Avalos seeks to require new meeting records; Mar hopes to protect Ocean Beach bonfires 

click to enlarge A fee and permits for holding bonfires at Ocean Beach is being discussed. - JUAN PARDO/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Juan Pardo/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • A fee and permits for holding bonfires at Ocean Beach is being discussed.

Pointing to an annual poll showing voters across the nation distrust lobbyists and members of Congress, Supervisor John Avalos introduced legislation Tuesday that would require all city elected officials to disclose their meeting calendars and attendance lists.

The proposal builds on the voter-approved 1999 Sunshine Ordinance that requires the mayor, city attorney and department heads to keep meeting calendars and is inspired by recommendations of a recent civil grand jury report.

Under the proposal, the treasurer, assessor-recorder, district attorney, public defender, sheriff and every member of the Board of Supervisors would also be required to keep and disclose their meeting calendars. Each would need to identify those present at the meetings and the organizations represented. Exemptions would be in place for cases such as a confidential whistleblower.

"I understand that this will create additional work for our staffs," Avalos said. "But I think we can all adjust to the process of passing around a sign-in sheet at our meetings and then adding the names to our calendars." He added that it was "a small price to pay to improving transparency and trust in our local government."

Some open-government advocates have expressed support for increased disclosure as a way to make sure lobbyists are correctly reporting their contacts with city officials.

Avalos also introduced a measure to freeze the local-hiring percentage mandate for publically funded construction projects at 30 percent of job site positions for the next two years. The move comes as there are concerns whether there are enough apprentices and projects in the pipeline to achieve a goal of a 50 percent mandate. Avalos noted that while The City is holding to 30 percent, last year San Francisco boosted local job opportunities by expanding the local hiring mandate to private construction work on public lands.

Additionally Tuesday, another supervisor took aim at the ongoing debate regarding bonfires at Ocean Beach. Supervisor Eric Mar sent a clear message to the National Park Service, which oversees the 3.5-mile-long sandy shore, to go easy when it comes to new guidelines being developed for fire pit use. The agency had signaled opposition to an idea of creating permits for bonfire use with possible fees ranging from $25 to $75. While Mar frowns on those fees, fearing it would limit access for the low-income, he also wants to ensure the federal agency listens to the public.

"In a city faced with a growing affordability crisis, the bonfires have provided free recreational activities enjoyed by generations of families, including my own, students, surfers, beach enthusiasts and so many others," Mar said, noting that the tradition is documented back to 1890.

The resolution comes just days after Thursday's community meeting hosted by the park service where 81 people attended. Attempts to expand regulations on the Ocean Beach bonfire tradition began in 2004.

The Environment Commission initiated the crackdown by passing a resolution in 2002 complaining about the safety hazards and debris, according to park service documents. In 2004, fires were limited to a specific area and increased regulations were imposed in 2007 and then again in 2014.

A presentation at Thursday's meeting said "concepts for the future" is either "no fires" or a program involving a permit system, changes in hours or seasons and a partnership with The City. Currently fires are allowed in designated rings and must be out by 9 p.m. The City provided $50,000 last fiscal year for outreach and education.

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