Supers Roundup: Long live rent control

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This week’s Supervisory Board meeting featured compelling political theater around housing policy as it failed to override the mayor London breed vetoed a “quadruple” bill and submitted only one of two controversial ballot measures.

In addition, a new department dedicated to early childhood care and education has been approved, and an extension of car-free weekends across the big highway is under construction.

Fourplex One falls and rent control is reincarnated

A decision to override the District 8 Supervisor’s veto Raphael MandelmanThe “quadruplex” bill failed by one vote.

It marked the end of a legislative saga in which the bill endured nearly a hellish year of development in committee and the addition of consensus-breaking amendments before being passed in June with a 6-4 vote at first reading.

The bill got an extra vote at a second reading in July, but eight votes were needed to override Breed’s veto. In the end, the vote to override only got seven.

  • The pressure was high for the chairman of the board of directors Shaman Walton to change his vote to override, but he did not budge. His reasons for voting against the legislation? That it was not strict enough for housing at market price. Other supervisors, on the other hand, voted against it because they said it was too strict.
  • Other opponents, including a member of District 11 Ahsha Safaireiterated their objections to the changes which they felt would make it too difficult to build more units.
  • Mandelman, in a speech before the vote, acknowledged the bill wasn’t perfect, but urged his colleagues to give it another shot because it still represented a start to building more neighborhood housing. He said he was “perplexed and appalled” by Breed’s veto and called it purely political.
  • Other supporters expressed similar sentiments. District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskinoften the council’s contact person for housing matters, alleged that Breed provided no justification for his veto, and a member of District 5 Dean Preston called it “political theater”.
  • After the vote, Peskin then asked the mayor’s office staff present at the meeting, perhaps rhetorically, for any “smoke signals” as to what legislation Breed would find acceptable.

Meanwhile, only one of two controversial housing charter amendments was approved for the November ballot, as Peskin moved to withdraw its measure to extend rent control to new developments built under the a density bonus or other zoning incentives. That said, supervisors made a very strong commitment to extend rent control wherever they could.

See also
  • The Affordable Housing Production Actsponsored primarily by District 4 Supervisor Connie Chan, promises to accelerate projects that are 100% affordable or add more inclusive affordable units. It was put to the ballot in a 7-4 vote, with Mandelman, along with District 6 member Matt Dorsey, District 7 member Myrna Melgar, and District 2 member Catherine Stefani, in opposition.
  • Opponents including SF YIMBY and the Housing Action Coalition (HAC) argue that it is an easy move that will make housing construction more difficult. HAC also alleges that the measure has not received proper review under California’s Environmental Quality Act and is considering legal action to block it.
  • Peskin decided to withdraw its rent control measure after an impassioned speech essentially blaming politics for the decision. He argued that real estate and pro-housing groups like HAC would fund an unbeatable campaign to defeat the measure and alleged that such groups were more concerned with limiting rent control than building more housing. He also argued that many owners had no problem with the measure.
  • He then turned his speech into a call for the board to make it policy to extend rent control wherever possible in the new legislation.
  • This new legislation could include “Quadruplex Two.” Safai’s version of the measure recently received a recommendation from the Planning Commission, and he recently told The Standard that he would consider amendments to apply rent control to certain new units built under the legislation.

Help for children

A measure to create a special fund to help schools, as well as a law to create a new department devoted to early childhood, were also put to the vote.

  • District 9 Member’s Student Success Fund Charter Amendment Hillary Ronen would use some of the city’s surplus Education Revenue Enhancement Fund to support academic success and student support programs in public schools. It was unanimously submitted to the November ballot.
  • Later in the session, supervisors unanimously approved legislation sponsored by the District 7 member Myrna Melgar consolidate several municipal agencies and initiatives aimed at improving early childhood care and education into one new municipal agency, the Early Childhood Department. The department will coordinate policies supporting children during their first five years.

New Business: Laguna Honda, Great Highway, Tougher Licensing Penalties… and Shrooms

The new legislation included a last-minute resolution urging state and federal agencies to intervene in the ongoing crisis at Laguna Honda Hospitalas well as fixing the term for the Major highway pilot projectincreasing penalties for unauthorized construction and decriminalizing psychedelics.

  • The board unanimously approved resolutions urging the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to suspend the directive by the Medicare and Medicaid Service Centers forcing Laguna Honda Hospital to move patients and asking the governor. Gavin Newsom and state health director Thomas Aragon stop transfers.
  • The transfers have proven to be very dangerous for the patients – so far four have died. Additionally, most patients had to be transferred to facilities outside of San Francisco. Federal regulators have made the hospital’s ability to reapply for funding dependent on transfers.
  • Melgar, sponsor of the resolutions, judged the situation “an atrocity for human rights.”
  • Member of District 4 Gordon March introduced legislation to codify the Great Highway Weekend pilot project and extend it beyond the current emergency order for three years. He described the current scheme, where the road is closed to car traffic at weekends, as “an effective compromise” but still requires agreement on exact closing times.
  • Ronen introduced legislation to increase penalties for unauthorized residential construction up to $1,000 per day. She cited recent experience with a notorious project on San Bruno Avenue, where a building approved for 10 apartments had 19 others set up illegally, with resulting security and nuisance issues. The developer settled for a $1.2 million fine, which, in Ronen’s mind, may not be an effective deterrent against similar wrongdoing.
  • Finally, Preston submitted a resolution calling on state and federal governments to decriminalize”entheogenic plantslike psychedelic mushrooms. The resolution parallels state legislation Sen. Scott Wiener in Sacramento. Public comments were dominated by supporters of the resolution.

Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected].

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