San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s recent turn toward some degree of sanity in addressing her city’s crime catastrophe is met with predictable outrage from other city politicians. The mayor has announced plans to address rampant crime in Tenderloin District with a greatly enhanced police presence and drug centers for users to seek help instead of jail.
Breed declared a state of emergency in the Tenderloin last week and announced the policing plan as well as a clean-up program to eradicate outdoor drug use. The emergency declaration is subject to a vote this week by the city Board of Supervisors to approve the order and the mayor’s plan.
Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton and other city leaders have objected to the declaration. They say that they gave the mayor the green light to address drug overdoses, not to “lock people up.” Walton told reporters that the instructions to Breed were not intended to increase law enforcement’s budget or arrest drug users.
Those objecting to Breed’s plan include San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who said this week that jailing people is not the only option available. He said he opposed “putting people in cages” who have mental health issues or are “vending hot dogs.”
This week, Breed wrote several posts on Twitter explaining her position. The emergency declaration waives permit requirements and zoning restrictions for centers to help people with drug problems. She explained that her plan would allow for such facilities to open in only two or three weeks instead of up to nine months.
She wrote that the COVID State of Emergency declaration demonstrated that the city government could move quickly, allowing the city to provide testing and sheltering facilities rapidly.
Breed has moved to a more “tough on crime” approach recently, following the announcement in the summer of $120 million in budget cuts to the city police department. At the time, she said that the savings would be put toward “investments in the African American community” by spending more on housing, mental health, economic justice, and accountability.