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Election 2022

Supervisors Preview: Clearing the Air Over Sunset Housing, and Packing the November Ballot

Written by Mike EgeUpdated at Jul. 12, 2022 • 11:27amPublished Jul. 11, 2022 • 4:59pm
A view of the 2500 block of Irving Street, which includes the Police Credit Union, in San Francisco's Inner Sunset district on July 10, 2021. The Board of Supervisors is likely to pass a resolution urging state and local agencies to “provide a comprehensive, coordinated response” to toxic contamination at the 2500 block of Irving Street. An affordable housing development, which has proven controversial with neighbors, is planned for the site. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

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A contamination scare in the Sunset, a slew of November ballot measures, and a potential new member of the Police Commission headline what may be a lengthy and complicated Board of Supervisors meeting this week. 

Mayor London Breed will kick off the meeting with her usual monthly address to the body, though no supervisors submitted questions to the mayor. (As always, wonks looking for the full kit and caboodle can check out the complete agenda.)

More Charter Amendments

San Francisco Supervisors Dean Preston, right, and Connie Chan, left, at the Board of Supervisors meeting on May 2, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Of the 11 proposed charter amendments for the November ballot, the board will be voting on some of the more consequential at Tuesday’s meeting. Those include: 

  • Creation of a Homelessness Oversight Commission, which would supervise the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. Its principal sponsor is District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai.
    • Under the proposed charter amendment, the new commission would have seven members: four appointed by the mayor with supervisor approval and three appointed by the Board of Supervisors. 
    • Other homelessness-related oversight bodies would be overseen by the new commission. One of them is the Local Homeless Coordinating Board, where a recent appointee became the subject of conflict of interest concerns.  
    • At a July 7 committee meeting, this measure was recommended to the full board by a 2-1 vote after amendments. District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan opposed, based on mayoral appointments continuing to represent a majority on the new body. 
  • The Affordable Housing Production Act, sponsored principally by Chan, would streamline the approval process for specific kinds of affordable housing projects, including 100% affordable projects, teacher housing, as well as some market-rate projects with increased inclusionary affordable housing.  
    • If placed on the ballot, the measure would be in direct competition with the Affordable Homes Now initiative charter amendment, which qualified for the ballot last month. It’s backed by Mayor Breed and a number of housing activist groups such as YIMBY Action
    • Chan’s measure is also described as a streamlining measure but includes additional requirements, such as specific apartment formats, that opponents say would make projects financially unfeasible. 
    • It also requires projects to employ only “skilled and trained” labor, meaning that workers must have completed apprenticeship programs. So far, some of the city’s influential unions are split on whether that language should be included.  
  • A measure, sponsored by District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, to eliminate the newly created Department of Sanitation and Streets and return responsibility for keeping the city’s streets clean to the Department of Public Works. 
    • The new agency was created by passage of Proposition B in 2020. Sponsored by former District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, it won with 60% voter approval.
    • But the new agency saddled the city with higher costs according to budget analysts, with an estimated $7.2 million in mostly administrative expenses for the first year. 
    • At a series of hearings this year, Public Works staff insisted that the creation of the new department would “not result in cleaner streets.” 
    • Haney, now a state assemblymember, has unsurprisingly opposed the plan to undo his work. 
  • Another measure would change the schedule for certain elections in San Francisco so they would only be held in even-numbered years.
    • Those elected as mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney and treasurer in 2019 would serve an additional year before standing for election again in 2024. Thereafter, these elections would be held in even-numbered years along with the rest of the city’s elections and presidential elections. 
    • Proponents, including chief sponsor District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston, claim consolidating the city’s elections would significantly improve voter turnout, citing a 2021 paper from the watchdog group Common Cause
    • Another provision would change the signature-gathering criteria for placing future initiatives on the ballot on the ballot to 2% of registered voters, as opposed to the current standard of 5% of voter turnout in the last mayoral election.

More LGBTQ Oversight of Cops

San Francisco policemen hold hands while walking during the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade. | Getty Images

The board will also consider Mayor Breed’s nomination of Mission artist Debra Walker to the Police Commission. If confirmed, Walker will bring back representation from the city’s queer constituency to the commission, which lapsed when civil litigation lawyer Petra DeJesus resigned last year. 

See Also

  • Walker is a Mission-based painter and printmaker who also has a long history of civic involvement. Most recently she served on the Arts Commission, and she also served as a tenant representative on the city’s Building Inspection Commission for several years.
  • Supervisor Chan objected to Walker’s nomination on the grounds that she lacks policy experience in criminal justice reform. The commission’s most recent appointees, Max Carter-Oberstone and Kevin Benedicto, are both civil litigators with backgrounds in pro bono work in criminal justice. 
  • Despite Chan’s opposition, it’s likely that Walker will be confirmed by a majority of the board, according to a City Hall source. 
  • Remaining members include vice president and former deputy public defender Cindy Elias; Jesus Yanez, a pre-trial release specialist with the SF Pretrial Diversion Project; immigration defense lawyer Jim Byrne; and Larry Yee, a former union officer and president of the Chinese Six Companies.

2550 Irving Street: What Lies Beneath

The site of the 2550 Irving development is a former San Francisco Police Credit Union Location. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

The board will also likely pass a resolution, sponsored primarily by District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar, urging state and local agencies to “provide a comprehensive, coordinated response” to toxic contamination at the 2500 block of Irving Street in the Inner Sunset. An affordable housing development, which has proven controversial with neighbors, is planned for the site. 

  • Citing inadequate outreach, the Mid-Sunset Neighborhood Association sued the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, developer of the planned 90-unit, seven-story building at 2550 Irving project. A request to halt the project was rejected by the presiding judge.
  • The discovery of residual deposits of perchloroethylene, or PCE, has complicated further negotiations over the project. The toxin was likely produced by a dry-cleaning business that formerly operated across the street from the site. 
  • The Mid-Sunset Neighborhood Association has demanded that toxic residue around the site be cleaned up and that the project itself be scaled down. TNDC has signed an agreement with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to work towards ameliorating the issue. 
  • The issue also presents repercussions for Mar’s reelection in November, with one opponent, public safety advocate Leanna Louie, voicing concerns about the project. 

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that a proposed ballot measure would change the criteria for the number of signatures required to get initiatives on the ballot, but does not necessarily lower it. 

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Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected]


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