Auto shop employees say crime has increased since navigation center opened, police offer few details

The attack of a man with no local address on a woman in San Francisco is fueling concerns among neighbors about a new navigation center being built for homeless in the area.

San Francisco is already home to six of the navigation centers.

The newer model allows for more lenient rules than a traditional homeless shelter, such as allowing partners to reside together and for them to bring their pets inside. 

The most recently opened navigation center is located on 680 Bryant Street.

"It's a miracle. This place is really awesome. I mean, what other city would do something like that?" said Wes Magnenat.

Magnenat and his wife Rita, recently moved from Redding to San Francisco. After a brief stint on the streets, the two moved into the center, a place where they can sleep and get services from food to medical care.

"I think it's wonderful. We have a roof over our head. We can eat 24-7, come and go as you please and they're helping you get housing," said Rita Magnenat.

But employees who work at auto shops on Bryant Street next to the navigation center say there have been numerous problems ever since the homeless center opened in December 2018.

"Absolutely I noticed a difference. Crime went up like instantly," said Ed Golts, the manager of Bryant Transmission Center.

"They let them smoke weed in there. Let them carry dogs in there. The dogs...(defecate) on the street. We call the people to come clean it. They break into cars back here. It's just been a problem," said mechanic Curtis Williams. 

Golts said one homeless man recently cut a hole in the chain-link fence between the center and the auto shop and was living in one of the cars from the shop.

San Francisco has six navigation centers currently. The city provided crime statistics for only four of them.

According to San Francisco police, the most serious crimes such as homicide, rape and robbery have dropped around three of the most recently opened centers, and serious crimes went up at one of the navigation centers, increasing by 18 of what police call "incidents".

Police did not provide any specifics for the types of crimes or assailants involved.

Two more navigation centers are proposed at Bayview and Embarcadero.

Ever since that nearby violent encounter caught on-camera of the mentally-ill man attacking a woman, the opposition to the Embarcadero location has gotten louder. 

"I would say do what you can. Try to keep them out of there. If I lived down there, I'd be scared too," said Williams.