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(a) Findings. Burk E. Delventhal, known to all as Buck, joined the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office as a Deputy City Attorney in June 1970, and faithfully served the City and County of San Francisco in that capacity for more than 49 years, until October 2019, when he retired due to a sudden illness and tragically passed away shortly after. During his storied career, Buck served under four City Attorneys and provided legal advice to 10 Mayors, 93 members of the Board of Supervisors, and countless other City officers, employees, commissions, departments and City-related agencies.
Buck was a bastion of the City Attorney’s Office and a central figure in City government for nearly half a century – almost half the time City Hall itself has stood on this site. Buck, who was regarded as the oracle of the City Charter, played a critical role in nearly every major legal issue to face San Francisco during that time. Wrestling with the impacts of Proposition 13 on local government, working through the complicated issues surrounding Supervisor Dan White’s resignation and the tragic assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, aiding in the desegregation of the Police and Fire Departments, drafting the City’s domestic partnership ordinance and helping shape the equal benefits ordinance, helping (twice) to keep the San Francisco Giants from leaving town, advising on the legal issues involved in becoming a sanctuary city — Buck’s deft legal and personal touch steered all of these matters, and many more.
Buck’s keen intellect, legal acumen, and encyclopedic knowledge of municipal law and state and local history were complemented by a host of personal qualities that in part explained his reputation as a legal lion in the public realm and his stature as the go-to lawyer for the City’s toughest legal questions. He was a beacon of integrity and honesty, with no personal agenda beyond his commitment to principles of fair play and democratic self-governance and providing the best possible objective legal advice, which has become a hallmark of the City Attorney’s Office. His unassuming grace, easy smile, eternal optimism, and boundless energy – along with his simple, bedrock humanity – endeared him to his colleagues, his clients, and the public alike. He was beloved by many, and respected by all.
Buck was the consummate teacher, willing to share his knowledge, experience, and insights at every opportunity. As the City Attorney’s Office’s representative, he played a key role for many years in the work of the City Attorneys’ Department of the League of California Cities, the County Counsels Association of California and the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and was widely sought after and recognized throughout California and the country for his expertise in municipal law. During his decades of public service for the City, Buck was an inspiring and treasured mentor for generations of lawyers in the City Attorney’s Office, and for aspiring lawyers at the University of California Hastings College of Law, where he was an adjunct professor for many years. In addition to his love of the law, Buck was widely known for regaling colleagues, clients, and anyone else willing to listen with tales of his City Hall experiences, arcane details about San Francisco history and its neighborhoods, book recommendations on every imaginable topic, speaking many languages fluently, and, as a long-time member of the South End Rowing Club, extolling the benefits of early morning Bay swimming and luring as many colleagues as possible into the cold waters.
In 2013, the International Municipal Lawyers Association awarded Buck its highest honor, the Charles S. Rhyne Lifetime Achievement Award. That same year, the California State Bar’s Public Law Section awarded Buck the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year Award, regarded as the highest honor a governmental lawyer in California can receive. In 2000, and again in 2013, in Resolution Nos. 560-00 and 407-13, the Board of Supervisors honored Buck’s extraordinary achievements and service to the City by designating a day as Buck Delventhal Day in San Francisco.
The rotunda on the second floor of City Hall is an appropriate location to honor Buck Delventhal’s legacy. The second-floor rotunda stands between the Board of Supervisors legislative chamber and the Mayor’s Office, symbolically bridging the two centers of power in City government, and is often at the center of activity in City Hall, just as Buck so often was in his years of service to the City.
(b) Buck Delventhal Rotunda. The rotunda on the second floor of City Hall, between the elevator bank to the south, the staircase to the east, the former telephone alcove to the north, and the Board of Supervisors legislative chamber to the west, is named the Buck Delventhal Rotunda.
(c) Signage. By no later than June 30, 2020, the City Administrator shall erect a plaque in or around the Buck Delventhal Rotunda stating the name of the rotunda, with a brief description appropriately recognizing Buck Delventhal’s contributions to the City. The City Administrator shall have discretion to determine the precise location of the plaque, and its size, design and content.
(Added by Ord. 34-20, File No. 191256, App. 2/21/2020, Eff. 3/23/2020)