san francisco city planning commissioner Photo: OliBac/Flickr

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recently nominated Joel Koppel to be a city planning commissioner, and while his appointment still needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, many are already speculating about what he may bring to the table.

Koppel graduated from the University of San Francisco in 1997 and went on to work as an electrician for eight years. During the construction of Embarcadero Center he was an estimator, project manager and data tech manager, and after that he was a foreman electrician during the construction of the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. At the moment, he’s director of business development for the San Francisco Electrical Contractors Association. 

It’s Koppel’s current role in a union that some think offers insight into what he’ll bring to the Planning Commission. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, he “regularly testifies in favor of major housing and office projects — as long as they utilize union labor.” The San Francisco Business Times has also suggested that his union background “may also influence his perspective on land use.”

San Francisco’s Planning Commission has seven members, four of which are appointed by the mayor and three of which are appointed by the president of the Board of Supervisors. The organizations’s role is vote on all new major development proposals in San Francisco, as well as on plans and policies for zoning, affordable housing and transit. One project the commission is involved in at the moment is “Subway Vision,” a plan for an improved subway system in the city.

In addition to Koppel, Myrna Melgar was recently nominated for a city planning commissioner position. Her appointment also requires approval from the Board of Supervisors.

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