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Unusual City Meetings Push Housing Laws Onto Ballot

Seven minutes to change housing in San Francisco

Last Friday evening, while many a San Franciscan hustled to get home for the weekend, lawmakers were still at work, assembling for a weird, seemingly last-minute ritual at City Hall.

It lasted all of the length of a standard bathroom break, and nearly half of the body didn’t show up. But the results of this strange political observance will most likely change the November ballot, and possibly housing in the city.

See, the Board members arranged the special meeting just two days earlier. Once public comment and procedural niceties were over, it lasted about seven minutes. If you'd started a stick of gum at the opening, it would still have had most of its flavor at the end.

The BOS's six more liberal members (the only ones who showed up on Friday) have been complaining that the minority moderates use committee rules to hold up their proposals for the November ballot.

Among those proposals is a five-person committee to oversee affordable housing construction. Presently, the Mayor’s Office of Housing reports mostly to the mayor. Some of the supes also want to block the proposal for an anti-tent law on city sidewalks before it gets to voters.

Eager to beat the deadline for the election (July 29, although it’s possible to squeeze in a late addition over that weekend), the body’s left wing set up a series of special meetings to do an end-run and hustle the proposals forward.

So what does all this mess mean? First, that with a keen enough legal mind, there’s no such thing as gridlock at City Hall.

Second, certain board members want to make the most of the time they have before the looming election, which could theoretically replace more than half of sitting lawmakers and will definitely send one of them to Sacramento.

Also, presumably, that the other half of the body is counting the weeks until that day comes and potentially shifts the city’s balance of power once again.

And while all of that’s going on, a second clock is probably ticking away the hours until San Francisco’s next big housing market contraction (however big it may be), at which point everything will probably have to be reconsidered anyway.

All told, a pretty busy seven minutes.

Photo of Victorians: Pixabay