City officials presented plans for a smaller Embarcadero homeless Navigation Center Monday night, but neighborhood residents still have their pitchforks and attorneys at the ready.
It received little notice this weekend when both the GoFundMe opposing an Embarcadero homeless shelter and its rival GoFundMe supporting the shelter both exceeded their crowdfunding goals. So congratulations to both sides, but neither of those campaigns will necessarily, directly impact whether this Navigation Center is built. What Mayor Breed originally proposed to be the city’s largest Navigation Center has been scaled back in size, after the mayor was shouted down in a recent public meeting on the matter and homeowner association types threatened to sue the city. Now the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the city introduced a compromise measure with 130 shelter beds — to start — instead of 200, a proposal which hardly mollified angry attendees at a Monday night community meeting.
Other than the significant reduction in beds, the proposed modifications are small-bore concessions that might sound meaningful to policy wonks, but failed to move the needle among the East Cut condo crowd. According to the Examiner, the new proposal could “scale up” to 200 beds after six months, the center would get only a two-year lease with an option for a two-year extension, and adds four dedicated foot-patrol officers. The physical size of the shelter remains unchanged in the revised proposal.
“I am committed to opening 200 new beds at this site, so we can bring shelter and services to those struggling on our waterfront and throughout our city,” Mayor Breed said in a statement reprinted by the Chronicle. “With these updates to our proposal, we can deliver on that commitment and make the opening of this center a success for both our unsheltered residents and those living in the surrounding neighborhood.”
Opponents of the shelter were unmoved Monday, reveling in their red-meat arguments that the shelter should be built in front of City Hall or Salesforce Tower (meant to mock the mayor and Marc Benioff’s support of the project). “District 6 already has five shelters and two navigation centers,” said nearby resident Robert Rossi. “I’m for helping the homeless but definitely oppose this location. It’s the wrong spot.”
The neighborhood’s supervisor Matt Haney, who has proposed a navigation center in every district, was present to face the music at Monday’s meeting. “It is something that will just be here for a few years, and after that it will be a long-term development, likely housing,” he told a skeptical audience. “[The Navigation Center] will need to show results in the first couple of years even for it to continue beyond that.”
The San Francisco Port Commission is still scheduled to vote on the proposed Navigation Center on Tuesday, April 23, but opponents are pressing for a further delay. That seems likelier since their GoFundMe hit its $100,000 goal, so their attorney knows his check will clear — and he has previously suggested that this could be cause for a CEQA fight (the California Environmental Quality Act, which is often used to delay developments by calling for an environmental review).