After hours of debate, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted overwhelmingly Friday to approve Mayor London Breed’s proposed state of emergency for the city’s crime and drug-ridden Tenderloin District, reports KPIX-TV. The most contentious facet of the plan was a dramatic increase in the number of police officers patrolling the neighborhood. “The Tenderloin needs change, and that requires us to do things differently,” Breed said. “We showed during COVID that when we’re able to use an emergency declaration to cut through the bureaucracy and barriers that get in the way of decisive action, we can get things done and make real, tangible progress.”
The mayor also wants to open a new service center for drug addiction and housing services. She wants to hire more outreach workers, and open a safe injection site. Making all of that happen quickly required declaring an emergency, and a yes vote from the board. Supervisor Hillary Ronen raised concerns about doubling down on a failed drug war. "Threatening people with arrest doesn’t work as a way to get addicted folks into treatment,” said 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. The Tenderloin includes museums, the main public library and government offices, including City Hall. 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. Deaths attributable to overdoses have increased more than 200 percent in San Francisco since 2018. Last year, more than 700 people died from drug overdoses in the city, more than the number who died from COVID-19.