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Politics & Policy

Supervisor asks for $10 million for ‘non-police’ Tenderloin safety plan

Supervisors Shamann Walton (left) and Dean Preston during the Board of Supervisors meeting within the Board of Supervisors Chambers at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. | Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard

Supervisor Dean Preston introduced a $10 million funding request for alternative public safety initiatives in the Tenderloin at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting—a counterpoint to Mayor London Breed’s plan for more police patrols.

Preston intends for the $10 million to fund “several non-police public safety interventions and programs” for the neighborhood, according to a release from his office Tuesday morning. 

“City Hall often finds itself at odds on how to set this neighborhood up for success. Our hope is this measure is one that brings us all together to improve safety in the Tenderloin,” Preston said in the release. 

Three “emergency safety interventions” described in Preston’s safety plan are grants to small businesses for security and safety, expanding safety ambassadors to blocks in the Tenderloin and Lower Polk neighborhoods that Preston contends have no coverage under current plans and “a new street-dealing intervention program.” 

Del Seymour, director of Code Tenderloin, is quoted in the release as endorsing the intervention program, though there are few details on how it would work.

“Street dealing intervention by peers is essential to help negotiate agreements, create order, and transition dealers off the street,” Seymour said. 

Preston’s $10 million budget request is a new wrinkle in Breed’s efforts to pass a $27 million initiative to fund police overtime. Breed’s overtime budget addition is intended to pay for police patrols, which have dwindled amid an ongoing officer shortage at the department

“Over the last several months, Mayor Breed has met with small-business owners and community leaders in the Tenderloin,” said a spokesperson for the Mayor's Office. “Their feedback has consistently been that they want police to respond to the immediate threats the neighborhood faces around open-air drug dealing and use, rampant theft and associated violence.”

Preston was the first member of the board to oppose Breed’s police overtime request, which is due to be considered by the board’s Budget and Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. 

That request will pay for more overtime to maintain police patrols, as well as for retired police officers to work as safety ambassadors in and around Downtown. It’s supported by a majority of supervisors, but requires a supermajority of eight votes to pass.

Breed’s office said the overtime request was a response to “immediate public safety needs.”

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who has yet to decide whether to support Breed’s funding request, has complained that SFPD hasn’t been providing enough service to the Mission, which has seen a spike in crime and is in her district.  

Meanwhile, Preston’s request is subject to the board’s 30-day rule for new legislation unless Board President Aaron Peskin grants a waiver. Peskin had already granted a waiver to Breed’s supplemental, which many had expected to be heard in committee last week.

According to Peskin, even if a 30-day waiver is granted for Preston’s budget request, it will need to be heard at a future committee meeting.