Wealthy Waterfront Residents are Trying to Derail Navigation Center for Homeless

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Mayor London Breed’s plan to build a 200-bed Navigation Center on a lot in South Beach will now have to face a legal battle by residents of the area.  The Navigation Center is a big part of the Mayor’s long-awaited plan to help fight homelessness in San Francisco.

Seawall Lot 330

The parcel of land slated for the center is at ‘Seawall Lot 330′ on the Embarcadero, not too far from the new Warriors’ stadium and the highly successful Delancy Street Housing Program.  But in less than a week, a loose coalition of residents from Rincon Hill, South Beach, Mission Bay and other neighborhoods calling themselves “Safe Embarcadero for All” has raised over $45,000 to hire lawyers to contest the center’s construction, and that is just on their gofundme page.

But no one in favor of the proposal is surprised that some residents and landowners do not want the center on their turf.  The trouble is, the center has to go somewhere. If we want to address homelessness in our city, we have to make real, concrete moves, and that concrete has to be poured somewhere.  And every district should do their part.  I’m sorry, but if you’re only for ‘social justice’ when it’s not in your neighborhood, then you are not really for social justice.

Seawall Lot 330, the location for the New Navigation Center

Mayor London Breed released a statement: “People want us to address the challenges on our streets and help our unsheltered residents into housing, and I am committed to doing the hard work to make that happen.”

“But it’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing that as soon as we put forward a solution to build a new shelter, people begin to threaten legal action,” the statement continued. “I get that people have questions about the site, and we are happy to demonstrate how these sites work and the positive impacts they have had in other neighborhoods, but we all need to be willing to be part of the solution.”

Photo: Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle

SOMA Supervisor Matt Haney and many SF Port commissioners also support building the new Navigation Center at this location, along with San Franciscans who really want to help the homeless problem in our city.  Breed proposed keeping the center on the site for four years but remains flexible on the length of the lease.  She had hoped to have the center opened by the summer, but looming legal fights could imperil that timeline.

It’s up to the Port Commission to decide whether the Navigation Center will be built on the site, because the port owns the 2.3-acre parcel across the Embarcadero from Piers 30-32.  The commission is scheduled to vote on leasing the land to the city on April 23, but officials are considering extending that deadline to give the public more time to weigh in on the proposal.

Expect this new “Safe Embarcadero for All” commission and their lawyers to use every trick in the book to stall the new center.

As a counter to this, a GoFundMe has been set up called “SAFER Embarcadero for All” that is raising money for a legal fund to support the Navigation Center.

For info on the new center and its politics, Diego Aguilar-Canabal wrote a great piece on it for The Bay City Beacon.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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