With the hotly contested Embarcadero Navigation Center having recently opened its doors and at least five Supervisors now pushing for new Navigation Centers to be built in every Supervisorial District, a proposed ballot measure to strictly limit the operation of existing centers and restrict the opening of any new centers in the city has been drafted.

As championed by Richie Greenberg and Larry Marso and filed with San Francisco’s Department of Elections on Monday, the proposed “Limitations on Navigation Centers” measure would restrict the operation of any Navigation Center to a maximum of two years without voter approval to extend.

In addition, the measure would institute a “strict location rule,” forcing any new centers to either be opened “in the census tract in the City with the largest number of unsheltered homeless” or a directly adjacent tract, or the census tract with the next largest number of unsheltered homeless if there’s already an operating center in the aforementioned tract, with a statutory limit of 100 beds per center and 60 day stays (“renewable if [an individual is] hospitalized, completing rehab, or out of a navigation center for 120 days”).

Keep in mind there are 197 census tracts in San Francisco versus 11 Supervisorial Districts.

The measure would also explicitly prohibit the possession or use of any alcohol, controlled substances, knives or guns within a Navigation Center; disallow centers from distributing clean syringes/needles or becoming a designated safe injection/consumption site; and shutter centers that fail to enforce said rules.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Adam

    This cycle has gotten pretty old with me. These people who complain endlessly about the various problems our community faces, then when someone tries to do something to address those problems (whether it be homelessness or high rent or the cost of construction) those same people reveal themselves to be relentless NIMBYs who will stonewall anything and everything with only a vague promise that there is another solution out there that they would actually support. Spoiler: there isn’t and they don’t really care.

    • Posted by Scott Parsons

      See it’s all about “caring” and feeling good about yourself (because you think you are a “good” person). Who cares if the results are disastrous and destroy the livability and health of the city. You toxic “compassion” junkies and your 30 years of failure are unbelievable. Nothing done in your enabling tool kit, has or ever will work.

      • Posted by Anonymous

        As opposed to your go-to strategy of resisting any sort of construction or implementation of programs or services… and then conplaining that nothing gets better.

        • Posted by Jake T

          There are lots of people who both want new development and do not want to enable drug addicts to live streetside with impunity. Most of them also don’t specify jail as the alternative but would be satisfied with less restrictive wards dedicated to rehabbing the ill and addicted. However, the reality is that rehab doesn’t work the majority of the time, so unless medical science makes huge advances, some sort of facility will be the home of many of our street residents for the rest of their lives.

          • Posted by Anonymous

            There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that homeless most, or even a sizeable percentage, of homeless people will live in a shelter or similar homeless services facility for life.

            You know what also fails a lot? Chemotherapy. That doesn’t mean you just let cancer go untreated just because the go-to method isn’t guaranteed to work.

          • Posted by jimbo

            we need to really prosecute dealers more and cut off the supply as much as possible. Most of our homeless problem is a drug problem. And I dont think SF residents had keeping undocumented death dealers in mind when we thought the santuary policy was a great idea. I support santuary policy, but if an undocumented honduran is caught selling fentanly multiple times, then they should be turned over to ICE

        • Posted by Scott Parsons

          Hey, forget about getting “better”, all the billions spent on “programs” actually have made things worse ! When you have low expectations, many thousands will take them and you will have the insane toxic city San Francisco has morphed into. I travel all over the earth, no where on the planet, except the US west coast with it’s delusional “compassion” junkie culture, are the any cities so gruesome and frankly a mental and physical health hazard.

          • Posted by stevenj

            What is your suggestion on how to reverse 50 + years of safety net cuts by the feds and the state?

  2. Posted by hundoman

    Why do we have to an an update to our Navigation Center policies to prohibit guns, alcohol, controlled substances, needles and large knives … shouldn’t these of been banned in the first place?

    • Posted by Martin

      The language is added for marketing purposes. so uninformed people will read and think “Hmm, that’s a good idea, there shouldn’t be alcohol and guns in navigation center” . I’ll vote YES.

  3. Posted by Wallace

    Gun, knives and needles are not banned. Weapons must be checked in at the door and can be checked out again when going out.

  4. Posted by Spleesmoke

    Finally! It’s about time we have a little pushback against the homeless industrial complex in this town

    • Posted by Anonymous

      I think the fact that you seriously use the made up term “homeless industrial complex” is pretty indicative that the issue doesn’t affect you, and that you really don’t care in the slightest about seeing it addressed.

      • Posted by Anonymous

        This city and county spends generously – $ 365 MM – per year on this issue and eviction prevention, with Prop C set to double that spending. What is it getting the citizens of this town? What is actually “getting addressed”? The term “homeless industrial complex” has been around for years, when did you get here?

        • Posted by Martin

          The high cost of living puts more people out in the street each year, so many who are helped are quickly replaced. It’s a really complicated problem, but it might be helpful for you to read the homeless count report which lists the demographics of the people.

          FWIW, there’s been a huge decrease in number of homeless, tents and trash in East Cut since the navigation center opened. I’m sure the easy cases are got quickly off the street, letting workers focus on the hardest cases.

          • Posted by Jake T

            There is a huge difference between the high functioning homeless who make their lives moving between RVs, friends’ homes, etc. and the vagabonds who are here for the dope and weather. Most people are sympathetic to the former without being fond of the latter

        • Posted by Anonymous

          What is it with people of your “do nothing because it isn’t working the way I want” worldview moving the goalposts and just flat out lying?

        • Posted by Anonymous

          And beyond that, what the hell is your alternative suggestion?

          • Posted by Brian M

            I have heard some irate citizens suggest camps….and showers. The organic poison gas kind.

            Keep electing sociopathic right wingers to government (national, that is) and we get there, sad to say.

  5. Posted by Bobby Mucho

    It seems fairly ridiculous to fight this, but at the same time, I do think it’s incredibly reasonable to keep the navigations centers (and services) in proximity to the population centers they serve.

    Why and how does anyone imagine that bussing hundreds of ‘unsheltered’ people across the city to get to one or the other make any sense whatsoever?

    • Posted by Brisket

      Right, even the Department of Homelessness thinks it’s a bad idea to build one in every district.

      • Posted by S

        clearly this legislation was not written due to concern for homeless individuals at all. Of course it doesn’t make sense to put a Navigation Center in every single district however when adequate sites are already few and far between, this legislation certainly doesn’t help.

    • Posted by Anonymous

      Nobody has suggested that, to my knowledge. The plan for having nav centers in every district was a proportional and checkbox exercise. Every district would have at least 1, but in the districts with fewer homeless, the centers would be smaller.

      • Posted by Brisket

        Socketsite won’t let me link to the article but you can look it up. The SF Dept.of Homeless rejects this approach saying it will divert funds from other parts of the process and not be cost effective, says it will be harmful to trying to solve homelessness in the long run.

    • Posted by SFMichael

      Of course the counter argument is that one reason that the homeless are concentrated together is that the city pushes them out of the western and northern parts of the city.

      As someone who lives is District 6, that grows old too.

      • Posted by Oh my

        Exactly. I live in West SOMA and most all of my neighbors know the reality that we have become a containment zone. Do any posters here honestly believe this activity would be tolerated in say Sea Cliff? Pacific Heights? St. Francis Woods?

        I have see homeless in Laurel Village however they are not doing drugs nor sh*tting on the sidewalk for people to watch.

        • Posted by jimbo

          i can say for sure that when we see tents pop up in the inner richmond, a group of us neighbors go and tell them to leave. they do it right away. of course in D6, you have too many homeless and tents to be able to do that, but we do some our own policing out here.

      • Posted by Martin

        If I was homeless, and had my belongings in a cart, regardless of where navigation centers were, I’d stick to flat areas and places where I can sleep and be left alone at night. If you think about those requirements, would SOMA with all its alleys and warehouses sound good? Better than say someone’s lawn in Noe Valley or Nob Hill?

        • Posted by SFMichael

          But not better than Golden Gate Park or The Presidio.

          • Posted by jimbo

            the federal gov does an excellent job of keeping homeless out of the presidio. they dont put up with the same crap as the city does

          • Posted by Martin

            The federal government is either violating the law that says that “homeless can’t be forced to move unless a bed is available”, or the federal park service is not bound by that law.

            The grey area is obviously harassment where you don’t tell someone to move, but you make it annoying to stay.

          • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

            Martin, it wasn’t a law. It was a ruling by activist judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. Presumably the law enforcement agency in charge of The Presidio either isn’t bound by that ruling or they are using some other authority to police the homeless.

        • Posted by Oh my

          Drugs, the juice of street people. I conservatively estimate from direct observation that fully three-quarters of street people are into a drug lifestyle. Plenty of rehabs in soma, they are too addicted to make the effort to get clean and stay clean.

          • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

            Such is the nature of addictive drugs.

            While I don’t buy your estimate of a 75% rate of “drug lifestyle” prevalence among “street people”, it clearly is common.

            Question for you: are the rehaps which are plentiful in SOMA free of charge or do they require some way to pay for rehabilitation services? Because if it requires payment, it’s not clear that folks who don’t have the money to even keep a roof over their heads will be able to pay it, even if they were fully willing to make the effort “to get and stay clean”. As someone who has had to put a family member through substance abuse treatment (crystal methamphetamine), let me tell you: it ain’t cheap. And most addicts don’t get clean after one round of treatment.

          • Posted by Oh my

            Here is an article from 2 years ago.. i stand by my comment.

            For San Francisco, the statistics related to opioid abuse are staggering:

            The Department of Public Health estimates there are 11,000 people addicted to heroin in San Francisco.
            It is estimated that thousands of these individuals are homeless.
            The Public Works Department picks up more than 12,500 discarded needles every month at homeless hang-outs.

    • Posted by GMZ

      You are correct! Bus em to Fresno, cheap land and labor! But all the best drugs and dealers (illegal hondurans mostly) are here so they wont go.

  6. Posted by ST

    I will have to vote yes. For 2 reasons:

    1. having one is each district is more costly than building bigger and fewer close to where the homeless populate are.

    2. more focus needs to be put on the “exit”. for now, it is being made out to sound like an accomplishment to have these centers built everywhere… it is not an accomplishment

  7. Posted by mary_jane_jacobs

    Disappointed there is no measure to locate a navigation center next to the home of each supportive Supervisor/Mayor.

    Also, why not put the navigation help near those who need help? Seems like rational thinking.

  8. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    As far as what the editor refers to as “the hotly contested Embarcadero Navigation Center”, it was already subject to closing in two years subject to a conditional two-year option to renew. If this passes, which is a big “if”, all that will do is subject the renewal to voter approval. Assuming that the Nav Centers already in operation aren’t grandfathered in.

    If the ballot measure authors will really hard-core NIMBYs that “Adam” at the top of this thread says, they would have written in a hard term limit. Sometimes the Supervisors go too far, and this looks like a fairly benign effort to reel them in a bit.

  9. Posted by phays

    Forbidding needle exchange seems needlessly cruel and contrary to widely accepted standards of harm reduction. Users don’t quit using from lack of access to clean needles, but they do get sick and die, which I suspect would be considered a bonus by the ballot measure authors.

    • Posted by Neighborhood Activist

      We need to go BACK to needle exchange, which was abandoned more than a decade ago. Now we have “needle acNeighbocess”, which distributes needles to anyone who asks, with no requirement for returning the old ones. That’s part of the reason there are needles everywhere — why return them, or even dispose of them properly? There’s no incentive to do so.

    • Posted by jimbo

      agree but its not an exchange any more. they just give them out. What will impact users is cutting off the supply by actually prosecuting dealers and making it much harder on them to sell their wares. hardcore users will go somewhere else for their fix, or maybe even give in to the idea of treatment if they are dopesick enough

  10. Posted by yimby4now

    The majority of the posters here seem ignorant about the homeless problem. The comments are revealing. To be fair, most of us are trying to live our lives in a decent way and don’t have time to learn about this complex problem or the efforts to solve it. Not much of value will come of this discussion, but it has shown one great reason to put a nav center in every district: It will educate and activate many more SF residents.

  11. Posted by What A Town

    The embarcadero navigation center cost 4million for 200 temp beds. To create 200 permanent beds in a shared housing design would cost about 9million at 150sqft/ person and $300/ sqft. The city would probably pay more in exchange for a good holiday party but the reality is SF planning would not be able to get the project through SF planning.

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