Boardwatch Report: July 23, 2019 SFBC Board of Directors Meeting

Several members attended the SFBC Board meeting on Tuesday evening, July 23. We watch, at each meeting, for discussion or action from the Board that is related to the Momentum priorities:

  • Reducing private auto use in San Francisco
  • Increasing substantive member involvement in decision-making. Specific aims for this year are:
    • Term limits for Board members
    • Three-year terms with five Board members elected every year
    • Board neutrality in elections
    • Implement a method of filling Board vacancies that uses Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)
    • Increase the quorum required to (and decrease the likelihood of) abolish member voting rights

I noticed no specific attention to the priority of reducing auto use, although the Executive Director’s report did focus significantly on recent pedestrian deaths and a protest rally. Protected bike lanes continue to be an SFBC priority; how they might actually reduce private auto use is unclear.

Member decision-making was not included in conversations about community agreements. The Board has been spending a great deal of time on these agreements, including paying a consultant to work with Board and staff, as part of the Board Strengthening committee. The agreements are aimed to help the Board and staff all work more smoothly and equitably together. (This is a simplified explanation.)

It was suggested that some community agreements be implemented in member meetings and events. When I suggested that members be invited to join working groups on those particular agreements, a staff member responded, “The Board represents members.”

Board Term Limits and Board Vacancies

The Board had significant discussion on the above-mentioned two topics:

    • It appears that the change in term length and limits will be put to a vote of members at the next election, early in 2020.  This is a change to the by-laws and requires member vote.
    • The Board does not currently have a formal process for filling a seat if a Board member vacates. Momentum would like to see the next highest vote-getter, using Ranked Choice Voting, be seated.  We feel that this would be the way to assure that the Board member does, in fact, represent the choice of the member-voters.  The discussion bogged down on the cost of re-tabulating the votes to determine the next-highest-vote-getter. 
    • Election Buddy, the current vendor who operates the election, quoted a price of $1200, but what that included was unclear.
    • The expert who worked with us on implementing RCV for Board elections, David Cary, has volunteered to do the re-tabulation, without charge.  He offers help, as a community service, to organizations which are studying or implementing election reforms. 
    • No decision was made, pending more information on cost.  However, it was clear that some Board members and staff were not in favor of spending time to establish a process. 

Donations Policy

Many of us have been unhappy by the SFBC staff acceptance of donations from companies affiliated with the auto industry.  SFBC does not have an established system for deciding from whom to accept donations.  Some Board members wanted to see a question about donations on the member survey (currently being circulated). Others did not agree, and no question is included. 

TO DO:  Send a message to about any of the topics above. You can state your support for 

    • Stronger efforts to reduce auto use – provide your own ideas!
    • Board term limits
    • Filling vacant seats with the next-highest-vote-getter using RCV
    • Gathering member input on donations policies, with consideration for the mission of the SFBC and assuring that donations support the mission.

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