It’s that time of the year again—the season that allows us to see which companies spent the most to influence policy at City Hall. This time, overall billings are down, but there are still some familiar names, including at the top.
The spending trends indicate that attention turned away from certain sectors like residential real estate to commercial property and jobs, which is likely one reason why a labor union—the Teamsters—made the latest list.
Much like last year, the city’s favorite rapscallion waste management contractor is way ahead of other companies in lobbyist expenses, and while it spent slightly less this year, its expenses were still significantly more than other firms'.
Recology’s lobbyist, Noyola Piccini Group, has been shepherding the company through the political fallout of an overbilling scandal that erupted in late 2021, and is itself part of the fallout from the company’s involvement in the Mohammed Nuru/Department of Public Works corruption scandal.
Noyola Piccini partner David Noyola is a former chief of staff to Supervisors Aaron Peskin and David Chiu.
By spring, Recology had another issue on its hands, as it emerged that the then-director of the city’s Department of the Environment, Debbie Raphael, had solicited a $25,000 donation from the company back in 2015, despite it being an active contractor with the agency.
Recology also spent the year engaging in ballot measure brinksmanship with the city over its monopoly on refuse services.
Both parties eventually settled on a compromise measure that was approved by voters, which still opens the door to chipping away at the company’s monopoly on refuse services in San Francisco.
By year end, Recology and the city agreed on another settlement that balances costs for Recology’s customers.
2. Crown Castle—$228,000
The cell-tower giant spent a little more this year, but is now No. 2 on the list.
Crown Castle engaged with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development on an industry workshop and other matters over the course of the year, continuing to work with Platinum Advisors on its regional 5G expansion strategy.
3. Golden State Warriors—$208,496
The Warriors paid out to multiple firms, including New Deal Advisers, on different initiatives. Their lobbyists met with public officials including San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott to share information on their victory parade in June.
Prologis is a real estate firm with global assets specializing in warehouse space, particularly near major cities where land is at a premium, so it's no surprise its headquarters is in San Francisco. One of its biggest tenants is Amazon, which also shows up on this year’s list.
Lighthouse Public Affairs contacted city departments on Prologis’s behalf throughout 2022, mainly the Planning Department and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. A major project is the San Francisco Gateway, a gigantic site in the Bayview aimed at hosting last-mile delivery services, light industrial and other similar uses.
Prologis, also a big spender on lobbying in 2021, sold a 5-acre site in the Bayview to the city last year for $38 million for use as a training facility by the San Francisco Fire Department.
The company’s CEO, Hamid Moghadam, has become increasingly vocal about the nexus of drug use, homelessness, crime and street conditions that has become a major pain point for city businesses—especially after Moghadam himself got mugged outside his house last summer.
5. Jacobs (formerly CH2M Hill)—$180,099
Lighthouse Public Affairs engaged with the Board of Supervisors for the construction engineering firm, which is currently in contract with the Port of San Francisco for the ongoing Embarcadero Seawall Resilience Project.
Amazon made a big splash in local news this year, starting with the Board of Supervisors putting the brakes on its proposed delivery hub project in SoMa.
The project caught the attention of housing kingpin John Elberling, who in short order targeted the online shopping Goliath with a tax measure that was botched so badly it wound up being tossed from the ballot.
Noyola Piccini Group contacted multiple agencies on Amazon’s behalf in 2022, including the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (whose director had previously been a booster of the SoMa project), the SF Municipal Transportation Agency and the Recreation and Park Department.
The developer continued to work with Reuben and Junius and Noyola Piccini Group to engage with the Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors on projects, including its Brannan Street office complex.
The software platform is often used by its big kahuna, Marc Benioff, as another kind of platform—to promote his ideas on how to run the city.
But Benioff and Salesforce had a bumpy 2022, laying off workers and shrinking the company’s office footprint. Nevertheless, they still had Lighthouse Public Affairs regularly contact Mayor London Breed’s office on a number of issues.
9. Uber Technologies—$169,000
Noyola Piccini Group contacted the Board of Supervisors and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development several times on the rideshare pioneer’s behalf. In 2022, Uber joined a pilot program to work with taxicabs amid a Covid-driven drop in rideshare use, but ended the year facing labor woes.
10. Teamsters Joint Council 7—$165,000
The Joint Council actually includes a multitude of Teamsters Union locals throughout Northern California, representing workers in settings ranging from San Francisco International Airport and AutoReturn to Recology.
The Teamsters partnered with Mayor Breed on Amazon’s SoMa Project in an effort to both win approval for the project and make it a union-friendly shop. They also had multiple bargaining agreements up this year, including with Recology.
They kept New Deal Advisers' Chris Gruwell very busy in 2022 contacting the Board of Supervisors as well as SFMTA.
Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected]