SF mayor looks to shuffle deck with city commission picks

The deck chairs are set to be rearranged on some of San Francisco's most important commissions and bodies.

Changes are in store for the Planning and Police commissions, along with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors.

Earlier this month, Mayor Ed Lee announced the four nominations to these bodies, all of whom already sit on some other government body.

“These four worthy nominees not only have a history of public service and hands-on experience that will benefit our city, but they also reflect the great diversity of San Francisco,” Lee said in a statement.

Sonia Melara, currently serving on the Health Commission, has been nominated for the Police Commission. Melara, the executive director of Rally Family Visitation Services of Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, headed the Department on the Status of Women and was part of the 2011 redistricting task force. She also co-founded the state's first shelter for domestic violence victims, La Casa De Las Madres.

The position has been open since the March 3 resignation of Carol Kingsley, who is running for a Superior Court judgeship.

Melara's nomination comes not long after the very public ousting of Police Commissioner Angela Chan by the Board of Supervisors for what some called her strident style. She was replaced by Victor Hwong.

Six-year Planning Commissioner Gwyneth Borden has been nominated to fill a seat on the SFMTA board. Recently appointed executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Borden was a moderate voice on the Planning Commission.

From the Great Recession to the recent boom years, Borden said she has always tried to keep an open mind when making decisions.

“Planning won't solve all of our ills,” she said. “The life that goes into a building or a neighborhood is embodied by the people who move into them. It's a tricky thing to try and do social engineering.”

Christine Johnson, the chairwoman of The City's Redevelopment Agency successor board, has been nominated to fill Borden's seat on the Planning Commission. Along with her work on redevelopment in Mission Bay, Johnson has worked in the private sector, specifically public financing. Currently, she is a principal at Berry Main LLC, an economic development consultancy.

Rodney Fong, a planning commissioner, has been re-nominated for another term on that body. Fong, who is president of Fong Real Estate Co., was previously president of the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf.

All four nominations await approval by the Board of Supervisors.

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