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Roger Boas
Roger Boas 1968
Chief Administrative Officer
of San Francisco

In office
January 3, 1977 – 1986
Preceded by Thomas Mellon
Succeeded by Rudy Nothenberg
Member of the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors

In office
Personal details
Born (1921-08-21)August 21, 1921
San Francisco, California
Died February 10, 2017(2017-02-10) (aged 95)
San Francisco, California
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Profession Businessman/Politician

John Roger Boas (August 21, 1921 – February 10, 2017) was a San Francisco businessman and politician, long prominent in the Democratic Party in northern California.


Boas was born August 21, 1921, in San Francisco, the son of Benjamin Boas, a finance company executive of German descent, and Larie Kline Boas.[1][2] He went to public schools in San Francisco, including Grant Grammar School and Galileo High School, and graduated from Stanford University.[3] He served in Europe during World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for “meritorious service” in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States, on August 8–9, 1944 near Caudan, France. He also received the Silver Star for "gallantry in action" and five battle stars.[3] He was a member of the 94th Field Artillery Battalion, 4th Armoured Division, and served as the battalion adjutant.[4]

In 1950 he went to work at his father's Pontiac dealership, Boas Motors, and eventually took over as owner in 1965.[5]

In 1958, together with future Mayor and US Senator Dianne Feinstein and Ron Pelosi, Boas was a key figure in the 1958 campaign that elected Clair Engle to the US Senate.[6]

Four years later, Boas was himself elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, on which he served until 1973. An avowed liberal, he was quoted in 1968 (when he also chaired the California Democratic Party) as discouraging the influx of "Summer of Love" young people into the city:

"My advice to kids around the country is not to come here. There must be hippie havens other than San Francisco."[7]

In 1963 Boas made history in public television with the début of a weekly program entitled "World Press." The program featured a round table discussion examining national news and abroad, featuring a panel of seventeen experts. "World Press," was the first national network program originating in San Francisco, and was broadcast worldwide on 185 stations.[8]

After running unsuccessfully for Congress in 1972 against Republican incumbent William S. Mailliard, Boas became Chief Administrative Officer of San Francisco under Mayors George Moscone and Dianne Feinstein from 1977 to 1986. Boas' duties as Chief Administrative Officer included overseeing a 2,500 member work force in departments and special projects with combined operating budgets of about $200 million and capital budgets of about $1.8 million.[5] His responsibilities included overseeing San Francisco's sewer system and garbage collection, and one of his biggest accomplishments came in 1980 with the Solid Waste Program, a long term program for managing the city's solid waste. This included "reducing waste at the source, separating waste for reuse, continuing mass collection, processing and converting waste to energy, and finding a landfill site for sanitary disposal of wastes that could be converted or recycled."[9] He also oversaw the development of convention facilities, including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the long-delayed $128.3 million Moscone Center, built in 1981. The action by the Board of Supervisors in approving the construction of the busiest convention center in the country was "a triumph for San Francisco" and one of Boas' greatest achievements to date.[10]

His political achievements also include leading the South of Market revitalization, and spearheading the BART link to San Francisco International Airport. In the 1980s he produced a report discussing infrastructure, in which he correctly predicted that "unless the aging under surface infrastructure is dealt with properly, such street problems would reoccur at an ever-increasing rate."[11]

In 1987, Boas ran to succeed Feinstein as Mayor, but was defeated by Art Agnos. His campaign posters still "dotted the city" the following year when, during a police sting operation that broke up a widespread teenage prostitution ring, Boas' face was recognized by one of the prostitutes as "a man who had been soliciting the ring for three years".[12]

Boas pleaded guilty on October 22, 1988, to seven counts of statutory rape involving teenage girls, with twelve more counts dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea. On November 19, 1988, he was fined $100,000 and sentenced to six months of community service.[13][14]

Boas was a long time member of the Concordia Club in San Francisco.

In the 1990s, he taught an Urban Studies Series at the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco. He is the longest-serving member on the Friends of the Fromm Institute Board of Directors. In May 2011, he was honored at the 35-year anniversary of the Fromm Institute in which he presented a lecture entitled "The Last 35 Years: Progress or Decline."[15]

In November 2011, the President of France awarded Boas the Legion of Honour at a Veterans Day ceremony in San Francisco for contributing to the liberation of France.[16]

Boas died of natural causes in his San Francisco, California home on February 10, 2017.[17]


  1. 1930 US Census,
  2. Sharp, Sarah (1986). Democratic Party Politics and Environmental Issues in California, 1962–1976. Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Declarations of Candidacy, General Municipal Election, November 7, 1961". For Supervisor: Roger Boas. Charles A. Rogers, Registrar of Voters. Retrieved December 31, 2010. 
  4. Terry Frei, "Details of a hero's death," The Denver Post, May 18, 2009, [1], accessed May 1, 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 Beggs, Marjorie (1986). "Roger Boas: Chief Administrative Officer". 
  6. Cyr Copertini, Oral History interview, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1986.
  7. "Wilting Flowers", May 10, 1968, Time, accessed June 21, 2008.
  8. Weinberger, Caspar. "In the Arena: A Memoir of the 20th century". 
  9. Feinstein, Dianne (1986). "From Infrastructure to the Arts: Report on the 10- Year Term of Chief Administrative officer Roger Boas". pp. 3. 
  10. "Yerba Buena, A Triumph". May 25, 1978. 
  11. "Supervisor Roger Boas Wins Unanimous Endorsement Of Building Trades Council". October 15, 1969. 
  12. "A cover-up is still suspected in the unsolved murder of an S.F. cop, 14 years after the fact", San Francisco Chronicle, February 16, 2003.
  13. "Ex-Official in Vice Plea Bargain ," The New York Times, October 22, 1988, accessed June 21, 2008.
  14. "Former Official Sentenced," The New York Times, November 19, 1988, accessed June 21, 2008.
  15. "From The Rooftop". The Fromm Institute of Lifelong Learning. University of San Francisco. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  16. "4 WW2 veterans awarded the Legion of Honor". 
  17. "Former SF civic leader Roger Boas dead at 95". 


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