SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey is urging the city to establish drug enforcement priority zones around facilities serving people seeking recovery from substance or alcohol use disorders.
Dorsey sent legislation to City Attorney David Chiu on Tuesday calling for the zones.
Dorsey said his “Right to Recovery” plan’s zones would be designated as prioritized areas for San Francisco Police Department officers to arrest drugs dealers and confiscate illegal drugs being used publicly.
“This is about better protecting those who take the brave first step of seeking recovery from addiction or alcoholism from the dangerous influences of open-air drug scenes and predatory drug dealers,” Dorsey said. “It’s also about extending harm reduction to our neighborhoods.”
“After many conversations with neighborhood residents, I’m convinced this is the best way for us to incentivize public support for more treatment facilities, sober living environments, and supervised consumption sites, which I believe are essential if San Francisco is to turn the tide on our ongoing crisis of drug overdose fatalities,” Dorsey said.
San Francisco Probation Department Chief Cristel Tullock said, “The ‘Right to Recovery’ initiative will ensure that people who are striving to live a drug-free life will have a safe space to recover and a non-triggering environment to rebuild their life.”
Under the legislation, applicable properties would include private or public residential and outpatient treatment facilities, sober living environments (SLE’s), and harm-reduction models such as supervised consumption facilities.
Dorsey’s “Right to Recovery” legislation aims to crackdown on drug dealers who exploit vulnerable people struggling with substance and alcohol use disorder.
Dorsey’s letter to the city attorney said he hopes the zones will both encourage and support people seeking recovery services.
Tenderloin and SoMa residents said they are concerned about rampant drug dealing happening in their neighborhoods without any action from police.
An average of 1-2 people die from drug overdoses — primarily fentanyl — in San Francisco every day.
At the start of 2022, the city created the Tenderloin Center at 1172 Market Street with the goal of linking people suffering from addiction with recovery services.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health told KRON4 that drug use is allowed inside the center.
Michael Shellenberger, author of the book “San Fransicko,” said, “The whole area has been destroyed. There are armed drug dealers spread throughout this neighborhood. They use machetes and stab addicts for lack of payment. Women are sexually assaulted,” Shellenberger said.
“They said they could get addicts away from the drug scene in a controlled environment. But the drug scene is larger than it’s ever been. San Francisco is normalizing hard drug use and drug dealing,” Shellenberger said.
According to the city’s data, nearly 50,000 guests utilized the center between January and May. Only a tiny sliver of guests — 38 — were placed in a rehabilitation program, according to city data.
“A primary goal of the Tenderloin Emergency Initiative is to reduce fatal overdoses. We are committed to creating a safe and welcoming space for both people who use drugs and people who do not use drugs. Because we serve many people who use drugs, the site design, staffing, and set-up allow guests to be observed for safety at all times while respecting guest privacy,” SFDPH wrote.