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Breed, Haney propose stricter appeals process for city projects

Supervisor Matt Haney is looking to tighten requirements surrounding how public appeals to city projects are considered. Mayor London Breed is supporting the proposal.

Haney will introduce legislation during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that would require any person seeking to appeal a transit project to obtain 50 resident signatures, or support from five supervisors. The current appeals process allows for just one person, or an appellant, to file an appeal.

Haney said in a statement that his proposal is “common sense” legislation that still protects the right of a person to appeal a project, adding:

“The public’s right to appeal government decisions is an important part of our democracy, but a single person should not be able to completely derail a public project like Slow Streets or emergency transit lanes that fulfill a clear public purpose and can be reversed.”

City officials cited recent California Environmental Quality Act appeals to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Slow Streets Program and transit-only lane changes. 

Separate appeals to both initiatives were filed by activist David Pilpel and attorney Mary Miles. Work ceased on both projects while the appeals made their way to board hearings, resulting in the loss of hundreds of staff hours.

Once the appeals were rejected, SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin said staff went back to work on the Slow Streets Program expansion within 12 hours.

Tumlin said:

“These welcoming and accessible improvements are needed to keep our city moving during this crisis. With fewer frivolous appeals, staff could instead spend time on the City’s recovery.”

Supervisors ultimately dismissed the appeals. However, another appeal brought by Pilpel is set to be heard Tuesday, this time focused on Muni service changes took effect on Aug. 22.

Mayor London Breed, who will introduce the legislation along with Haney, said in a statement:

“People should be able to appeal projects and policies that are going to impact our city and their lives, but by setting the bar so low for an appeal to be filed, we set ourselves up for delays and cost overruns before we even get started. That’s a system designed to fail. This legislation allows for appeals to continue, while preventing frivolous appeals that keep our city from moving forward.”

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