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Breed pledges more cops, temporary lease for homeless center near Bay Bridge

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Mayor hopes concessions will ease neighborhood volatility

A mostly empty parking lot in South Beach, with a nearby condo high-rise on the right.
Parking lot/Seawall Lot 330 where Navigation Center will rise.
Photo by Brock Keeling

On Monday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Matt Haney announced a number of changes to the contentious plan for the new Homeless Navigation Center at Seawall Lot 330 near the Bay Bridge, a proposal that has engendered anger and political jockeying since announced in March.

Breed wants to turn the waterfront site—now mostly used for parking and occasional event space—into a 200-bed homeless facility as part of her plan to increase the capacity of the city’s Navigation Center system by 1,000.

But neighbors have been forcefully critical of the proposal. Breed and other project backers received jeers and shouts of “Go home” and “We live here” at an early April community meeting with skeptical residents.

Now Breed and Haney—whose district covers the seawall site—have amended the plan in hopes of curbing more dissent.

The mayor’s office now says the center will start with just 130 beds and will increase the margin to 200 over a course of six months.

Breed also pledges that “the area surrounding the Navigation Center will receive an increased presence of beat officers” after opening.

Perhaps most importantly, the Navigation Center will be on a two-year lease, and “the Port Commission will have the option to extend the lease”—or not—once the lease is up.

The proposed site.
Image by SF Port

In an emailed statement, Haney said, “These changes reflect [our] commitment, and they come as a result of dozens of community meetings and collaboration with neighborhood leaders and service providers.”

San Francisco’s Homeless Navigation Centers give homeless residents temporary housing while actively working to find longterm homes for them.

Launched in 2015, the program has four active centers with 367 beds total. By mid-2018 the program had relocated roughly 1,700 people; however, the most common means of relief is not permanent housing in the city but rather transporting clients to other cities where they have family or friends.

Competing crowdfunding aiming at undermining or boosting the Navigation Center plan are still drawing donations weeks after launching.

The initial GoFundMe page, dubbed “Safe Embarcadero For All”—raising legal fees to combat the mayor’s plan—has raised $101,130 of a $100,000 goal.

The competing “SAFER Embarcadero For All” campaign that backs the Navigation Center has received $176,015, topping its initial goal of $175,000.

Notably, the anti-homeless center campaign has just 361 backers, for an average donation of more than $280, in contrast with the other team’s 1,899 donors, who average less than $93 each.

The latter total includes a $25,000 donation from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, on top of $10,000 from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff—this after the pair sparred six months ago over a city tax proposal to help the homeless—as well as big donations from cloud computing company Twilio’s CEO Jeff Lawson and from GoFundMe itself.

The anti-Navigation Center campaign’s top donors remain anonymous.