Judge Refuses to Block New San Francisco Homeless Shelter

(CN) — A state judge has rejected a neighborhood group’s attempt to stop construction of a 200-bed homeless shelter in San Francisco.

Residents of the city’s South Beach area and the neighborhood group Safe Embarcadero For All sued the City of San Francisco in July to block the project near Seawall Lot 330, in an ongoing feud with City Hall.

Sea lions snooze at San Francisco’s Embarcadero. (Bishnu Sarangi photo via Pixabay)

The neighborhood group claims the planned homeless shelter has become a magnet for the homeless, causing a rise in crime, drug use and littered streets.

But Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman found in previous rulings that the increased homelessness was not abnormal, and paralleled the rise of homelessness across the Bay Area.

Though Schulman originally denied a preliminary injunction, he previously concluded that Safe Embarcadero For All could win on its merits, according to the group’s attorney, Peter Prows. But the judge turned against the neighborhood group in the new ruling, on Friday.

In their most recent complaint, the group claimed that the project was proceeding without approval by the state. Schulman rejected that argument and allowed the project to continue.

“It’s disappointing the judge disagreed both with his prior ruling and with the State Lands Commission in ruling against Safe Embarcadero For All. We’re evaluating our options,” attorney Prows said.

In a study on homelessness, the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing found that as many as 7,500 people are homeless each night in the city, a 17% increase in homelessness since 2017.

Before construction of the center, Seawall Lot 330 was a parking lot.

The shelter, known as the Embarcadero Navigation Center, will support up to 200 homeless people under a temporary canopy with beds, bathroom facilities, showers and storage space. The two-year contract may be extended if the city is able to prove that it effectively serves the homeless people in the area.

A navigation center stands out from traditional shelters by providing mental health counseling and drug treatment programs, and allows pets, partners and belongings on the grounds to help people become more stable.

Safe Embarcadero For All previously contended that the city should not have leased the land for a fraction of the estimated worth of the property, charging only $444,000 per year for the two-year contract, according to Fox 2 KTVU.

Prows has said that city appraisers valued the property’s tax revenue alone to be as high as $60 million.

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