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Letter to Supervisor Daly – Support Public Safety First

Dear Supervisor Daly,

I want to applaud you for recommending the City replace the Federal Government funds cut from HIV/AIDS services for San Franciscans. I also want to applaud you for recommending that we increase the availability of beds for the mentally ill. These represent programs that benefit all San Franciscans at the end of the day.

I would suggest the $5 million in funding for these services that benefit us all come out of the street re-surfacing portion of the Mayor’s budget.

The biggest piece of your suggested re-allocation of the City’s budget is $31 million to go towards affordable housing at the expense of additional police and the Mayor’s proposed Community Justice Center. I appreciate that housing is not affordable for most working folks as I am one of the beneficiaries of the City Second Loan program provided by the Mayor’s Office of Housing. However, the understaffing of our police force is becoming a deadly problem for San Franciscans and tourists who become victims while visiting our fabulous City. I strongly discourage you from taking funds away from public safety and the Community Justice Center in order to fund additional affordable housing at this time.

The acts of violence against San Franciscans have become more and more brazen. Earlier this week, a man from Vallejo called out to a pedestrian, Kenneth Lee, at the corner of Townsend and Lusk streets under the guise of asking directions, but when Mr. Lee bent down to help the man out, the man shot Mr. Lee with a .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol 3 times. Supervisor Daly, that could have been you, me, or any of us who are quite used to being asked directions by drivers while we are walking around town. San Francisco has let itself become an easy target for robberies and random violence, and that has to stop.

The Castro Halloween party is another example of how folks come into the City to harm others. I’m not happy the Party is tentatively going to happen in my backyard in Mission Bay without any public input thus far from those of us who live in the area, but it is also another example of why we need more police in the City.

Let’s talk pedestrian safety …. how many more stories do we need to read about pedestrians being hit by cars and either seriously injured or killed before we increase the SFPD’s traffic patrol from around 50% staffed to 100% staffed? People drive at excessive speeds in this City and break various traffic laws because they know the probability of getting caught is minimal. This puts every San Franciscan who chooses to use their own two legs as their primary means of transportation, like myself, at a much greater risk of getting hurt or killed. While younger folks can often avoid getting hurt by quickly reacting to the unsafe drivers, our senior citizens cannot. Thus we have a woman in her mid-80s run over and killed at 19th Avenue this past weekend by an impatient driver from out of town.

Affordable housing is useless if the people living in those homes are prisoners of fear to step outside. San Francisco has become the target of criminals from Contra Costa County, Alameda County, and as far away as Modesto because they know they can come into the City, rob/beat up/kill San Franciscans and tourists, and go back to their homes with little fear of ever being caught. We have become accomodating to criminals, and this must stop. No San Franciscan should be afraid to walk out of their home whenever they want to do so for fear of being a victim of intentional violence or an excessively speeding driver.

The Community Justice Center is needed. While walking to Dottie’s in the Tenderloin for a breakfast on any given morning, you will likely be offered marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth, and other drugs despite the fact a police station is just a block or two away. Men and women pissing on storefronts is a common sight that doesn’t make this Midwestern boy think twice anymore because I’m so accustomed to seeing it – I’ve accepted it as a norm in this City, but why?

Panhandling is out of control in the City – it has become a sport of bullies and intimidation. I watch with horror on Powell Street when tourists are approached by someone asking them to hand over their food, calling the tourists various offensive, sometimes racist/homophobic, names. God forbid I ever become homeless, but if I do, it does not excuse me from showing respect to others and asking nicely for a helping hand. There is a gentleman who sleeps behind a row of newspaper boxes on the corner of Howard and Main Streets who understands that his socioeconomic circumstance does not permit him to intimidate, bully, or otherwise decrease the quality of life for those who live around him. I see the Community Justice Center as a means to get those folks who are bullying and intimidating others to get some potential alternative help from the City. Sometimes, there simply is no good solution – I understand this as someone who has an uncle who is paranoid, schizophrenic – there’s little to no way to rationalize with people who are not taking the medicines they need to deal with their mental illnesses. However, we should not allow them to stay on the streets and scare others as a man I occasionally run into around 50 California Street does with his sudden roundhouse kicking and throwing of punches towards me. Why should I have to put up with that?

Supervisor Daly, I appreciate your desire to help others who need/want affordable housing. However, we need to focus on public safety in San Francisco. Please do not take away funds from police or the Community Justice Center. Please do not enable criminals to continue coming to San Francisco to rob us, beat us, and shoot us to death.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Jamie Whitaker

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