10 July 2019
For Immediate Release: 

S.F. Embarcadero Citizens Group Files State Lawsuit to Stop Controversial Waterfront Homeless Center

Sacramento—A San Francisco citizens group today filed a lawsuit to stop the City of San Francisco’s controversial plan to build a massive 200-bed homeless Navigation Center on the Embarcadero waterfront halfway between The Ferry Building and the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park.

Safe Embarcadero for All filed the lawsuit in Superior Court. The filing also seeks a temporary restraining order and stay to keep the development from progressing until the lawsuit is decided. 

The lawsuit seeks to have the State Lands Commission act to protect the public from the development as the property is public trust land over which the State Lands Commission has authority.

“San Francisco unilaterally approved a mega-housing project on San Francisco Bay-front land burdened by the public trust, which prohibits housing without prior State Lands Commission approval, among other requirements, and without any environmental or design review.  San Francisco violated direct statutory requirements the Legislature made specifically applicable to this special property,” according the coalition’s lawsuit filed by Peter Prows, an attorney with of the law firm of Briscoe Ivester & Bazel.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Port Commission approved the homeless development despite the overwhelming opposition of neighborhood residents, businesses, and non-profits.

“We support the moral imperative to care for the homeless. It is also a moral imperative of our government and its leaders to afford due process to residents, families, children, and businesses in this neighborhood and to protect them from harm,” said Wallace Lee, a member of the board of directors of Safe Embarcadero for All.

More than 10,000 residents—many of them retirees and young families with children—live within three blocks of the proposed navigation center, Lee noted.

“There are undeniable negative impacts of homeless shelters on our neighborhood, including public alcohol and drug consumption, police interventions, property crime, personal assaults, and attracting additional homeless encampments,” he added.

The Safe Embarcadero for All lawsuit claims the City of San Francisco failed to seek necessary approval from the State Land Commission.  In addition, the City, in its rush to approve the project, broke other rules by bypassing the California Environmental Quality Act, giving itself a sweetheart lease at a below market rate, and failing to follow its own land use laws.

Further, the lawsuit says that concentrating homeless shelters in Supervisorial District 6 will have a significant negative effect on the environment, including attracting additional homeless persons, open drug and alcohol use, crime, daily emergency calls, public urination and defecation, and other nuisances. The development will also have a significant impact on traffic and the environment as city leaders anticipate that regular emergency services will be expected at the homeless center, which is likely to regularly snarl traffic on the Bay Bridge and Embarcadero.

“While we recognize the seriousness of the homeless problem and the good faith of all those looking for solutions, we strongly oppose the placement of the center on The Embarcadero because it is the gateway to the City — its front yard,” Lee said. “Residents have generously supported homeless services facilities in our neighborhood.  We are proud to support the Delancey Street Foundation, for example, a leading residential self-help organization for the formerly homeless, drug-addicted and incarcerated that is in our neighborhood. We did not want to file this lawsuit, but we had no other option when the City decided it was above, and not subject to, the laws of the State and the City itself.”

To learn more about the organization Safe Embarcadero for All, visit our website at https://www.safeembarcaderoforall.org.

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