San Francisco supervisors to vote on mayor's emergency order

By AP News

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Critics of the San Francisco mayor’s plan to crack down on drugs are urging a no vote when city leaders meet Thursday to authorize an emergency order slashing red tape to better address overdose deaths in the troubled Tenderloin neighborhood.

FILE - People sleep near discarded clothing and used needles on a street in the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco, on July 25, 2019. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will consider Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, an emergency order to speed up the city's ability to stem the high number of overdose deaths in the notorious Tenderloin district. The emergency order is part of Mayor London Breed's plan to crack down on drug use and drug dealing in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Janie Har, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Critics of the San Francisco mayor’s plan to crack down on drugs are urging a no vote when city leaders meet Thursday to authorize an emergency order slashing red tape to better address overdose deaths in the troubled Tenderloin neighborhood.

The public health emergency declaration allows the Department of Emergency Management to waive permitting, zoning and contract procurement rules to more quickly hire street cleaners and security and to set up a new temporary center where people can receive treatment and counseling, Mayor London Breed has said.

The order has nothing to do with police deployment, but critics are urging the Board of Supervisors to reject the declaration because of Breed’s broader plan to flood the area with officers and force drug users into jail if they won’t accept treatment.

“Threatening people with arrest doesn’t work as a way to get addicted folks into treatment,” said San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston, who wants the mayor to spend money on expanding mental health services, alternatives to policing and hotel rooms for the homeless.

“We can do this, but only if we learn from past mistakes instead of repeating them," he said on social media.

The Tenderloin includes museums, the main public library and government offices, including City Hall. But it's also teeming with people who are homeless or marginally housed, a high concentration of drug dealers and people consuming drugs in broad view.

Breed said last week that it was time to be “less tolerant of all the bull—- that has destroyed our city." She said it's not fair that residents can't use their parks or leave home.

“When someone is openly using drugs on the street, we’re going to give them the option of going to the services and treatment we’re providing. But if they refuse, we’re not going to allow them to continue using on the street,” she said on social media this week. “The families in the neighborhood deserve better.”

Deaths attributable to overdoses have increased more than 200% in San Francisco since 2018, and last year, more than 700 people died from drug overdoses in the city, more than the number who died from COVID-19, according to the proclamation .

Nearly 600 people have died of a drug overdose this year, through November, with nearly half of the deaths occurring in the Tenderloin and in the neighboring South of Market district, says the proclamation. These areas make up 7% of San Francisco's population.

Politically liberal cities across the U.S. are grappling with crime in the wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd, when their elected leaders pledged ways to reduce friction between police and vulnerable communities of color, particularly African Americans such as Floyd.

San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin joined the city's public defender earlier this week to denounce the mayor's plan, saying that jailing people struggling with addiction, mental health issues and homelessness would not work.

They want her to use the money on adding more treatment beds, shelters, job training and other social services.

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Author: AP News

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