SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - A terrifying attack that replays in the victim’s mind and on her screen, “I keep watching that video thinking, ‘Who is that girl that could fight that night?’ I don’t even know where I got the strength,” said Paneez.
The 26-year-old fought off alleged attacker Austin James Vincent last Sunday when she was walking to her condo on Beale Street, a building right next to where the city’s largest navigation center is being built.
“This is mental illness and you’re putting them right next to our house how can you put us in that danger?” she asked during a news conference Sunday morning.
Paneez was joined by members of group Safe Embarcadero For All. They want the city to reconsider building the 200 bed center on Bryant Street and the Embarcadero citing an increase in crime since construction began.
“It’s irresponsible to build a 200 bed shelter in which the city admits will house active drug users and the mentally ill in the middle of 10,000 residents when the city is unable to ensure our safety,” said group president Wallace Lee.
Mayor London Breed’s spokesperson Jeff Cretan issued this statement regarding the concerns:
The SAFE Navigation Center on the Embarcadero has not opened yet and is still under construction. When it does open it will provide shelter and services for people living on our streets. In general, we know the data shows there is no link between the creation of a Navigation Center and an increase in crime in the surrounding area. Allowing people to continue to suffer on the street without providing resources will only make the challenges we face more severe. That is why Mayor Breed is pushing to open 1,000 new shelter beds for people experiencing homelessness and to build more affordable housing across our City. Additionally, she has been working to strengthen our mental health system, including to expand the City’s conservatorship laws and opening 212 new treatment beds for people suffering from severe mental health and addiction issues.
San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney also released the following statement Sunday afternoon:
I am outraged by the attack on a resident of the Watermark and will continue to support the victim and advocate for accountability for this crime. I am working hard to protect public safety, dramatically expand mental health and substance use treatment, and implement street outreach and safety teams. I have secured an immediate commitment from the Police Chief to deploy additional resources in the neighborhood.
There is a devastating homelessness crisis citywide and on the waterfront. The status quo is completely unacceptable and impacts all of our residents and neighborhoods. I am fighting every day to get people off the streets and connected to shelter, services, and housing. Navigation Centers are a critical, proven tool to get thousands of people off the streets and into services and housing, and enhance public safety for all of our residents.
Safe Embarcadero For All already filed a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order in hopes of halting construction. The group said the city needs a new plan, “I have one hope and that’s for the city to take action and make us feel safe,” said Paneez.