SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The city of San Francisco has reached a settlement with UC Hastings and the law school’s co-plaintiffs in a suit filed over conditions in the Tenderloin, according to an announcement.
The press release jointly issued by Mayor London Breed and UC Hastings Law Friday morning announced that the city and UC Hastings, its co-plaintiffs and the Tenderloin Merchants and Property Owners Association reached a settlement agreement in the form of a stipulated injunction that outlines an ambitious plan to dramatically improve conditions in the Tenderloin going forward.
The suit seeking a remedy for the Tenderloin’s dangerously crowded sidewalks and to provide safe, sanitary shelter for the unhoused people camping in the neighborhood in escalating numbers since the outbreak of COVID-19 was filed against the city and county of San Francisco on May 4.
Just days after the suit was filed, UC Hastings Law Chancellor and Dean David Faigman lashed out at San Francisco officials, criticizing the city’s Tenderloin safety plan as doing little more than encouraging sidewalk camping and facilitating already rampant drug dealing.
The statement released on Friday said a fundamental principle of the agreement is the shared goal of improving the livability of the Tenderloin community and promoting a healthy, vibrant neighborhood for all, including businesses, visitors and both the housed and unhoused. Officials noted that the problems facing the Tenderloin “are substantial, long-standing, and not easily solved” and that the problems have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.
The new agreement stipulates that up to 300 tents and encampments representing approximately 70 percent of those inventoried in a June 5, census of the neighborhood will be removed by city officials by July 20. According to the agreement, tent occupants will be relocated to shelter-in-place hotel rooms, safe sleeping villages outside the Tenderloin, or off-street sites such as parking lots in the Tenderloin.
City officials will then work to ensure that former encampment sites do not become reoccupied. San Francisco will also continue offering free COVID-19 testing to all residents in the Tenderloin during the duration of the pandemic.
While the City is hopeful that most people offered an alternative location will be willing to accept the opportunity, officials will employ enforcement measures for those who do not accept an offer of shelter or safe sleeping site as needed to comply with the stipulated injunction.
After July 20, city officials will make all reasonable efforts to achieve the shared goal of permanently reducing the number of tents on Tenderloin sidewalks to zero, along with other camping materials and related personal property.
The proposed settlement must be approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to become final. Mayor Breed has also invited UC Hastings Chancellor and Dean David Faigman to work with city officials, San Francisco law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to address drug dealing and street safety in the Tenderloin, incorporating best practices and deploy innovative strategies to improve conditions in the neighborhood.
“COVID-19 has impacted many communities in our City, but we know that the Tenderloin has been particularly hard-hit,” said Mayor Breed in the press release regarding the settlement. “We share the concerns that UC Hastings and residents of the Tenderloin have about what’s happening in the neighborhood, and we look forward to working collaboratively to implement the Stipulated Injunction so we help our unsheltered residents off the streets and into safer environments. The challenges that existed around homelessness, mental health, and addiction existed before COVID-19 and they’ve only become more exacerbated now, but both the City and UC Hastings are committed to address the short-term challenges while we work towards long-term solutions.”