tv Government Access Programming SFGTV September 2, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT
have worked for better neighborhoods has always felt that commissioners moore and richards have proved to be two members we can always depend on despite not always voting our way to approach each project with thoughtful, considerate insight. we appreciate supervisor cohen's reappointment of them and hope you do as well. >> i'm pat hayes, telegraph hill dwellers. you are discussing reappointment of four commissioners. taken down, these four commissioners provide balanced perspective, experience, continuity and diversity. as a package, they all four warrant reappointment and thanks for the willingness to continue a tough job. i especially want to thank commissioner richards with his work with neighborhood activism,
his preparedness and talking to all sides. we had exceptional, small, insight, all the adjectives i can think of for commissioner moore. named as a fellow of the american institute of certified planners that says about fellows, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a member. we look forward to her well-earned reappointment along with that of dennis richards and the others. >> supervisor safai: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon. i'm paul webber. i'm a north beach resident and member of telegraph hill geters and delegate for san francisco neighborhoods, to support the nominations of commissioners riches -- richards and moore. each brings a different perspective. both are meticulously prepared
when they're listening to matters. they have a compassion that is not necessarily thought of when one is talking about cold land use matters. their presence is going to be very important as we try to navigate through the efforts by the state to take away local controls of land use. so i urge you to reappoint both of them to the commission for another four-year term. thank you. >> supervisor safai: thank you. next speaker. >> good day. i'm anastasia from district 8. commissioner richards has integrity and dedicated it his job, keeping core values, affordable housing, and keeping people in their homes at the fore front. he always keeps an open mind as he evaluates every aspect of a project and listens to all sides before making a decision. his thoughtful, balanced approach to development of our city makes him a valuable asset.
katherin moore has planning and design expertise that others on the san francisco planning commission don't have. we're lucky to have here. commissioner moore's opinions are grounded and based on san francisco's housing policies. she's held in high regard by city officials, members of the public and fellow commissioner
into public policy with us and one thing that i personally have experienced having worked as a legislative aide, there is not much different in a thoughtful basis working with both commissioners. >> supervisor safai: thank you. next speaker. >> hello, supervisors. david wu, south of market community action network. we urge you to please reappoint both commissioners katherin moore and dennis richards to the planning commission. commissioners moore and richards both bring much-needed
perspectives to the planning commission, where they look at the impacts of a development or project in a neighborhood or community. while we do not always support their decisions, commissioners moore and richards consistently voice and raise community concerns in addition to community needs. these are aspects to planning that are often greatly lacking in formal planning processes. it's important and valuable and we support both their reappointments to the planning commission. thank you very much. >> supervisor safai: thank you. next speaker. >> cynthia gomez, unite here local 2. the planning commission has seven dedicated members who are dedicated public servants, four of whom are up fore appointment. i'm here to speak about two of them in particular, dennis
>> disappointed there is so little time, but i'm here in support of katherin moore and dennis richards. both of them make up a very important core, which is a core that is dedicated to looking, not only at today but also into the future, looking at community, what are the community needs, what is already needing to be there. i think it's a balanced view of, not just about a building, but about homes and homes for whom. both of them pay close attention to details and ensure the best for the city and we would be totally lost without them. i also appreciate having been at the commendation of katherin moore getting the nobel prize of planning and i appreciate her expertise and dennis, above all,
his show and tell, which is a part of teaching, not only his fellow commissioners -- >> supervisor safai: thank you. next speaker. >> tony robles, sta. commissioners moore and richards have been bright lights on the planning commission. planning, of course, involves fore thought with developments that have come and continued to come at the speed of a comet. commissioners moore and richards' thoughtful analysis are an asset to san francisco as a whole. both commissioners understand that community and development is far more than just brick and mortar, that it involves eyes, ears, tendons, and inner workings of all to make our city the one that we know that it can be. thank you. >> supervisor safai: thank you very much.
next speaker. >> good afternoon, supervisors. carlos montenegro coming to encourage reappointment of commissioners moore and richards. not much can be said that hasn't already been said. they're intelligent, thoughtful and members of integrity. and most importantly, they bring a thoughtful understanding that planning is not just about the buildings, housing stock, but the people that exist in the community and the community itself. and further, an empathy that they have that are not as privileged to take time out of their days to bring out their concerns about a given project in a given community. and their ability to empathize and have it in their thought process as they're discussing the projects is something that we greatly appreciate along with their accessibility to both sides of the issue. we support their reappointment.
thank you. >> supervisor safai: thank you. next speaker. >> there's very little that i can add to all of the public comment that's been made in support of katherin moore and dennis richards for the reappointment. i think that the overwhelming outpouring that you have seen today is a testament to the fact that everyone is pretty much in agreement that these are excellent, excellent choices, both of them serve to really move the planning commission forward in a way that is fair to everyone here. again, it's really about the challenges that are going to face us. i think they're excellent appointments. >> supervisor safai: thank you.
next speaker. >> good afternoon, commissioners. mike buehler, president of san francisco heritage. yes, there is little i can add to the previous comments before us. commissioners moore and richards are incredibly engaged, detail-oriented, thoughtful and intelligent. i would like to highlight their presence in the community and their engagement with community groups. obviously, evidence of the showing here today is of their efforts beyond city hall. i strongly support them. thank you. >> good afternoon. i'm bob herman, architect. i've come here to support both candidates. in the short period of time, i would like it say something
about katherin moore, who brings a priceless understanding of both developers and designers' outlooks from her former role in the private sector. she senses when a proposed project seeks to balance the private and community needs. we need both. the jargon understanding of proposals has been invaluable to the planning department and commission as a whole. in particular, she taps into the urban design conscience. and her rare -- >> supervisor safai: thank you, sir. thank you. next speaker. >> esther marks. i'm here also to speak in
support of katherin moore and dennis richards' reappointments of the planning commission. it's very gratifying to see so many people here coming from diverse backgrounds supporting their reappointments. thank you. >> supervisor safai: next speaker. >> hi. i'm kevin ortiz, latino democratic club the planning commission is one of the most important commissions in the city. commissioners richards and moore have fought to have the commission be balanced and fair. the integrity is unquestionable and the dedication to projects with hours of research they put in on their own time to make sure that design is taken into account as well as how the design affects the neighborhood. we've seen a lot of people from different backgrounds come together. commissioner moore is a world-reef found architect whose vast knowledge is unrivalled and commissioner richards has been a
fierce advocate for community input with each developer. they've made our city better and it would be in our best interests to keep them on the commission. thank you. >> supervisor safai: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon, supervisors. historically, commissioners who have held these two seats have been able to take the simple way out and just vote no. commissioner moore and richards take a different approach. they do their home work. they read the entire package and they come prepared to discuss the items. i've seen each of these commissioners tell project sponsors to go back to the drawing board and come back to us in two months. i've seen them offer words of compromise. and i've also seen them tell a room full of neighbors in a
respectful tone, relax. it will be okay and they articulate the reasons why. they're uniquely qualified to deliver these messages, especially that last one, because they've earned the community's trust. commissioner moore and commissioner richards are a big reason our -- >> supervisor safai: thank you. any other members of the public wish to comment on items 1 or 2? seeing none, public comment's closed. supervisor yee? >> supervisor yee: yes. commissioner richards, i'm going to ask these questions of all four. >> sure. >> supervisor yee: people up for appointment. so i think the first question is -- may have been answered for you by the speakers, but i wanted to know your views of --
think that for me, right away, that's the one thing we should attack. and the housing affordability study that the department's doing is going to look at that, why are we entitling things that aren't getting build. if you want to peel that back, supervisor yee, the next thing, that leaves 81,000 units. why aren't people seeking entitlements on those 81,000 potential units. forget zoning. is it too much of a hassle? is it financing? is it the property's been in the family forever, they just don't care? i think we need to understand the 81,000 units. that's the next big chunk for me. beyond that, it really needs to
be, what is it that all the organizations in the city need to do to work together? planning's just one part of it. planning's got a tentacles, historic preservation, zoning. then you've got behind it, d.p.w., all these ancillary departments behind it, that have to move in concert to get things going. and that's where the synergy is, all the organizations. it can't be a linear process where one picks it up and passes to the next, and then they pass it to the next. you've got to have everything working in concert all at once, and i think that's where the big gains is going to be. neighborhoods working in process -- neighborhood input is important, because i think it actually makes projects better. i think there's an inreflection point -- i think one of the speakers said, mr. k e e gran
said where the neighborhood realizes that change is okay, and everything's going to be okay. the thing for me is when neighborhood input always becomes a detriment, and it's always no, no, no, no, no, and we have to go back and say, we can't always be no. it's a balance for me. >> supervisor yee: appreciate your answer, and it is a balance, and it is the neighborhood gets to weigh in, and the commissioners can say guess what, we heard your input. >> commissioner richards: yeah. >> supervisor yee: but at least we heard your input. there's no way to object or anything, and i'm seeing that more and more is sort of my concern. the other question i have is in february of 2017, over a year
ago, the board passed a resolution to urge the planning commission to codify, is that something you could get in terms of defining what we mean when we start talking to people? >> commissioner richards: sure. so i have a booklet at home that i believe you and your office -- the department worked on around designing buildings for families. i think that's a really important thing that when we're talking about how we want to create family housing, that, you know, this is where i think commission
commissioner moore brings a lot to it, as well. we have a lot of developers that come up and say i'm building a family house, and it's not really a family house, it's a gargantuan house for one or two people. i think it would be a good policy for us to adopt as a commission. >> supervisor yee: i think that's a good answer. my office put a lot of time into working with the city commission, planning department, and it befuddles me why it hasn't been done. >> commissioner richards: i'll put it on the action item list. >> supervisor yee: okay. thank you. >> commissioner richards: thank you. >> supervisor yee: miss moore, did you want to come up and answer the same questions? did you need me to repeat them? >> commissioner moore: i will try to do my best to answer the questions that you asked about. the first, we have been asked
for process improvement as an attempt to make the process of housing approval more stream lined. i personally believe that what's in front of us is not addressing the issues that prolong pipeline projects are lingering as long as they do. i believe the neighborhood voice is there to actually help us more clearly understand what the issues are and address them, and i do not personally believe that there's any delay caused by the planning commission on its own. i believe that we need to establish exploration criteria for entitlements. i strongly believe that i have, in my time, approved projects in 2008, 2009, which still have not been built. and on top of that, people coming back to ask for extensions on those permits. that is not an issue of economy, that is not an issue of money not available, there's
something else which we cannot put or finger on, but i believe that process improvement has something to do with specific terms in which you get something, do it, or it expires. affordable housing, i believe the city -- family housing, i believe the city lacks a definition of what a family is, and i'm not talking about the tradition or nontradition definition of family, but i believe it has something to do with the sizing of units, acceptable square footage, precision of certain kinds of rooms. we unfortunately have -- we do not have size limits for family housing, and i think that is a big detriment because we have instances where large family housing is occupied as group
housing, where large family housing is occupied by a single individual with a large basketball court and talks about family. we have all kinds of abnormalities of the definition of family housing, so we need to configure that. >> supervisor yee: i'm sorry to break-in, but i probably didn't make myself super clear then. what i meant is family -- family with children housing. families -- housing for families that have children. >> commissioner moore: everything i said, supervisor yee, could add the word family with children to what i was saying. we're not looking at the layout of rooms, we're not looking at the accessibility ground level open space, we're not looking at child supportive facilities within housing, we're seeing wet bars and gyms and whatever.
but we do not see playrooms or garden space dedicated to children. we need to be clearer what we want when we talk about wanting to keep families with children in town and design accordingly and establish standards which are clearer in the definition. >> supervisor yee: so -- so you would be willing to help define and codify that? >> commissioner moore: absolutely, and commissioner richards already put it on the to do list. >> supervisor safai: commissioner sta commissioner stefani, do you have any questions? >> supervisor stefani: i do. first, i want to thank commissioner moore and commissioner richards for their service. i know there's a lot of hours
on the planning commission. also, i just wanted to let you both know that i heard from many of my constituents, and you have many fans. so -- and i also went to the home of one of my constituents who is here today and to discuss commissioner moore's qualifications and their desire to see her reappointed, and it was a great meeting with my n constituents. and it was a great meeting, and i do thank them for having them in my home. i did have ha meeting with commissioner richards th-- moo, and i look forward to the opportunity of sitting down with commissioner richards. i like the opportunity of sitting down with both sides. it's something i value and try to do in my jobs, as well.
supervisor yee touched on a lot of questions i have. obviously, we see the pull of wanting to build more housing because we are in a housing crisis, and the complaints that are driven by neighborhood input and neighborhoods blocking housing and things like that. so my questions for both of you are how do we balance that? we know we have a need for housing, but there are a lot of people in the city that actually value neighborhood input, and a lot of them are my constituents. so i want to know how we can better balance that. and are there steps we can take internally because a lot of times what i'm seeing, we look at what can we do to address what's going on out there, but are we really looking at the planning department to see what we can do to help move the
process along? sometimes it's unpredictable, and there's not a lot of predictability built into that. and then, i have one more question, but i'll let you start there. >> commissioner richards: okay. so the first question -- i apologize, there was a lot there. was around. >> supervisor stefani: balancing the need to build housing based on everything we're seeing with the process ordinance, sb 827. what are your feelings on how do we balance that, and what can we do going forward? >> commissioner richards: so i like reverse engineering. what is it that we've actually experienced and what has been the result, and i'll go out to sit with some neighbors, and they'll raise a bunch of issues, and i'll say, what are you trying to accomplish here? if they say better liveability, they kind of strike a chord with me. i think if it stops the development, it kind of stops the conversation with me.
i like at the d.r.'s, and it's a good way to do this. how many times did we take d.r., what was the project for, and was it fore the berment of the community or not? that's really going to help us try and understand how and where public input is beneficial and the projects are actually better. i know we take d.r. probably one in five or six times, and it may just be 3 feet or 2 feet, or in the case of russell, 7/16 of an inch, but the project was better. so i think also, the department -- we had a lot of d.r.s around roof decks, and so the department has now taken -- we say hey, when we keep establishing a policy around every decision, we keep taking roof decks and altering them, the department's not going to have a policy on roof decks, and we understand. i think those are the things that we want to provide certainty to the people actually providing the roof deck on, when they come to the commission, this is generally
what they're going to feel, they think. i like that kind of a situation. that's reverse engineering in a different way: what has the pattern of the commission been. i think the worst thing, where they d.r. your neighbor's roof deck, and they cut it back. but the unengaged neighbor doesn't d.r., and they don't cutback their roof deck. >> supervisor stefani: that's great. roof decks, that's something that happening in the cow hollow. >> three hours, 42 minutes, the longest hearing we've had on a roof deck. >> supervisor stefani: predictability, if we could do something around that so people know what to expect. the other question i had, what can we do to better understand how units are being taken off the market through projects that are being approved.
and what i'm seeing people complaining about in my district is a lot of these two unit, three unit, four unit buildings are going through the process and they're getting improved, but it's not a two unit or three unit or four unit building, it's a monster home. i don't feel that's being looked at in a way that's constructive, and i don't think that it's being enforced at all, and i'm just wondering how we can prevent from happening. >> commissioner richards: so the flats policy schmidt gate that, i believe -- flats policy, i believe we put in place will remedy that. i think we have a vacancy problem in the city. we had spur and the department in 2014 study that -- realize that we have about 25,000
vacant units in the city. i think we can account for neighbor nine or 10 of those thousand, but the other 15,000, we can't account for, why they're sitting empty. we have some new construction. we have this in vancouver, seattle, other cities, maybe 20% of those units aren't even occupied. so i truly believe with public data, we can tell who lives in a unit, whether it's occupied, whether it's just being held as a land banking or an investment from somebody outside of the area, and i believe we need to address that issue somehow. vancouver placed a vacancy tax on their vacant unit. i believe we need to take some step nz that. -- steps in that. i talk to some people in the yimby unit, and they say well, that's 5%. we need to address what we've -- just like the
entitlements, we need to address what we already have before we keep trying to take on more. you know, what is the reason why units are sitting vacant? >> supervisor safai: i have a question for commissioner moore, yes, please. thank you, commissioner, you might want to pull the microphone down. so i appreciated the conversation we had the other day, and i was appreciative of all of your international experience that you bring as well as all the work that you've done in san francisco. so i first want to say i think that perspective is very important. so one of the questions that i have is this is me as a city planner in the work that i've done here locally in a number of different positions. what do you think are some of the biggest missed opportunities over the last 20 years from the perspective of planning in our city?
i'll start. not to catch you off guard, i think that when i look at mission bay, for example, i think every time i ride through there, i think maybe we didn't do enough in terms of the level of affordability, in terms of the design. like, i just -- i have -- i actually have a very visceral reaction when i look at some of the design in those buildings. i think d-- i understand the design and the location, and the research. i think that was very thoughtful, but when it came to the amount of housing, and the amount of housing we could have, and the height and the density and the mix of incomes, i see that as a really big missed opportunity, particularly because it was redevelopment land. it wasn't just private land, it was redevelopment land, so that's what i mean. >> commissioner moore: i appreciate your explaining yourself and giving more subtlety to the question. let me say that we are blessed with a number of very, very good plans in the city.
most and foremost, i think our urban design planners are strong and exemplary for the rest of the country. since that i am too, we have served many good plans. while they serve for a period of time, they then sit on the shelf and they are not used as guiding documents in areas like mission bay, which had six or ten plans by noted architects and planners, all of which were overturned as time went by, and we like to jump on the new things without looking at things that we have. one of the plans that i appreciated for its thoroughness was, for example, the rincon hill plan, which the current planning commission, many times, finds itself discussing exactions and exemptions to a really good plan, and good plans are there to give guidance over time to area that's need to be built
out, but they don't need exactions or exemptions while they're being implemented. we have the same thing, and anybody that is here from the variety of neighborhoods, we have a number of very, very good plans, except we have to fight each time for these plans to be recognized and be the guiding documents in order to implement these plans over time. mission way is one of the them. i think while the idea of putting ucsf has a research institution into mission bay was a great idea, unfortunately i'm going to be very critical, and i'm going to say, and i've said it before, it is turning into little more than a suburban office park. >> supervisor safai: right. >> commissioner moore: that is my biggest criticism. the only thing -- and i want to say something positive -- is adding the warriors stadium i think will give a heart to mission bay, and i think it
will tie everything along the third street rail corridor together. that is my biggest hope, and then we can move together while we're moving into neighborhoods. that is the common thread. >> supervisor safai: that is a good point. we've had this debate more recently in the last year since i've been on the board, and a number of my colleagues have joined me in the conversation about expanding the opportunities for middle class housing and diversity of housing. and mididle class housing is oe of the hardest housing to finance. we have the tools to finance lower income housing. we lost one with the redevelopment agency's being gone, but we recreated the trust fund, we have the low-income housing tax credit. the market rate housing, some would argue, we need to do more, and i think that's based on projections of growth, but in terms of where we're meeting
the demand, i think we're close to meeting the demand in terms of what we're projected at. and i think we definitely need to be doing more, but when we're talking specifically about those that are working and middle class families, we're falling far short, so i wanted to hear you talk about that a little bit. >> commissioner moore: i think the biggest point to make is that middle class housing and middle class is quicksand. it is disappearing while we're talking about it, and i think we cannot lose the focus that the differences between very low-income housing, low-income housing, and middle class housing is basically a housing issue, per se. i talked with a member of the german parliament the other day. i was asked to have lunch with them and helping the planning department bridge the gap for time they didn't have. and this gentleman told me that housing is a basic
constitutional right. that is not quite the case here, and he tried to talk to me and i was a little bit chill about what we are doing with low-income evictions, what we are doing with ellis act housing, and what we are doing with middle-income housing. for example, leaving a unit empty for more than three months in their definition is an intent of change of use. and it's a very kind of heavy weighted decision because that allows, in their environment, people to basically be fined and be fined to the extent that people are really serious trying to stay away from having empty units. if we have a housing shortage for all lower and middle-income housing, then i think we need to start a serious look at the large amount of vacancy that we have in the area of 35 or 40,000 or more.
i can tell you where i live, i can look around 360°, and it's dark where it used to be light. there's a huge amount of vacant homes which indeed can capture the entire spectrum that you were just trying to address, and i think that would be a very immediately available element, and i think commissioner richards also touched on that, how do we deal with existing vacancies and bring those units back to the market instantaneously. >> supervisor safai: have i not looked at the tape or been at any of the commission meeting in terms of over the last couple of years with the central soma plans, but i think there's some criticism out there that you're probably aware of that people feel there's not enough housing in the current proposal. and i'd like to know how you feel about that. i know the district supervisor, kim, is doing everything she
can to change some of the zoning. i understand from some of the planning and zoning, the downtown corridor makes the most sense to locate office buildings, and we have some idea about office buildings and how they should be shaped, for sure, but just want to hear what you think about the level of housing and the density that's being proposed there. >> commissioner moore: let me say that what is in front of us is a plan that is based on an approved e.i.r., and an e.i.r. is a qualitative and quantitative document that gives us some guidelines of what we need to do. the proportionality of office and housing is properly done when this particular document was started. it's something we all questioned. however, if you add more housing, you will have to balance that with a decrease in
what an e.i.r. allows you or not allows you to do. tuning the e.i.r. over time to really looking at an actual better balance between life and work, which many of us in the hours and hours of e.i.r. review brought up again and again, we all believe there is a better balance of life-work, which we have all ignored in every project over the years, but this project is large enough where we can continue to carefully reexamine what it means. on the other hand, we need to admit to ourselves, we have a very, very rich smorgasbord of community benefits in this particular plan. and as we all know, there are uses which are ultimately capable of funding it. we may have to have a slightly slimmer diet or tighten our belt in order to create a better balance for the housing we need, and perhaps eating a
little less in community benefits. that is, i think, the only answer i have, and we have not any plans to change the e.i.r. process, so it is what it is. it's ultimately a balance that is built into an approved e.i.r. >> supervisor safai: i just want to clarify one of your comments. when you say tweak the e.i.r., do you -- no, just let me finish -- allow for -- i understand there's a lot of community benefits. it's gone through over a ten-year process. were you saying after the fact, meaning approve this and then allow for an opportunity to come back and look at the e.i.r. going forward for additional housing? >> commissioner moore: i really am hesitant to answer that in a yes or no question. i think there has to be a little more subtlety of how that is done, and i in this moment don't have that subtly. >> supervisor safai: i just wanted to know what you mean by tweak the e.i.r. >> no, i didn't mean tweak the
e.i.r. we need to approve it, and start the housing or we need to disapprove it and keep the balance of housing in the e.i.r. >> supervisor safai: i don't have any other questions. thank you, commissioner. i'll just say some of the things that we talked about on the record. one of the things that i'm interested in having a conversation about with the planning commission, for the record, is we've been advancing the conversation about accessory dwelling units. i think there was some misunderstanding in the public or not whether going forward, a new construction that maybe did not have any demolition, we could add accessory dwelling units. i spoke with commissioner moore and commissioner richards. they said they were open to that conversation going forward, so i think we're going to bring that back up because thinking about the opportunity to add density where there is new introduction but not incentivizing any way demolition i think is an
important conversation to have. another thing we talked about was what supervisor yee and supervisor stefani talked about in terms of process improvements and how you balance the respect of neighborhoods and neighborhood process and moving forward. i think there's an overarching question and i'll just say for the record i think this is something that the planning commission is dealing with on a daily basis. we have a number of units that are entitled, they've pulled permits. they're in the process of being developed. there's a whole host that have not even begun to pull permits. why, we need to understand that, but at the same time, there's a question of our population is growing. we are the most rapidly growing city in the united states, but we are bound on three sides by water and an additional county and city. we are confronted by conversations about height and character and neighborhood preservation along with this
issue of density, so there is a general question about what is the proper number for san francisco and at the rate and what is the proper rate of growth and balancing that history? but i will say, you know, given the history of the city, when we started out as a city of 10,000 by 1848, and then by 1849, we were pushing 60,000. the rate of change in the gold rush was very different than it was today, but it's very similar. i think the commissioners do a good job in keeping that in mind and balancing it out. i appreciate the comments and questions and thoughtful comments. and all the public that have come out to comment on questions one and two shows the level of support and the importance of this commission and the importance the role these commissioners play. so any additional comments from commissioners on these items -- i mean, excuse me from supervisors, colleagues?
sorry. committee members. okay. so entertain a motion, then. supervisor stefani? >> supervisor stefani: yes. i'd like to approve supervisor yee's nomination for dense i say richard for a four-year term ending july 31, 2022, and approve supervisor fewer's nomination for kathrin moore for a four term ending july 31, 2022. >> supervisor safai: can we do that without objection? without objection, that matter is sent to the full board of supervisors. please call item three -- oh,
maybe we can do three and four together. >> clerk: just to clarify, item one and two have been amended to approve the appointment, and those are forwarded to the full task force with recommendation. item number three is it a motion approving, rejecting the mayor's nomination of the appointment of rodney fong to the planning department for a term ending july 31, 2022, item four is a motion approving, rejecting the mayor's nomination of the appointment of milicent johnson to the planning department for a term ending july 31, 2022. >> supervisor safai: commissioner fong, please come forward. >> president fong: good afternoon, supervisors. i won't take much of your time, but i think the conversation we
just had was a fascinating one, and needs to continue beyond the confirmation appointment. i think the questions you asked are the questions we asked. it's been discussed, balance, some art, some science of how to shape the city going forward. i'm a fifth generation san franciscan. i hate when people say that -- >> supervisor safai: why do you hate it when they say that? they throw that out there? >> president fong: they throw it out there. but my house, and in yours, i'm dealing with young kids, college kids, i'm dealing with people ageing in place, and we're all dealing with this question, how are our kids going to afford to live in this darn question. my focus on the commission in the last eight years has been future forward, in asking those
questions. the questions about you supervisors, what does the future look like? what does it hold? how do we build more housing on top of transit? the topic of transit hasn't come up today, but i think that's a significant piece of solving how large cities continue to grow. i think it's a regional piece. there's job creation in san francisco, but there's still little housing built outside of san francisco, and i think it's incumbent on us to come together regionally to speak with other mayors in other cities to see how we solve this as an area. i seek your reappointment. it's been a pleasure and honor to serve this. i understand the power and responsibility of this seat and take every single vote with great thought, thinking about who's involved, who it affects, and while i'd like to say sometimes it's a science, it is certainly human compassion that
plays a large role in making decisions on a weekly basis. >> supervisor safai: thank you, commissioner. we'll call you back up when we have questions. we'll allow commissioner johnson, thank you. >> commissioner johnson: good afternoon, chair safai, supervisors stefani and yee. thank you so much for hearing me today. i am incredibly honored to have been renominated by the mayor to the san francisco planning commission, and i am excited to express my qualifications and desire to serve. i was just here a few months ago, but i think it's important for members of the public to hear my story. my passion for public service is inspired by my family and specifically my mother who worked hard to give me the best of everything, even when it was
hard to make ends meet. she believed that getting a good education was the best gift she could give me, so when it came time to give me the gift of school, she did her research and moved just a few blocks away where the best school was. it was in that moment where i decided that i wanted to find ways to make sure that everyone who live s in cities has the opportunities that my mother worked hard to give me. a few career highlights, in college, i majored in social justice studies is did my senior thesis on the legacy of red lining and discrimination and interned at the national housing coalition. my first job out of college was running an asset development program, helping low-income people realize their dream of home ownership. i chaired several interagency
working groups on housing enforcement, code enforcement and land use policies. this is where i came to understand the planning process including my share of eight to ten hour public meetings and where i deepened my commitment to building opportunity rich and resilient communities. i came to california in the height of the foreclosure crisis to work for an organize called the green lining institution, and i talked with organizations. i brokered several community reinvestment agreements between financial institutions and those communities and brought together all members of our community from elected officials to the provide sector to the nonprofit sec to have to create win-win partnerships that invested in and supported the resiliency of those communities. i worked with tipping point community to reunite the private sector to do good in our community and sit them around the table with our city's nonprofit leaders to
facilitate partnerships that would address our city's twin challenges of housing affordability and homelessness. i built my career on that. as an african american, a renter, someone who hopes to have a family in the city one day, and a person who has dedicated my career to working in the nonprofit and public secto sectors, i bring a unique complementary perpeculiartispe the commission. i take great joy in rolling up my sleeves and doing homework, proactively engaging city staff, planning staff, project sponsors and community members and working hard to come to the most thoughtful and balanced determinations. i have been committed to being an open and accessible commissioner because i believe that the solutions to our most challenging problems lie at the
intersection of these different stakeholder groups, and i'm committed to developing housing for people of all income levels, focus on expanding our affordable housing stock, and where needed working to build bridges between project support ors, community groups and city agencies to strengthen our collective work and the fabric of our community. it is ultimately my mission to work alongside you and all of our colleagues to do everything we can to create the conditions in which people of all backgrounds and income levels have the opportunities to live, work, and thrive in our beautiful city. and so i humbly ask for your support in my reappointment to the planning commission. before i close, i just want to note that i submitted for the record a letter in support from tipping point community. i also just want to thank those that have come out to speak on all of our behalves, and to say that i fully support all of my commissioners. it has been a pleasure and
honor to work with them. there is a level of integrity and professionalism that i really appreciate, and even if we don't always agree, i know that we will work together, one, to benefit the city, and two to push each other to come to the movst balanced and thoughtful determinations possible. so i fully support them. thank you, and i'm here to answer any questions you might have for me. >> supervisor safai: thank you. commissioner yee? >> supervisor yee: so i think you heard me questions, and i'll try to repeat it. the first one's pretty straightforward. what's your views on neighborhood input in the planning improvement processes? >> commissioner johnson: yes. so you know, i'm fortunate to be the newest member of the planning commission. and so i'm looking at everything with fresh eyes. so for example, when the mayor's process improvements came before the commission, i was simply able to kind of take a step back and take a moment and say, you know, can you walk us through the moment from when someone applies for
preapplication to the moment when we actually sign off and approve their permit, what does the process look like? and little by little as the department began to describe what that looked like, we were able to notice moments where there might be 30-days or 60 days where, you know, a permit might just sit there as we do noticing and other types of things. i think there is a lot we can do internally to improve our processes and figure out how we can amend them to expedite the process. >> supervisor yee: okay. which really answers my second question, which is about streamlining the processes. and i know we had the discussion already in my office about family friendly housing, meaning families with children. >> commissioner johnson: yes. >> supervisor yee: would you
be able to work with your fellow commissioners? >> commissioner johnson: yes. this is something that i shared with you. in my background as a community organizer, i think i've learned two important lessons, which is to define the change you're trying to make in the world, and to be clear about what it's going to take to get there. i think we need better definitions for family housing that take a holistic approach, not only the size and numbers, but making sure they have access to parks, to transit, to libraries, and quality schools. i think better confining definitions like that extends to things like affordable housing. we know that affordable housing means different things to different communities, including communities that have been traditionally left out of the economic mainstream, making sure we know what we mean by affordable housing, and making sure that folks have access to community serving retail,
possible transit, so i'm fully committed to working along with my colleagues to better defining family housing in particular. >> supervisor yee: thank you for your answer. and i have the same questions for commissioner fong, but maybe you have questions. >> supervisor stefani: thank you. it's good to see you again. i know we spoke when you were first up for appointment, and at mayor breed's inauguration, so it's good to see you. i was just thinking about something in terms of zoning in our merchant corridors and having walkable neighborhoods. and i have a lot of seniors in district two, and there are areas where it's difficult for people to get to a grocery store. and we have a grocery store that recently shutdown. and i -- i just -- when you are considering projects that come before you, i mean, what do you think about in terms of making sure that our neighoo