San Francisco Judge Denies Injunction to Stop South Beach Navigation Center

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A San Francisco judge on Monday denied a preliminary injunction aimed at stopping construction of a navigation center the city's South Beach neighborhood.

The group Safe Embarcadero For All, which is made up of residents opposed to the center's construction, filed the lawsuit earlier this month, claiming that the area's residents would experience irreparable harm if the center is built.

Opponents have said they'll be harmed by an increase in crime in the area.

Judge Ethan Schulman said, "I don't see any evidence... that the announcement of this project has created an increase in crime."

He said he found the idea "perplexing" that crime in the area has any connection to the site, which would house up to 200 homeless persons.

The suit also claimed the city hastily approved the center without seeking approval from the California State Lands Commission, which opponents say is required for the center because it's on Seawall Lot 330--property owned by the Port of San Francisco.

Schulman, however, pointed out that because the Port is leasing the site to the city temporarily, approval from the State Lands Commission is not required.

"We all see everyday on our streets the effects of the homelessness crisis," he said, adding that if the center did not go up, dozens of people would be left on the streets.

Following the hearing, Peter Prows, attorney for Safe Embarcadero For All maintained that crime in the South Beach area had gone up, pointing to recent violent, high-profile incidents, including the assault of a woman at the adjacent Watermark building last month by a homeless man.

"These are supposed to be areas where the city is keeping people safe. It can't do that and we saw that with the attacks captured on video," Prows said. "The residents who live here see it everyday in their neighborhoods."

Regarding an appeal on Schulman's decision, he said, "We'll see what comes next."

"Looking at the way the city has run other navigation centers, we don't have any confidence that the city will be able to run this one well, without any negative consequences for the neighborhood," Wallace Lee, president of Safe Embarcadero For All, said outside of court.

"It's not just me, but many neighbors have reported an increase in car break-ins, encampments in the area," he said. "If you look at other navigation centers and talk to people who live around them and work around them, there's no question that navigation centers have a negative impact."

"It's not homelessness that causes it, it's the fact that navigation centers allow drug users, the mentally ill and sex offenders into their facilities," he said. "They need help but they shouldn't be put in an area where there's 10,000 residents that live in a three-block radius."

John Cote, spokesman for the San Francisco City Attorney's Office said in a statement, "We're pleased the court has once again denied this baseless request to stop construction. San Francisco has a homeless crisis on its hands. We're doing something about it. The opponents claim they're concerned about homelessness and then fight the solution. That doesn't help anyone. Everyone needs to do their part. This project has undergone all of the required review, and all appropriate laws were followed."

Mayor London Breed said on Twitter, "We're moving forward because we need more Nav Centers to help people off the streets and connect them with services. We need more Nav Centers, more treatment beds, more permanent supportive housing, and more affordable housing if we're going to address the homelessness crisis."

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