San Francisco

SF Supervisors Approve Emergency Declaration for Tenderloin Neighborhood

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San Francisco's Tenderloin district is now under a state of emergency after the Board of Supervisors voted early Friday morning on the mayor's proposal to address the drug problem in the neighborhood.

The order will last 90 days, and over that span, the city says it will take better control of the Tenderloin.

The order gives the city power to waive planning and zoning codes to open what it calls a "linkage site" in the neighborhood, designed to help people get off drugs and provide mental health services.

Supervisor Matt Haney said the move is needed because there have been 1,700 overdose deaths in the community over the past three years. Mayor London Breed said the people living in the Tenderloin and the people suffering on the streets of the neighborhood deserve better.

"The Tenderloin needs change, and that requires us to do things different, Breed said in a statement. "We showed during COVID that when we’re able to use an Emergency Declaration to cut through the bureaucracy and barriers that get in the way of decisive action, we can get things done and make real, tangible progress. It will take that same focus and coordination in the Tenderloin to make a meaningful change to this neighborhood that has been held back for too long."

Breed was not at the virtual meeting, where supervisors Dean Preston and Shamann Walton voted no on the proposal to protest what they see as a plan for more policing. Police Chief Bill Scott, however, told the supervisors his department will not use the emergency declaration as "an arrest tactic to clear the streets."

But opponents say that's exactly what the order will do.

"This vague order is a trojan horse," caller Jean Barrish said. "It’s a plan to flood the Tenderloin with police, not social service workers, further harming those who are underserved and over-policed. Please do not pass this order."

Other callers said it's the wrong move at the wrong time.

The declaration can be revoked by the Board of Supervisors at any time, or extended beyond the 90 days.

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