Each of the 11 members of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has priorities for the fall legislative season, and they’re as varied as banning workplace cafeterias, restricting takeout containers and regulating 3-D-printed guns.But binding many supervisors’ agendas together is a common focus on problems that have long defied attempts to solve them — initiatives that seek to move more homeless people off the streets and create more affordable places for residents to live.
The big question is how much they can get done before the end of the year.
Such congruency between the board and the mayor isn’t surprising after an election, said
“That is a sign of the mayor’s agenda influencing the (supervisors’) agenda … and the board accommodating and finding areas where they can move forward,” he said. “You don’t want to attack someone who is popular. Or legislate in ways that heighten conflicts.”
It was a different story this time last year when the board was deeply split between the moderate and progressive factions and had few flagship achievements. Then the board faced a series of disruptions, including the unexpected death of Mayor Ed Lee and the ensuing scramble to replace him. Nearly a year later, the dust has yet to settle completely.
“Structurally, I don’t see how much more can happen,” David Latterman, a veteran political consultant, said of the next few months. “You have several lame ducks and a new board president. … Why bother starting some initiative now when you don’t know how (the rest of the year) is going to play out?”
But McDaniel said he expects a “healthier environment” and “more cooperation” on the board, given that a new mayor is at the helm. He also said a lot of the tension could be gone for now because budget season, a time when supervisors clamor for funds to fulfill their own agendas, is over.
Or maybe, he said, the board and the mayor are just in a honeymoon phase.
“There will be conflict, there is no doubt about it,” he said.
Here is some of what the supervisors said San Francisco residents can expect from them over the next few months:
•Minimum Compensation Ordinance: Gradually raise the minimum hourly compensation rate for employees of city contractors — nonprofit and for-profit workers — by $2 to $17 an hour over the next three years. Fewer introduced a supplemental budget proposal last month with Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Jane Kim that would gradually raise the minimum wage for nonprofit contractors and In-Home Supportive Services workers over three years.
This supplemental budget would secure funding for the first year of wage increases. The challenge will be securing the extra funding in the next two budget cycles.
• Cannabis oversight: Create a board-approved committee to oversee San Francisco’s Office of Cannabis, which is responsible for marijuana policy and enforcement. The committee will replace the Cannabis State Legalization Task Force, which expires at the end of the year, to advise the Board of Supervisors and Mayor London Breed.
Fewer said the committee is necessary so the supervisors can make informed decisions on cannabis policy. The ordinance would allot five of the 14 seats to persons directly related to the cannabis industry. Johnny Delaplane, member of the San Francisco Cannabis Retailers Alliance, said the cannabis industry would like more seats on the committee. The Rules Committee approved the ordinance Wednesday.
•Flexible zoning legislation for the Union Street business corridor: The city now doesn’t allow different businesses — a bookstore and a separate coffee shop, for example — to co-lease within one storefront on Union Street. Stefani is working on a proposal, modeled after legislation by District Four Supervisor Katy Tang, that would make it easier for businesses to cooperate in one space.
Merchants have supported this plan as a way to revitalize brick-and-mortar stores that have suffered in the age of online shopping. But Santino DeRose, managing broker at commercial real estate company DeRose & Appelbaum, said he doubts the legislation would be effective in helping landlords lease out more space, as it could be difficult to find two tenants willing to share a lease. But, he said, it could make it easier for existing tenants to sublease part of their spaces.
“With retail, we need all the help we can get,” DeRose said. “It might have some impact on helping existing tenants stay in business, but I don’t think it will have a big impact on filling vacant spaces.”
•3-D-printed guns: After a self-proclaimed “crypto-anarchist” in Texas said in August that he would post blueprints online for 3-D-printed guns, lawmakers around the country scrambled to keep the technology away from criminals. Stefani said she will introduce legislation to regulate 3-D-printed guns in San Francisco this fall.
Stefani is going ahead with this legislation even though a federal judge blocked the online release of blueprints for 3-D-printed firearms in August. While some gun industry experts are skeptical of how much of a threat the guns really are — the printers required to make them are very expensive and, in many cases, traditional firearms are easier to obtain — any legislation looking to curb gun violence is likely to sail through in San Francisco.
•Navigation Center: As the homeless population has increased in areas like North Beach and along the waterfront, Peskin said he has been working to open a Navigation Center — a shelter with resources such as job training programs and housing placement — in his district. The mayor’s office says the site at Bay and Kearny streets hasn’t been confirmed but is under consideration.
Some residents and business owners in the area bristled at Peskin’s 2017 proposal to turn a North Beach parking lot or an Embarcadero pier into a Navigation Center. They were also frustrated that they hadn’t been consulted about the proposal before Peskin floated the idea at a November 2017 Board of Supervisors meeting.
This time around, Peskin said he held a community meeting in December where many of the 150 attendees said they would support a Navigation Center in the area. The Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District said in a statement that it is “reaching out to the district supervisor, merchants, property owners and other organizations to better understand all points of view” about the potential Navigation Center at Bay and Kearny streets.
•A tax on ride companies like Uber and Lyft: Peskin withdrew a possible ballot measure before the August break that would have asked voters to tax ride-hailing companies’ gross receipts. Instead, he reached a compromise with Uber and Lyft to tax only net fares. He plans to bring this proposal to the ballot in November 2019. State lawmakers must first pass a bill affirming San Francisco’s authority to levy local taxes on ride-hail companies. Then city voters would have to pass the ballot measure with a two-thirds majority.
•Flexible retail for the Sunset: The city also doesn’t allow two businesses to operate within one storefront in the Sunset District. Tang introduced legislation this month to create a new category within the Planning Code to allow certain types of businesses to coexist. This, she said, could help alleviate the number of vacancies on merchant corridors like Irving Street.
Merchants like Albert Chow, president of People of Parkside Sunset and the owner of Great Wall Hardware on Taraval Street, support this legislation as a way to reinvigorate brick-and-mortar stores competing with the onslaught of online shopping. But, he said, anything that comes into the neighborhood has to go with the character of the area.
“You don’t want to throw a nightclub in the middle of a sleepy street,” he said. “There’s got to be limits.”
•Affordable housing: Brown said she is looking for ways to protect renters and develop more affordable housing units in District Five. She is working on legislation to require additional affordable housing within the Divisadero and Fillmore Neighborhood Commercial Transit districts
The crux of this legislation stretches back to former Supervisor London Breed’s 2015 rezoning of Divisadero Street to allow denser housing in the area. New developments planned for the area have been criticized by neighborhood advocacy groups, such as Affordable Divisadero, for not requiring enough affordable housing units.
Brown said she is figuring out what level of affordable housing requirements will both satisfy the neighborhood and encourage developers to still build.
•Homeless services: Brown said she would support Navigation Centers and the expansion of “resting places,” which are community spaces — such as churches — that open their doors to small groups of homeless people during the day.
Brown, who has been in office for less than four months, doesn’t have a specific plan for how to accomplish this, but said she is holding community meetings before she crafts one. Gail Baugh, president of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, said she would back the idea of resting places in the district only if they had strong on-site management and were supported by residents.
•Central SoMa Plan: The city’s biggest neighborhood rezoning in nearly a decade would bring 8,550 housing units and a projected 32,500 jobs to the area. Critics of the plan say it doesn’t include enough housing units, and would exacerbate the city’s housing shortage. Kim is a co-sponsor of the plan, which has been in the works for several years. The board passed the environmental impact report, but still needs to approve other aspects of the Central SoMa Plan.
Five community groups have come out against this massive development plan, arguing that it doesn’t adequately address impacts on traffic, air quality and earthquake safety. As the plan approvals move to the Board of Supervisors it could face a number of hurdles: Supervisors such as Kim and Ronen said they would have a hard time supporting the plan if it isn’t amended to include more housing. Fewer said she did not like that a school isn’t included.
“When you build a new community, then we have to build the infrastructure to ensure that families can stay and live here,” Fewer said. “I think we are missing the boat and not welcoming families.”
•Campaign finance: Local law doesn’t require candidates to make explicit representations or statements regarding potential “coordination” with committees making expenditures on their behalf. Kim wants to change that. While it is already illegal for candidates to coordinate with committees, Kim introduced legislation that would take it a step further and require candidates to attest, under penalty of perjury, that they are not coordinating with other committees.
•Family-friendly housing: In a city where the vast majority of housing units are studios or one-bedroom units, Yee wants to help create more housing units that have multiple rooms and cater to families with children. His office is working on legislation to encourage family-friendly units in new developments.
The challenge will be encouraging developers to focus on units that cater to families with kids, rather than just adults. Yee said he is working with the Planning Commission to update the city’s general plan — a guideline for how San Francisco envisions its future in terms of land use, housing and open space — to emphasize family-friendly housing.
•Early care: The Early Care and Education for All Initiative, known as Proposition C, which proposed increasing gross receipts taxes on commercial landlords to fund child care subsidies, passed in the June election. But a coalition of business organizations sued to invalidate the measure. Despite the measure being challenged in court, Yee said he is working on legislation to implement it.
If the court sides with businesses, the city and county of San Francisco would likely appeal the decision.
•Board and care: Many seniors and people with severe disabilities and mental illnesses are living without permanent shelter. The best option for them is often a board-and-care facility. Mandelman says the city has lost 19 of them over the past five years. He introduced legislation this month that would make it easier for the city to open such facilities by streamlining the Administrative Code.
•Conservatorship: Mandelman,who has made addressing mental illness in the city’s homeless population a top priority, said he is looking for ways to help the mentally ill get into shelter and care. A state bill recently passed that would allow local governments to conserve mentally ill people. Mandelman is expected to carry the bill through the Board of Supervisors.
•Protections for renters: Ronen said she is “committed to helping tenants who are increasingly fearful about their housing stability.” She has several pieces of legislation in the works, including one that protects tenants in single-family homes from large rent increases. Another would force landlords of residential buildings that have received numerous fire safety violations to upgrade or install sprinkler and alarm systems, and bar passing on the cost to their tenants.
The San Francisco Apartment Association supports the idea of adding stronger safety measures to problematic buildings, but said that building owners should be allowed to pass at least part of the cost onto the tenants, said Charley Goss, the association’s government and community affairs manager.
“What we’re talking about is triggering a very substantial construction project,” Goss said. “There’s going to be some financing problems for people who suddenly have to undergo a huge construction project.”
•Minimum Compensation Ordinance: Ronen is working on the supplemental budget with Fewer and Kim to gradually raise the minimum hourly compensation rate for employees of city contractors by $2 to $17 an hour.
•Hunters Point Naval Shipyard: The massive development, known as Shipyard, is designed to add millions of square feet in housing, retail and office space. But the project has been delayed by revelations that the site — home to the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory from 1946 to 1969 — may still be contaminated with radiological waste. Cohen said she plans to hold an accountability hearing Oct. 15 regarding who is responsible for the cleanup.
•Neighborhood amenities: District 10, which includes Bayview-Hunters Point, has multiple development projects in the works, but still lacks basic amenities, including a major supermarket. Cohen said she will study potential tax incentives for bringing such a store to the area.
This district has long struggled to attract — and keep — a grocery store in the neighborhood. Though development in the Bayview has boomed over the past few years, many of its residents have lacked access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.
•Zero waste: In 2002, San Francisco set a goal to eliminate trash going to the landfill by 2020. But last year, Safaí called a hearing after learning that the city would likely not meet that goal. Safaí introduced legislation this year that would update existing laws to reinforce San Francisco’s commitment to achieving zero waste.
Earlier this year, SF Environment and Recology told the Board of Supervisors that the 2020 goal would need to be updated.
•On-site cafeteria ban: Numerous tech companies have cafeterias in their buildings, so many employees remain in the office all day. Safaí wants to change that. Before the August break, Safaí introduced legislation that would ban new office buildings from having these cafeterias. That prompted pushback from the tech industry and labor groups. He is working on amendments and said it should be ready in the next few months.
This proposal received pushback from some in the tech industry, who say free food is an essential perk to attract talent in a competitive job market. Labor groups also worry how the proposal could impact well-paying and secure jobs in the food industry that serves the corporate cafeterias.