Episode #4: Rethinking City Planning with Rachael Tanner

Ben Kaplan
Ben Kaplan
min running time
August 15, 2023

In this episode of the "We Are San Francisco" podcast, join us as Rachael Tanner, president of the San Francisco Planning Commission, and Ben Kaplan delve deep into the intricate plans shaping the city's future.

From the planning roadmap for downtown San Francisco to the challenges and opportunities of a post-pandemic world, Tanner sheds light on the city's strategic vision.Conversation topics include nuances of area-specific plans, the difference between long-term planning and acute planning, and the unique needs of different neighborhoods.

Whether it's a revised strategic plan to end homelessness or strategies to combat the drug crisis, this episode offers a comprehensive look at the city's multifaceted planning approach and how to improve it. Tune in to understand the complexities of city planning and the passion driving San Francisco forward.

Episode Insights:

  • San Francisco needs more agile planning to deal with acute city problems — issues like crime and safety, homelessness, and the Fentanyl crisis.
  • Being lightning fast to respond to new challenges isn’t San Francisco city government.  But there’s actually recent precedent for coming together with swift and speedy coordinated decision-making — that’s exactly what happened during the COVID crisis.
  • We need our to city leaders to use the bully pulpit, instead of just bullying the other side, to more to get alignment and consensus.  Some of the greatest powers of the mayor, for instance, is the ability to shift priorities, change the narrative, and create laser-like focus for 39,000 city employees — powers that aren’t necessarily codified in any charter or law.
  • WE should develop a single, unified, and urgent plan for 2023 and 2024.  What if instead of proposing a budget that’s pretty much just more of the same, we implemented some radical pragmatism…. radical because we need a dramatic change from a status quo that clearly isn’t working and pragmatism because we can’t afford making big expenditures with no results.
  • Getting results is all about accountability — who is minding the store and do we have such a person in every city department?  Even a great plan gets poor results if we don’t follow it all of the way through.

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