SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Neighbors who live along the Embarcadero got their first look of what the city’s proposed new Navigation Center might look like on Wednesday evening.
At a contentious meeting sponsored by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, various department heads, managers and the mayor detailed plans for the center, which would house 175 to 225 beds in parking lot across from Piers 30 and 32.
The land is currently owned by the Port of San Francisco, and the center would occupy up 44,000 square feet in the northwest corner of the 100,000 square foot lot. The lease is planned for four years.
Staffers showed the standing room only crowd artist’s renderings of the large tent-like temporary structure, and amenities used at previous Navigation Centers. Features like vaulted ceilings, large skylights, and an outdoor living space, all designed to minimize loitering, and impacts to the neighborhood, according to the city.
Flexible eating and sleeping schedules are designed to spread out daily activities and reduce the noise and commotion of large group activities. Options for fencing including horizontal wood planks with downlight and metal fencing with floral patterns. Colors ranged from beige, to brick orange, to dark blue.
In addition to 24 hour security on the premises, San Francisco Police committed to four dedicated patrols a day in and around the site: two in the morning hours and two more in the evening, 7 days a week, specifically to look for loitering, drug use, and tents.
In October 2018, Mayor London Breed announced a plan to create 1000 new shelter beds within two years. The city has added 212 so far.
Mayor Breed took the podium to loud jeers and cheers, but eventually resigned sitting and listening, after repeated booing from the audience.
During one exchange, someone in the crowd told the mayor to “Go home!” Breed responded by saying, “I am home! Born and raised in San Francisco!”
“This was an opportunity to explain what we’re proposing, and as you can see, there’s a lot to tension. But there’s still a process,” said Breed, “Homelessness is the number one issue facing the city. Proposing a shelter, regardless of the neighborhood it’s in, is necessary to address it.”
Opponents of the shelter took issue with the meeting’s format, which allowed only for written questions answered by the panelists, and no public comment.
Many of the opponents walked out near the end of the meeting.
“Today was a sales pitch. It was not a community meeting, as evidenced by them focusing on colors and lighting and the exterior look and feel of the facility, and not about what’s happening to the people on the inside,” said Chris, who declined to give his last name.
“This forum tonight was completely biased. We have no idea how the questions for the panelists were even selected. They didn’t answer the questions and hear the concerns of our community,” said neighbor Alice Tseng.
The next meeting is set for April 23, a Port Commission meeting with “unlimited public comment”, according to tonight’s meeting facilitator.