San Francisco and UC Hastings and Co-Plaintiffs Announce Settlement Agreement Regarding Tenderloin
A fundamental principle of the agreement is the shared goal of improving the livability of the Tenderloin community and promoting a healthy and vibrant neighborhood for all of its residents, including the housed and unhoused, visitors, employees, employers, shoppers, and people with disabilities
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and UC Hastings Law today announced that the City of San Francisco and UC Hastings and its co-plaintiffs Fallon Victoria, Rene Denis, Randy Hughes, Kristen Villalobos, and the Tenderloin Merchants and Property Owners Association have reached a settlement agreement in the form of a stipulated injunction regarding conditions in the Tenderloin with an ambitious plan to dramatically improve them going forward.
The six plaintiffs filed suit on May 4, 2020, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against the City and County of San Francisco seeking remedy for the Tenderloin’s dangerously crowded sidewalks and to provide safe and sanitary shelter for the unhoused people who have been camping there in escalating numbers since the outbreak of COVID-19.
A fundamental principle of the agreement is the shared goal of improving the livability of the Tenderloin community and promoting a healthy and vibrant neighborhood for all of its residents, including the housed and unhoused, visitors, employees, employers, shoppers, and people with disabilities. The problems facing the Tenderloin are substantial, long-standing, and not easily solved. All parties recognize that the COVID-19 crisis has created additional challenges to achieving the shared goal.
The agreement stipulates that by July 20, 2020, the City will remove up to 300 tents and encampments representing approximately 70% of those inventoried in a June 5, 2020 census. Occupants of the tents will be relocated to shelter-in-place hotel rooms, safe sleeping villages outside the Tenderloin, or off-street sites such as parking lots in the Tenderloin. The City will then work to ensure that former encampment sites do not become re-encamped. The City will continue offering free COVID-19 testing to all residents in the Tenderloin during the duration of the pandemic.
While the City is hopeful that most people offered an alternative location will be willing to accept the opportunity, the City will employ enforcement measures for those who do not accept an offer of shelter or safe sleeping site if necessary to comply with the stipulated injunction.
After July 20, 2020, the City will make all reasonable efforts to achieve the shared goal of permanently reducing the number of tents to zero, along with encamping materials and related personal property. For the proposed settlement to become final, it must be approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Also, as part of an ongoing collaboration to address drug dealing and street safety in the Tenderloin, Mayor Breed has invited UC Hastings’ Chancellor & Dean David Faigman to work with the City, local law enforcement, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to incorporate best practices and deploy innovative strategies to improve conditions in the neighborhood.
“COVID-19 has impacted many communities in our City, but we know that the Tenderloin has been particularly hard-hit,” said Mayor Breed. “We share the concerns that UC Hastings and residents of the Tenderloin have about what’s happening in the neighborhood, and we look forward to working collaboratively to implement the Stipulated Injunction so we help our unsheltered residents off the streets and into safer environments. The challenges that existed around homelessness, mental health, and addiction existed before COVID-19 and they’ve only become more exacerbated now, but both the City and UC Hastings are committed to address the short-term challenges while we work towards long-term solutions.”
“Mayor London Breed is showing the bold leadership that has typified her response throughout the pandemic. She is taking on the challenge of providing for the needs of the unhoused, and the whole of the Tenderloin community, in ways that have eluded her predecessors. The key is providing housing and shelter alternatives, including hotels and safe sleeping villages, for those currently having no alternative but to live in sidewalk encampments. All residents and merchants of the Tenderloin are indebted to her stewardship during these difficult times,” said UC Hastings Chancellor & Dean David L. Faigman.
Also reacting positively to the settlement were co-plaintiffs Fallon Victoria, who said, “If the Mayor starts cleaning up the streets, then that would be great. I definitely believe in her,” and Randy Hughes, who uses a wheelchair to get around the neighborhood, who said, “It would be nice to get some space back.”
Co-plaintiff Kristen Villalobos said, “Since the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, I have watched in dismay and with growing horror as the conditions in the Tenderloin have deteriorated past a point that I had ever considered possible. These last few months have been frightening and frustrating, but I’m hopeful about the agreement that has been reached. I look forward to seeing the City take meaningful action to address both the temporary escalated crisis created by the pandemic, and the crisis conditions that already existed on our Tenderloin streets before it came along. It will take long-term solutions, but I know that these problems can be solved if we have the courage and the will to see it through. I love my neighborhood, and I look forward to working with the City in any way I may to continue ensuring a better life for everyone who calls the Tenderloin home.”
“All of the neighborhood merchants will be happy that the City is not only moving the tents, but getting the unhoused people into shelters,” said Rene Colorado, executive director of the Tenderloin Merchants and Property Owners Association and manager of two restaurants on Larkin Street.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City’s shelter system has had to reduce occupancy by up to 75% in order to comply with social distancing and, as a result, San Francisco has seen an increase in unsheltered homelessness and tents on the street. This is particularly true in the Tenderloin, which has seen a large increase in tents and homeless residents. This agreement outlines a number of short-term and long-term steps that the City, UC Hastings, and the co-plaintiffs are committed to implementing in order to better serve people experiencing homelessness, and all residents and businesses in the Tenderloin.
Other measures include an increased emphasis on safety, enforcement against drug dealing, and community development projects long in the works. One such project is the nearly completed Municipal Marketplace in the heart of the Tenderloin at 101 Hyde Street. Operated by La Cocina, a nonprofit, this facility will provide low-cost, high-quality food options and will activate and improve the safety of one of the neighborhood’s most troubled corners, currently plagued by drug dealing and addiction.