SF city leaders call for task force to assist with open-air drug dealing problem

San Francisco leaders are looking for solutions to the ongoing epidemic of open air drug dealing.

Parts of the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods have become an open air market place, where crack, heroin, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs are for sale.

Now the district supervisor for the area has called a hearing to get a handle on how serious the problem is and what can be done about it.

Supervisor Matt Haney pushed for hearings on the issue before the public safety and neighborhood committee. 

"What we want to do here today is get a sense of what's happening," said Haney. "What is happening that is working and what maybe we can expand and replicate. We want to hear from the community and say here are the next steps."

Supervisors called for reports from departments throughout the city.

San Francisco's Police Department confirmed the problem is focused in the Tenderloin and South of Market areas and said officers are making arrests and putting pressure on drug dealers. 

"We want to address both sides of this equation," said Police Chief Bill Scott. "The supply side, the dealers and sellers, high-level, mid-level and street level dealers. And the demand side, in terms of addicted people."

The chief went on to say a coordinated citywide effort will be needed going forward.

City leaders said the hearing is an important first step. "The city doesn't have a plan right now, the chief was just in there and he said, 'We don't have a city wide strategy that's comprehensive and brings all the departments together,'" said Haney.

City leaders are now looking at creating a task force, made up of law enforcement prosecutors and various city services to come up with an effective strategy to get rid of open air drug dealing and use in this area going forward.