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Mayor Lee Appoints Planning Commissioner Gwyneth Borden to SFMTA Board

Gwyneth Borden will fill a year-old vacancy on the SFMTA Board of Directors, Mayor Ed Lee announced today. Borden has sat on the Planning Commission since 2008 and is the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Gwyneth Borden. Photo via her Twitter page.

As a planning commissioner, Borden has exhibited a largely progressive view on issues such as permitting developments without car parking. At a hearing in 2012, she argued that the contentious 12-unit condo development at 1050 Valencia Street was fine without parking, noting that she lived near the site without a car, relying mostly on transit. "It is transit-rich," she said at the hearing. "It’s close to BART — I don’t even own a car.”

"She's sharp. She's a quick study," said Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich. "As a planning commissioner, she's definitely shown an understanding of the land use - transportation connection in regards to parking, location, streetscape improvements, the potential and responsibility of developments to activate street life... she definitely gets it. It's a good choice."

On the Planning Commission, Borden has called out developers for trying to exceed parking maximums set in the Market-Octavia Area Plan. However, she also said that a proposal for excess parking at the CityPlace Mall development on Market Street (now Market Street Place) would not set a precedent for other developments in the Downtown Plan area. She also supported a measure that allowed developers to exceed parking maximums to provide car-share spaces, arguing that it could lead to lower demand for the construction of parking down the road.

Borden's resume includes stints on the SPUR Board of Directors, on the Mayor's Transportation 2030 Task Force, and as a legislative aide for Gavin Newsom when he was a supervisor. Here it is as listed in the Mayor's Office press release:

Gwyneth J. Borden is currently a Commissioner on the Planning Commission, having served since 2008. In 2013, Gwyneth served on the Mayor’s 2030 Transportation Taskforce. Borden is the Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), leading promotion of the Bay Area’s thriving restaurant industry and small businesses. Prior to joining GGRA, Borden spent 10 years at IBM as the Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs for several states in the Western United States, managing IBM’s corporate citizenship, government relations and philanthropic activities focused on education, sustainability, workforce and economic development. Borden was also the Director of Government Relations for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Legislative Aide to then Supervisor Gavin Newsom and Staff Assistant to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. Borden is a recognized leader in business and the community, and has been involved in a number of community and philanthropic organizations including the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) Board of Directors and Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA. Borden holds a Bachelor’s degree in Policy Studies from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

Borden will fill the vacancy left by Leona Bridges, who abruptly left the SFMTA Board once she was appointed by Mayor Lee to the city’s Retirement Board nearly a year ago. Bridges was championed for her appointment to the SFMTA Board by then-Supervisor Bevan Dufty for her financial expertise and because she brought African-American representation to the board. Borden is also African-American, though it's unclear if that affected the mayor's decision to appoint her.

"Gwyneth Borden’s experience will be invaluable at the SFMTA Board as we invest in transportation infrastructure that will serve a growing San Francisco and a transportation system that is safe, reliable and affordable for everyone," Mayor Lee said in a statement.

Lee also announced that Borden's seat on the Planning Commission will be filled by Christine Johnson. We don't know much about Johnson's record in regards to transportation, but Lee praised her "financial leadership skills and experience in building sustainable communities," and said he's "glad that she has agreed to serve on the Planning Commission as we make critical smart growth decisions and build more housing."

Here's an excerpt from Johnson's bio from the Mayor's Office:

Christine D. Johnson is currently Chair of the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, one of two governing bodies for the Successor Agency to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and exercises land use, development and design approval authority for the Major Approved Development Projects including Mission Bay, Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point and Transbay. Johnson is also Principal at Berry Main, LLC, an economic development consultancy dedicated to working with community-based organizations and private and public sectors on smart policies to maximize urban economic growth and promote sustainable communities.

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