Don't expect Mayor Jean Quan to get into any more auto accidents or be photographed behind the wheel looking at her phone anytime soon.

The mayor, who is running for re-election this November, has decided to leave the driving to one of her staffers or volunteer chauffeurs.

"It gives the mayor more time to tend to business during the day," her spokesman Sean Maher said.

Quan came under pressure to become a full-time passenger after her driving suddenly became a political liability in June when in the span of several days television cameras caught her using the phone while operating her Toyota Prius and she got into a collision with another car driving her city issued Lexus SUV.

Oakland mayor Jean Quan addresses the media on Sunday’s car accident at 26th and Market streets outside City Hall in Oakland, Calif., on Monday June
Oakland mayor Jean Quan addresses the media on Sunday's car accident at 26th and Market streets outside City Hall in Oakland, Calif., on Monday June 9, 2014. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

A police investigation was unable to determine which driver was at fault.

Maher said one mayoral staffer had already done quite a bit of driving for Quan before the crash.

"We're making that a stronger emphasis now," he said.

Councilwoman fights condo project

Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney's negotiating skill will soon be tested over a dispute in her own backyard.

The councilwoman and her husband have been battling a plan by the owner of a property adjacent to their single-family home on the 500 block of 32nd Street to build a four- or five-unit condominium complex.

City staffers approved the design over Gibson McElhaney's objections, but on Wednesday, the Planning Commission indicated they were leaning in favor of the councilwoman.


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The commission held off on a vote to give the parties a chance to work out an agreement, but there's no guarantee that will happen.

Gibson McElhaney, who hired a former city planner to represent her and paid $1,300 to file the appeal, said the three-story building proposed by Robert Brecht would position the units with their windows facing her property.

"There would always be eyes into my house, into my backyard," she said. "There would be no privacy."

Brecht said the only way to satisfy the councilwoman's concerns would be to knock out the bottom floor of garages, which would mean less available street parking and rental housing instead of condos.

"This building is getting built all over Oakland," he said. "Why is it bad design when it's built right next to her house."

The Planning Commission is scheduled to reconsider the project in December. Their ruling on the design can only be appealed to a Superior Court judge.