The drug-dealing and feces inundating the streets of one neighborhood in San Francisco have become so ubiquitous that the University of California Hastings College of the Law, joined by local business owners and residents, is suing the city to clean the mess up.
The lawsuit states:
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the de facto policy of the City and County of San Francisco to use the Tenderloin community as a containment zone had resulted in a dramatic decline in the livability and safety of the neighborhood. The deplorable conditions tolerated by the City in the Tenderloin are not permitted in other neighborhoods in San Francisco. This is a matter of fundamental fairness; what is a city-wide problem should not be allowed to weigh disproportionately on a low-income working- class neighborhood. San Francisco should be prohibited from abandoning a single neighborhood, in an apparent effort to spare other neighborhoods the burdens that confront the city at-large.
Open-air drug sales and other criminal activity, plus crowds of drug users and sidewalk-blocking tents, pervade and threaten the health and lives of all of the Tenderloin’s residents. What has long been suffered in the Tenderloin has become insufferable.
UC Hastings Chancellor David Faigman told CNN, “We are suing because our neighborhood has become a pandemic containment zone. Tents are blocking streets, tents are blocking doorways, there are needles in the streets, there’s open-air drug dealing … We need the tents to be removed and we need the drug dealers to be stopped. Leaving them on the streets is no solution.”
“The number of tents and makeshift homeless shelters in the 50-block section that more than 20,000 permanent residents call home has more than doubled from 158 in early March to 391 as of May 1, according to a survey cited in the lawsuit,” The New York Post reported.
Last week, San Francisco mayor London N. Breed released the Tenderloin Neighborhood Safety Assessment and Plan for COVID-19, which stated:
The Plan has eight main goals:
- Address encampments by offering safe sleeping alternatives to unsheltered individuals.
- Facilitate social distancing compliance by closing streets and parking.
- Ensure that housed residents in the Tenderloin have safe passage and access to their homes and businesses.
- Improve access to hygiene station, restrooms and garbage disposal for unhoused individuals.
- Address food and water insecurity for housed and unhoused residents alike.
- Increase police presence in the neighborhood to focus on public safety concerns.
- Increase health services in the neighborhood.
- Increased education and outreach to residents and businesses through a ‘care ambassador’ program.
Faigman said the plan was “entirely inadequate,” adding, “It essentially institutionalizes the status quo. It simply leaves everybody in place. It is a Band-Aid when a bandage is needed and is simply inadequate.”
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