News Releases
The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

Port Commission Approves Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center

As part of Mayor Breed’s commitment to opening 1,000 new shelter beds, Port Commission approves a two-year agreement for Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center to initially serve 130 homeless individuals, growing to 200 in the first year of operations

San Francisco, CA — The Port Commission today voted to approve a memorandum of understanding between the Port of San Francisco and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) to operate a temporary Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center on a portion of Seawall Lot 330, at The Embarcadero and Beale Street. The approval is for two years, with an option to extend for two additional years if the Navigation Center meets good neighbor policies and reduces the unsheltered homeless count in the South Beach neighborhood.

Mayor Breed and Supervisor Haney crafted the approved proposal for the temporary waterfront site following weeks of community outreach and conversations with stakeholders. Since Mayor Breed announced the proposal on March 4, the City participated in more than a dozen meetings with community groups and residents to detail the need for the SAFE Navigation Center and how it would work, as well as solicit feedback. The revised proposal approved today is for a two-year term with an option to renew, includes a ramp up period for the amount of clients served, and provides for increased cleaning and public safety resources. The San Francisco Police Department will be adding two beat officers, seven days per week to the area. 

“This SAFE Navigation Center is an important part of our plan to help our unsheltered residents get off the streets and into shelter and services,” said Mayor Breed. “We simply need more Navigation Centers, more permanent supportive housing, and more affordable housing throughout our City if we are going to change the conditions on our streets and help those in need, and I look forward to working with all of our Supervisors to make that happen.”

“The City is in crisis. People living on our streets are in crisis. We have to take immediate action to prevent and address homelessness, and provide more services, shelter and housing across the city—this Navigation Center will absolutely be a part of the solution,” said Supervisor Haney. “I have personally visited every Navigation Center in our city. They get people off the street, they have a positive impact on the neighborhoods where they sit, they connect people to housing, and they save lives. We should make sure they are run well, fulfill their commitments to their clients and neighbors, and we should continue building them in every district in the city.”

The SAFE Navigation Center is part of Mayor Breed’s plan to add 1,000 new shelter beds by 2020 announced in October 2018, with 500 of them being built by this summer. Since the October announcement, the City has added 212 new beds at two new Navigation Centers. The waterfront site would be the Mayor’s first SAFE Navigation Center, which takes the best practices and lessons learned from prior Navigation Centers, allowing guests to bring their partners, pets, and belongings with them and providing support to connect residents with services and permanent housing in a setting with 24/7 access. SAFE Navigation Centers are designed to be more cost-effective than traditional Navigation Centers. SAFE Navigation Centers will accept placements with a priority for people in the vicinity of the site, and will employ robust good neighbor policies and 24-hour security.

The City, through the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, currently offers temporary shelter to 2,500 people per night through traditional shelters, stabilization beds, Navigation Centers and transitional housing. In addition, they maintain housing for 9,000 people through permanent supportive housing and create thousands of other exits from homelessness per year through problem-solving and rapid rehousing.

The Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center will open with capacity to serve up to 130 individuals and gradually expand to serve up to 200 individuals. On March 29, the City counted 179 unsheltered people in the designated outreach zone. 

Renewal for the release following the initial two-year period will be subject to a reduction in homelessness in the designated outreach zone, increased cleanliness and public safety services, and regular reports to the public about compliance with the good neighbor policy. 

The Planning Department determined that the project is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as a Categorical Exemption Class 32, Infill Development.   The determination is posted on the Planning Department website and is on file with the Secretary of the Port Commission.

Construction of the site is anticipated to begin this June. San Francisco Public Works will design and manage construction of the facility. The proposed design will include dormitories, community/dining area, and administrative space, as well as a main entry, a courtyard with seating, picnic tables, shading and a designated pet area. HSH will contract with a non-profit organization to operate the facility. 

“Navigation Centers are a key tool in helping us to resolve the humanitarian crisis on our streets,” said Jeff Kositsky, Director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. “They have proven helpful in improving street in other neighborhoods but, make no mistake, our unhoused neighbors are dying outside and we have to do everything in our power to bring them indoors and ultimately to support them to end their homelessness. We look forward to partnering to ensure success for the community and those most vulnerable among us.”

Per Port Commission direction, Port staff is directed to introduce a competitive solicitation framework for future development at Seawall Lot 330 and Piers 30 and 32 at a later Port Commission meeting still to be determined. 

I look forward to working with the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing like we have in the Dogpatch neighborhood to ensure that this SAFE Navigation Center is a good neighbor and important community resource,” said Elaine Forbes, Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco. “The proposal approved tonight will provide shelter to unhoused people, assurances to neighbors that their neighborhood will not be overwhelmed and that the City makes good on its efforts to address homelessness.”