Judge denies request to halt homeless shelter's construction along San Francisco Embarcadero

It was a courtroom defeat on Monday for group fighting to keep a homeless shelter out of their neighborhood.

“SAFE Embarcadero for All” failed in its court field to stop construction of a navigation center on a 2.3 acre plot of land along San Francisco's Embarcadero, across from Piers 30-32.

“We think it’s unfortunate that our motion was denied today,” said Wallace Lee, who formed the group  Safe Embarcadero For All.

Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman denied a request by group Safe Embarcadero, to bring construction of the project to a stop.  

One of the reasons that SAFE Embarcadero cited in their court argument was an increase in crime. They claim homeless people moved to the area and criminal activity increased since approval of the navigation center was announced.

“These are supposed to be areas where the city is keeping people safe, it can’t do that,” said Peter Prows, attorney for Safe Embarcadero For All.

Prows cited a recent incident in which a woman was attacked by a homeless, mentally-ill man while entering her apartment building on Beale Street, which is just a few feet away from the where the navigation center could eventually house 200 of the city’s homeless.

Judge Schulman said he examined crime statistics and found that increases in crime around navigation centers mirrored that of increased crime citywide.

“The city has manipulated statistics or rather chosen variables to parse them in a way that makes them look like there isn’t a problem,” said Lee.

While safety was a big argument for Safe Embarcadero, they also argued that the city is leasing it from the port at the heavily discounted price roughly $444,000 a year.

“The city’s appraisers have valued it at $30 to $60 million dollars. In tax revenue alone, the city has estimated $2 million a year it should be getting for this and right now it’s basically getting a pittance,” said Prows.

The judge also said that delaying the opening of the navigation center would mean that the homeless who need its services would remain on the streets, and that would lead to an increase in crime.

We wanted to speak with representatives of the city who were in court, but they quickly took off after the decision was handed down before we could ask for comment.

SAFE Embarcadero said it’s not yet sure if it will appeal the judge’s decision.