This Week – New Land Use Committee Takes Over At BOS

With the swearing in of four new Supervisors and the re-election of David Chiu as Board president comes the re-shuffling and appointments to the important Board Committees. For those that track land use and development issues in the City, the make-up of the powerful Land Use Committee is of interest. Supervisor Eric Mar has been named chair of the Committee, and new Supervisors Malia Cohen and Scott Weiner have been named to the remaining seats.

The Land Use Committee of the Board of Supervisors is a critically important part of the land use process in San Francisco. The Committee is the “last stop” for virtually all land use and development-related ordinances that are considered by the Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commission typically holds public hearings on proposed land use ordinances after they have been introduced at the Board. After the Planning Commission hearing and recommendation, the ordinance is then sent to the Land Use Committee for at least one public hearing. Once a land use ordinance is passed out of the Committee and presented to the Full Board, the public comment process is essentially over. Matters are then voted on at the Board of Supervisors by the Full Board without further public testimony. The Committee represents the last opportunity for the public to comment on land use ordinances, and really the only opportunity for the public to comment directly to members of the Board of Supervisors during an open public hearing.

The makeup of the new Committee should allow for some interesting debates going forward. The chair of the Committee will be Eric Mar, the supervisor from District 1 who is considered a progressive. The remaining two seats on the Committee go to two of the freshmen supervisors, Malia Cohen and Scott Wiener. Malia is the supervisor for District 10, the district with by far the most developable land and includes massive projects such as Hunters Point Shipyard and Pier 70. Scott Wiener, the new supervisor in District 8, rounds out the three-member Committee. While Scott’s district certainly doesn’t have the massive development potential of District 10, it is an area with a significant number of small and moderate size infill projects, like the recently-approved mixed-use project at 2001 Market Street (housing with a Whole Foods grocery store). So while Supervisor Cohen’s district will be home to some of the largest projects in the City, Supervisor Wiener’s district will be more representative of other infill battles more typical across the City.

While both new Supervisors have been active in their respective communities (which by definition means having some involvement in land use matters), neither have significant planning or technical land use experience or backgrounds.

Malia has a background in public policy. She earned a Bachelor’s in Political Science with honors from Fisk University, and was awarded a Coro Fellowship in 2001. She earned a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. She served as Assistant Executive Director of the Hunters Point Youth Park Foundation. She serves on the Board of Directors for Emerge CA, New Leaders Council, SF Conservation Corp and The Community Leadership Academy & Emergency Response Project.

Scott has been a Deputy City Attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office where he was a litigator and represents San Francisco in court. He served as President of the Eureka Valley Promotion Association, the neighborhood association for the Castro/Upper Market. He co-founded Castro Community on Patrol, a neighborhood walking patrol comprised of volunteers dedicated to making the Castro and Duboce Triangle a safer place. Scott was a member of Mayor Newsom’s citywide Community Policing Advisory Committee. He served as treasurer and then co-chair of the board of directors of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient. Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein. Reuben & Junius, LLP is a full service real estate law firm. We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law. We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

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