BART reverses course; only Black director can remain after relocation dispute

Lateefah Simon has been elected BART board president for 2020.  (BART )

BART director Lateefah Simon – the only Black member of the board – can remain representing District 7 despite a dispute over whether she lived in the district she represented.

That proclamation was issued Wednesday in a joint statement by BART Board President Rebecca Saltzman and BART General Manager Bob Powers. 

"Simon..has been a champion for BART and our riders," the statement read. "This has been a very difficult situation…We want to express our deepest apologies to Lateefah and all stakeholders for how this has played out."

Simon responded in a statement by thanking the "community's advocacy and organizing," noting that her removal was "unlawful."

Earlier this month, BART officials said Simon was removed from the agency's board of directors because her current home sits outside the bounds of District 7, which includes parts of Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties, making her ineligible to represent the district. 

But Simon had said in a statement that she moved from her previous home last year due to threats her family received as a result of her support for police reform. 

She added that she had consulted with BART officials prior to moving and was "assured that the building is within District 7."

"I would not have moved my family to this residence otherwise," she had said. "I am deeply disappointed about this situation."

In Wednesday's announcement, Saltzman and Powers said they contacted legal counsel, who told them that technically, the board has not yet determined that an official vacancy in District 7. 

BART staff alone are not independently empowered to declare a vacancy in District 7, the statement said, and formal action by the majority of the board or an order by a court in a special judicial proceeding, known as a quo warranto action, is required to declare a vacancy. 

Simon, the only Black member of the nine-member board, was first elected in 2016 and served as the board's president in 2020.