Death at SF navigation center fuels new worries, ballot measure

There are new developments at the controversial new waterfront navigation center along San Francisco's waterfront, which has been open for less than two months.

Neighbor Wallace Lee who opposes the center, obtained a critical incident report from the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing that reported the death of a client inside the waterfront navigation center on Jan. 30. 

It reads in part, "There was a person in the restroom deceased" and "my first response was to administer Narcan  as a precaution there was no reaction." 

He says the center has attracted more drug users and the mentally ill into the area.

Lee says he will support a new measure that's being proposed to limit the number and location of navigation centers in San Francisco.

"Things have deteriorated. We've seen piles of syringes on the streets," said Lee, "We don't think the navigation center belongs here."

Lee also showed KTVU photos of encampments that have popped up in the neighborhood because of the navigation center.  He said he's spoken with the people who live in the encampments.

"Some of the encampments in this area were people who are trying to get a spot at the center or people who are staying in the center who are sleeping outside because they don't want to sleep inside," he said.

"We have to stand up. We have to push back," said Richie Greenberg, a former San Francisco mayoral candidate who is co-author of a measure that would limit the number and location of navigation centers in the city. It would also  cap their  lifespan to two years. "We think putting one in every supervisor's district is ridiculous and it's not based on the need.

He said navigation centers should be located where there are the largest number of homeless people.

Advocates for housing say the homeless crisis is a citywide problem.

  "I think it's really ugly.  I think at best, it's misguided," said Laura Foote, executive director of YIMBY, short for Yes, In My Back Yard, "Everyone needs to deal with it. If they're upset that this is a problem, good. I hope that motivates them to do more to solve it." 

 One man who said his drug use led to four years of homelessness said navigation centers should be located where there are services nearby.

"It would make sense to keep it around the homeless as is because if you put it in every neighborhood, it's going to disperse the people throughout the city," said Chase Adamic who said he had been homeless until being reunited with his family last week. He said he has homeless friends who've received help from navigation centers.  Adamic said should he get off track again, he would turn to a navigation center.

Greenberg said  his goal is to get the measure that puts limits on navigation centers on the November 2020 ballot. 

He said he needs 8,979 signatures by July 21.