A new plan calling on 21 city departments and six city commissions to come up with ideas to end open-air drug dealing and overdose deaths in San Francisco has been unveiled—but it isn’t clear how this differs from previous efforts to fix the troubled Tenderloin.
Supervisors Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman and Catherine Stefani unveiled their plan Tuesday that seeks to incentivize people struggling with addiction into accepting recovery services.
But the plan doesn’t outline concrete methods to fix the issues of the Tenderloin and surrounding neighborhoods, instead suggesting policies the supervisors support and asking departments to report back within 90 days on what resources are needed to make them happen.
The suggested fixes for the deadly drug crisis include:
Dorsey, who is leading the initiative called “San Francisco Recovers,” said it was a “soft-touch.”
“This is a way that nobody’s going to jail but we’re doing an effective job of interrupting the drug market and drug scenes,” Dorsey said.
The resolution will be introduced at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, and includes many departments dealing directly with overdose victims such as the Department of Health, the Department of Homelessness and Housing, the District Attorney’s Office, and the police, along with six city commissions.
It comes as drug overdose deaths reached a toll of almost 1,700 in San Francisco since 2020, hundreds more than the city’s total count of Covid deaths.
Dorsey, who himself has struggled with addiction, also said he believes a law enforcement response is necessary to handle drug users and dealers, but did not say what form it would take.
Although supervised consumption sites are illegal under federal law, San Francisco has said it plans to back the operation of supervised consumption sites anyway, even after Governor Newsom vetoed SB57 last month, which would have legalized sites in several California cities.
City Attorney David Chiu supports a model similar to New York City, where a San Francisco non-profit runs the safe use sites, rather than operating them directly, his spokesperson said.
Dorsey also said that millions of dollars in settlements the city has received from opioid manufacturers would be used to fund these policies. Including $34 million in cash payments that will go to “opioid abatement and overdose prevention”.
Tenderloin Supervisor Dean Preston has previously called for a hearing to address drug overdose deaths which is set to be held on September 29.
Preston issued a statement after the Dorsey announcement, saying he looks forward to hearing more from the Department of Public Health and other health experts in response to it.
“We are determined to make sure health experts, not politicians, lead the creation and implementation of a long overdue overdose prevention plan,” Preston said.
Another previous plan to fix the drug crisis in the Tenderloin came in December 2021, when Mayor London Breed announced a three-month state of emergency that was supposed to help cut through red tape.
For now, Tenderloin residents will have to wait at least 90 days to see any formal plan on ending the drug crisis materialize.
Garrett Leahy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org