Rachael Tanner, left, testifies virtually before the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee Monday, October 19, 2020. (SFGOV courtesy art)

Rachael Tanner, left, testifies virtually before the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee Monday, October 19, 2020. (SFGOV courtesy art)

Rachael Tanner set to become SF’s next Planning Commissioner

Rachael Tanner is expected to serve as the newest member of the Planning Commission after a Board of Supervisors committee approved her nomination Monday.

Tanner has served on the Board of Appeals since November 2018 and is employed as a city planner for Palo Alto.

“I have a lot of technical planning understanding, but really what has been my greatest asset as a member of local government is my ability to listen, to bring people together and try to understand all sides,” Tanner told the committee.

The board’s Rules Committee, made up of Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Catherine Stefani and Gordon Mar, voted 3-to-0 in support of Mayor London Breed’s nomination of Tanner and recommended the full board approve the appointment next Tuesday.

Ronen said Tanner was “extremely knowledgeable and committed to equity.”

Stefani said that “Tanner is so qualified, not only in experience and education, but in her attitude and outlook about everyone working together and listening to all sides.”

She said Tanner is “going to be fair, consistent and forward thinking.”

Monique Lesarre, executive director of Rafiki Coalition, a nonprofit focused on health needs in the Black community, was among those who testified in support of the appointment.

“Rachael understands the needs of our community,” Lesarre said.

“Our community needs representation on the Planning Commission,” she said. “Without representation the Planning Department’s commitment to Black lives and centering racial equity ring hollow.”

Tanner said she would work to “make good” on the commission’s recent commitment to make racial and social equity a priority.

“If we work together we can shape and reshape our cities to be places of equality, places of equity, and places that are fun and exciting to live,” she said.

Tanner also spoke to the need to help small businesses facing the financial impacts of COVID-19 and to explore code changes to “help the entrepreneurs to reestablish their business or hang on.”

She noted that while COVID-19 may have slowed down development, it was a good time to start planning ahead for when building will pick up again to address adverse impacts San Francisco has experienced in previous boom times.

“If we don’t plan now though we will have the market continue to do what it does, which is have us take us on another wild swing and likely have more of the same negative impacts that we’ve had when the market is just unchecked and kind of running wild in San Francisco,” Tanner said.

Tanner said she grew up in a working class home in Michigan. She currently lives in the South of Market area.

The mayor appoints four persons to serve on the commission and the board president appoints three.

Of the four, Tanner would be Breed’s third appointment to the body. Her previous appointees were Frank Fung and Susan Diamond. She recently reappointed Planning Commissioner Joel Koppel, who was first appointed by late Mayor Ed Lee in 2016.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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