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    Super Bowl Hangover, A Truce in the Shuttle Wars, and Election Update

    1-Photo-Columnist-Mandelman_Rafael_housesZ (1)Super Bowl Hangover

    Thank God Super Bowl 50 is over. The weeks-long occupation of our downtown and waterfront left a sour taste in lots of San Franciscans’ mouths. From the daily traffic snarls to the illegal billboards erected above the Embarcadero to the displacement of local vendors and street artists to the clearing out of homeless people to make way for a party thrown by some of the richest corporations in the world, Super Bowl City had something to annoy almost everyone. But the mid-January revelation that San Franciscans would be on the hook for more than $5 million in costs associated with the event, while Santa Clara would be reimbursed for all of its costs, left many of us with a sinking feeling that our City, the one that used to know how, had been had, again.

    A Truce in the Shuttle Wars

    Speaking of things that annoy San Franciscans…kudos to Supervisors David Campos, Norman Yee and London Breed for negotiating a truce in the seemingly never-ending war over the Google buses. Under threat of a CEQA challenge from SEIU 1021 and the Sierra Club, the Supervisors were able to negotiate concessions from the tech companies that rely on commuter shuttles to carry their workers from their homes in San Francisco to their jobs on the Peninsula.

    Shuttle opponents say the shuttles are a burden on the neighborhoods in which they operate, even as they promote gentrification and displacement in those neighborhoods. Shuttle defenders argue that the vehicles have become an important part of the City’s transit infrastructure and reduce traffic congestion by keeping commuters out of their cars. The compromise will allow the program to continue for another year, but caps the number of stops at 125 and requires the City to look at an alternative hub model that would reduce the program’s impact on residential neighborhoods.

    Election Update

    San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee has become a pretty dismal place for progressives in recent years, but that may change this June. Some strong reform candidates have been stepping forward to take the local Democratic Party back from the business, real estate and development interests that have become so dominant on the Committee. On February 18, former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano penned an op-ed announcing that he would be joining the race, explaining that it is time for our local Democratic Party “to move away from being myopically focused on agendas that divide us and become a place where Democrats can unite and fight together for what we agree on: closing the income inequality chasm, stopping evictions and creating affordable housing, quality education for all, universal health care, criminal justice reform, strong environmental protections, vigorous defense of workers’ rights and getting big money and corporate lobbyists out of our politics.” Well said, sir.

    Regular readers of this column know that I am all in for Kimberly Alvarenga for Supervisor. Kimberly, who is running to replace termed-out Supervisor John Avalos in District 11, has had a great month, racking up new endorsements from the California Nurses Association, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and former Mayor Art Agnos. Nice work, Kimberly!

    Gay former School Board Commissioner Mark Sanchez has filed to run for his old job this November. The School Board has lacked LGBT representation since Sanchez left the Board in 2009 to run for the District 9 Supervisor spot. In that time, Sandra Lee Fewer, who has a gay son, has really stepped up on behalf of our community, championing curriculum additions and other District changes to support LGBT students. But, great an ally as Sandy has been, it would sure be good to once again have an LGBT person sitting on a Board that makes so many important decisions affecting LGBT kids.

    Meanwhile, it’s looking like the City College Board could be gaining a third gay trustee, as Tom Temprano looks to be gearing up for a second run for the Board this year. Temprano lost last year when he ran against appointed incumbent, and fellow San Francisco Bay Times columnist, Alex Randolph, but he ran a great campaign (the best I have seen for a College Board seat) and looks to have a strong chance to win this year, especially if one of the incumbents does not run.

    The LGBT Center’s annual party, Soiree 2016, is coming up on April 9. This is a big year for the Center, as we undertake a $7 million renovation, largely funded through the New Markets Tax Credit Program with additional assistance provided by the City. The remodel will ensure the financial sustainability of the building for years to come, while also helping meet the City’s increasingly desperate need for affordable nonprofit office space. This will be my last Soiree as Board chair, and I am hoping to see lots of you there! Tickets are available at

    Rafael Mandelman is an attorney for the City of Oakland. He is also President of the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees.