One would assume that the most vocal of the neighbors who objected to the Embarcadero Navigation Center knew that an extension was on the table for public comment. But apparently the two-year extension went through with very little opposition.
Remember when every news outlet in the Bay Area was covering the fight — which lasted for the better part of the year in 2019 — over the plan to construct a temporary, 130-bed homeless Navigation Center on a surface parking lot at Embarcadero and ? The Port Commission approved it, and the mayor signed off, but armed with a war chest of money from well-heeled condo owners in the area afraid their property values would plummet, the neighborhood group fought tooth and nail using all the usual CEQA tactics, etc. But the city won out, the navigation center was put up, and it opened in December 2019.
The pandemic likely overshadowed any early issues that neighbors might have raised, but by all accounts, there haven't been many issues.
Supervisor Matt Haney — who is currently running for an Assembly seat — tweeted a thread Thursday about the Navigation Center winning its two-year extension, despite it being "one of the most controversial issues" in the city back in 2019.
"Over 400 guests have been served by the Navigation Center. There's been a 90% decrease in unsheltered homelessness within the outreach zone," Haney says. "It has brought people off the streets, into housing, & improved the neighborhood. Many who were against it, now support it."
Over 400 guests have been served by the Navigation Center. There's been a 90% decrease in unsheltered homelessness within the outreach zone.— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) January 6, 2022
It has brought people off the streets, into housing, & improved the neighborhood.
Many who were against it, now support it.
And, as Haney did three years ago as the plan for the Embarcadero shelter took shape, he's once again reiterating that more districts in San Francisco need to accept that such facilities may be near by — they can't all just exist in two districts, D6 and D10, as they mostly do now.
"Thank you to all the residents of the neighborhood with have worked with us as partners, serving on the advisory body, supporting the center, whether or not they originally supported it," Haney wrote. "Proud and thankful for the neighborhood for how they've come together and moved forward."
He says that other neighborhoods, and other cities, should look to this fight and its aftermath as an example. "After a couple years, those neighborhoods, cities and counties may find themselves also supporting what first sounded untenable," Haney says.
Of course, actually opening a Navigation Center in one of SF's ritzier and quieter neighborhoods would likely face a similar amount of objection, regardless of what happened here. And, it could be that those who were spoiling for a fight back in 2019 just gave up and realized the fight wasn't winnable — but they still might be seething about this shelter in their midst.
In any event, it will live on until 2023, as was always the plan, and then this seawall lot is slated for this massive redevelopment project. Cue the complaints about construction noise and a hole in the ground that doesn't get filled as fast as anyone would like.
Photo: Ray Kelly/Loro Blog