Bradford-Bell urges Newsom appoint Bayview representative to
Retiring commissioner says her claws sufficed
Shelley Bradford Bell (center)
By Pat Murphy and Luke
June 15, 2006, 2:30 p.m.
Retiring Planning Commissioner Shelley Bradford-Bell this afternoon
called for her replacement to be a representative of Bayview Hunters
She also noted her claws had been sharp enough for four years
service on the commission and had learned from serving with Republicans
they aren't all that evil.
Bradford-Bell offered her hopes for the commission during today's
2:00 p.m. Planning Commission meeting.
Her attention now focuses on service growth of the San
Francisco Bayview Opera House, where she serves as director
development and long range planning.
Text of remarks follow:
Has it really been four years since Willie Brown asked me to
take a seat on the Planning Commission?
Planning Commission meetings were known as notoriously combative;
the public was fiercely vigilant; and the commissioners who served
before me were tough public servants. Filled with reservation,
I didn't know if my claws were sharp enough to survive this battleground,
but I went forward nonetheless armed with the confidence and support
of the mayor, a desire to serve the City of San Francisco, and
a commitment to make sure everyone was heard.
When voted President, I felt a huge responsibility to do the best
job possible. That meant starting from a position of mutual respect:
-- Respect for the hard work and expertise of a dedicated staff.
-- Respect for my fellow commissioners whose commitment was as
critical as my own.
-- Respect for the professionals, i.e., developers, community
organizers, Calvin Welch, Sue Hestor; Judy Berkowitz, and Marilyn
Amini, the great poet Joe O'Donoghue; to name just a few.
-- But most importantly respect for the public who sometimes
did not understand the process; or who were so frightened by the
process they were reduced to tears when they spoke. They may never
have come before us except that something important in their lives
was about to change and it was important enough to them to face
Everyone's view is equally important and must be heard. My good
fortune was to be partnered with 6 incredible people who felt
the same way.
When a man of six foot 4 stands before you in tears because his
home of 25 years has been Ellis'ed out and he has no idea where
to go, then we grasp the importance of affordable housing. We
must develop policies that prevent abuse of the process, that
allow new development, that streamline the process and make visible
the invisible, addressing all citizen's needs as we plan our future
City. It is important to hear all the voices: community, staff,
developers. We have heard disturbing economic analysis about the
future job markets within San Francisco and the expected loss
of families in the next 10 years. We cannot move our residents
from homelessness to homeownership by expecting them to jump a
chasm void of transitional, affordable housing.
People talk about the extraordinary amount of work commissioners
put in each week, and while I have since admitted to Matt Gonzalez
that I was wrong, wrong, wrong when I said commissioners should
not be paid a salary; I don't believe anyone works as hard as
our staff, most especially our Commission Secretary Linda Avery.
I could not have gotten through this without her. She is an intelligent,
elegant, professional that Planning is lucky to have.
Commissioners read case reports, emails, and sometimes take calls
or visit project sites. But planning staff does all this too,
plus write the recommendations and motions, attend meetings, prepare
packages, and a list of other things - for several projects -
several projects - at varying and fast approaching deadlines.
Planning staff are the cream of City workers-they work in an environment
influenced by the politics of the City, the economy, the public
sentiment, all the while trying to move projects, through application
of the code, the department policies and the input from impacted
neighborhoods. Every day, on every project, they deserve our support
- they have always had mine.
Yes it sounds so easy, so yes, when we mix in the human element,
well, there's the drama. Then we work hardest to hear all sides,
to think hardest and deepest about whom we will be affecting with
our decision. That's when the job is the hardest. That is when
an environment of mutual respect best serves us. That's when having
someone like Commissioner Kevin Hughes was so important. We were
always afraid to let him speak because we knew it was going to
be awhile. Kevin was fair, attentive, kind and I think sometimes
he talked a lot because he just wanted to mess with us! If all
I got from the past four years was Kevin Hughes friendship then
that alone made it worth all the late nights. I want to thank
Commissioner Michael Antonini for showing me all Republicans aren't
bad! Mike was always supportive of me and completely dedicated
to the Commission. He has only missed two or three meetings in
four years. And he keeps asking for additional meetings! Well
Commissioner Antonini, I'm on your side - more meetings for planning
commission!!! And if it were really to happen I know that Mike
would be at every single meeting. He's that committed and I leaned
on him for support and he would be there. Thank you Mike, I'm
proud to have served with you. Before I get lost in this reminiscing
let me not forget two people; Lisa Feldstein and Edgar Boyd who
were part of the reason we were successful from the beginning.
I'm fortunate to have served with my fellow commissioners past
My deepest thanks go to Mayor Willie Brown for recognizing my
ability to do this job before I did. I'm thankful to have been
able to continue to serve under Mayor Newsom's administration
as well. I am thankful to the public who felt the issues were
important enough for them to write us, call or attend the commission
and speak in public comment. Your gift to me was the awareness
that by listening we are opened to more: knowledge, perspective,
compromise, and resolution.
I will continue to watch the planning process in San Francisco
thanks to the dedicated hard work of SFGTV. Our City TV is the
greatest. You just don't have this level of access everywhere.
From Director Priscilla Watts to now, it has become a vital component
of our commitment to open government.
As I watch, I hope to see some of the things I thought should
occur. Things like:
-- State of the art Planning Department. Instead of playing catch
up with technology, we should always be current. Every year the
budget should have money for technology that doesn't get cut out!
-- The commission holding a meeting in each district over the
-- Another joint meeting with Board of Appeals. I was so sorry
I missed the one we had. Even so, I hope Appeals and Planning
do it again it meant a lot to share perspectives.
-- Holding a joint Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission
meeting. I still think this is important to do. There is a good
relationship between the Supes and the commission and a joint
session would give the public an opportunity to address these
two bodies in a very unique way.
-- We must think "Transit First" if we are truly a
Transit First City. I dream of a designated development area being
established as a Transit Model Area. It will have excellent transit
services, buses, light rail etc., have wide bike lanes, fewer
parking spaces, walkable neighborhoods with parks - I said it
was my dream - and good transit will reduce the number of cars
and car owners in the area. With the rising prices of gas and
parking, public transportation and taxis makes more and more sense.
As I prepare for my final commission meeting next week, I want
to express my deepest hope that whoever replaces me represents
the needs and residents of Bayview Hunters Point. This community
will be watching and to have Bayview in a redevelopment process
and not have them represented on the commission would be tragic.
I know the Mayor believes in Bayview. I'm confident he will appoint
someone who week after week will demonstrate his on-going commitment
to full representation of San Francisco's diverse communities.
To serve this great City has been my joy. To serve with these
great people has been my blessing. I can only hope I made a difference,
for I have been made different by the experience.
Thank you San Francisco.
Commissioner Shelley Bradford