18 October 2019
For Immediate Release: 

New Legal Motion by Citizens’ Group to Stop Embarcadero Homeless Shelter

Judge’s Ruling Says Safe Embarcadero For All has “Likelihood of Prevailing on the Merits” on its Claim S.F. Failed to Follow State Lands Commission Rules

San Francisco—A neighborhood group opposing San Francisco’s plans to build a homeless shelter on The Embarcadero today filed a new legal motion to halt the project because the City violated state and local laws and never obtained permits for its development of a 200 bed homeless shelter and offices spaces.


Safe Embarcadero For All Attorney Peter Prows, of the San Francisco land use law firm Briscoe Ivester & Bazel, today filed a motion for a peremptory writ of mandamus against the City of San Francisco in superior court. A hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 12 in Department 302. A peremptory writ of mandamus is a court order requiring the City set aside its approval of a project.

Prows said that while Safe Embarcadero for All’s previous request for a temporary restraining order was denied by the court, the judge wrote it was likely that the City failed to get the necessary approval from the State Lands Commission for the development.

Judge Ethan Schulman ruled on Sept. 23 that construction by the city on the shelter could continue for the time being, but noted in his written decision that “Petitioner (Safe Embarcadero) has shown a likelihood of prevailing on the merits of one of its claims.” (The substantive discussion of that claim, arising from the City’s failure to obtain State Lands Commission approval, is on pages 14-17 of the judge’s decision).

In the filing today, the motion asks: “The Court should issue a writ to San Francisco confirming what this Court has already concluded:  that San Francisco violated the law by proceeding with the housing and office project at issue without obtaining the required prior State Lands Commission approval, upon important findings, the Legislature specifically required.  Petitioner is right on the merits of this central claim in its petition, and it is entitled to judgment in its favor now.”

Prows said the legal motion, if successful, will stop the construction of the homeless shelter and keep the neighborhood safer.

“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,” added Prows.

Safe Embarcadero for All Board Member Wallace Lee said that since the Mayor announced this project in March, violent crime within the “safety zone” the City has proclaimed has spiked.  The City’s crime data shows that assaults within that safety zone are up 73% from the same period the year before.

The most notorious assault was the widely reported recent assault captured on video at the Watermark building, at 501 Beale St., allegedly by an apparently deranged and violent homeless person, suspect Austin James Vincent.

The City cannot fill the beds it currently has for the homeless. And, yet the City’s current plan is to concentrate the homeless spread out across a wide area of the City into a densely populated residential neighborhood.  The City’s plan puts the neighborhood in danger, Lee said. 

The SEFA group does not believe the city’s promised mitigation measures to protect citizens from harm will protect against the negative impacts of the facility on the neighborhood and its residents.

“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,” added Lee.

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.

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