San Francisco housing official seeks ethics waiver 

The head of the Mayor’s Office of Housing is seeking a job with a nonprofit developer for which he’s approved several city contracts in recent months.

After five years with the Mayor’s Office, Doug Shoemaker could be working as president of the well-known affordable housing nonprofit Mercy Housing California sometime this summer if the Ethics Commission gives him permission at its meeting on Monday.

Voter-mandated rules prohibit city workers from being employed by any firm within a year of having been involved in awarding that organization a city contract — unless those officials granted a waiver from the Ethics Commission.

In this case, Shoemaker is seeking a waiver because he signed off on five contracts with Mercy Housing California in the past 12 months, including one for work on The City’s HOPE SF program, an ambitious plan to rebuild some of San Francisco’s most decrepit public housing sites.

He said he was not involved in any contracts with Mercy representatives since he began discussing the job with them in February.

“I can assure the commission that I have taken no actions to create a financial windfall for myself,” Shoemaker wrote in a letter to the commission.

This post-employment job restriction, among others, was established along with a waiver process by voters with the adoption of Proposition E in November 2003. Since 2004, the commission has approved 10 of the 12 waiver requests.

A waiver can be granted if it “determines that imposing the restriction could cause extreme hardship.”  Mayor Ed Lee has called Shoemaker’s waiver “appropriate.”  

Lee said in a May 24 letter that the contracts Shoemaker signed with Mercy Housing “have been through a rigorous public review process.”

Shoemaker was appointed director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing by then Mayor Gavin Newsom  in January 2009, after joining the department in February 2006. The agency oversees about $55 million of annual investments in affordable housing projects by both nonprofit and for-profit developers. He also serves as director of Hope SF, the program launched by Newsom to revitalize eight public housing sites through mixed-income development.

“[Hope SF] will continue to move forward with a new leader, but the Mayor will not be considering any candidates until the job waiver has been considered,” Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey said.

Waivers approved

Since post-employment restrictions were adopted by voters in 2003, the Ethics Commission has granted 10 of 12 waiver requests. Here are a few:

Terence Hallinan March 10, 2004  

Waiver to represent clients after no longer serving as district attorney

Tony Hall July 30, 2004  

Waiver to serve as executive director of the Treasure Island Development Authority after serving as member of the Board of Supervisors

Matt Gonzalez March 9, 2005

Former supervisor sought to practice law that would necessitate interaction with the City Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office

Kyri McClellan Feb. 28, 2011

Former project manager in the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development allowed to become executive director of the nonprofit America’s Cup Organizing Committee

Source: Ethics Commission

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