Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Gordon Mar have called for the Board of Supervisors to reject Mayor London Breed’s pick for the Rent Board. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supes recommend rejection of mayor’s pick for the Rent Board

Tenant advocates argue Reese Isbell lacks critical experience for role

Two San Francisco supervisors on Monday voted to recommend the rejection of Mayor London Breed’s appointment to the Rent Board.

The vote came after an hours-long hearing before the Board of Supervisor Rules Committee in which tenant rights advocates said the mayor failed to consult with them about her appointment to the board and argued that her pick lacked experience.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen and Supervisor Gordon Mar voted to recommend the full board reject Breed’s appointment of Reese Isbell, a former aide to Mark Leno. Isbell replaced long-term serving Rent Board member Polly Marshall.

Both Ronen and Mar said Isbell lacked the breadth of knowledge and expertise on tenant issues to make him the best pick to represent tenants’ interests on the Rent Board.

“This is not the type of the position where you can learn on the job,” Ronen said, adding that her vote to block Breed’s appointment is “not a political issue.”

“Every single day, tenants are in David and Goliath fights for their lives to stay in their homes in San Francisco. The shenanigans that landlords engage in in order to make a buck are crafty, they are sophisticated, they are fully lawyered, and it’s no joke to try and fight them off,” Ronen said.

Supervisor Shamann Walton, the third committee member, voted against the rejection.

“He is a renter. His only sin is that he’s new,” Walton said. “He’s working hard to learn everything that he needs to be successful in this role. I don’t want to be divisive, especially when we have someone qualified.”

Jeff Cretan, a spokesman for Breed, said she had chosen Reese due to his “history of policy work and advocacy on tenant issues at the local and state level, as well as his personal experiences living in a rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco for the past 20 years.”

“Mayor Breed, a tenant herself who grew up in public housing, works every day with people advancing policies to protect renters, and she is confident that Reese can work with the entire community to advance and protect tenants’ rights as a member of the Rent Board,” Cretan said.

The board is expected to vote next week and would need at least eight of 11 votes to reject Isbell. If that occurs, Breed would have to appoint someone else.

This story was updated to include a statement from the Mayor’s Office.

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