The City’s top supervisor accused the Department of Public Works of undermining the public’s trust in government by deciding to move a Sunset district repaving project ahead of schedule in response to political pressure from Mayor Gavin Newsom and another member of the Board of Supervisors.
The department had scheduled a 13-block repaving project of Noriega Street between Sunset Boulevard and the Great Highway for fiscal year 2008-09, but decided instead to do the work in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Both Newsom and District 4 Supervisor Ed Jew, whose district includes Noriega Street, had contacted DPW about the conditions of the street prior to DPW’s decision to start the project earlier, department director Fred Abadi said during Monday’s Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee meeting. The calls and complaints prompted Abadi to personally check out the conditions of the street.
“What you’re saying is if we give you flexibility, you [Abadi] will change projects because you get a call from the Mayor’s Office and a particular supervisor,” Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said. He later said, “It all shows that you guys are playing politics with the system.”
Abadi, however, said that projects are sometimes shifted around based on “other evidence,” such as accidents or complaints, adding that there was an accident about five months ago when an elderly woman tripped on a pothole on Noriega Street.
In moving the project ahead of schedule, Abadi said the department would thus postpone repaving five blocks along Lincoln Way, between 32nd and 36th avenues. That stretch is also in Jew’s supervisorial district.
The department rates the conditions of The City’s 12,400 blocks and schedules street repaving projects. Peskin said he would recommend the Budget and Finance Committee sets up “line-item controls” over all street repaving projects so any changes in the timeline of projects would require board approval.
Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said nothing inappropriate transpired. “Anybody who knows the mayor knows that he drives around The City and takes note of where the potholes are,” Ballard said. Jew, who said a number of Noriega Street merchants complained about the road’s conditions, said DPW’s decision is “not about politics.”
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Mayor: Gavin Newsom
Supervisors: Jake McGoldrick – District 1; Michela Alioto-Pier – District 2; Aaron Peskin – District 3; Ed Jew – District 4; Ross Mirkarimi – District 5; Chris Daly – District 6; Sean Elsbernd – District 7; Bevan Dufty – District 8; Tom Ammiano – District 9; Sophie Maxwell – District 10; Gerardo Sandoval – District 11