Neighborhood group challenges City’s decision-making on Navigation Center

The following is a guest post from Wallace Lee, President of Safe Embarcadero for All.  SEFA is a community nonprofit organized to voice concerns about public safety in the neighborhood and San Francisco’s controversial proposal to construct a homeless shelter on the waterfront.

Many of us moved to this neighborhood because we consider it safe place to live.  Indeed, safety may be a reason why ours is increasingly a neighborhood where San Franciscans choose to start a family.[1]

But the City’s efforts to rush a 200-bed homeless Navigation Center onto The Embarcadero waterfront threatens to upend the success of this growing community.  Moreover, the City’s approval of the homeless center on an accelerated timeline behind closed doors—bypassing the normal procedures to gather and consider community input—is a blow to responsible civic government.  

More than 10,000 people live within three blocks of the proposed project.  These are the people who will be most affected by the waterfront homeless center.  But their concerns have been ignored by City leaders who only care about seeking the most expedient solution to the difficult problem of homelessness. 

There are undeniable and well-documented negative impacts of homeless shelters, including public alcohol and drug consumption, police interventions, property crime, personal assaults, and attracting additional homeless encampments.  Yet the City has pretended that these problems do not exist with Navigation Centers.  In promoting the waterfront homeless center, City officials told residents that they have nothing to fear because Navigation Centers abide by 
“good neighbor policies.”

Through public records requests, we recently received previously-undisclosed documents from the City that call into question the City’s claims about Navigation Centers.

For example, an internal email from March 2019 shows that Homelessness Department Director Jeff Kositsky was, “getting a great deal of complaints about tents” cropping up around the Division Circle Navigation Center and admitted that “[the City] needs to do a better job of complying with our good neighbor policy.”  This was at the same time that Kositsky and others were touting the success of good neighbor policies.

The City has also disclosed hundreds of “Critical Incident Reports” generated by existing Navigation Centers in the last 6 months.  They report deaths, drug overdoses, and other calls for emergency services.  

If the rate of Critical Incident Reports from the 84-bed Bryant Navigation Center and the 126-bed Division Circle Navigation Center are extrapolated to the much-larger 200-bed Embarcadero Navigation Center, then we can expect it to generate 40 calls a month—or more than one emergency call a day!  And that’s only counting the calls generated insidethe center.

One frequent complaint heard in our neighborhood is that our first responders are already stretched thin.  Yet the City has announced no plans to expand those services to accommodate the calls from the new homeless center.

City records have also revealed that residents are right to worry that the new homeless center will be a magnet for encampments and the problems they bring.  Over just a two month period, recordsfrom other Navigation Centers detail incidents like:

  • A former Dogpatch Navigation Center guest pitched a tent around the corner from the center and used the tent as a drug den for current guests of the center.
  • A guest kicked out of the Bayshore Navigation Center set up camp with others next door.  A fire from his tent caused damage to the neighboring small business.  The business owner complained that his employees were threatened with weapons.
  • The Homelessness Department directed that a camper set up behind the Bryant Navigation Center should not be removed because “she is very mentally ill.”
  • Debris was piled up next to the Bryant Navigation Center so that people could climb over the fence surrounding the center.

All this is not to deny that Navigation Centers provide a much-needed respite for their guests.  However, the fact is that these centers are not the benign presence the City claims.  Given the track record of problems associated with existing Navigation Centers, the City should have engaged with the community to find solutions that work for everyone. Instead, the City is railroading the largest-ever Navigation Center into one of the most densely-populated areas. It is a dangerous experiment.

In moving as quickly as it has, the City has circumvented multiple laws and regulations designed to protect the public.  Among those are the public trust doctrine.  San Francisco received the waterfront site in trust from the state in 1969.  The public trust doctrine, with its roots in the California Constitution, holds that certain important resources (like waterfront property) are preserved in perpetuity for public use and enjoyment—for water-related purposes.  If the City wants to make a non-trust use of public trust property—as the waterfront homeless center would be—the law imposes specific requirements which the City has not followed.  

There is another equally important issue of public trust at stake:  the public’s trust in the City government. This public trust is based upon the belief that government and its representatives will follow the rules, comply with regulations, and be beholden to the same rules to which citizens are subject.  

The City has broken both public trust governing the site for the waterfront homeless center and has broken the public’s trust in the City as well.  This leaves residents no other option than to head to court to hold the City accountable.

If you would like to support Safe Embarcadero for All’s lawsuit against the City, please visit https://www.safeembarcaderoforall.org/contribute.


[1]Recent census data shows that the number of children has increased by 49% in the last five years while the total population has grown by 25%.

Killer Queens (all-female Queen cover band) performance and sing-a-long viewing of Bohemian Rhapsody this Saturday at Oracle Park!

From our neighbors, the San Francisco Giants….

The San Francisco Giants are bringing the first ever non-game day public movie night to Oracle Park this summer! Please join us on Saturday, July 13th as we show Bohemian Rhapsody (Sing-Along) on Oracle Park’s brand new, 4K scoreboard (the largest video board in California – 45% larger than San Francisco’s biggest movie theater). On the 34th anniversary of Queen’s historic Live Aid performance, guests will get exclusive access to sit on the Field, enjoy a pre-show performance by The Killer Queens (the world’s only, and San Francisco’s own, all-female tribute to Queen), and sing along to Queen’s hits while watching a special cut of the film Bohemian Rhapsody (2018, PG-13). Prizes will be handed out to select individuals wearing their best Freddie Mercury costumes. A portion of all ticket sales will be donated to our partners at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. We look forward to seeing you at the ballpark!

https://www.mlb.com/giants/ballpark/events/movie-night

Buy tickets today – only $15 for basic general admission!

Are you prepared? Free earthquake preparedness training from San Francisco Fire Department – NERT Program

The earthquakes in southern California hopefully pique your interest in being prepared for our next big earthquake in the Bay Area.

Some good references include:

Port Commission meeting location switches again

This Tuesday, April 23rd at 3:15pm, the Port Commission will meet at the normal location at the Ferry Building, 2nd Floor Port Commissioners Meeting Room. Find more information, like the Agenda and Supporting Documents on the Port’s website.

The paid agitators and sycophants will be there to try to diminish the request for equality and equitable treatment of the SoMa Waterfront, giving us a legitimate community input process instead of the mockery of community meetings where the communications are just one-way, asynchronous talking with no listening to the residents by the City elected and employees who work for the residents.

The Memorandum of Understanding for the criteria regarding increases in client numbers timelines, renewal of the lease, and other important details was just released on Friday, April 19, 2019 – everybody works all week just to read this kind of stuff on the weekend, right? If we had a democracy in San Francisco instead of dictatorship in practice, the community would have at least one week to review the Memorandum of Understanding and a chance to provide feedback on the weaknesses and risks/dangers/costs to the Port of our Port Commissioners naively and prematurely approving it. This is just as bad as Donald Trump – all aimed at self-preservation at the ballot box, in my personal opinion.

Keep fighting the good fight to stop geographic discrimination, to have a more equitable community input process for the proposed shelter at Seawall Lot 330 instead of the attempted steamrolling, and absolutely vote against those promoting such awful governance practices that a more similar to a dictatorship than a democracy as we’re seeing right now. Just vote NO.

Transbay JPA Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 9, 2019

There is a pretty ho-hum agenda for this Tuesday’s Transbay Joint Powers Authority Citizens Advisory Committee. Note that this CAC is a separate CAC from he one that meets under the auspices of the former Redevelopment Agency and is known as just Transbay Citizens Advisory Committee that meets at YBCA at 701 Mission normally.

Click this link to see the agenda: http://www.tjpa.org/calendar-items/cac-meeting-april-9-2019

Presentation for Seawall Lot 330 Proposed 225-person Shelter from 4/3/2019 information session at Delancey Street Foundation

In case you are interested in reviewing the information presented at Wednesday evening’s meeting about the proposed 225-person shelter for Seawall Lot 330, here is a PDF of the presentation from Emily Cohen (email: Emily.cohen@sfgov.org ).

Also, a very thoughtful suggestion by a South Beach resident for better community outreach by Mayor Breed that may help result in a more efficient creation of navigation centers in all 11 Supervisorial Districts

A Mayoral Candidate from South of Market!

I invite you to help South of Market resident and business operator Adam Mesnick to seed fund his run for Mayor of San Francisco this November. If you follow his Twitter feed, #https://twitter.com/bettersomaBetterSoMa, you know that he sees the drug addiction problem that is going unaddressed by Mayor London Breed. He sees the mental health problem that is going unaddressed by Mayor London Breed. Adam Mesnick is the change that San Franciscans tired of stepping in others’ shit have been waiting for, in my personal opinion.

Fighting for a Sincere Community Process from Mayor London Breed

Mayor London Breed tried to take a shortcut, disrespecting the SoMa Waterfront residents who have been more than accommodating of changes when we are given a seat at the table and listened to.

This is about getting treated the same way along the SoMa Waterfront as the residents of North Beach, the Marina, or Noe Valley. We have not been getting treated equitably, and that is what we oppose – geographic discrimination.

This Mayor and her predecessors have continually practiced geographic discrimination in South of Market – pulling out the rug and shortchanging residents on the respect and opportunity to find a Win-Win configuration like almost every other San Francisco neighborhood does receive. She could have avoided shooting herself in the foot and triggering a legal battle by having a sincere discussion with residents and asking for input. Instead, she wants to strong-arm a community already forced to form a Community Benefit District (CBD) on one side of the Bay Bridge because the City refuses to provide the public safety and clean streets services to us as other neighborhoods take for granted.

Given the discriminatory treatment and dismissive nature of Mayor London Breed towards our equal treatment by our City government, we have been forced to take our gloves off and lawyer up. Please donate what you can to help fund our fight for respect and a place at the table that has thus far been denied with disingenuous talking-down informational presentations. Until we have a back and forth discussion and until the City voluntarily, not via sunshine ordinance requests 10 days later, shares their analysis of the 100+ location, we have to fight!

When every other neighborhood gets 6 months or more of meetings to discuss configuration options for Navigation Center locations to try to arrive at a win-win, but we get shat upon by our Mayor and City government, we have to say TIME’S UP! ENOUGH! Please donate to the neighbors’ legal fund.

Homeless advocates have successfully been fundraising for the non-profit Coalition on Homelessness, though they falsely claim we’re all millionaires – I guess they don’t realize this is a redevelopment zone in South Beach and north of Folsom Street with many inclusionary affordable, all affordable, and some supportive housing units among the skyscrapers. At any rate, I believe Rincon Hill neighbors oppose the shitty treatment of our rights by Mayor Breed, but we do not oppose helping our homeless neighbors – so please consider donating to Coalition on Homelessness too!

If you want another charity, consider donating to Rincon’s Embarcadero YMCA who provide a lot of services for kids from Bessie Carmichael schools and has a high school called Youth Chance High School for students who had challenges in regular public schools,

Fight for EQUALITY for the SoMa Waterfront

The SoMa Waterfront continues to be treated with geographic discrimination by our City government. TIME’S UP!

Join me in Fighting for our Equal Rights in SF!
 Here’s what you can do to join other neighbors who are tired of the geographic discrimination and who want to get a normal community process to talk about this Navigation Center proposal and negotiate so that our neighborhood is not less safe and less clean:

  • Visit the website https://sfresidents.com/act-now and click on your Supervisorial District (SoMa, Mission Bay, and Tenderloin residents are District 6, Supervisor Matt Haney) to have an email auto populate to send – and SEND IT!
  • Since Mayor London Breed is not respecting our community, one of our options is to hire a lawyer to fight the City tooth and nail.  That takes money, and I encourage you to donate $250 or whatever it is worth to you to try to protect your kids from commonly seeing drug addicts injecting their body parts by our homes, your wives/girlfriends from a high concentration of registered sex offenders, and yourself from knife wielding schizophrenic violent people who really need a mental health hospital – not a bunk on the SoMa Waterfront.
  • Please share these bullet points and links with your neighbors. East SoMa has a total count of 50 homeless people according to the latest count – so know that the City’s line about the Navigation Center is intended to help our homeless neighbors already on our streets is a total lie. Hell, I have been walking by the same neighbor on the 100 block of Main Street ever since I moved to Rincon Hill in 2006 – he seems content and I do not expect he’d want to move indoors if invited, frankly. The Mayor needs to be able to take the bad behaving drug addicts and schizophrenic mentally ill out of the other 10 Supervisorial Districts and contain them in District 6 as has been the geographically discriminatory practice of San Francisco government for decades now. Please help fight this inequality that should stop being foisted upon just District 6 instead of shared equitably across all San Francisco Supervisor districts – the Marina, Richmond, Sunset, and so on need to STEP UP.

A neighbor has compiled an excellent booklet that I encourage you to read and share with your neighbors about why this is an awful location, in the midst of San Francisco Giants and soon Golden State Warriors and concert foot traffic along our gorgeous waterfront, to build a mega 225 person drug addict and mentally disturbed institution.

Good news – Port Commissioners are waking up and realizing hundreds of residents are organizing along the SoMa Waterfront, and they had better think twice about rubber stamping this proposed mega drug addict/mental health shelter at Seawall Lot 330.  Get involved – don’t be a compliant sheep and allow the inequality and discrimination against the SoMa Waterfront to go uncontested by you and your loved ones.  FIGHT!