Supes to consider shelter option for all unhoused / School board to elect new VP

It's Monday, April 19th.

Good evening, San Francisco. 

Last week, for a few straight days, I noticed a man in Alamo Square Park that appeared to be really struggling. He would talk to himself and occasionally scream out something nonsensical. At one point, he was crawling on the sidewalk on his hands and knees. 

I saw him again this weekend, still struggling. So I decided to finally call the non-emergency police line to see if there was any way to help. The person on the other end said that they’d send an officer, but that the man could refuse support. And if he did refuse (which the operator said was likely), nothing could be done. 

It’s a pretty deflating experience. I’m sure many of you have run into something similar. It also made Chronicle reporter Heather Knight’s latest column seem especially timely. 

In it, Knight highlights the story of neighbors in the Castro who had notified the police for nearly a decade about a man repeatedly displaying “scary behavior” on their block, from throwing rocks at their building to smashing in a door with a can of paint. The situation culminated in early March when the neighbors’ apartment building caught fire, allegedly set by the man, Lucian Ruiz. 

“This seems like Exhibit A for what we think is wrong with how our systems are failing to help people like Lucian,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told the Chronicle. “Lucian is sick. The nonintervention in his life has not helped him and has caused serious harm.”

Also, what I found interesting—one of the most outspoken neighbors was a former policy advisor to Gavin Newsom and currently works for the city’s Public Works Department. 

“I know the system inside and out. Imagine pleading for help from exactly the right people and this still happens,” the person said. “How can there not be a plan? No more thoughts, prayers and task forces. Where is the plan?”

And with that, onto some news… 

On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors’ budget committee will consider a piece of legislation authored by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman that would “mandate ‘safe sleeping sites’ for any unhoused person in the city,” 48hills reports.

“If we want to make a real, lasting difference on our streets, we need a comprehensive plan to provide shelter to those who we cannot currently house,” Mandelman tweeted last week. “We need a Place for All.” 

The proposal would give the city 18 months to “accommodate all of the Unsheltered people in San Francisco who are willing to accept a referral to such sites,” which offer a sanctioned space in the city to pitch a tent.

Opponents to the idea say it’s costly (the safe sites, if you don’t remember, have cost the city $61,000 per tent per year). They also say it distracts from longer-term solutions, like moving people into permanent housing. 

“A policy like ‘A Place For All’ would immediately drain the city of [its] resources and confine the city’s options to tents, rather than housing,” Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director for the Coalition on Homelessness, wrote in an Examiner op-ed last week. “An overpriced tent is an exceptionally low bar to aim for.” 

You can watch the board discuss the legislation here on Wednesday at 10 am. You can also call in (415-655-0001 / meeting ID 187 355 1611) to comment on the matter. 

Earlier this month, Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews delayed his retirement and now, it’s become clear that the decision came with certain stipulations. Namely, as Mission Local reported, Dr. Matthews has said he would only return if the board agreed to return students to the classroom for five days a week before introducing any new resolutions. 

On Tuesday, the school board will vote on the agreement, which also asks members to be “fully informed” before meetings and follow procedural rules. The board is also set to elect a new Vice President after it stripped Allison Collins of that title last month. 

Quick bits: 

  • 🏠 Sunday marked the 115th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. To commemorate the day, the Chronicle found and mapped 30 of the remaining “relief cottages,” which were built after the earthquake to help shelter those who had lost their homes. (Chronicle)

  • 💸 Late last week, the city launched its 11-person guaranteed income task force, which is expected to file a report to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors by December 1. One outcome, as the Examiner wrote, could be a pilot program that gives 1,000 San Franciscans $500 per month in “unrestricted” payments. (Examiner

  • 🏌️‍♀️ In a change of plans, The Olympic Club will now allow some outside spectators to attend the women’s U.S. Open at the Lake Course this June. (Chronicle

  • 🐶 The latest restaurant trend in San Francisco? Name your place after your dog. (Eater

And finally… The SF Gate ran a story recently about local photographer Travis Monson, who recounted a six-year project he completed in 2017, in which he walked every single street in the city and took over 80,000 photos. 

“I wanted to be a tourist in my new city,” Monson remembered, after moving from Utah to San Francisco in 2011. His strategy for making sure he covered the entire city —mark his “San Francisco Taxi Driver’s Map Book” with a red pen when he walked down a new street. 

Here’s Monson: 

Sometimes I would start my hikes at 6 a.m. and hike more than 15 miles until the sun went down. When you’re hiking more than 12 hours in one day, you have to find creative ways to keep yourself entertained. As a photographer, I’d often choose one color and then focus on only taking pictures of buildings or objects containing that color. San Francisco truly is a city of color, so this made it easy.

Still, the best part of it all, he said, was the “spontaneous conversations with San Francisco natives.” 

That’s all for today! Hope you all had a nice weekend and thanks so much, as always, for reading.

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See you tomorrow! - Nick B.

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