What are safe streets? - Page 2

Mayoral task force looks for ways to protect people in San Francisco — from the homeless

Others at the meeting included Steve Falk of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; Heather Hoell of Yerba Buena Alliance; Joe D'Alessandro, CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau; Bobbie Rosenthal from Local Homeless Coordinating Board; Anne Kronenberg of the Department of Public Health; Reginald Smith from the 10-Year Council on Homelessness; Jennifer Friedenbach from the Coalition on Homelessness; Human Services Agency director Trent Rhorer; and Dariush Kayhan, the mayor's homeless policy director.

Their ultimate goal is to come up with a handful of recommendations for a street safety pilot project that Newsom will implement in two neighborhoods within six months. The group's task, on this day, was to weed through the list and decide what the group would endorse.

So far all the proposals have targeted poor and homeless people with enhanced services, punishment threats, and new restrictions on street life. Suggestions ranged from establishing drug-free and "VIP" zones in the downtown business and tourist areas (which came from the Chamber) to COH's suggestion to fully fund treatment on demand. But all agreed that money is tight.

"If we did a lot of the service things, we probably wouldn't be doing a lot of the others," Hardin noted early in the meeting, indicating the enforcement and justice items.

The mayor has not set aside any funding to implement the pilot projects, according to Kayhan. And that reality steered the group away from social services and toward crackdowns.

For example, Friedenbach suggested the chronic inebriate program run by DPH does a good job, but said that it's underfunded and should be evaluated and expanded. Koenig asked DPH's Anne Kronenberg if this is possible.

"You know it all comes down to money," she replied. "There's a little disconnect going on for me. What we're saying is good but I also know what the budget situation is in the city. That's one [sticking point] where if we could get the mayor on board ... or some other creative way of funding."

"Money is a real issue," Rhorer piped up. "So I'm thinking maybe if it's a high cost item, we take it off the list." Yet, he added, "I totally agree the chronic inebriate program needs to be expanded to more placement facilities."

Instead, it was removed from the list.

"The problem is, if we take out some of these matters, what we're going to be left with is enforcement ordinances and the justice system. And I think we all agreed a long time ago the idea isn't to incarcerate people, but to get housing and services for them," Katzman complained. "It's going to leave us with the stick and not the carrot."

Recommendations in the "stick" category included establishing "drug free zones" with enhanced penalties for dealing, using, and possession. Similar zones already exist within 1,000 feet of schools and parks in San Francisco, but have been implemented more broadly in other cities.

After discussing the constitutionality of making one street corner drug-free but not others, some suggested folding it in with another idea on the list: VIP zones.

"What does VIP stand for?" someone asked.

"Very Important Person," someone else answered.

"How about B and T? Business and tourism zones?" Rhorer suggested.