Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee has asked supervisors to delay many pieces of legislation. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supes postpone ‘non-essential’ hearings expected to draw crowds

While a Board of Supervisors committee was scheduled Thursday to vote on legislation to allow the return of gay bathhouses and hold a hearing on the impact delivery services are having on small businesses, they both were postponed.

The reason? Coronavirus.

Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee has requested all board members avoid holding hearings and acting on “non-essential” legislation expected to draw large crowds to limit the potential for the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

There were 18 cases of COVID-19 confirmed as of Thursday.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, chair of the board’s Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, motioned to postpone the two items after the committee voted on two liquor licenses, which face legal deadlines.

Mandelman said that “although I am eager to have this item acted on by the full board” he was postponing the vote on the gay bathhouse legislation he introduced.

“As part of the city’s response to COVID-19, President Yee has requested that board members postpone nonessential legislation or hearings that anticipate large public turnout,” Mandelman said.

He added that “I know that lots of members of the public want to come out and speak on behalf of this legislation including people from vulnerable populations who are being encouraged to stay home.”

Mandelman explained that “we are trying to significantly limit members of the public congregating in any of these rooms and potentially spreading COVID-19.”

A board public notice said that “as an essential function of government, the Board of Supervisors will continue to conduct business, and will continue to schedule committee and Board meetings.”

Clerks of board committees have begun to instruct members of the public in attendance to maintain at least four feet between themselves and others and avoid touching high volume surfaces.

The same notice said that “President of the Board Norman Yee has requested Board Members to postpone the scheduling of nonessential legislation or hearings that anticipate large public turnout, while prioritizing legislation that supports statutory deadlines; and to delay special commendations that bring in large groups or vulnerable populations.”

The board is also exploring ways to accept remote public comment.

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