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Last updated: 9/5/17

How you pass a law in San Francisco

Our legislative process can be an epic months-to-years long journey, but here's how you can shape the laws that govern our city.

woman thinking with light bulb coming out of her head, literally

You have an idea

The first step is to reach out to your Supervisor (aka Supe) and ask him/her to sponsor your idea. The Supe runs your proposal past the City Attorney to check if it's legal. Once it's been approved, the proposal is introduced at a full 11-member Board of Supervisors (BoS) meeting, where it's then assigned to a committee made up of three Supes. 30 days have to pass before the committee can hear it, giving you time to see what proposals are coming up.

Three Supervisors discussing a ginormous light bulb

Speak up in a committee hearing

Committees might sound boring but this is where the action happens. Committee hearings are where you have 3 minutes to persuade the three Supes that your proposal is the best. Recruit your friends too because this is the only time people can publicly comment on your specific idea. You can also email board.of.supervisors@sfgov.org if you like typing things. During the hearing, the Supes can debate the proposal, request changes, reject it, or decide with a majority vote (2 votes) to review it at the next full BoS meeting (you want the latter.)

The entire Board of Supervisors discussing the idea with more lightbulbs being produced

Attend a board of supervisors meeting

BoS meetings happen almost every Tuesday at 2pm at SF City Hall (Room 250). Your proposal has made it to the meeting agenda, and while you can't publicly voice your opinions anymore, this is when all of the Supes vote on your proposal. The BoS can still amend the proposal and send it back to committee, but with just six votes they can approve it, thus sending it to the Mayor.

The mayor figuring out whether to approve the light bulb

πŸ‘ πŸ‘Ž Wait for the Mayor's final say

Once the proposal is approved by the BoS the Mayor has 10 days to act. He/she can approve it (yay), veto it (wow, that sucks), or do nothing, automatically making it into law (yay). The BoS can override the Mayor's veto with 8 votes.

The idea going into law

Watch your proposal change SF

The Mayor digs your idea so you only have to wait another 30 days before your proposal becomes law. Mission burritos will officially be a part of every SFist's daily diet. Congrats.

What you can do

Here's when you can make your voice heard for proposed legislation. They happen weekly, and you can see the calendar of proposed legislation under each committee.
This is the schedule for the BoS meetings, almost all of which are open to the public. They will discuss legislation to be voted on, and allow for an open mic where you speak about anything (except for items they're voting on).
'Leg_Handbook.pdf' – The rich legislative handbook from which this whole page was derived from.
And then there's this 62 pager, which describes in excruciating English how the legislature works.

β€’ Art by Liam Madden for By The Bay β€’
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