San Francisco port commission votes to approve homeless navigation center

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Port of San Francisco commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday allowing for a temporary Navigation Center for up to 200 homeless people in the city's South Beach neighborhood much to the displeasure of the dozens of residents who showed up to urge commissioners to hold off on the vote.

The resolution allows the port to lease a portion of Seawall Lot 330 to the city's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing for the center. The lease would be up after two years and then commissioners would decide whether to renew the lease for an additional two years.

When Mayor London Breed first announced plans for a Navigation Center in the area back in March, neighborhood residents concerned about potential increased crime and drug use rallied against the proposal.

The center's opponents, Safe Embarcadero for All, have raised more than $100,000 via a GoFundMe account for legal funds. They're being represented by attorney Andrew Zacks.

During the public comment period at Tuesday's commission meeting, dozens of South Beach residents said they felt the plan was too rushed and that they weren't included in the decision-making process.

Jennifer Friedenbach with the Coalition on Homelessness described opponents as being entitled and said, "Assuming your child is unsafe, even your pet is unsafe because they're merely near a group of poor people is the very definition of class hatred. But when we have a massive housing crisis 
where thousands of people, impoverished seniors, people with disabilities, people of color, are thrust into the street... and you stand in the way of solutions?

"It's inhumane, it's immoral. It's not just entitlement, it's spiteful and selfish," she said.

Following four hours of public comment both in favor and against the center, Commission Vice President Willie Adams, a resident of the area himself, said, "This is something that I know probably will be settled in the courts. This won't be settled here.

"We as commissioners, we're just trying to do the best we can," he said, "We've got to figure it out but we don't have all the solutions."

Commissioner Doreen Woo Ho urged the center's opponents to remember the center is temporary and could possibly be moved to a different location in the future.

"What I see today is just the beginning of a journey. This is not a victory for anybody today. 

"We are here to hopefully demonstrate that if this navigation center works in this kind of neighborhood in this city, then it will work everywhere in this city."

Last week, in response to backlash from residents, Mayor London Breed and the area's supervisor Matt Haney announced updates to the proposal. The legislators announced a plan to scale back the number of beds to 130 upon the center's opening and then slowly increase the number to 200 over 

The new plan also included more police officers in the surrounding areas, seven days a week, in addition to the already planned 24-hour security at the site.