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The GrowSF Report: Local democracy is safe (for now)
Plus, the saga of car-free JFK Drive continues
What You Need To Know
Here’s what happened around the city for the week of April 3, 2022:
- Local Democracy is safe (for now)
- The saga of car-free JFK Drive continues
- A new park where there once was a highway
- Another City Hall official resigns in corruption scandal
Local Democracy is safe (for now)
Supervisor Catherine Stefani called it “a direct attack on representative democracy.”
Our friend Bobak Esfandiari, president of the United Democratic Club, called it “the far left’s version of a ‘stop the steal’ moment.”
State Senator Scott Wiener issued a detailed statement explaining how it would leave the Elections Commission “severely and permanently damaged."
Thankfully, Supervisor Dean Preston and other progressives failed in their push to remove members of the redistricting task force simply because they didn’t like how the independent body was drawing new supervisor district lines.
“There’s been no information to suggest that either our appointees or the task force at large have committed any misconduct that undermines the integrity of their work,” Elections Commission President Lucy Bernholz said after a marathon 8-hour emergency meeting. “We appreciate them and thank them for their service, and we move on.”
Many San Francisco residents called out the shenanigans during several hours of public comment. They’ll remember who tried to thwart local democracy at the next election.
The saga of car-free JFK Drive continues
If you love car-free JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, there’s no guarantee you’ll get to enjoy it forever.
Powerful interests are working to re-open the roadway, most notably the de Young Museum. The SF Standard details the entire saga and all the players.
A Chronicle report tells us where each supervisor stands on the issue. Only three fully support Mayor London Breed’s legislation to make JFK permanently car-free: Dean Preston, Rafael Mandelman, and Matt Haney.
Supervisor Connie Chan announced counter legislation to bring back cars.
Supervisor Myrna Melgar said she supports part of Chan’s plan, but not all of it. Supervisor Gordon Mar said, “I’m supportive of car-free JFK so long as the access and equity concerns can be addressed.”
The rest of the supervisors said they were not ready to take a position, hoped Chan and Breed could come to an agreement, or did not respond to requests for comment.
A new park where there once was a highway
A new park on top of the Presidio Parkway tunnels opens April 23. The tunnels replaced an ugly and seismically unfit access highway to Golden Gate Bridge. Now, there will be six acres of parkland covering the tunnels.
Battery Bluff park promises”sweeping views of the Golden Gate, Angel Island, and Alcatraz. And 60,000 native and ornamental plants bring seasonal color and life.” There’s also plenty of picnic tables and a multi-use trail.
Another City Hall official resigns in corruption scandal
One of GrowSF’s core values is to “ensure City Hall embraces innovation and is free from corruption.” The Chronicle reports yet another city department leader has resigned in the wake of a corruption scandal that began with ex-Public Works director Mohammed Nuru’s arrest in 2020.
This time it’s Debbie Raphael, former director of the Department of the Environment. She resigned after the San Francisco Standard reported on a $25,000 donation that she allegedly solicited from Recology.
Recology has a monopoly on trash and recycling that is enshrined in the city’s constitution. Look for a ballot measure this June that will offer some reforms, but still maintains Recology’s monopoly.
Prosecutors and journalists must continue exposing the longtime corruption at City Hall so we can fix San Francisco.
Your Action Plan
Now that you know what’s happening, help us shape what happens next:
Speak up for more police officers
Did you know San Francisco is short 500 police officers? This article explains how much police a city of our size needs. It’s also important to note that SPFD is considered a leader in police reform. A recent California Department of Justice report lauded SFPD for its “substantial work” in implementing reforms.
San Francisco supervisors will discuss the police budget April 14.
You are entitled to public comment at the meeting. This is your chance to ask that funds be used to recruit a new generation of diverse officers from the communities they will serve.
Click here for an automatically filled-out email message you can edit, sign, and send.
If SFPD is headed in the right direction, we need to tell supervisors to give SFPD the funding it needs to hire more officers. Send your message before April 14.
Learn Your San Francisco Politics
Ever wonder why San Francisco is the way it is?
Find out with Joel Engardio’s SF Politics 101 presentation. It provides an entertaining look at the history that shaped San Francisco, while explaining how City Hall and local politics work.
Learn about San Francisco’s journey from the Gold Rush to tech backlash — and every twist in between. The presentation is brought to life with photos and narrative storytelling. It’s designed for all residents new and old who want to better understand the city they love.
"Wine down" with SF Politics 101 for an hour. Joel promises it will be as interesting as your Netflix show.
Thursday April 14
9pm to 10pm
(Late Night Edition)
This has the same content as the regular presentation, just offered at a later time. Many parents have requested a late evening option to watch a webinar after their kids are in bed. All night owls are welcome.
Celebrate San Francisco
There’s a lot to love about our city. Here’s what makes it great:
Sunny Days and C is for Cookie
Whether you’re Gen X, Millennial, or Gen Z, the muppets created by Jim Henson were likely a big part of your childhood. The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco has opened a Jim Henson exhibit that runs until August. It features more than 150 objects from the worlds of Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. It also includes material from Henson’s experimental film projects and his early work, “presenting him as a restlessly creative performer and technical innovator.”
El Farolito to open North Beach location
San Francisco’s absurd rules against chain stores almost blocked beloved local burrito spot, Taqueria El Farolito, from opening a location in North Beach. But thanks to all 2,077 of you who signed the petition opposing this, they are now going to open this month! Thank you Danny Sauter for leading the charge on this!
So what changed? Did we pass a new law allowing chains? Did our Supervisors realize they are ruining our city by making it hard to run a small business here? No. The “technicality was overcome by some modifications to signage at other outlets in the chain”.
This is yet another example of how our anti growth, anti small business laws hurt our city, and why we need to replace our obstructionist supervisors.
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