission, including Mayor London Breed’s appointment of Ike Kwon.
- Kwon is chief operating officer of the California Academy of Sciences, one of the losing parties in the recent legislative fight over keeping JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park closed to cars.
- Is this a consolation prize, or is Kwon a glutton for punishment? Sanitation commissioners may have a host of issues to watch, including the possibility of extra budget needs and a hiring deficit.
Roll Call: Laguna Honda Hearing, Recology Rates, Surveillance Camera Access
The headliner at Roll Call was legislation introduced by Peskin, with the support of Mayor London Breed, for a new rate application for refuse services from provider Recology. It’s based on recommendations from the controller’s office in the wake of the company’s recent— and apparently continuing—overbilling scandals.
- It’s the first time that the rate application process has been initiated by the city, rather than Recology, in almost a century.
- It promises to put the city ahead of the process by creating a balancing account and imposing reporting requirements to keep the provider accountable and provide clearer justification for rates and increases.
- “I am confident that with these changes and the passage of the measure we unanimously put on the ballot we will fix this broken system that allows Recology to make excessive profits on the backs of its customers,” Peskin said in his introduction.
- Also at Roll Call, District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar requested a Committee of the Whole Hearing, to be held next week, on the difficulties facing Laguna Honda Hospital, including their recent decertification from Medicare and Medicaid, and possible closure.
- District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston introduced a resolution urging the Department of Public Health to perform outreach to victims of gun violence for mental health services.
Surveillance Accord Coming
While not mentioned during Roll Call, Mayor Breed’s office introduced legislation today, with the support of Peskin, for new rules over access to private surveillance cameras by public safety agencies in critical situations.
- The new ordinance limits live monitoring of any cameras by any agency to 24 hours after access is authorized by the operator, and contains other safeguards.
- “This balanced proposal will help police deal with urgent public safety events, as well as support criminal investigations around issues like violent crime, retail theft, and drug dealing in our residential neighborhoods,” Mayor Breed noted in a press release.
- “Public safety in this context is about ensuring an effective response to crime on our streets while safeguarding against the real threats of a surveillance state,” Peskin said in the same release.
The legislation is the product of a long and occasionally heated debate between Breed and Peskin on the issue, which almost resulted in competing ballot measures in January.
Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected]