By NICHOLAS KUSNETZ
For those of you who follow your supe and his legislative dealings on a weekly basis, you may be disappointed to see that this week didn’t meet the drama or public displays of emotion from last week. But a whole lot more was actually done in the past few days and isn’t that what we want from government?
It all depends on your perspective, and our David Campos, for one, was not a happy camper at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The board passed an agreement with a private company to build a solar power facility on top of a city reservoir. All the supervisors want to go green, but four of them, with Campos a vocal member, think the city is getting a raw deal.
The debate has been going for weeks. The deal involves a 25-year, many-million-dollar contract to produce emissions-free electricity right here in San Francisco. The no votes assured everyone that they are not against the project, but simply think the city is paying too much. The four (Avalos, Campos, Daly, Mirkarimi) tried but failed to add an amendment to the bill that would have addressed some of their concerns, and that, Campos said, “sealed the deal.” He’s just looking out for taxpayer dollars, he said.
“I hope that in five, 10, 15 years from now we don’t look back at this deal and wonder what the Board of Supervisors was thinking,” he said.
The plant is expected to cost around $40 million to build, but the city is locked in to pay significantly more. We’ll be paying the company, Recurrent Energy, a flat rate for the energy at around $2 million a year with an option to buy the plant after seven years for at least $33 million, and maybe more. But if the city doesn’t exercise that option and continues to buy electricity from Recurrent instead, it could end up paying far more: the price for the electricity is being set now, and rates for solar energy are expected to decline. The argument for? Recurrent is eligible for tax breaks that would allow it to build the plant for less than the city could on its own. It’s a bit arcane, really, but you can read more detailed analyses here and here.
The man from District 9 did get his way the next day, when Supervisor David Chiu led the charge in the Budget and Finance Committee to recommend rejecting Muni’s budget proposal. If you remember, there was a bit of an uproar when it emerged that the transit agency may have been paying other city agencies exorbitant fees for work those departments never did. And since then Muni has announced imminent fair hikes of 50 cents a ride. Well not so fast, the supervisors said. Or at least recommended. The matter will now go to the full board, which needs seven votes to reject the budget. With seven co-sponsors signed on, it seems likely to pass. If the budget is rejected, the board would likely tell Muni to re-examine the payments to other city departments to see if they can make savings there, rather than through a fare hike and service cuts.
Before all of this legislating happened, Campos had his time hearing from the public as well. But then, if you’re a dedicated Mission Loc@l reader, you’ve already seen the news of the hearing Campos held on police disrespecting municipal IDs, only hours before heading to the district to hear about how prostitution is a serious problem ’round here.