Board President Yee Doles Out Supervisor Committee Assignments

Committees have the power to move or change legislation before reaching the full board, as seen in the recent clash over the Free City College charter amendment.

A significant power that Board presidents hold is assigning which supervisor will lead or sit on which committee, where fledgling legislation may be amended or scrapped altogether.

On Tuesday, San Francisco saw how newly-elected President of the Board of Supervisors Norman Yee helmed that responsibility, installing progressives to chair each committee. 

“The decision to make committee assignments is not one that I took lightly,” Yee said in a statement after a week of meeting with each supervisor. “I believe it is my role to amplify the strengths of every supervisor and to provide opportunities to engage in robust, productive policy discussions in order to best serve our constituents.”

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who Yee described as a “strong, bold, and effective woman leader,” will chair Budget and Finance Committee. Supervisor Catherine Stefani will replace her former vice chair seat, upgrading from a regular member and ushering in Supervisor Rafael Mandelman to “bring a fresh voice as we ensure equitable funding outcomes.”

Yee and Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who led a public campaign for Board president, will join as a temporary member in March as crucial discussions for the June budget begin. Malia Cohen, previous President of the Board of Supervisors, chaired the Budget and Finance Committee.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin will join the Land Use and Transportation Committee as chair and it isn’t hard to imagine some contentious debates with Supervisor Ahsha Safai as vice chair, who was previously a member. Yee included new Supervisor Matt Haney as a member given the impact on his district, which includes SoMa and the Tenderloin. 

Katy Tang, the former District 4 supervisor, was the committee’s previous chair with former District 2 Supervisor Jane Kim as vice chair. 

But Tang’s replacement, Supervisor Gordon Mar, will bring his longtime labor activism to the Government Audit and Oversight Committee, replacing Kim as chair. Supervisors Vallie Brown and Peskin will switch places as vice chair and member, respectively.

“I have no doubt that this committee will be sharp and effective,” Yee said.

Mandelman will return as chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee with Stefani, instead of Ronen, behind him as vice chair. Supervisor Shamann Walton, who has jumped to a few scenes of violence in his district during his first week, will replace Peskin as a member. 

Ronen will lead the Rules Committee with Walton and Mar as respective vice chair and member.

Before the new Board was sworn in last Tuesday, the dynamics were a bit different. Safai chaired the Rules Committee, which set up a showdown with Kim over a set-aside to fund Free City College. Stefani, then a member, helped temporarily block the charter amendment from moving to the full board against Vice Chair Yee’s vote of support in November.

In March under a slightly different board and amid the mayoral race, Cohen joined Stefani in blocking another proposal from Kim. Despite Fewer’s support, Kim’s push to use $2.5 million in leftover money to clean streets failed.

Resolutions stand to lose bite in committee, like whether to support November’s Proposition 10. After a 49-minute debate in September, the Board’s statement on the Costa Hawkins repeal was sent back to the Land Use and Transportation, where Tang and Safai added amendments to put San Francisco on the record of opposing rent control for single-family homes.

Committees are also where important hearings are heard and information about how government agencies work behind the scenes comes to light. The Muni summer meltdown and operator deficit were on full display during a December Government Audit and Oversight Committee hearing called by Brown.

Momentum for city initiatives can also build during hearings, as it did for the public bank movement during a Budget and Finance Committee in December. Cohen called the hearing and urged the Treasurer’s Office to not hold back from bold proposals. Fewer and Ronen signaled they would carry the issue, a big boost for the activists behind the push.

Stay tuned for what transpires under the new committee assignments, which take effect Jan. 28.

Budget and Finance Committee
Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, Chair
Supervisor Catherine Stefani, Vice Chair
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, Member
Supervisor Hillary Ronen, Member (temporary, beginning March 1)
Supervisor Norman Yee, Member (temporary, beginning March 1)

Land Use and Transportation Committee
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Chair
Supervisor Ahsha Safai, Vice Chair
Supervisor Matt Haney, Member

Rules Committee
Supervisor Hillary Ronen, Chair
Supervisor Shamann Walton, Vice Chair
Supervisor Gordon Mar, Member

Government Audit and Oversight Committee
Supervisor Gordon Mar, Chair
Supervisor Vallie Brown, Vice Chair
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Member

Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, Chair
Supervisor Catherine Stefani, Vice Chair
Supervisor Shamann Walton, Member

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