Business groups file lawsuit, say S.F. ignoring Proposition I 

As business owners continue their fight against "legislation that is not in the interest of a healthy San Francisco," twoleading business groups have filed a lawsuit against The City for failing to implement a law requiring economic studies on pending legislation.

"This was a last resort that could be taken," said Steven Falk, president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. City Attorney’s Office spokesman Matt Dorsey dismissed the lawsuit, saying the "allegations are without merit."

The chamber, Committee on Jobs and a coalition of business-related organizations filed the lawsuit Monday against the Board of Supervisors and the City Controller’s Office saying Proposition I, which requires an economic analysis of all pending legislation, is not being implemented.

Falk said there is a "growing frustration among business leaders" forced to fight against "legislation that is not in the interest of a healthy San Francisco."

Pending legislation could result in business owners paying significantly more out of pocket. For example, the board may approve a fee for business owners of up to $275 dollars per employee for health care.

Economic analysis of legislation would "help the supervisors make better decisions," Falk said.

Prop. I, passed by voters in November 2004, requires The City to establish an Office of Economic Analysis to review legislation before the Board of Supervisors votes on it.

"We were slow in getting it started," said City Controller Ed Harrington, named as a defendant in the lawsuit. "But now it’s up and running and has been up and running for several months."

Two economists were hired to conduct the economic studies, Harrington said. There are three economic studies due out next month, according to a schedule released by his office.

Harrington said maybe the lawsuit would have made sense in September, but now he doesn’t "see what value the lawsuit adds." He added that the city is in compliance with Prop. I.

But Falksaid that while there are some signs Prop. I is now being enforced, the business community has "no assurance this will be fully implemented" until a judge orders it.

The lawsuit asks that the Controller’s Office complete an economic analysis of all pending legislation within 30 days. It also seeks to overturn an August 2005 Board of Supervisors decision to allow the board president to waive an economic study on pending legislation and to permit the board to vote on legislation without an economic study.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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