Decision remains up in air for Planning Commission nominations 

Come June 30, the terms of four seats on the seven-member Planning Commission will expire.

Mayor Ed Lee will decide the fate of the seats held by Commissioners Gwyneth Borden and Rodney Fong. But the future of longtime Commissioners Kathrin Moore and Hisashi Sugaya will be up to Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who has not stated publicly whom he will nominate for the board's vote.

Whatever decision is made by Chiu could reduce the bloc of commissioners seen by some as more critical and independent than their counterparts.

Some observers are not waiting to see what happens. An online petition in support of Sugaya and Moore was created last week to put pressure on Chiu and had 246 signatures as of Friday.

That, according to one of the people behind the petition, is because some fear the decision will be driven by politics instead of smart planning.

Jim Meko, chairman of the SoMa Leadership Council, noted that Chiu is running for state Assembly and is being supported by the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council. With that support in mind, Chiu has reportedly been floating the idea of tapping the council's secretary-treasurer, Michael Theriault, to the commission, according to Meko.

Council members are backing Chiu in his Assembly District 17 race in direct opposition to their fellow unionists in the San Francisco Labor Council, who are backing Chiu's opponent Supervisor David Campos.

But the possible nomination is news to Theriault, who said he hadn't heard that his name is a possible nominee. Still, he did say if he were offered the position he'd not necessarily say no.

"It's a very qualified maybe," he said.

Chiu denies talking with any potential replacements.

"Supervisor Chiu welcomes public input about his upcoming Planning Commission nominations. He plans to have further conversations with the current commissioners before making any decisions. He has not talked to anyone else about serving on the commission," said Chiu spokesman Judson True. Chiu does expect to make an appointment before July 1, True said.

Meanwhile, the petition support for Moore and Sugaya can be summed up by one of the signatories, in a May 7 letter to Chiu.

"A balanced Planning Commission is important to the city. Even though the current Commission is weighted to the advantage of developers, it's to everyone's advantage to provide a conversation prior to the final vote on a matter. Kathrin Moore does exactly that," wrote Judith Berkowitz, president of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, adding that Sugaya should also be reappointed.

Moore, who has expressed interest in reappointment, told The San Francisco Examiner that she is "aware of the petitions" and is "very inspired by so much outspoken support for the appointment."

Sugaya could not be reached for comment.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Bio:
Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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