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Open-air drug dealing task force proposal moves to full vote

Residents and businesses are fed up with drug dealing on the streets of San Francisco’s District 6.

Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the district, is pushing to form a task force that will advise the mayor, Board of Supervisors and city departments on policies to eliminate street-level drug dealing in the Tenderloin, Civic Center, Mid-Market and South of Market neighborhoods.

The board’s Rules Committee Monday approved Haney’s proposal to form the 12-member task force to address his constituents’ concerns related to daily open-air drug dealing.

Haney said:

“I’m proposing this task force to ensure that The City gets serious about addressing this crisis, which is concentrated largely in my district. The residents I represent are demanding change and so am I.”

New Supervisor Matt Haney attends his first Board of Supervisors meeting at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, January 8, 2019.
Ching Wong/SFBay

The task force would submit quarterly reports to the BOS and mayor, including data and recommendations regarding funding levels and enforcement strategies.

By December 2, 2020, the proposed legislation requires the task force to submit a “Vision Zero” plan to the board and mayor, which will include a comprehensive review of policies and procedures and recommendations to eliminate street-level drug dealing in the specified neighborhoods.

The legislation proposes the first three seats on the task force be filled by experts or those who have experience eliminating street-level drug dealing and a background in law enforcement, reentry, public health, harm reduction, community-based accountability and/or restorative justice.

Seats four, five and six would be held for persons directly impacted by street-level drug dealing, including those at risk, formerly incarcerated persons and people with past substance abuse issues.

Seats seven, eight and nine would be given to one San Francisco Police Department employee, one San Francisco Public Defender’s Office employee and one employee of San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Residents and businesses owners who live and work in affected neighborhoods would fill the remaining three seats.

The first nine seats on the task force would be nominated by the District 6 supervisor and require full BOS approval.

Lulu Vision via Flickr Drug free school zone sign posted on Post Street between Larkin and Hyde streets in San Francisco, Calif.

Haney read a letter from one resident in his district, the father of two children who often witness drug dealing in their neighborhood.

The letter said:

“When my wife walks my 5 and 11-year-old to schools, drugs are being dealt right in front of them. During their 10-minute walk to school, there are dozens of drug sales happening right in front of them.”

The letter continues:

“The moment we step outside of our home, we are always offered to buy or sell drugs. I am worried that my boys will be influenced by these people and they will sell drugs to them when they get older. You must protect our children. We live in constant fear.”

An April report from the Budget and Legislative Analyst showed that SFPD booked or cited 883 individuals for incidents related to drug sales during the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

More than half of those individuals were booked or cited by officers from the Tenderloin and Southern police districts. The South of Market and Mission Bay areas recorded the second highest number of bookings and citations related to drug sales.

Last month, U.S. Attorney for the Northern California District David L. Anderson announced a new federal initiative to partner with more than 15 law enforcement agencies to combat drug trafficking, firearm offenses, robberies and other crimes specifically plaguing the Tenderloin neighborhood.

Anderson announced the arrest of 32 individuals as the first step in the program’s launch.

Max Young formerly owned and operated Mr. Smith’s nightclub at Seventh and Stevenson streets. Young said he shut down the business after 19 years due to rampant drug dealing in the area.

Young said:

“There are organized drug dealings every day, every hour. I’ve got groups of drug dealers on my corner every day.”

Young added:

“We can’t get rid of them. They threaten my customers. They threaten my staff. No one wants to come to work.”

Pending full BOS approval, Haney hopes to launch the task force is start in the next couple months.

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