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San Francisco ’emergency plan’ targets drugs, crime in the Tenderloin

Mayor London Breed announced an emergency plan Tuesday to deal with pervasive drug dealing and drug usage on Tenderloin streets.

Breed said she also plans to request a budget supplemental to request for more funding for police overtime to help provide resources for the plan, which includes having more officers in the neighborhood and to continue the deployment of officers that currently exists past the holidays.

Breed said she spoke with families from the Tenderloin neighborhood last week on safety issues and described their stories as “heartbreaking” and difficult to hear:

“Just imagine if you had to walk your kids down the streets of the Tenderloin every single day where people are shooting up, selling drugs.”

The mayor acknowledged that there could be critics of her plan, but said The City needs to act with urgency and aggressiveness to address the issues in the Tenderloin:

“We are not going to just walk by and let someone use in broad daylight on the streets and not give them a choice between going to the location we have identified for them or going to jail.”

The Department of Emergency Management will be in charge of the three-phased approach for the Tenderloin intervention plan. Mary Ellen Carroll, the executive director of the department, said they will use their expertise and experience from The City’s Covid response to address the crisis in the Tenderloin.

Ellen said the first phase, or the “assessment phase,” is already underway, which includes researching the top challenge in the Tenderloin — many mentioned at the Tuesday press conference, including selling and using drugs on the street as well as violent crimes.

Carroll said the next phase will include having clinicians, social workers, police and community groups to offer services at a new temporary linkage site:

When the site is established, it will allow individuals in crisis to access basic needs like hygiene and connect them to resources like substance abuse treatment and housing.”

Police Chief Bill Scott said The City does need to continue to be compassionate about individuals who have a substance abuse addiction and need help, though he added:

Being compassionate does not mean that we have to turn a blind eye to what’s happening on the streets.”

The final phase of the plan is to transition to sustainable operation plan for the Tenderloin, Breed said:

The key will be to never let the Tenderloin go back to what we are seeing today.”

In addition to the Tenderloin plan, the mayor announced new legislation Tuesday with Supervisor Ahsha Safai as a co-sponsor, to deal with stolen merchandise being sold on the streets.

Breed said the proposed legislation will create an “exclusion zone” for street vending activities in areas known for selling stolen goods, such as in UN Plaza. Vendors would need to display their approved permits as well as provide proof of purchase selling goods on the street when asked by inspectors.

The mayor also wants to change the law to allow law enforcement to access footage from cameras used by private businesses during emergency situations, such as during the thefts of Union Square businesses last month. She said the current law is “out of balance” and that amendments are needed to clarify when police officers can access the footage.

Breed said she plans to introduce those changes in January.

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