Meet the new supervisor - Page 3

How will Christina Olague balance loyalty to Mayor Lee with the needs of the city's most progressive district?

resident Christina Olague was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee

But he said Olague's land use expertise and progressive background will likely count for more than any bitter pills that she's asked to swallow. "Sometimes, as a policy maker, you have to push the envelope and say we can get more," he said. "It helps if you're willing to say no to things and set boundaries."

When we asked Olague to lay out her philosophy on dealing with land-use issues, she said that her approach will vary: "I have a very gray approach, project by project and neighborhood by neighborhood."

Only a couple weeks into her new role, Olague said that she's still getting a lay of the land: "I'm in information gathering mode, meeting with neighborhood groups to try to figure out what their issues are."

But Olague said she understands that part of her job is making decisions that will disappoint some groups. For example, after Mayor Lee pledged to install bike lanes on Fell and Oak streets to connect the Panhandle to The Wiggle and lessen the danger to bicyclists, he recently stalled the project after motorists opposed the idea.

"I'm a transit-first person, for sure. I don't even drive," Olague said of her approach to that issue, which she has now begun to work on. "We'll try to craft a solution, but then at some point you have to fall on one side or the other."



One issue on which Olague's core loyalities are likely to be tested is on the so-called "jobs" issue, which both Lee and Olague call their top priority. "Jobs and economic revitalization are very important," she told us.

Progressives have begun to push back on Lee for valuing private sector job creation over all other priorities, such as workers' rights, environmental safeguards, and public services. That came to a head on Jan. 26 at the Rules Committee hearing on Lee's proposed charter amendment to delay legislation that might cost private sector jobs and require extra hearings before the Small Business Commission. Progressives and labor leaders slammed the proposal as unfair, divisive, unnecessary, and reminiscent of right-wing political tactics.

But when we interviewed Olague the next day, she was reluctant to criticize the measure on the record, even though it seemed so dead-on-arrival at the Board of Supervisors that Mayor Lee voluntarily withdrew it the next week.

Olague told us job creation is important, but she said it can't squeeze out other priorities, such as protecting affordable rental housing.

"We always have to look at how the community will benefit from things. So if we want to incentivize for businesses, how do we also make it work for neighborhoods and for people so that we don't end up with where we were in the Mission District in the '90s?" she said.

Olague also said that she didn't share Lee's focus on jobs in the technology sector. "There's a lot of talk of technology, and that's fine and I'm not against that, and we can see how it works in the city. But at the same time, I'm concerned about folks who aren't interested necessarily in working in technology. We need other types of jobs, so I think we shouldn't let go of the small scale manufacturing idea."


Watch as she sells us out.

Posted by Sooth on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

Olague is nothing but an opportunistic, how do you think it will play out with the district lines a changing?

Posted by Jerry Jarvis on Feb. 09, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

Yo bro, how's life in the sticks.
Let's grant her a grace period, she's been pretty good for many years. They're all 'politicians' and we can't expect to much.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Feb. 09, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

I was kinda secretly hoping that he'd pick some right wing machine nutball who'd be easy to beat in November. My preference would've been for an elected instead of appointed supe. Less baggage that way.

That said, he probably picked the best person we could've expected. She's been a decent planning commissioner (with some exceptions). Hopefully she'll be a decent supe. My worst fear is that she'll act progressive till the election, then turn and sell out and support the machine on key votes. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell. But what can you do? We'll just have to see what the field looks like and vote for the best candidate.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 9:40 am

Just glad to see her off the planning commission.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 8:41 am

Points for using the word "hagiographic " in a sentence!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 9:54 am

It shows you how scared he is she's going to go off the Non Profit Inc reservation and how important it is that he's around to "correct" her if she does. Haaland's acting as the enforcer here so we can prolly expect the same positions held by her erstwhile predecessor at the board - Ross "scorched earth" Mirkarimi.

Posted by guest on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 10:55 am

Olague voted to make the Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan and begin implementing it without any environmental review, which was pure prog opportunism on her part. She surely knew that doing that violated the most important environmental law in California, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

But she also knew that if she was going to seek higher office here in Progressive Land she couldn't antagonize the Bicycle Coalition.

Posted by Rob Anderson on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

You're right. The Bicycle Plan was an unfortunate power play. Whether it was bad advice from the City Attorney, or over enthusiastic supporters, or miscalulations by one or more supervisors who supported the 50 bike projects, I'm sure there are a few decisions people might make differently if given a chance.

But your team "won," so be happy! You put on a fun show in the process, so thanks for that too. I've rarely seen some of the most blowhard bicyclists foaming and ranting as much as they did when your side was tearing them up in court. (BTW, some progressives thought CEQA was the way to go in the first place since the Bike Plan was obviously a "project" and CEQA evaluation is a "progressive" reform that should apply to everyone, even the bicycle angels.)

But in the end - ironically enough - by forcing them to go the CEQA route, you made it sooooo much easier to implement all 50+ projects after the $500,000? report was prepared. So as a car driver who loves bicyclists since they don't want my scarce and valuable parking space when I'm traveling from one place or the next, I say thank you! The bicycle improvements are making driving much more predictable in many sections of the city, and the handful of parking spaces lost here and there are more than offset by the growing numbers of cyclists drawn to the much improved bike infrastructure.

But come on Rob. You need to come up with a new angle. You're starting to sound like Bruce Springsteen on "Glory Days" - the kind of person who spends most of the day in a bar, or cafe or chat room kvetching about one thing or another and not doing anything about it. We expect better from you than repetitious rants about the bicycle conspiracy and the 500 story towers proposed for the Market/Van Ness area.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

Olague is one of the ethically and intellectually challenged officials in San Francisco. She backed Michael Antonini, a millionaire developer who insists that every applicant buy him lunch (check his ethics commission filings), and gets free tickets to Giants games from architects. Antonini's latest manuver is bankrolling Santa Clara Plays Fair, by arranging for donations from Peet's Tavern to the Santa Clara group opposing the stadium. Olague defended to us over the phone Antonini's comments that Bayview was "filled with welfare housing." Now, Shute, Mihaly, and Weinberger, who represented San Francisco on the Hunters Point stadium project are representing Santa Clara Plays Fair in their effort to block the stadium in Santa Clara. Olague prevented the release of emails from Antonini to Bill Bailey, who has made several racist comments about President Obama in public meetings, and Debbie Bress, a failed candidate for Mayor in Santa Clara (who, according to court records said that AIDS victims should get what they deserve-----quote from Sunnyvale police report). Olague is an opportunist, and also an enabler of poor campaign ethics.

Posted by Mission City Lantern on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

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