Pub date March 21, 2006
WriterTim Redmond
SectionEditorialSectionNews & Opinion

It still boggles my mind: One of the most significant development issues in years came to a head last week at the City Planning Commission — and none of the news media seem to have noticed. G.W. Schulz describes the situation in depth on page 18, but here’s the short version: City planners have acknowledged they can’t allow any more market-rate housing in the eastern neighborhoods for the indefinite future.

At least they seem to have acknowledged that. The real test is still to come, when the next development comes along, but either way this is pretty big news — and I haven’t read a word about it in the Chron or the Ex.

I shouldn’t be surprised anymore.

Now this: The San Francisco Democratic Party is in a bit of a tizzy over something that ought to be basic common sense.

Sup. Chris Daly has put a measure on the June 6 ballot, Prop. C, that would make the Transbay Joint Powers Authority more directly accountable to voters. The TJPA is pretty important: It controls the Transbay Terminal project, which will determine the city’s transit future for many years to come. But right now, two of the city’s three representatives are basically bureaucrats (one from the Mayor’s Office, one from Muni) who answer (it often seems) to nobody.

Daly wants to make the mayor, the city’s representative to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (currently Sup. Tom Ammiano), and the supervisor from District 6 (Daly, who’s already on the TJPA) serve on the panel.

Sounds like alphabet soup and nothing to make a fuss over — except that the mayor would suddenly have to focus on this project because he’d be on the board. He might even have to go to a meeting or two. And everyone on that key panel would have to answer directly to the voters.

And for some reason (perhaps the thought of actually sitting through a TJPA meeting) this has Gavin Newsom up in arms. The Democratic County Central Committee, which makes policy for the local party, was set to endorse Prop. C last week until Newsom began twisting arms. Then a bunch of people (including state assemblymember Mark Leno and state senator Carole Migden) couldn’t be counted in the yes camp, so the whole thing was postponed until March 21, when Daly, the Sierra Club, and all of the city’s transit activists were set to square off against Newsom and the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR).

It will be a nice test: Can the County Committee stand up to the mayor? Will Migden and Leno?

And this: Caroline Grannan, a normally well-meaning and hardworking advocate for the public schools, is having a strange fit of indignation over our articles on school board expenses. The stories focused mostly on how former superintendent Arlene Ackerman pissed away public money on posh dining and accommodations, but Grannan is mad that we even mentioned board member Jill Wynns, who also spends district money on travel (but has run up nowhere near the sort of tab that Ackerman did).

Her complaint is on page 7, and I think she’s way overreacting here, but she makes one valid point: The school board members are essentially volunteers who earn all of $500 a month. That’s silly. A school board member ought to be a full-time job with full-time pay.

And board members’ salaries and expenses should be very much the public’s business. *