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Board of Supes in 3 Mins: A Homelessness Policy Skirmish
Sunday, August 07, 2022

Board of Supes in 3 Mins: A Homelessness Policy Skirmish

Supervisors made major decisions on police procedure and a future training facility for the San Francisco Fire Department at an hour-long Election Day meeting. Meanwhile, lines were drawn in an ongoing fight over homelessness policy.

Mandelman Bucks Majority on Shelters, Conservatorship

District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman bumped heads with his colleagues over multiple items dealing with behavioral health responses to unhoused persons, including an item that would codify earlier policies regarding eviction from shelters. 

  • In late 2020 the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing attempted to revise the policies, but relented after facing significant opposition from advocates and the Shelter Grievance Advisory Committee. In response, Board President Shamann Walton introduced an ordinance which would codify the original policies and more formally establish the associated Advisory Committee. This item passed Tuesday by a vote of 9-1 with Mandelman opposed (Supervisor Myrna Melgar was absent).
  • At an April 7 committee meeting, Mandelman voted against the item based on concerns that it would continue to increase wait times for getting people currently on the street into shelter. “While I agree that consistent grievance procedures make sense, I fear that this legislation is unnecessary and redundant, or worse that it could actually make it harder to stand up the new shelter placements (we need) to move those hundreds or perhaps thousands of folks indoors,” Mandelman said at the committee meeting. The committee sent Walton’s ordinance to the full board with recommendation by a vote of 2-1. 
  • Later in Tuesday’s session, a resolution of support introduced by Mandelman for a legislative package sponsored by State Senator Susan Eggman (D-5) to reform California’s conservatorship process, a major issue for the District 8 Supervisor, was pulled off the agenda and sent to committee by Supervisor Dean Preston. 
  • During roll call, Mandelman requested a hearing on conditions at the Psychiatric Services Unit at San Francisco General Hospital, noting reports of staffing and capacity issues, including patients remaining in short term care beds after clearance due to lack of availability of long term care options. 

New DNA Evidence Rules 

The board also unanimously approved Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s legislation to regulate the storage of DNA profiles by police. The ordinance will prohibit genetic profiles gathered from crime victims or crime scenes from being stored in any database that is not subject to state and federal rules around the Combined DNA Index System, a national standard for submitting locally gathered profiles to the National DNA Index System. 

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  • The practice, while not illegal, potentially violated a city policy goal seeking to ensure that crime victims feel safe enough to report offenses. It had been going on for more than two years, and resulted in the arrest of a burglary suspect who had previously reported having been a victim of sexual assault. The District Attorney’s Office ended up dropping charges against the suspect, who is now suing the city
  • Ronen and her co-sponsors hope that banning the practice will mitigate fear of reporting sexual assaults and similar crimes. State Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Phil Ting have also introduced parallel legislation in Sacramento. 

New Training Facility for Firefighters, Paramedics

Also passed was a resolution authorizing the purchase of a 4.91 acre site at 1236 Carroll Ave in the Bayview, where a new training facility for the San Francisco Fire Department will be built. The property is currently owned by the industrial property giant Prologis, and its sticker price is $38.5 million plus closing costs. 

  • According to documents filed by the Planning Department, the new facility will replace training facilities maintained by SFFD in the Mission and on Treasure Island. 
  • A presentation at the Board’s Budget and Finance Committee revealed that the two-block area will host classes running the gamut of department training: fire suppression, urban search and rescue, paramedic and behavioral health street incident training, and more. The site will also offer some mutual aid training programs for outside departments. 
  • Prologis, the entity selling the site, is a real estate investment trust that is also the largest industrial landlord in the world. Incidentally, it is also Amazon’s largest landlord. They were also among the first to develop multi-floor warehouses for urban settings. 
Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected].

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