City Props H, L, and M
Prop H – YES. Public Advocate – Charter Amendment
The city does not currently have an entity that oversees how city departments interact with the public. The Controller’s office operates the whistleblower program, and the OCC investigates charges of police misconduct.
Proposition H would create an Office of Public Advocate to review city program administration, how effectively information is communicated to the public, and how responsive city agencies are to complaints and information requests. It would oversee management, employment, and contracting policies of the various departments in the public interest. The Public Advocate would work with the Ethics Commission and ensure that the agency receives sufficient funding. It would take over the Controller’s whistleblower function, and if the Department of Police Accountability measure does not pass, it would appoint the Director of the OCC.
The Public Advocate will be elected in the first city election after 1/1/2017, and will serve a four-year term. Salary will be set by the Civil Service Commission; cost of establishing the new Office is unclear. While the actual effectiveness of this new office will depend on who is elected to it, having a city functionary with no interests other than advocating for the public good seems a definite plus.
Prop L – YES. MTA Appointments and Budget – Charter Amendment
Prop L splits MTA appointments between the Mayor (4) and the Supervisors (3). Currently, the Mayor appoints all 7. It adds a diversity requirement for members; requires at least 4 members (2 mayoral appointees, 2 supervisorial appointees) to be regular Muni or Paratransit riders; requires remaining 3 directors to ride Muni at least once a week; allows removal of members only for cause. Changes MUNI budget approval from 7/11 to a simple majority; sets requirements for rejection, amendments and subsequent approval of the budget.
As we’ve seen with the Planning Commission, this doesn’t solve all of our problems, but will get us at least one and up to three responsible members of MTA.
Prop M – YES. Housing and Development Commission – Charter Amendment
The city currently has an Office of Economic and Workforce Development and an Office of Housing and Community Development, both operating within the Mayor’s office and headed by mayoral appointees, with no Commission to oversee either. Prop M would create such a seven-person Commission with specific experience requirements to oversee both functions. Three of its members would be appointed by the Mayor, three by the Supervisors, and one by the Controller.
The two mayoral Offices will be replaced by two new Departments overseen by the newly created HDC, which would select the department heads. The Commission would advise the Supervisors on matters concerning transfers of real property and development agreements negotiated by the DEWD. The Commission will develop a five-year-plan for affordable housing and community development, and how to achieve it, with emphasis on underserved neighborhoods. It will also make recommendations to the BOS regarding any potential inclusionary housing legislation.
Prop M appears to do two things: give the Supervisors more control over functions heretofore largely under Mayoral control, and put people with actual expertise in charge of housing and development policy.