SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A state of emergency declaration in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district has been approved by the city’s board of supervisors.

Mayor London Breed proposed the declaration last week, which allows the city to waive certain laws in an effort to more quickly address the drug use and homelessness in the Tenderloin, according to the city.

Some actions officials said they are planning are opening a temporary site where people with substance use issues can receive behavioral health services and get off the street. The emergency declaration allows the city to bypass some contract and zoning rules to get this site set up fast.

In addition, the state of emergency allows the city to expeditiously hire 200 behavioral health clinicians to fill current vacancies, waiving certain laws around hiring, the city said.

“The Tenderloin needs change, and that requires us to do things different,” said Breed in a press release. We showed during COVID that when we’re able to use an Emergency Declaration to cut through the bureaucracy and barriers that get in the way of decisive action, we can get things done and make real, tangible progress. It will take that same focus and coordination in the Tenderloin to make a meaningful change to this neighborhood that has been held back for too long. I want to thank the members of the Board that voted to support this urgent response and who understand that he people who live in the Tenderloin deserve better and the people suffering on our streets deserve better.”

Breed’s emergency intervention in the Tenderloin includes more police presence as well, which some groups, like the Coalition on Homelessness, disapprove of.

“We know this increase in police presence will disproportionately impact Black and brown unhoused community members who — due to lack of dignified housing options — are forced to live out their private lives in public space,” a statement from COHSF read. “The Tenderloin, in particular, has poor housing stock, such as tiny rooms without living rooms, and many residents spend much of their day outdoors.  Police have limited tools to address socioeconomic issues — mainly weapons, enforcement and arrests — and they already have a heavy presence in the neighborhood.  Inevitably, the prospect of an intense police crackdown on the neighborhood will lead to displacement of unhoused people and sweeps of homeless encampments.”

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is also not on board.

“Jailing people who have mental health struggles, putting who are vending hot dogs and other people in cages will not solve this problem. They are not the only options available to us,” Boudin said.  

The declaration only applies to the Tenderloin, using the boundaries used by the San Francisco Police Department’s Tenderloin District. The border is visible in this map.