When residents of San Francisco have concerns about litter, potholes, cleanliness or crime, or when there is a crisis or they hope to affect political change, they usually contact the supervisor who represents their neighborhood.
There are supposed to be 11 members of the Board of Supervisors representing a specific district. But currently, there are just 10.
As of Dec. 1, there is no supervisor representing District 3, which covers Chinatown, North Beach, Polk Street, Telegraph Hill and Fisherman's Wharf.
That's because David Chiu vacated his term early after winning the District 17 Assembly race in November. He was sworn in to office Dec. 1.
Chiu's name was scratched off his City Hall office Monday and in its place was a sign that said, “For constituent assistance please contact 311 or visit the Office of the Clerk of the Board during business hours in Room 244.” Later in the week, the sign was removed when Supervisor Mark Farrell moved into the office.
As mayor of San Francisco, it is Ed Lee's duty to fill the vacancies of supervisor seats. He has yet to do so in this case. And it's not exactly clear why.
Some have said he is waiting because he has yet to figure out who to appoint — although the rumored top choice is Planning Commission Chairwoman Cindy Wu — or that he is timing it so his appointee could potentially serve 10 years instead of a mere six.
For the latter to happen, the mayor would need to wait until the afternoon of Jan. 8 to appoint someone so that person can not only serve 10 years but also vote on the board president later that day, according to the City Attorney's Office. A supervisor can only serve two consecutive four-year terms. Under the City Charter, if someone is appointed to serve out a vacated term, it will be counted as a full four-year term only if it the time left is longer than two years.
The president's post is currently being filled on an interim basis by Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the Sunset.
The board on Nov. 18 elected Tang amid protest that it should wait until Supervisor David Campos was present (he was on vacation) or until Chiu was off the board. The prevailing argument in favor of making a decision early was to ensure there was a seamless transition in leadership.
That rationale seemingly is not shared by the mayor when it comes to appointing vacancies on the board. The board will hold two meetings this month, including Tuesday, without a supervisor representing District 3. The Mayor's Office did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Supervisor John Avalos, who was runner-up in the 2011 mayoral race against Lee, said the District 3 indecision is not the best practice.
“As the sole person responsible for appointing, you'd think he'd have given the district their representative by now,” Avalos said of Lee. “That's what leadership is all about. The sky won't fall for the district, but there's been plenty of time to figure it out. Time to uncork the bottle. The Jan. 8 date shouldn't be a factor.”
Jon Golinger, a member of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers who is a potential District 3 supervisor candidate against the mayor's appointee, said San Francisco is facing numerous challenges, such as evictions and small-business closures, and there is no time to lollygag.
“This is a city in crisis and he's acting like he's on cruise control,” Golinger said of the mayor.