Mayor Ed Lee yesterday took the unusual step of saying something of note at the typically staid Board of Supervisors meeting question time — simultaneously defending his efforts to combat homelessness in San Francisco while pointedly attacking legislation introduced by Supervisor David Campos seeking to declare homelessness a new crisis as mere grandstanding.
“That event didn’t offer any solutions, no new philanthropic partnerships, no new sites for Navigation Centers and no path forward,” the Chronicle reports Lee saying of Campos' Tuesday press conference announcing the aforementioned legislation. “But it did offer rhetoric.”
And the mayor didn't stop there. The Examiner reports Lee as defending the controversial tent city sweeps of the homeless camped on Division Street just over a week before a massive series of storms rolled in.
The comments are what pass for a fiery rebuke from the usually sedate Lee, who perhaps took particular exception to allegations made in a Monday press release from Campos' office accusing the Mayor of failing on the job when it comes to our city's homeless residents.
"The Mayor of San Francisco who has authority over the city agencies responsible for addressing homelessness, has failed to respond adequately to the growing homeless crisis and City Hall has failed to hold him accountable," wrote Campos. "If the Executive Branch of our local government won’t act then it is the responsibility of the Legislative branch to intervene."
If passed, Campos' legislation would allow the city to take emergency measures to build homeless navigation centers.
"If we can afford 5 million for the Super Bowl," noted Campos in what can only be read as a swipe at Lee, "we can afford to address homelessness."
SFist spoke with Supervisor Campos about the Mayor's comments, and he took pains to insist that this was not about some rivalry between the two elected officials. Rather, noted Campos, "it's about what's happening on the streets of San Francisco." Campos completely rejected the idea that his effort to declare a state of emergency is some form of political grandstanding, and instead said it is merely him doing the job of representing those that put him in office.
"I'm simply repeating what I'm hearing from constituents," he told SFist. "If [Mayor Lee] doesn't believe me that we have an emergency, that we have a crisis, we hope he listens to the people. [...] I'm upset, my constituents are upset, the people living on the streets are upset — what we're saying is, let's finally do something."
And what exactly is that "something?" Campos mentioned his next move — introducing legislation that would require the executive branch to build six new Navigation Centers in the next year, with three of those coming in the next four months.
"I have a responsibility, given how bad things are, to do something about it."
This post has been updated to include comments from Supervisor David Campos.