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SF supes must start keeping, disclosing meeting sign-in sheets

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Members of the Board of Supervisors, all city department heads and others in city government will have to start keeping detailed calendars and report who they are meeting with under a law approved Tuesday that builds on San Francisco’s 1999 voter-approved sunshine ordinance.

The legislation, approved in a 10-1 vote, increases the Board of Supervisors’ own reporting requirements. It also increases the information public officials who keep public meeting calendars, like the mayor and city department heads, are required to disclose.

While the mayor must keep a public calendar of meetings, the listings are often vague and do not provide a full attendance list of those present at the meeting. That now changes.

For any meetings of 10 people or less, the calendars must include the names of the attendees and organizations they represent. That would include people like developers with projects pending, nonprofit workers with contracts with The City and lobbyists. The requirement extends to not just in-person meetings, but also teleconferences or other electronic means.

Disclosure must occur within three days of a meeting.  The requirement has some exceptions, such as for a whistleblower.

Prior to the new law, the mayor and city department heads were required to keep a public meeting calendar, while the supervisors were not.

“I understand that this ordinance in its implementation will create additional work for our staffs but I think we can all adjust to the process of passing around a sign-in sheet at our meetings and then adding the names to our calendars,” said Supervisor John Avalos, who introduced the legislation. “It’s a small price to pay for improving transparency and trust in our local government.”

Board of Supervisors President London Breed opposed the legislation, arguing that it was too cumbersome to comply with and it could jeopardize her safety if she had to say where she was meeting with people and when.

“I have had concerns about my personal safety, especially when notifying the public about my whereabouts,” Breed said.

But Breed couldn’t get any support for amendments, such as not enacting the legislation until the technology was in place in their offices to make it easier to separate her office professional calendar from her personal calendar.

“The more transparency we have the better,” Campos said. “It’s important for people to know where we are, what we do.”

Also on Tuesday, Supervisor Scott Wiener’s legislation was unanimously approved that requires developments of more than 250,000 square feet to use water reuse systems for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing. It also requires all developments of at least 40,000 square feet to undergo analysis of incorporating water reuse systems in the development.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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