Board of Supervisors clashes over planning board selection 

Michael Antonini's fate on the Planning Commission comes down to the vote of Supervisor Malia Cohen. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Michael Antonini's fate on the Planning Commission comes down to the vote of Supervisor Malia Cohen.

Mayor Ed Lee’s re-appointment of Michael Antonini to another four years on the Planning Commission hit a roadblock Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors postponed its decision after heated debate.

It takes six votes to reject a mayoral appointee, and Antonini’s fate now appears to rest with the swing vote of Supervisor Malia Cohen.

“Basically, it’s going to come down to just making sure I can address Supervisor Cohen’s concerns,” Antonini said as he left the meeting. “Although it really shouldn’t come down to one supervisor for a veteran commissioner who has done everything right for 10 years and is willing to sacrifice another four years.”

Supervisor Jane Kim was among the supervisors pushing for a different appointee. She asked the mayor to nominate a Hispanic or gay representative from the southeastern part of the city.

But Supervisor Sean Elsbernd suggested opponents just didn’t like the way Antonini voted on certain projects. Elsbernd praised Antonini for his hard work and for being the lone representative of The City’s west side.

“This is a man who gives his soul to the Planning Commission,” Elsbernd said.

Board President David Chiu, however, said his constituents in District 3 want change.

“I did not hear from anyone who is active in the neighborhoods in my district who thought that I should support this particular appointment,” Chiu said. “The Planning Commission is generally known as a body that supports with the majority vote the developers over neighborhoods. And that certainly has been the case of tough votes involving District 3.”

Antonini acknowledged upsetting District 3’s influential Telegraph Hill Dwellers with his support of the 8 Washington St. development and the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association over the 1601 Larkin  St. development replacing a 100-year-old church.

But Antonini said he brings the perspective of families with children who want to have parking places at their homes.

“This whole city is dead set against having one-to-one parking for almost anything,” he said.

The Mayor’s Office took the setback in stride.

“The mayor is hopeful that the appointment moves forward and is approved next week,” Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey said. “Dr. Antonini brings a wealth of experience and institutional knowledge to the Planning Commission.”

Antonini said he wouldn’t be happy if he loses out next week. “But it will be The City’s loss, not my loss,” he said. “I’m the one who has been sacrificing my practice and some of my revenue, and getting further in debt and delaying my retirement.”

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