SAN FRANCISCO - State lawmakers and Bay Area leaders are calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to sign legislation legalizing supervised drug consumption sites.
Backers of the safe consumption site legislation say people are dying on the streets from overdoses, and these sites are a way to save lives.
The drug crisis is on the streets is clear. Lawmakers passed Senator Scott Wiener's legislation, Senate Bill 57, earlier this month, which would allow supervised consumption sites to operate in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles.
Treatment advocates say the sites would save lives. "We ask for the governor to allow us to care for people and treat people with dignity and bring them to health and care, and most importantly to prevent death," said Vitka Eisen from HealthRIGHT 360.
Senator Wiener says sites elsewhere have already been proven to save lives, but they can also be an important way of reaching addicts who want to get clean. "We know these sites have a strong way to of connecting people to treatment. Some people say, we shouldn't do these sites, we should do treatment," said Sen. Wiener. "No, we should do both."
State Senate Republicans have urged the governor to veto SB57, saying it would create state sanctioned drug use facilities, with no requirements for treatment, and that it would distract from real long term solutions to the drug crisis, including state funded and operated drug treatment programs.
The bill does include a provision that provides access or referrals to substance use disorder treatment.
And San Francisco's Police Officers Association released a statement saying they were skeptical that safe consumption sites would work in California.
Last December, San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a 90-day state of emergency in the Tenderloin to deal with the drug crisis. As part of that declaration the Tenderloin Linkage Center opened. The declaration allowed the center to open in a matter of months, cutting through city bureaucracy, the mayor said. The linkage center, though not an official consumption site, connects people living on the streets to services and resources. It also helped prevent overdoses.
KTVU reached out to the governor's office to discuss the supervised consumption legislation. His office responded that the bill is not yet on his desk, and that the governor's office does not comment on pending legislation.
Sen. Wiener's office said that the legislation should have landed on the governor's desk some time Wednesday. That starts the clock. The governor will have to make a decision to sign or veto the bill before the end of the month.