RIP Sue Bierman

SueBierman.jpgFormer San Francisco Sue Bierman died today. She apparently crashed her car into a dumpster in Cole Valley. Bierman was always one of my favorite supervisors and I certainly missed her when term limitations forced her out of office. Now I’ll miss her even more.

While she got a late start in politics (she was 68 when she first became Supervisor), Bierman brought a compassionate touch and a wise, no-bullshit voice of skepticism to almost every issue she took on. It was Bierman who stopped the freeway from expanding into the Panhandle.

Bierman offered a progressive voice that was distinctly San Franciscan: tolerant, quirky, and independent. She frequently adopted interesting and controversial positions, such as voting against an alcohol ban in the Panhandle, arguing that the homeless should have a place to drink alcohol as the homeowners did. (The only other supe to vote against the ban was Ammiano.) She even passionately defended the rights of the petitioners to reinstate the former Doggie Diner restaurant as a landmark.

I’ll miss Bierman, one of the few local politicians I never got a chance to meet. But her run as Supervisor through the 90s is a clear reminder that it’s never too late to get involved in politics.

(via SFist)


  1. I will never forget Sue Bierman’s eloquent testimony at the conclusion of the January 1979 Planning Commission hearings for reusing the historic City of Paris building (1896) in San Francisco for Neiman-Marcu’s new store. All but one of the people testifying urged the Commission to save and re-use the existing building.
    Unfortunately, collaborative political maneuvering by N-M attorney (and S.F. Assemblyman) Willie Brown and new default Mayor Dianne Feinstein (following the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk )

  2. (cont.)
    ….undid the petitions of 50,000 citizens who signed petitions to have Neiman-Marcus adapt and reuse the existing building. Commissioners who had heard mountains of previous public testimony and appeared to be leaning toward having N-M reuse the venerable grand lady tying our history to Paris were removed and replaced, resulting in a stunned audience who could not believe their efforts had been undone. Two years of legal challenges (all the way to the Cal. Supreme Court) were unsuccessful in overturning the Planning Commission’s ruling. Most of the entire story went unreported, under-reported, or mis-reported. The work of two architects working (myself included) to save the building was fraudulently misrepresented in the EIR, but that made no difference. In the end, despite her pledge to hear the matter, Justice Rose Bird suddenly refused to hear the case as more unsavory facts came to light. Even the citizens’ attorney appeared to be compromised in the deal somehow. When I challenged him with facts he had omitted in the case, he defensively declared: “There are numerous examples of fraud and chicanery in this case which I am not at liberty to discuss”. Is that even ethical?
    This was what Sue Bierman had the guts to stand up to. She will be missed.

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