24 June 2019
For Immediate Release: 

S.F. Supervisors to Hear Appeal Tuesday to Overturn Controversial Proposed Waterfront Homeless Center

Newly Disclosed City Documents Confirm Navigation Centers are Bad Neighbors

San Francisco—The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will hear an appeal at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, from a coalition of Embarcadero waterfront residents, businesses, and non-profits to overturn a controversial proposal by Mayor London Breed to construct a 200-bed homeless Navigation Center on the City’s waterfront halfway between The Ferry Building and the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park. 

Safe Embarcadero for All, a citizens group opposing the project, as well as others, filed a challenge because City and State rules, processes, and land use regulations prohibit the project. 

“The City has failed to—and may not ever—be able to meet any of the State’s and its own regulations,” said Safe Embarcadero for All attorney Peter S. Prows of the law firm of Briscoe Ivester & Bazel.  

Newly disclosed information from internal city documents here show that city homeless bureaucrats have not been truthful with residents or news media about the negative impacts of homeless Navigation Centers.  

“City officials were tripping over each other in March to tell us what an asset navigation centers are for the surrounding community,” said Wallace Lee of Safe Embarcadero for All.  

“But a newly-disclosed internal City email shows that Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing Director Jeff Kositsky was at the same time, in his own words, ‘getting a great deal of complaints about tents’ cropping up around the Division Circle Navigation Center at 224 S. Van Ness Ave.  Kositsky admits in the email that ‘we [the City] need to do a better job of complying with our good neighbor policy.’” 

The City has also disclosed hundreds of “Critical Incident Reports” in the last six months arising from existing Navigation Centers.  Those CIRs report deaths, overdoses and other calls for emergency services.   

The Bryant Navigation Center, which has an 84-bed capacity, generated at least 17 calls for police or paramedics in April (the last full month for which the City has released the reports).  In the same month, the Division Circle Navigation Center, with a capacity of 126 beds, generated 23 calls.  At those rates, a 200-bed Navigation Center can be expected to generate up to 40 calls a month.  Or more than one per day.  “How will that affect traffic on the busy Embarcadero?  How will it affect the already-stretched first responders in our area?” Lee asked.  

Opponents are “hopeful, but not holding our breath” that the Board of Supervisors will overturn the Mayor’s and Port Commission’s approval of the project, Lee added.  Opponents want the Supervisors to understand that City government is breaking not only public trust land use laws, but breaking the trust they have with the public, as well.

“No other project of this size and controversy has ever been approved in S.F. within a two-month period in recent history,” Prows added.

Lee said if the Supervisors do not overturn the proposed project, opponents will have no choice but to wage a legal battle to prevent the ill-conceived homeless center from being illegally built.

“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,” Lee said. 

The community has given generously and supported homeless facilities in the neighborhood, which include a Navigation Center at Fifth and Bryant streets and a facility operated by The Society of St. Vincent DePaul, both are which are within a mile of the proposed waterfront site. Numerous below-market-rate housing projects and homes for the formerly homeless are also located within half a mile of the proposed center.  The community is supportive of sensible development.  The immediate area has generated well over 6,000 units of housing, which includes over 1,000 units of below-market-rate housing, in recent years. 

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

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

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