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Board of Supervisors in 3 Minutes: Rent Relief, Retaliation, and Transparency
Monday, May 16, 2022

Board of Supervisors in 3 Minutes: Rent Relief, Retaliation, and Transparency

Following a recess last week, Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting shows a fairly light agenda. Highlights include further massaging of the city’s restarted rent relief program, a perennial plea for property transparency, and the coda to one of the city’s more unusual land use dramas. (As always, wonks looking for the full kit and caboodle can check out the meeting’s complete agenda).

The board is set to approve two items related to the recent reopening of the city’s local Covid-19 related rent relief program. As reported previously, the local program is expected to pick up from where the state’s program, for which applications closed on March 31, leaves off. 

The goal is to assist tenants needing help covering rent after March 31, or who faced barriers in applying for the state program. The program will also help tenants already in eviction court through the Tenants’ Right to Counsel Program. 

Principally sponsored by Supervisor Dean Preston, one item extends the rent relief program, which leverages funds from existing programs, to June 30 while also allowing for direct rent relief payments to some low-income tenants. It also allows for grants to nonprofits for administering rent relief payments. 

Another, introduced by Mayor London Breed, seeks authorization for grants in excess of $10 million to nonprofit partners Catholic Charities, Eviction Defense Collaborative, and Mission Neighborhood Center for administration of payments under the program. 

Together, the two bills represent what may seem at first glance to be an unusual collaboration between Breed and Preston—who have clashed in the past over issues such as the Tenderloin emergency declaration and the use of 730 Stanyan St.—to extend eviction protections. They may also provide a further opportunity for Preston to speak out against the state preemption of local eviction protections included in the recently passed extension in Sacramento. The bill, signed into law on March 31, extends eviction protections only for those who applied to the state relief program by that date. 

Also on deck: a resolution to approve a $1.8 million settlement by the city with former planning commissioner Dennis Richards and partners over allegations of retaliation. Richards, along with business partner Rachel Swann, had sought $12 million in a lawsuit. 

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Richards alleged in the suit that the scandal-plagued Department of Building Inspection  pounced upon an investment property he and Swann were selling with retaliatory inspections and permit revocations after he publicly criticized the agency. The case became heated enough that Richards told DBI employees to “go fuck themselves” at a December 2019 Board of Appeals hearing on the matter. 

The controversy also produced allegations that Richards, who as a planning commissioner was a highly vocal critic of development which he claimed led to gentrification, made use of tenant buyouts to expedite the profitable sale of another property. He would eventually resign from the commission after a leave of absence. 

Finally, the board is set to pass a non-binding resolution sponsored by Supervisor Aaron Peskin urging Assessor-Recorder Joaquin Torres to make all information regarding property transactions in the city available on the web at no cost. As we recently reported, the Assessor-Recorder’s office currently requires those members of the public who wish to examine property transactions to physically come to City Hall and use in-house terminals to view the information—and pay $3 per page for any printouts they want. 

Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected].
  • Disgraced former Planning Commissioner — and hypocritical speculator — Richards — who broke numerous laws — should not be given a single dime!

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