News from the West of Twin Peaks Central Council


Debates on Parkmerced, Ranked Voting, Cellular phone antennas easements and other topics filled the agenda and provided valuable information to the standing room only crowd of attendees at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting November 22.

When WOTPCC President George Wooding called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM, over fifty people had filled the seats at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. Following the roll call of delegates and the approval of the November minutes, Omid Talai from the San Francisco District Attorney’s office addressed the gathering. (Photo: Supervisor Sean Elsbernd states the view of the RPD on the Clubhouse.)

As part of the continuing outreach to the WTPCC community by the DA’s office, Talai spoke briefly about growing up in the WTP neighborhood and discussed the topic of the month: Victim Services. Talai spoke on the range of services that are available through the D.A.’s office for crime victims, such as compensation for time lost at work while testifying, funeral expenses for families of crime victims and other ways in which the office strives to assist those who have been victimized.

Carolyn Squeri followed with the Treasurers report and reported that dues invoices for the neighborhood associations will be distributed in early January.

Committee reports followed with Matt Chamberlain (Planning and Land Use) reporting that four items are being watched by the committee: the upcoming Parkmerced hearings, the S.F. Housing Element for 2009 which is in process, the application for private homeowner windmill installations (covered in last month’s Observer), and the homeowner concerns about the installation and proliferation of cellular antenna equipment on power poles. Arvum Shepard (Transportation) reported on both the proposed cost of the underground subway project into Chinatown from 4th and Townsend (1 and ½ miles at $1 Billion), and the possible legislation from the Board of Supes to implement “Congestion Pricing” (tolls) onto those entering the city from the Peninsula. – (In my opinion this is a really bad idea!!) Roger Ritter reads proclaimation

(Photo: Roger Ritter of Balboa Heights reads the resolution on antenna.)

George Wooding gave an update on the SF audit on the Laguna Honda Gift Fund. The auditors detailed over 20 instances where “nobody was minding the fund”. The good news from this is that over $160,000 has been returned to the Fund from the various other non-patient funds the monies had been siphoned off too. (Thanks to the tireless work of Doctors Derek Kerr and Maria Rivero).

In another example of citizen action, a representative from the office of supervisor Carmen Chu reported that the Planning Department has revoked the approval for the development of the “pot club” at 32nd St. and Taraval. Many people from the WOTPCC and District 4 were involved with the process that resulted in the (very rare) decision to revoke a previously approved permit. Wooding thanked WOTPCC stalwarts Don Dutil, Denise LaPointe, and Dave Bisho specifically, in addition to the Supervisor Chu and her staff.

The next discussion followed up on an earlier report about the “privatization” of the local park clubhouses by the Park and Rec Department. Wooding reported on a spillover crowd that attended a recent community event at the JP Murphy clubhouse to give PRD input about a proposed plan to rent the clubhouse out to users that could exclude the public. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd spoke about the issue that although (with the passage of Prop A several years ago) $185M was spent to renovate parks and clubhouses, the vast majority of clubhouses are closed and “locked” to public use during most park hours, as there is no city budget to staff them. He went on to explain that the Park and Rec department is just trying to see if there is interest from local entities to lease the facilities to allow them to open some of the time for community based organizations that are willing to pay for the use.

Elsbernd made a point of explaining in detail that at no time would a potential clubhouse renter close the use of the park to the public, (A vast majority of the clubhouses are currently closed all of the time) and that there is no RFP (request for proposal) and the ideas are just a Park and Rec idea to try and have the clubhouses used in some ways. Everyone agrees that it’s very unfortunate that the clubhouses cannot be used to their potential due to budget restrictions.

The continuing story of Parkmerced was discussed next. Aaron Goodman made a short presentation on several upcoming meetings to gain input about the redevelopment project planning at Parkmerced. He referenced two meetings to be held in December but didn’t have specifics on the locations, other than informing the crowd that the first meeting is on December 9th and the second is on December 16. Goodman stressed the issues with the 19th Avenue corridor study, and the proposed plan by the developers to “bulldoze” a large portion of the gardens and grounds designed by renowned architect Thomas Church, as well as a loss of affordable housing.

John Gavin of Parkmerced offered a counterpoint asking the public to attend the (many) planning meetings to see what the owners and developers are working towards, and handed out fliers with the exact location of the meeting on December 9th. (The S.F. Planning Commission hearing meeting will be held on December 9th at the McKenna theatre (SFSU) at 1600 Holloway at 6PM).

Meeting attendees with an interest in the recent local elections and the concept of ranked choice voting were informed by the next presenter, David Latterman, of Fall Line Analytics, a political campaign marketing and data evaluation firm. Latterman gave a very interesting speech and video presentation on the recap of the November election showing how the districts voted on issues and how different the prospects of turnout for district wide and city wide elections can be. The data shows that District 7 is home to the greatest number of conservative voters in the city, and that a greater percentage of registered voters vote in the district. Other discussion centered on the election results showing District 8 moving more to a moderate side than very progressive (different than people would think about the district that contains Noe Valley, Glen Park and the Castro).

Much of the presentation discussed the results of District 2 and District 10 where ranked choice voting made a difference in that the initial “first place” finisher ended up losing the election once the lower ranked candidates were eliminated and their “second and third choice” candidate votes were redistributed until a candidate passed the 50% mark in votes received. The “quagmire” in District 10 took 19 “elimination rounds” to declare a winner in the hotly contested 21 person supervisor race.

The proliferation, aesthetics and safety of cellular antennaswas discussed and debated next as representatives from the SF PUC, NextG Communications, Balboa Terrace and supervisor John Avalos offices discussed the proposed installation of a cellular antenna (and equipment) on a power pole located on Bob and Chris Olson’s property at San Benito and Darien.

Natasha Ernst (NextG Communications) spoke about the different types of communication installations and showed slides of the types of installations that NextG installs on behalf of companies such as Metro PCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, etc. She went into detail on the issues in the SF area, and the evaluation of whether the power poles (wooden) are located on public easements or private property. She noted that the debated installation adjacent to the Olson’s home was not a realistically installable location and that it was basically a mistake by the evaluator as it would require a “use permit” by the PUC and the SF Planning Department which would most likely been denied.

Frances Hsieh, representing the office of Supervisor John Avalos, spoke about proposed legislation that would require these types of installation to “notice” the public on proposed antenna installations, and set guidelines for the amount of equipment placed on utility poles, as well as address the problem of aesthetics within business districts and neighborhood. Interestingly it is the aesthetics issues that give citizens the most leverage to battle these installations under the Federal Communications Act of 1996.

Doug Loranger (SNAFU) spoke next about the problems with these types of installations, from poles being overloaded with equipment and falling over sparking a fire, to the potential danger to people from the cellular EMF waves, to the potential leakage of the back up batteries needed to keep the equipment functioning in the event of a prolonged power outage.

Bob and Christine Olson then spoke and displayed photos of the various installations of cellular and other types of power pole mounted equipment around the city. The photos revealed equipment of differing sizes with a multitude of large and small boxes mounted to the power poles. A large vocal group of Balboa Terrace residents were on hand to add their concerns to the discussion and to ask questions of the installers (NextG) and of the representatives from the PUC on how the permitting and appeal process works on these types of installations using utility poles.

After more discussion, Roger Ritter (Balboa Terrace Association) read a resolution against the proposed installation of the antenna equipment at the Olson’s address. As the resolution mentioned possibly moving an antenna installation to the vicinity of Junipero Serra Blvd., the WOTPCC members asked that a letter supporting the Balboa Terrace resolution be amended to not propose other installation locations, but to support Balboa Terrace’s opposition to the proposed location and also detail the councils opposition to antenna installations in residential areas. Following floor discussion, a vote was taken and it passed 9-1 (with one abstention) to support the Balboa Terrace Association in their opposition to the antenna installation.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:40. The next meeting will be Jan. 24, 2011 at 7:30 PM in the Forest Hills clubhouse, as there is no meeting to be held in December.

December 2010

October 25, 2010Doctors Rivera and Kerr

Debates on several propositions, consideration of wind energy, a TV news team and updates on the Laguna Honda gift fund, and Parkmerced financing dominated the agenda and discussion at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting on October 25. Council President George Wooding opened the meeting at 7:30 to a large crowd of about 35 attendees. Following the roll call of delegates and the approval of the September minutes, Omid Taleh from the San Francisco District Attorney’s office addressed the gathering.

As part of the ongoing outreach to the WTPCC community by the DA’s office, Taleh spoke briefly about growing up in the WTP neighborhood and addressed a question: Why are people that get arrested at 8AM back out on the streets by 2PM? He explained that in 99 percent of the cases, the DA’s office asks for “no release” for those arrested and charged with a crime. In 99 percent of the cases, judges release the detainees after the Public Defender’s office makes the case for release. For those charged with misdemeanors, over 99 percent are released. Of those charged with felonies less are released. Each month the DA’s office will have a representative at the council meeting to answer questions. If you have a question you would like them to research, forward it to George Wooding before the scheduled meeting.

Wooding reported that the WTPCC was pleased to have a ballot argument listed in the ballot handbook in support of voting “yes” on Proposition G, noting that it was the first time in several years that the group had a ballot argument in the handbook.

Drs. Derek Kerr and Maria Rivera brought some encouraging news to the group regarding the Laguna Honda Gift Fund fiasco. They reported that a portion of the amount “taken” from the fund, $139,000, has been restituted to the Gift Fund from the various accounts where the funds were distributed. In addition, an audit of the management of the fund over the last 7 years is in process. Kerr noted that the audit, originally expected to be completed in 6 weeks, has been stretched out and will now probably take 10 weeks to complete. That timing would coincide with the probable departure of Health Chief Mitch Katz, who has announced his resignation to take over the Los Angeles Health Department. When a question was posed about the large bulk of the monies from the Gift Fund, the doctors reported that until the audit was completed no more facts would be known, but that a “special investment fund” was discovered that made interest gains of over 13 percent in the last two years while the market was depressed. It will be interesting to have more insight into these monies once the audit has been completed. In addition, the Health Commission has asked for quarterly reports on reinstated gift fund allocations, and LHH patients have asked to have representation restored to oversee Gift Fund expenditures. Finally, the LHH revised “mission” of the gift fund that included “use of the money for staff as well as patients” has been removed from the website for the time being. While not the complete reversal of the questionable actions of the LHH management team regarding the Patient Gift Fund, these events are a step in the right direction. Channel 7 filmed the presentation by Dr. Kerr and Dr. Rivera for a future telecast as a follow up to their previous LHH gift fund story.

Parkmerced project: “Polacci stated that the developers are very enthusiastic about the changes and the investment is good news for the long-term well being of the community and the project.”

Bert Polacci and John Gavin gave a brief overview of the latest financial news regarding the large Parkmerced project. A large infusion of capital from the Fortress Capital Investment Group has bolstered the financial side of the property and enabled the long term financing to be restructured. Polacci stated that the developers are very enthusiastic about the changes and the investment is good news for the long-term well being of the community and the project. When asked about the status of the planning process of the project, he said that they hope to be entitled within the next two months, and are working with the planning commission. Stellar Management will remain as the Managing General Partner of Parkmerced, and that the developer will cover the costs to reroute and realign MUNI as the project moves ahead.

Bob and Chris Olson of Balboa Terrace addressed the group about the proliferation of wireless antenna being installed on power poles as PG & E has leased out space on the poles to wireless providers to make the poles more profitable. The issues are lack of control (of easements) by the homeowners for power poles on their properties, as well as the potential of poles being overloaded, possibly causing them to break and cause a fire. Other issues are noise (humming) and the aesthetics of the equipment being mounted to the uprights.

Lively debates followed on both Proposition A, which authorizes a $46 million bond to retrofit 156 “soft story” structures in the city that are managed as low income/affordable housing, and Proposition L, the Sit/Lie proposed ordinance targeting people who sit or lie on public and private sidewalks, entryways, etc.

Jason Elliot, in favor of Prop A, explained the concept of giving loans (grants) to property owners to seismically upgrade their properties would help to ensure a pool of affordable/low income (subsidized) housing for years to come. Rose Hilson countered that the Proposition is vague and unclear on which of the 2800 soft story properties are eligible, while making the point that many of the buildings are owned by non-profit agencies or landlords that should be able to make the repairs. When all was said and done, the basic question is whether voters will support the concept of paying an amount to support a bond to subsidize affordable housing for the less fortunate.

Ted Lowenberg and Paul Boden followed the debate on Prop A, with an equally important one on Prop L, known as the sit/lie ordinance. The proposition would give police officers the ability to issue citations and fines for individuals that are sitting/laying on sidewalks, blocking storefronts, or causing a public issue by not letting people pass, etc. Lowenberg, of the Haight Asbury Improvement Association, has seen the problem firsthand with well-documented individuals that are causing problems with the merchants and shoppers on Haight Street. Boden, a homeless advocate, who was formerly homeless himself, countered that there are currently laws on the books to address the serious issues of aggressive panhandling, loitering, public nuisance, etc., and Prop L would give officers too much latitude and discretion to decide who to cite and arrest, etc., and that it is too broad and general.

The meeting closed with a discussion on the merits of individual homeowner-based wind turbines and their impact on neighborhood house values and aesthetics within a neighborhood, as the WTPCC was asked to support a motion against installation of a wind turbine at a home located at 400 Teresita. Homeowner Nathan Miller presented his views on global responsibility for energy independence, with a little Grecian history thrown in. Karen Breslin, of the Miraloma Park Improvement countered with the neighborhood objections to the proposed turbine. A large group of Miraloma Park residents were on hand to add their concerns to the discussion. Following the discussion, the delegates of the WTPCC voted 10-0 to support the motion against the windmill project.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45. The next meeting of the WTPCC will be held on November 22 at 7:30 PM in the Forest Hills clubhouse.

September 27, 2010

The WOTPCC kicked off their new year with a standing room only crowd eager to see a debate over the future of city employee pensions and health care. Over 65 people attended the September 27th meeting, at the Forest Hills clubhouse to see San Francisco Public Defender, Jeff Adachi, weigh in on his
“Yes on Prop B” stance against Tim Paulson, head of the San Francisco Labor Council, countering with his “No on B” stance.

Before the debate, Council President George Wooding opened the meeting at 7:30PM sharp by introducing the new Council officers: Blue Mudbhary, Recording Secretary, and Matt Chamberlain, Vice President. They join holdovers Wooding, Carolyn Squeri (Treasurer), and Avrum Shepard (Parliamentarian) to complete the Council Board.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office was represented by Assistant DA Marissa Rodriguez, who spoke briefly to inform the attendees that the District Attorney’s office will now be represented at every WOTPCC meeting to field questions and concerns from the members and guests. She also distributed information to interested parties on differences between the “Standard to Arrest and Standard to Convict” as related to making arrests and convicting those arrested in San Francisco.

From the presentations made, very different views of the fiscal future of the
San Francisco Pension and Health Care system emerged.

Following a short Treasurer’s report by Squeri, and a “Better Streets Planning” report by Shepard, Wooding gave a short report on the Laguna Honda Gift Fund debacle. Amid questions as to if the City Attorney has been given the information, it was determined that indeed, Herrera has the information, but a formal audit has not been completed and could be a very difficult process to complete due to the many accounts that were set up and the method in which the funds were moved around. To complicate matter, health chief Mitch Katz is expected to leave San Francisco to take over as the health chief for Los Angeles. As more information becomes available on LHH we will report it.

Dan of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club addressed the crowd asking for support in helping their organization deal with a homeowner on Teresita who is planning to install a large wind mill powered electric generator in the middle of a neighborhood.

Speakers related to election issues took “center stage” with explanations on Measure F, impacting the Board members of the SF Health System, which covers over 105,000 members and claims to only save $30,000, yet cost over $50,000 to put on the ballot. The projected savings wouldn’t start until 2016.

As a preamble to the main debate on Prop B, a presentation based on the San Francisco Grand Jury findings was presented by a member of the Grand Jury.

Following the report on the Grand Jury findings, the presentations of both sides of the Proposition B debate started in earnest. Both Adachi and Paulson were given 12-minutes to make their cases, and then given time for rebuttal. Following, the floor was opened for questions and answers from the speakers.

From the presentations made, very different views of the fiscal future of the San Francisco Pension and Health Care system emerged. On the one hand, Adachi stated his case that pension and health care costs for city employees have risen from $17,000,000 in 2001 to $140,000,000 in 2010 and will skyrocket to $1,000,000,000 in 5 years, with the possibility that SF will end up like Vallejo, deeply in debt or bankrupted if action is not taken to address the issue. Paulson countered that the Pension system is one of the best managed and funded systems in the country and is funded in the 97% range, and that the real issue is not pensions but an attempt by Adachi and the “Yes on B” proponents to take away health care benefits (through higher employee premiums) from the lower paid employees of San Francisco. Paulson also stated the Proposition is poorly written, and the wrong way to initiate compromise over the bargaining table. The union chief also pointed out “no elected official from Gavin Newsom to Nancy Pelosi is in support of Proposition B.” He also questioned the findings of the Grand Jury as predicated on old “Lehman Brother” numbers and not truly accurate. He also reiterated several times about the “give backs” that the union members in SF have contributed to save local services. (These givebacks and concessions have been documented over the past several years.)

Handouts were available to the meeting attendees showing both Pro and Con views of the debate, and local media and photographers were also in attendance with no less than four photographers and journalists covering the spirited debate and Q and A session. The final debate on Prop B really centers on the numbers quoted from both sides and what is the actual pension and health care financial picture.

The final outcome on Proposition B will be determined by San Francisco voters on November 2, but it remains the “miracle of democracy” that we can engage in such debate and discourse in a free manner. The turnout certainly indicated that the local populace are very interested in the issues and will come out, in force, when great dialogue and information is being presented.

WOTPCC President Wooding adjourned the meting at 9:10 PM.

The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be the annual meeting on Monday, October 25th at 7:30 in the Forest Hill Clubhouse.

October 2010

June 28, 2010

Annual Meeting Report

Rae Doyle receives award

Marking 9 years of service to the WOTPCC, Former President Dave Bisho presents Rae Doyle an appreciation plaque.

The WOTPCC attracted nearly 50 people to its 7:30 p.m. annual meeting on June 28th at the Forest Hill Clubhouse. The big turnout was in large part due to the three significant matters at hand: the fraudulent depletion of the Patient Gift Fund at Laguna Honda Hospital, the restructuring of debt at Parkmerced and the election of WOTPCC officers for the September 2010 - June 2011 term. The speakers for the meeting were former LHH employees Patrick Monette-Shaw, Dr. Derek Kerr and Dr. Maria Rivero, and Seth Mallen of Stellar Management/Parkmerced. The audience included many neighborhood leaders including Judge Quentin Kopp and former Supervisor Annemarie Conroy

Dr Derek Kerr presents evidence of the Laguna Honda Gift Fund misuses

Dr Derek Kerr formerly of Laguna Honda Hospital presents evidence of mismanagement of the Patient Gift Fund.

Before delving into the highly anticipated topics on the agenda, WOTPCC President George Wooding presented Vice President Don Dutil, who will be stepping down from the Board, with a plaque in appreciation of his years of hard work. Directly following the crowd’s rendition of “For he’s a jolly good fellow,” Secretary Rae Doyle was recognized for her nine years of dedication. Doyle, who also received a cheerful “For she’s a jolly good fellow,” will be leaving the Board but plans to cover WOTPCC meetings for the West Portal Monthly.

Parkmerced VP Seth Mullen addresses Council

Seth Mullen of ParkMerced discusses the future of the development and it’s financial health. .

Seth Mallen, Executive Vice President of Construction and Sustainability at Stellar Management, was introduced to discuss the viability of Parkmerced in the midst of rumors of bankruptcy. Mallen announced that Parkmerced has not filed for bankruptcy but rather has, in conjunction with its lenders, engaged a special servicer to support the property’s loan payments. He said the move will ensure that bills are paid on time and allow for capital restructuring that will benefit Parkmerced and the lender. Assuring the audience that residents will be protected through the process, Mallen stated that all Parkmerced apartments currently under rent controls will remain rent-controlled.

Following Mallen’s presentation, the election for next term’s WOTPCC officers began. With no new nominations from the floor, the candidates were approved unanimously. George Wooding will remain President, Matt Chamberlain will replace Dutil as Vice President, Carolyn Squeri will remain Treasurer and Blue Mudbhary will replace Doyle as Recording Secretary.

To shed some light on the recent revelations of the misuse of donations intended for patients of Laguna Honda Hospital, former LHH employee (and contributor to the Westside Observer) Patrick Monette-Shaw was introduced by President Wooding. Monette-Shaw, a patient advocate who was transferred to Rec-Park from his position at LHH and later terminated, described the ways in which the Patient Gift Fund was depleted to the benefit of the LHH staff. He stressed the need for a thorough investigation of the $1.3 million that has vanished from the fund over a 6-year period.

President Wooding presented a resolution that would help the residents of LHH and restore donor confidence in the Patient Gift Fund. The resolution consisted of seven recommendations including an independent audit of the Gift Fund by the city of San Francisco, a restitution of misspent funds, the re-establishment of a LHH Gift Fund Management Committee consisting of LHH residents, community members and health professionals, a restoration of LHH’s pre-December 2004 policy governing the Gift Fund to restore safeguards removed in recent revisions, the development of a quarterly Gift Fund donations and expenditures report to be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee for public review, the restoration of a mission statement by the Controller’s Office and the Department of Public Health describing the intended uses of the Gift Fund and a posting of the statement on LHH’s website, and finally, the placement of a WOTPCC member on LHH’s Advisory Board in an effort to maintain a constructive working relationship with the hospital.

WOTPCC Laguna Honda Hospital Gift Fund Resolution

Whereas, Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH) maintains a Patient Gift Fund that receives public donations for the use of LHH residents, and San Francisco’s Administrative Code Section 10.100-201 clearly states that LHH’s Gift Fund is a public trust intended exclusively for LHH patients’ general benefit and comfort; and

Whereas, In 2005, LHH staff sub-accounts were created within LHH’s Patient Gift Fund which were used for the benefit of LHH’s staff, using funds donated for the benefit of LHH residents without apparent foreknowledge of Gift Fund donors; and

Whereas, The Gift Fund money used for LHH’s staff has contributed to depleting the Gift Fund and reducing amenities for LHH’s residents; and

Whereas, On May 21, 2010 the San Francisco Controller’s Office ordered the Department of Public Health to separate the staff sub-accounts from the LHH Patient Gift Fund; and

Whereas, The San Francisco Controller’s office has only conducted a “review” of the LHH Patient Gift Fund, but has not performed an independent audit to determine the amount of Gift Fund money spent on LHH’s staff; and

Whereas, LHH previously had a Gift Fund Management Committee that monitored LHH Gift Fund expenditures, but this oversight committee was abolished, along with eliminating required quarterly reports of Gift Fund activity to the Health Commission, when LHH revised its Gift Fund policy on April 15, 2010 and on December 2, 2004, respectively; and

Whereas, The West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WTPCC) would like to both help residents of LHH, and help restore donor confidence in LHH’s Patient Gift Fund,

Therefore, Be it Resolved that the WTPCC:

• Recommends that the city of San Francisco conduct a thorough, independent audit of LHH’s Patient Gift Fund.

• Believes that any Patient Gift Fund money determined to have been misspent must be returned to the Gift Fund sub-accounts that directly benefit patients in order to provide restitution.

• Desires that a LHH Gift Fund Management Committee be re-established, consisting of LHH residents, community members, and health professionals.

•Requests that LHH’s policy #45-01 governing the Patient Gift Fund be restored to its pre-December 2004 version to restore safeguards removed in the April 15, 2010 and December 2, 2004 revisions to the policy.

• Urges that a quarterly Gift Fund donations and expenditures report be developed and forwarded to the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee for public review.

• Calls for the Controller’s Office and the Department of Public Health to restore a mission statement describing the intended uses, and “restricted purposes” for each sub-account, and post it on LHH’s web site appealing for Gift Fund donations.

• Respectfully requests that in an effort to maintain a constructive working relationship with LHH, a member(s) of the WTPCC be reinstated on LHH’s advisory Board.

President Wooding noted that representatives from both LHH and the DPH were invited to attend the WOTPCC annual meeting, but neither party accepted the opportunity to take a stand. The refusal by these parties to talk about the issue at hand have many West of Twin Peaks residents feeling as though they are being shut out from LHH — a place they have longtime supported.

A well-researched Power Point presentation by Dr. Kerr and Dr. Rivero then exposed shocking details of the exhaustion of Gift Fund donations, including a photo of a check made out for $18,000 to the Patient Gift Fund and the deposit slip illustrating that it had clearly been used for staff expenses. Dr. Kerr proved that donations to the fund had been used to cover CPR classes for LHH nurses, staff lunches and the annual staff barbeque, and that there was a 65% decrease in resident bus trips due to a lack of funds.

The presentation further emphasized the need for an audit and the need for West of Twin Peaks residents to advocate for the patients of LHH.

“I think that the power is in the people,” said Dr. Rivero. “People can say ‘no, this is not acceptable.’ And it’s not acceptable.”

After two revisions to the resolution were made, it was passed unanimously and decided that it be submitted to the City Attorney for review.

Monette-Shaw said he was deeply appreciative that the resolution passed unanimously.

“I’m going to thank President Wooding for bringing this issue before the Council,” he said. “It’s great to get an adequate public venue to present this.”

For further details on the Laguna Honda Hospital Patient Gift Fund fraud, please see Patrick Monette-Shaw’s article in this issue.

July-August 2010

May 24, 2010

Bond Yee at WOTPCC

Transit, Cleaner Energy and new officers were the main discussion topics at the WOTPCC meeting on May 24th. In the absence of both President George Wooding and Vice President Don Dutil, Treasurer Carolyn Squeri opened the meeting at 7:40 PM. Secretary Rae Doyle called the roll and a quorum was reached before a group of approximately 24 attendees.

With one change (adding George Linn to the Nominating Committee) the minutes from April were approved, followed by the Treasurer’s report. Half of the organizations have paid dues and Squeri asked that the remainder try to get their dues paid by the end of June. The goal is to improve communication outreach to reach as many homeowners as possible, not just the delegates.

Matt Chamberlain gave a short report on Planning and Land Use, stating that the Planning Department is moving ahead with the recommended changes to the Discretionary Review process (DR) but that some of the homeowner and neighborhood groups are still concerned. He pointed out the CSFN (Coalition of San Francisco Neighborhoods) was concerned about the possibility of DRs being separated into “Type 1 and Type 2, with the fear that one or the other of the DR types could get less review. More on that in future meetings.

With no Taraval Police officers present, the meeting moved to the Nominating Committee Report. Dave Bisho, on behalf of Paul Conroy and George Linn, thanked the officers and board members at the meeting who have served for the past year, and announced some changes for the upcoming year. Vice President Dutil has decided to not be represented as a nominated officer for 2011, and, after nine years, Secretary Rae Doyle is stepping away from the position to take a break. With that said, Bisho read the slate of nominees for the September 2010 – June 2011 term: President – George Wooding ; Vice President – Matt Chamberlain ; Treasurer - Carolyn Squeri : Recording Secretary – Blue Mudbhary, and Avrum Shepard as Parliamentarian. Nominations from the floor can still be made up to and including the time before the vote at the June 28th annual meeting. Bisho moved for the approval of the slate of candidates and the motion was seconded and approved unanimously.

Bond Yee, Director of Parking for SF MUNI, followed with a discussion of (overall) transit and parking issues. He started by giving a short scope of the Transportation agency’s reach: With over 700,000 boardings per day, SF MUNI is twice the size of BART and runs such diverse transit types as streetcars, cable cars, buses, trolleys and the historics. The agency also oversees all transit flow of cars, bicycles, taxis and pedestrians throughout the city, as well as being tasked with the management of street striping, traffic signage, traffic lights, and 24000 parking meters.

Yee next addressed the proposed cuts to balance the 2011-12 MUNI budget, explaining that the proposal is before the Board of Supervisors and a hearing to discuss will be held on June 2nd. He explained that while ridership is ‘up’ and costs are dropping MUNI had “No Choice” but to initiate fee increases and service cuts on December 5th. Many of the changes were in line with a recently completed “Transit Efficiency Report.” The report was the first one in the city in over 20 years. Another 10% in service cutbacks were initiated on May 8 to try and balance the budget for this year. With the proposed two-year budget MUNI is hoping that the revenue in year 2 (2012) will be substantial enough to restore the service cuts.

MUNI has also benefited from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allocated $9 billion dollars to create jobs and stimulate the economy. California received $1.6 billion and of that San Francisco received $67 million dollars to assist with the rehabilitation of buses and rolling stock throughout the system. Yee commented that “last week” the first bus that was rebuilt under the program was returned to service after just 9 months; “lightning speed by government standards” the MUNI official stated.

He continued addressing the programs that DPT and MUNI are working on to regulate and measure traffic flow, parking space usage and the city’s conversion of crosswalk indicators to the “Pedestrian Countdown Signals”. SF is the first city to completely convert the crosswalk signals to ones that show the time remaining before the signal changes. This has resulted in many fewer pedestrians being caught in middle of the streets as the lights change, “It is the most popular thing I (we) have ever done.”

The city has also converted traffic signals to LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting that consumes 87% less electricity than standard incandescent lighting. It also lasts 7X longer but costs 3X more. The reduced maintenance and electrical savings offset the increased cost of installation.

Yee closed with a discussion of the bicycle plan for the city. Currently the EIR for the plan is being challenged in court and has been resubmitted and is under review. With 45 projects lined up to be completed, the presiding judge has already approved some of the ones that were not being challenged. The engineer closed by taking questions and answers from the group.

Jason Fried of CleanPowerSF followed with a presentation on the SFPUC-run organization and its bid to deliver “cleaner power” to the residents of the city. CleanPowerSF is a program run by the SFPUC to bring energy choice to SF residents. The PUC and Board of Supervisors are working to finalize and ratify a contract with PowerChoice Inc., to provide an alternative supplier of electricity to PG&E.

The goal is to generate up to 51% of power from renewable resources by 2017. If the initiative is successful, residents will be placed in the CleanPowerSF program and have a 120-day window (60 days before / 60 days after startup) to “OPT-OUT” of the program and return to PG&E as a generation provider. It is important to note that the billing for the program and the delivery of the power will still be handled by PG&E.

The presentation was short on specifics, such as pricing, as the contracts are not signed and firm pricing will fluctuate somewhat with the markets. Detailed information was also not available from the speaker on the history and background for the power provider, PowerChoice, Inc.

PG&E is countering this initiative with Prop 16, which would require a 2/3-majority vote for municipalities to enter the market as energy suppliers. Marin and Palo Alto have already entered the market as suppliers of power under the CCA (Consumer Choice Aggregation) guidelines. For more information on CleanpowerSF, check them out on the web or contact the SFPUC.

The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be the annual meeting on Monday, June 28th at 7:30 in the Forest Hill Clubhouse.

June 2010

April 26, 2010

Help to “Fix Muni Now” Superviser Chu

The ballot initiative to restructure the City Charter as it relates to MUNI was the biggest focus at the April 26th meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting.

Council President George Wooding presided over an informative meeting that featured four “guest” speakers as well as the usual monthly information that is shared and discussed between the WOTPCC board and the various neighborhood improvement association delegates.

Photo: Supervisor Chu on pot.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd spoke at length about the ballot initiative that he is sponsoring to change the City Charter to reform the procedures by which the Muni Transit Worker’s Union wage scales are set. He made the point that he is not against the union being able to collectively bargain with the City, but that by having the Charter mandate that the base wage of Muni operators MUST be no less than the average of the two highest-paid transit agencies in the country it gives the union no incentive to negotiate. The Muni union is the only union in the city that has its base wage tied to the City Charter.

The tying of the union scale to the City Charter came as a result of a General Transit strike that was carried out in 1968. Fear of future strikes provided the impetus to make changes to the City Charter to include the present Muni Base rate clause. Since 1974 the City and the Union have been bound by the agreement of each side to enter into binding interest arbitration with a neutral 3rd party arbitrator making the ruling that both sides have agreed to be bound to in the case of an impasse. This arbitration is designed to eliminate the possibility of a strike. Any workers who would choose to strike can be fired.

Elsbernd spoke on the importance of collecting enough signatures to get it onto the ballot in NOVEMBER.

To place an initiative on the ballot will require 47000 valid, audited signatures. To ensure a successful ballot campaign, the number of actual people necessary to sign is about 70,000. All signatures must be submitted prior to July 1 to ensure that the initiative is placed on the November ballot. If successful the measure can be passed with a margin of 50% + 1 vote.

The WOTPCC delegates proceeded to vote on a delegate resolution supporting Elsbernd’s ballot initiative. In a call vote the resolution supporting the Supervisor passed UNANIMOUSLY. Many of the delegate representatives have taken ballot signature paperwork to assist Elsbernd in getting the word out and collecting signatures. For more information on the ballot initiative contact your local delegate, Supervisor Elsbernd’s office, or go to the website, There is not a lot of time left to gather the necessary signatures.

District 5 Supervisor Carmen Chu also was on hand to address the crowd with an update on the proposed Medical Cannabis Dispensary (MCD) that has been proposed on Taraval Street. The facility is in the permit review process with a hearing scheduled in front of the Planning Commission on May 20th at 1:30 PM. In the update, Chu said that public sentiment and feedback is running 99% against the dispensary in the location proposed (32nd St @ Taraval). Although the location meets the law which required a 1000 foot set back from any schools, day care centers, etc., there are tutoring facilities, playgrounds and other important neighborhood sites that could be impacted by the Cannabis Dispensary. It is also on the transit corridor that serves Lincoln HS and St. Ignatius. In light of the public feedback the Supervisor said she would attend the meeting to speak against the issuance of an operating permit for the business. The WOTPCC will also be submitting a letter to the Planning Commission stating their opposition to the MCD in its proposed location.

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) also provided two speakers at the meeting as Deputy School Superintendent Myong Leigh spoke on behalf of Proposition A on the June ballot. Prop A will extend a parcel tax that has been in effect for 20 years, for another 20 years to continue to provide funding for seismic and safety related improvements and retrofits at SFUSD Schools and other buildings. He passed out literature that detailed how the funding would be used, as well as how the past funding has been used from 1990 to the present day in the school district schools and buildings. He was questioned about the rationale to extend the parcel tax citing areas where the $7 million per year generated by the tax has not been put to its intended uses. Leigh acknowledged that the current team at SFUSD has a much better management and oversight on the funding than past officials and pressed the need for continued safety and seismic upgrades. He also explained that homeowners over the age of 65 can opt-out and be excluded from the levy. The approximate cost of the tax will be $32.20 for single-family homes and commercial properties.

Orla O’Keefe, the Special Asst to the Superintendent of the SFUSD followed Leigh and spoke to the attendees about the new SFUSD “Student Assignment Policy” that will start for students entering kindergarten, sixth and ninth grade in the fall of 2011.

The timeline is for the SFUSD to create elementary school boundaries; create elementary to middle school feeder patterns; develop a new transportation policy and to complete a recruitment campaign and enrollment materials so that the new enrollment system can be launched on November 13, 2010.

Meetings will be held at the SFUSD Board Room, 555 Franklin Street (@McAllister) on May 10 from 6-8 PM.

For the general portion of the meeting, Wooding announced the Nominating Committee to recruit and submit names for the next WOTPCC meeting (May 24). Dave Bisho, George Linn and Paul Conroe will serve as the Nominating Committee. Candidates from the Committee, as well as those submitted from the floor, will be considered at the May meeting and voted on at the June 28 Annual Meeting.

In committee reports Matt Chamberlain informed the group that the proposed changes to the DR (Discretionary Review) process have been shelved by the Board of Supervisors, but that several of the “more agreeable” changes that the homeowner groups had proposed to the Planning Department are being discussed to be implemented. The Planning Department will hold meetings for public input on May 6 and May 10 at the office on 1640 Mission Street.

Avrum Shepard gave the Transportation report, focusing on the MTA “pilot project” to implement parking meter charges on Sundays on West Portal Avenue from 10-6, as well as a traffic pattern an use project that uses microchip enabled “white dots” that have been cemented onto West Portal Avenue. These dots are supposed to measure traffic flow to chart use to adjust meter rates in the future. Several people wondered how much the results would be skewed due to the upcoming large construction project at St Francisco Circle that will disrupt normal traffic on West Portal Ave. for most of the summer.

Several people stated they had heard conflicting views on how Supervisor Elsbernd felt about the Sunday metering. It was cleared up minutes later when he affirmed that he was against the metering on Sunday, as it could drive patrons to Stonestown where there is free parking, and possibly hurt the Business District.

To close the meeting Wooding announced that both he and Vice President Dutil would not be in attendance next month. Treasurer Carolyn Squeri will chair the meeting.

The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, May 24th at 7:30 in the Forest Hill Clubhouse.

May 2010

March 23, 2010

MUNI contracts, Police and Firefighter facilities and broken sidewalks held “center stage” at the March 23rd meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting.Walter Scott, Transit Workers Union

Council President George Wooding opened the meeting and the meeting moved swiftly for the 25 or so attendees. Minutes were approved, and Treasurer Carolyn Squeri gave a detailed overview of changes in the tax regulations that now mandate all non-profit associations (such as homeowner / improvement associations) must now file a 990 tax form with the IRS. New 990 forms vary with the income generated by the organization. If you have questions, contact your local IRS office. Organizations have until May 15th to file.

No Police Report was given. Representatives from the Taraval station were absent. It turned out to be OK, as the extra time was needed for the guest speakers.

Shown: Walter Scott, Transit Workers Union, Local 250-A

In committee reports Matt Chamberlain gave the welcomed news that the proposed changes to the Discretionary Review process have been postponed indefinitely by the Planning Commission. In the absence of Avrum Shepard, Wooding presented an overview of the proposed 19th Avenue project that shows a probable 7300 new homes at Parkmerced with up to 16000 additional people traveling in and out of the complex and SF State. As currently proposed the light rail would enter Parkmerced at two locations. Wooding estimated that it could add as much as 30-40 seconds of additional wait time at most traffic lights along the 19th Avenue corridor.

In the new business arena, discussion centered on a proposal from Balboa Terrace that a letter be sent from the WOTPCC supporting the installation of a traffic light at 14th and West Portal Avenue to replace the current 4-way stop. Wooding asked for a formalized letter from the Balboa Association, stating that once received, he would speak with Supervisor Elsbernd to see what the city can do at the intersection.

Eliot Wagner (Dimitra’s Spa) addressed the group about a meeting of the West Portal Merchants Association (on March 24th) to discuss both the concept of a sidewalk event in April, and the ongoing efforts to formulate and certify a CBD (Community Benefit District) for West Portal.

Wooding gave a short report on Laguna Honda, stating that the Doctor who oversaw the LHH Hospice section (25 beds) was being let go, and he feels that more changes are in store for the operation.

Walter Scott III addressed the gathering, stepping in for an ill Irwin Lum (President of the Transit Workers Local). Scott did not present a prepared speech, but fielded questions on how the MUNI rank and file operates on a daily basis, and discussed the shortage of manpower and equipment that results in routes being delayed or cancelled when there are not enough driver/operators available to fill all of the shifts. Scott also fielded and answered questions regarding union proposals for “give backs” to help with the city budget. He also discussed the current MUNI deficit, mostly caused by severe cutbacks over the last 3+ years in the money the MUNI system receives from Sacramento.Ed Reiskin, DPW

Ed Reiskin, the Director of the SF Department of Public Works (DPW), followed Scott with a presentation on the upcoming capital spending bond issue ($412M) that will focus on repairing and strengthening the almost 100 year old (AWSS) Auxiliary Water Supply System that is used by the first responders in the event of an earthquake. The bond would build many more cisterns for water storage, replace and strengthen the piping of the supply, and fix and repair some of the worst conditions seen at some of the stations.

Shown: Ed Reiskin, Dept. Public Works

A large portion of the bond money will be used to construct a new Police HQ building/ Fire Department in the Mission Bay area to service the south side of San Francisco. Reports show that the current building housing the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant St., is seismically unsafe and could be severely damaged in a sizable earthquake. As the Central Police Command and Southern Station are also in the building, it is recommended that the Police groups in the building be housed in a new structure to be built at Mission Bay. (Down the road, maybe even a new jail.)

Reiskin then fielded questions about the sidewalk repair notices that have caused homeowners to spend in excess of $8,000 dollars to fix breaks and uneven portions of their sidewalks, even as the City of San Francisco admits that its curbing repair fund is not funded enough for them to do the work on its curb repairs. He spoke about the need to comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the potential litigation issues that can arise if someone is injured or deemed to be denied access due to the inaccessibility to wheelchairs, etc.

Dave Bisho asked for an inspector to revisit the sites to see if anything could be done to address the tagged areas that could be “in dispute.” Others spoke about not receiving returned phone calls when calling the DPW number on their repair notices. Both Reiskin and Richard Quan answered questions and agreed to have an inspector revisit some of the neighborhood sites.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45. Next meeting: Monday, April 26th at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hill Clubhouse.

April 2010

February 22, 2010

Steve Kawa from the Mayor's Office greets officersBudgets, deficits and oversight were the buzzwords at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WOTPCC) meeting on Monday, February 22nd. Fiscal matters filled the air as Steve Kawa, Mayor Newsom’s Director of Staff, and John Rizzo, a trustee of S.F. City College, discussed budget issues, shortfalls and even a bit of malfeasance before taking on questions from the neighborhood associations.

Council President Wooding opened the meeting at 7:35 PM and immediately introduced Kawa, who first answered the question that everyone is asking, “Is Gavin going to run for Lt. Governor and vacate the Mayor’s office a year early?” (The short answer is that no one really knows except the Mayor).

The discussion quickly focused on the most pressing concern at City Hall, how to deal with the current $522.2 million dollar shortfall, as the budget has to be brought into a state of “balance” by July.

Kawa, who has worked for several administrations at City Hall said that the current situation is the most difficult he has seen in 14+ years, and that many changes have already been put into place so that. with the “easy” ones gone, budget cuts now will be harder and more difficult upon which to agree.

With a total budget of $6.6 billion dollars, San Francisco is unique in that it funds the Port, the Airport Authority, MUNI, as well as police, fire, the city government and a large group of social services, such as SF General Hospital, Laguna Honda, and others. Of the $6.6 billion, the discretionary funds from the General fund totals $1.15 billion. The shortfall is basically 50% of the discretionary budget that is available.

Proposals such as reducing the workweek to 37.5 hours, or revamping some of the pension plans for (new) city employees are being floated by Supervisor Elsbernd and the Mayor. On the other side, proposals to strip the Mayor of the power to cut anything out of the budget (passed by the Supervisors) was also on the table, before being removed in the past several days.

The pension system seems to be the largest issue, as just maintaining the “status quo” for existing city employees will add $80 million in pension costs in next year’s budget alone. In addition, Kawa told the crowd that property tax “appeals” totaling $29 billion have been filed at the city Assessor’s office.

He also touched on the problems at the Hall of Justice, which is not seismically sound in the event of a major quake, but he knows it will be tough to get a bond measure passed by voters for retrofitting or replacing the current building.

Want some good news? The SF Unified School District, which is facing a $113 million cut over the next two years, is the best performing urban school district in California. (Of course, the State Government continues to take money from school budgets).

Speaking of school budgets, City College trustee John Rizzo followed Kawa to discuss the problems that have plagued City College, especially with their capital improvement funds.

The news at Phelan Avenue is also somewhat bleak, as the State of California, by cutting $800 million from community college budgets, has left CCSF with a $20M shortfall in the operating budget. This has caused the administration to implement a hiring freeze, eliminate most part time teaching positions, and to (basically) eliminate the entire summer school program.

Rizzo switched the topic to the “other” budget, the capital projects budget. The school leadership failed to provide any fiscal oversight over the course of three bond measures, running up a $200 million overage with three construction bond measures in 1998, 2001 and 2005. This lack of oversight, as well as possible criminal acts, resulted in Chancellor Phil Day being indicted on 9 counts, along with two of his “cohorts,” as Rizzo described them.

The good news is that the tide has started to turn. The “poor planning and lack of fiscal responsibility” from the recent past has been replaced by Financial and Performance Audits, conducted by both external and internal auditors. Rizzo feels that with the new policy changes that have been implemented the capital budget programs will be run with much greater oversight with the goal being to finish projects “on time and at or under budget.”

The oft-written about Performing Arts Center will, unfortunately, not be started anytime soon. A $90 million portion of the funding that was to be provided by Sacramento is not available, so the project continues to languish. Timing is the problem, as Rizzo explained that if the project is not started within about 3 years, the costs of construction will have probably risen to a point where starting and completing the project as designed would be virtually impossible.

Monthly business followed the two speakers. In news to note, there will be a MUNI Conference on Saturday, March 6th from 9AM–1 PM at the Women’s Building at 3845 18th Street.

The period to submit comments on the 19th Avenue Corridor draft study, originally scheduled to end on February 26th has been extended and will now end on March 12th at 5:00 PM. If you have questions or comments about the study the environmental planner in charge is Rick Cooper. He can be reached at 415-575-9027.

Please note: The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be held on Tuesday, (not Monday), March 23rd at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hill Clubhouse.

March 2010

January 25, 2010

matt chamberlainThe West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WOTPCC) ended their holiday hiatus on Monday, January 25th. Twenty-five or so hearty folks braved the elements to attend the meeting, which was highlighted by speakers from both the SF Controller’s office and the SF Chamber of Commerce.

Council President Wooding opened the meeting at 7:35 PM. The minutes were approved and Treasurer Squeri gave the financial report that was also approved by the group.

Matt Chamberlain then gave an update about the possible Discretionary Review (DR) process changes that may be modified and adopted by the Board of Supervisors within the next month or so. In a positive development, Chamberlain explained that the working group supports most of the ideas put forth in the DR process revision-planning document, with the exception of two items. The first: that fees could be increased for those who are planning to file an application for starting a DR. No fee hike has been included in the revision document, it leaves the door open for increases on all fees with little approval needed from the Supervisors. The second item: to “delegate” the authority of DR review from the Planning Commission to the “Planning Commission Delegate.”

The working group has drafted a letter stating their findings and asked the WOTPCC to support them by approving a copy to be sent to the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission. The process revision document is slated to be reviewed for approval on 2/22.

Chamberlain also touched briefly on discussions regarding the Housing Element, a process to provide more Universal Notification for Permits/Projects, and a Community meeting to discuss Parkmerced planning (which was held on 1/27).

Avrum Shepard’s report on transportation focused on the new provision that gives the MTA the power to implement residential parking permits without neighborhood support or review. Characterized as a “mistake,” it got through the legislative process. The new process also allows the MTA to raise the parking permit fees from the current $76 to $96.

SFPD Lt. Henry Parra and Detective Sgt. Barret Chan followed next with the police report. Parra stated that the “Westside” area the crime statistics look very good, with the exception of a continued string of auto break-ins. That these types of thefts are opportunistic; if drivers take a “last look” in their cars before leaving the vehicle to ensure than no valuable property is in view, the chances of having the car broken into are decreased. Backpacks left behind can be a target for thieves as many contain laptops, iPods, or other electronic devices which are attractive to auto burglars.

Detective Chan then explained how the investigators have been moved from a central location at the Hall of Justice and are now deployed at local stations where they conduct investigations on all types of crimes in their geographic areas instead of working on a specific set of crimes (e.g. just robberies) across the entire city.

The key is for each of us to be observant and to report when something “just doesn’t seen right”. Detective Chan asked everyone in attendance to trust their intuition, and call something in to the Police Department.

Following the police report, Monique Zmuda from the Controller’s office presented an outline of the current shortfalls in the SF budget, how it got that way, and some of the steps that the City is trying to implement in order to balance the budget (which is required by law) by June 30th.

The Assistant Director for the Controller’s office, who has 28 years of financial expertise within the city government, described the Controller’s office as “like Switzerland,” a neutral group that often has to assist the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to reach a mutually agreeable consensus to balance the budget each year. She described the upcoming 550+ million dollar shortfall as much larger than we’ve had in the past, although she was very clear that a default or bankruptcy is not foreseeable because the government is required to balance the budget each year by July 1. The problem is that the economy has slowed and as hotel taxes, commercial property taxes and business payroll taxes have fallen there is not an easy method to bring more revenue into the coffers. The large shortfall will have to be met by increasing fees for goods and services and large spending cuts in virtually every department.

Jim Lazarus, from the SF Chamber, spoke about the budget shortfall and the challenges that it creates. The city government tries to increase revenue by raising most fees and implementing programs such as increasing parking meter rates. This helps to discourage companies from selecting San Francisco as a potential site . In order to create jobs and lure companies to the City perks such as payroll tax or property tax breaks (for a finite number of years) could be used to grow the job market in San Francisco but this is difficult, if not impossible to enact in light of the current budget shortfall.

A big issue is the cost of the city employees and an inability to cut costs through “contracted outsourcing” or other methods. Lazarus explained that, while the median wage package for SF residents is approximately $80,000 per year, the cost for each SF city employee averages out to be over $127,000 per year, or more than 50% higher. To reach the point where the city financial planners do not have to implement draconian cuts each and every year, the city government must work together to bring these costs more into the line of the present day reality.

The challenge is large. Providing the types of services that the public wishes to have provided (e.g. Police, Fire, Muni, Public Health, Park and Rec, etc) in an economic environment where city income is falling, but payroll and medical/pension plan costs are rising creates challenges that have to be addressed each and every year by June 30th.

Addressing a question about “condo conversion lotterys” Lazarus cited an interesting fact, that in SF, roughly 70% of resident are renters, while in New York (counting the 5 boroughs) roughly 70% of residents are property owners.

Although there are no easy answers, it seems that the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors have to work together to encourage the growth of the business sector to provide the jobs, and revenue to keep the city’s budget in balance.

Discussion followed on possibly banning U-turns on West Portal Ave. at Vicente and at 14th Ave. and on drilling of the Golden Gate Park aquifer and its relation to the recycled water plants that are proposed to treat and reuse grey water in the city.

Following the discussion Wooding asked for and received a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:35. It was approved.

The next meeting of the WOTPCC will occur on Monday, February 22nd at the Forest Hills Community Club House at 7:30 PM.

February 2010

Previous WOTPCC Reports