Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

RESCHEDULED: Announcement of Interested Persons Meetings to Discuss Revised Fixed Penalty Policy for New Streamlined Administrative Resolution Program

NEW DATE: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM

and

NEW DATE: Thursday, January 28, 2021– 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Meetings Rescheduled

Staff have postponed these meetings by three weeks to ensure adequate opportunity for stakeholder participation and feedback.

Due to ongoing Covid-19 public health orders restricting in-person gatherings, these meetings will be conducted remotely using an online meeting platform. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to eric.willett@sfgov.org and you will be provided with a link to the meeting. 

Proposed Revised Fixed Penalty Policy and Streamlined Administrative Resolution Program

Enforcement Process Overview

Staff from the Commission’s Enforcement Division will hold two interested persons meetings to receive input on proposed revisions to the Commission’s Fixed Penalty Policy. This Policy was originally adopted by the Commission in July 2013 and allows certain violations of law to be resolved through enforcement actions that apply a fixed penalty schedule. The Commission seeks to expand this Policy to cover additional similar types of violations that it believes are appropriate to resolve through use of a fixed penalty approach. By expanding the scope of the Policy and standardizing approaches for a greater range of matters, the Commission seeks to streamline its enforcement processes where appropriate and rebalance the enforcement resources needed to resolve these types of cases. The revised Policy is designed to reduce case resolution timeframes overall while continuing to provide public accountability for violations of the law. The focus of these meetings will be to solicit feedback on the Draft Policy that Staff are proposing.

Background

At the August 2019 regular meeting of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, Staff presented an overview of process improvements underway to increase the operational effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency of the Commission’s enforcement program. The Commission indicated its interest in examining the existing Fixed Penalty Policy to expand the types of potential violations that the Policy should cover, and thereby streamline and accelerate the resolution of Commission enforcement matters overall. At the September 2019 Ethics Commission meeting, Staff outlined a proposed process for this review.

Consistent with that process, Staff held two Interested Persons Meetings in November 2019 to gather feedback on Staff’s approach to revising the Fixed Penalty Policy. Those meetings focused on the principles governing an expanded Fixed Penalty Policy, the scope of violations to be included, and other considerations such as eligibility and penalties. After conducting further research on the scope of revisions, Staff have prepared the attached Revised Fixed Penalty documents that provide guidelines governing program eligibility and applicable penalties. As detailed in the attached, the new Fixed Penalty Policy would be implemented by the Enforcement Division as part of a new Streamlined Administrative Resolution Program, as depicted in the attached Enforcement Process Overview.

Focus of Upcoming Sessions

The Commission seeks public comment on the following questions in particular:

  1. Are the types of provisions contained in the expanded proposal appropriate for treatment under a fixed penalty policy?
  2. Do the approaches outlined most effectively balance the goal of standardizing and streamlining enforcement processes with the goal of public accountability for violations of the covered laws? Should violations of the expanded list be modified to better balance these two goals?
  3. Does the proposed penalty schedule adequately address the public harm that results from the violation types identified?
  4. Should any changes be made to make the Policy or its implementation more clear or effective?

In addition to, or in lieu of, attendance, Staff welcomes written comments, which can be sent via email to ethics.commission@sfgov.org or via U.S. mail to San Francisco Ethics Commission, 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 220, San Francisco, CA 94102. Please note that due to the ongoing public health directives of the City and County of San Francisco, the Ethics Commission’s physical office is currently closed and the review of mail received at this address therefore will be delayed.

For questions about the upcoming Interested Persons Meetings, please contact Senior Investigator Eric Willett at eric.willett@sfgov.org. We welcome your input and hope to see you online at one of our upcoming meetings.

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