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News + PoliticsCity HallSupes may take another look at Breed's Tenderloin State of Emergency

Supes may take another look at Breed’s Tenderloin State of Emergency

Peskin wants another hearing—and there are so, so many questions that still need to be answered.


The Board of Supes may reconsider the mayor’s State of Emergency proclamation for the Tenderloin Tuesday/4.

The board agenda includes a Committee of the Whole hearing on the issue, which Sup. Aaron Peskin requested since he was out of the country and unable to join the special Dec. 23 meeting.

Sup. Peskin wants to know if CPMC will help with the crisis.

I still don’t understand why the supes agreed to that special meeting during a recess; nothing has happened in the past week and a half that couldn’t have waited until the full board was present. In fact, there isn’t a real plan for the Tenderloin today, any more than there was on Dec. 23.

But never mind: The emergency was approved 8-2 with a lot of questions unanswered. And now, if Peskin can get five of his colleagues to go along, the board can demand more information.

Peskin told me today that the crisis in the Tenderloin is real, and not at all new. But he said that if there’s going to be a State of Emergency, the city ought to be asking the giant California Pacific Medical Center, which sits on the edge of that neighborhood, to help out.

“They haven’t been doing anything,” he said. “They have clinicians, the have behavioral health staff, they have beds, and we ought to demand that they be a part of the solution.”

CPMC is famously aloof and resistant to community input. When the destination hospital was built, it took a massive mobilization to get the very wealthy nonprofit to accept impact fees and a community benefits package.

The mayor is eager to put the police and Department of Public Works to work on clearing streets—but she hasn’t demanded that the big private health companies step up to help.

“That is a question I would like to raise,” Peskin told me.

There’s a lot more that the supes could be asking. A few questions that seem pretty obvious to me:

—The mayor has made very clear in repeated statements that she thinks more cops and more arrests are part of the solution, and that, in fact, people who are using drugs should be forced to choose between treatment and jail. From the Chron: “The mayor said “the goal is to not let anyone stay out in the streets.” That echoed what Breed had said Tuesday — that people using drugs in public and breaking other laws would either have a choice to go to the linkage center or to jail.”

Her staff says that’s not the plan at all. Who is telling the truth? Has Breed changed her mind, or are the staff trying to soften the mayor’s position? The Mayor’s Office is not always a well-functioning political machine, but her comments weren’t off the cuff; her staff vetted that speech and her Medium post. Why the sudden change now?

—If people are told they have to accept treatment or go to jail—or if they decided that’s what they want—how many free treatment beds, in what facilities, are available and how long is the wait list?

—How many free acute behavioral health beds are available, in what facilities, and how long is the wait list?

—The mayor said she’s putting more cops in the Tenderloin. Her staff says that policing isn’t the primary solution. But data from the SF Sheriff’s Office, provided to me by the No New SF Jail Coalition, shows that the population of the county jail has increased by 65 people, to more than 900, just since the emergency proclamation. Are those new inmates part of a crackdown, or is this just a random (or seasonal) variation?

—Everyone with any sense agrees that a safe-injection site would do wonders to get open-air drug use off the streets and to prevent overdose deaths. When is that going to open, and what are the roadblocks? Is City Attorney David Chiu fully on board?

So many things we don’t know.

The meeting starts at 2pm.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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