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tv   Mayors Press Availability  SFGTV  December 24, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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>> so those are the kind of things that we're working on as far as the plan goes right now, and there's three phases to it.
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>> supervisor stefani: -- where she expressed her frustrations with the current state of the tenderloin. i also want to associate my comments with those of supervisor safai on his insistence that we invest more in stage recovery. i think that's just a start. it's one of the reasons why we heard from the recovery center working group, who heard from people who have been in the criminal justice system who sometimes got sober in the
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criminal justice system. we heard from them for hours, and there may be a lack of understanding and ideas to help those are suffering from addiction. for me, today's vote is a choice as to whether we continue where two people die from an overdose today or we address the most dire public health crisis facing our
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residents. we know that overdoses sky rocketed to 4,307 in 2020, and now, in the first six months of this year, narcan has been used 4,200 times that we know of, there could be more deaths on the street if we weren't using narcan. for me, these numbers are stark indicators that something is
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deeply flawed in how we are currently addressing the drug addiction and the overdose crisis. last year, when you look at what we spent, we spent $1 billion to address drug addiction and overdoses. we significantly increased our supply of needles to save peoples' lives.
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we are spending money on billboards encouraging people to use, and you are not investing in recovery, something is very wrong. what do we have to show for everything that i just mentioned? we still have the highest overdose death rates in the country. not to mention a rise in homicides and shootings, among the highest in the country.
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we need to address the real solutions that address addiction. if you go to find treatment at, you'll see right now, according to d.p.h., there are 66 beds open for substance abuse right now. there are 34 mental health beds for those suffering from mental health, but that doesn't even tell the full picture because these are just to be funded beds. these are beds open all over the place right now as we speak, and the information on fine treatment is not always working for people in treatment. davis house shows 249 beds with
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39 openings, so you can't get even the full story. i've been touring all the facilities we have under d.p.h. they weren't at capacity then, and i'm told they hold beds and lease them out to other counties, so what is the correct information? i know we have 100 openings right now, and yet, we know that the tenderloin streets are lined with people suffering with the disease of addiction.
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fentanyl is a drug that is 50 times stronger that is morphine. this is not something that you come back from. every expert says it is not like any other drug. it is more addictive, and it's more deadly. we just settled two lawsuits arguing this exact point. the people who are dieing on our -- dying on our streets are clearly in a position where they cannot help themselves. we have to admit that harm
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reduction is not working, and we have to get serious to help addicts and those in the tenderloin. unfortunately, for those who suffer from addiction, consequences work. consequences work, and that's how a lot of people are compelled into recovery. i heard someone say in our city government, who i won't name, that we are robbing people of our bottoms, and i think sometimes in our policies we are enabling people in our deaths. i know that there are some people who disagree with me, but the disease of addiction is not a free license to use on the streets until you kill yourself or seriously harm someone else. the disease of addiction is awful. it's a thief of a disease.
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it causes people to do things that they don't want to do, that when they seek recovery, they end up making amends for the things that they've done. you don't punish the person for being sick with substance abuse, but when their behavior causes harm to other people, when the alcoholic who can't stop drinking keeps getting behind the wheel of a car, yes, i feel sorry for the person who's suffering from alcoholism, and it sucks, but you know what? that person can't get behind the wheel of a car and kill people. addiction is messy, it's awful, it hurts the children in the tenderloin. this is not just party, party, party, like the billboards
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would have suggested. this is a disease that causes people to do things that they don't want to do, it causes people to commit crimes that they don't want to commit, and we need to provide consequences and ways out for these people. and what else? the people who sell. when people are arrested for selling and they're without within days again. i know one person was selling drugs with a weapon was sent to drug court with an eventual dismissal. on october 27, a known tenderloin drug dealer was in his court hearing on felony possession for sale, only given
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diversion with a promise to go to five n.a., narcotics anonymous hearings, and the case would be dismissed. narcotics anonymous is for addicts who desire to stop using. you send a drug dealer to narcotics anonymous who's not suffering -- they just -- they have more customers. it doesn't make any sense to me. and also, how are they proving to the judge -- when i was a d.a., they had to come back with slips when we had them go to n.a. or we had them go to a.a. meetings. they actually had to go to the meetings and prove to the judge
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that they're getting better. the judge dashboard shows that they haven't tried one of these cases, and meanwhile, the death toll sky rockets. these dealers are coming in from outside the city, and they do so with total impugnity. are we simply going to talk or arrest our way out of this? of course not. no one is saying this. the mayor definitely isn't, but we must enforce the laws that help prevent deaths and create unbearable living conditions for our children and families. we need a combination of law enforcement and social services. we need a combination of consequences and treatment. this is what has successfully happened in europe, and it's exactly what our mayor is advocating for. in my opinion, it is the only
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humane option, given how dire the imagine has become. notwithstanding the great issues that people who are addicted to drugs are facing, we have to acknowledge that the epicenter of this crisis is still in the tenderloin, where a significant number of immigrant and refugee families work and live. what does it say about our city? and i was very moved when i had my meeting with director carroll when she had her meeting in the tenderloin and heard the experiences of the families. what does it say when we allow children to walk-through the tenderloin seeing people that are dead from overdose, assaulted on the way to school and work, which is happening. i'm not being dramatic. what is it going to take for us to say, enough is enough. in november, an 11-year-old
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girl -- my daughter's 12. an 11-year-old wearing a hijab who was walking her younger sister to school was attacked by an individual experiencing mental health problems, enough to land her in the hospital. i don't understand why we're not doing more, and i'm glad we're doing this. when we talk about the tenderloin, we have to talk about the children and families that are in the community. the reality that folks who are living in the tenderloin day after day, what they face is
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important. and i'm glad that supervisor haney is supporting this. we have to try something new, and an emergency declaration is a start. let's be clear, what we said over and over again. the mayor and the san francisco police department currently have the authority to enforce drug laws prohibiting drawing use and dealings, and this proposal does not allow them to do this. the proposal will allow the city to leverage existing resources for the tenderloin. it will quickly create centers where those suffering from addiction can receive mental health and other human services. and i know this is going to be hard because it is very hard to catch that person in the fleeing moment when they've had enough of their disease, when they're willing to get help, but we need to have a place where it's there, and we can quickly get them into the services that they need. it will, and i'm hoping this
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disrupts the deadly open air drug market. it has to stop. the alternative of others that i've heard and everything i've read seems to be a combination of doing nothing, arguing about what to do, or just doing the same, and one of the ways that people struggling with addiction commonly get access to treatment in san francisco is through the criminal justice system. is that the best way for people to get help? no, it's not, but we shouldn't ignore a good and practical approach for an unknown perfect one. given the awful and increasingly deteriorating situation, i believe we need to try everything. i am actually just dumbfounded that we are facing the situation that we are, and i have to say, i have such
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profound faith in director carroll, that she will be able to use the necessary resources, be open and honest with what she's doing, report back to us, and make a difference because we no longer have the option to do nothing, so i have no questions. i'm ready to go. i'm ready to vote yes, and i want to thank you, director carroll, for what you put up with and for what you are going to embark on because, like i said, i have full faith that you are going to be able to make a difference, and i am here to support. thank you.
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>> president walton: thank you, supervisor stefani. supervisor chan? >> supervisor chan: thank you, colleagues. you really have helped answer some of the questions that i had about the declaration, the intents behind it, what connection there is, if any, to police response, and what the linkage center will actually do. while i appreciate what the department has done under director carroll's leadership, i really am not sure if i have much more to ask of all of you today. i have realized, regrettably, the questions that i have unanswered are mostly due to the fact that there's not really a plan. instead, we have made references on all the work that my colleagues, like supervisors ronen and haney have been working on so hard with mental
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health s.f., and what other departments should have been doing all along with our city, our home oversight committee, and just implementing programs and measures that we know work, that will throw down to the court issue. most importantly, the answer that i have today confirmed my questions regarding the timing and the actual intent of this declaration. mostly, those questions were rhetorical for me, personally, because let's be frank. if this declaration was about protecting our most vulnerable, then where was the declaration of emergency when there was a significant rise of hate attack on our asian community, especially on our asian elders? were we not suffering enough, hurting enough, or valuable enough to protect our merchants? where was the protection when
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small businesses on geary street were vandalized four and five times in a row in less than six months. if this declaration is truly about tackling the fentanyl crisis, where was this declaration when we voted to urge the mayor to do so in september this year? or even in october, when we already learned the death toll of drug overdose crisis was out of control? in fact, there was a chronicle exclusive in 2019, december 2019, that informed us that san francisco had the highest drug overdose death toll among the way area? subsequently, we already knew in january this year, as the
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chronicle again reported that last year, 2020, was san francisco's deadliest year for overdose. so we knew, right? and again, we knew by may of this year san francisco was set to break the previous record on drug overdose deaths. where was this declaration then? meanwhile, we know what works,
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colleagues, and that work is hard; coming from policy solutions that may not -- i have been, and i will continue to be committed to doing this hard work with you all, my colleagues, who have been doing this work, and i just want to note that our colleague, supervisor aaron peskin, who could not join us today, and part of his district in the
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tenderloin, will be introduced . >> president walton: supervisor chan? i believe that supervisor chan is frozen. if she isn't aware -- >> clerk: mr. president, i believe we have lost connection with supervisor chan at this point. >> president walton: so i believe we will call supervisor chan back at this point. i'm going to say a few words and then pass it to supervisor haney. and the first thing i really do just want to start off by, again, appreciating everyone for being here this evening. all of my colleagues, the clerk's office, department heads, you, director carroll,
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chief scott. i know the meeting did not have to take place during this time period, but no one is complaining, so i want to thank you all for being here. i've been around drug abuse, addiction, death, violence my entire life. i don't wish that on anyone, and i just want to start off by saying, if you sell drugs, you need to be held accountable. that is not what this is about. this is not what the declaration is about. this is about what the back and forth has been about the last few weeks. there's nobody on here that i think wants to accept people who sell drugs and hold them accountable, and we're all upset about those billboards.
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probably for a different reason, but i was upset about those billboards, as well. it's funny. i was threatened earlier today via text. somebody told me that if i didn't vote to support this declaration, that i would pay for it during my reelection in november, and this is someone who lives in district 10, someone who has never attended a public safety meeting, someone who's never took advantage of any opportunity on any issue, but who felt the need to threaten me on my personal cell phone, that if i did not support this, i would suffer in my election. the only reason i say that is these are the types of issues that require us and the mayor's
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office to come together, and we didn't do that. we are pitted against each other, and by the way, this won't affect my vote. my vote is about doing the right thing. and supervisor chan, you touched on this, but about the fact that we've known about the crisis in the tenderloin for a very long time, and we all know how we want to save lives not only in the tenderloin but all across san francisco. i do have to ask, as the district 10 supervisor, it was said that we're failing in the tenderloin. what about the 15 homicides in district 10 this past year? what about the two homicides in my district alone over the past couple of weeks? are we not failing there? and where's the outcry for the
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families that lose people to violence? we have a public safety plan. there are things we worked on with the mayor's office, with law enforcement, that have not been fully funded as we talk about addressing crisis. i only have a couple of questions because i know we've been here for a long time before i pass this over to supervisor haney. and supervisor melgar, i don't know if i quote you directly, but i think you said that the mayor will be pursuing more police presence regardless of how this vote goes, so i'm even more confused about what we're doing here today, and i just have to say that on record. chief scott, are you still here? i do have a question for you. thank you, chief. and it was something you said
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earlier that resonated with me. you said your objective was to get them to a better place, and so i -- as i hear that, you don't have the authority and the ability to do that now without this declaration or proclamation or emergency? >> it's limited, supervisor. i mean, yeah, since there are beds available, although that may be true, one of the things that i constantly hear and that i see, you know, is on one hand, we're being asked not to arrest people. on the other hand, we're being asked to be out there when all the stuff is happening, so we're in this kind of no person's land of if officers are being asked to arrest, but then, they're seeing people smoking fentanyl and passed out in the streets, what are the
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alternatives for people to address that situation? we need to get people to identify the services that they need when they're arrested, and that's just not present in my opinion. i've talked to many, many officers, i've worked with many officers, i've been out there in the tenderloin, and i've seen stuff with my own eyes. i think the facility that we're
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going to open can make a difference. if we're going to be tied up for two or three hours on a misdemeanor arrest and a person is going to be back out on the street by the time we write the report and book the evidence, that is not helpful. we're out there to help. we're not out there to allow people to kill themselves on the street. we don't have to use jail as the alternative all the time.
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there are times when jail is appropriate, but often times, officers are very good about getting people to the right resources, and that's what i'm focused on with my support of this. >> president walton: thank you, chief, and i want to say this as a supervisor who obviously worked very hard with your department, and a lot of folks in community to develop a public safety plan, as someone who is a supervisor who walks the beat with your captains, and we talk about ways and strategies for law enforcement to be visible and present and support community, because some people have a myth when you don't want people harmed for no reason or when you try to do everything you can to try to decrease the amount of police contact with people of color that, for some reason, you're just 100% against law enforcement, which is not the
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case. as someone who works with the departmental proper, proper ways to engage with the community, you said some things, chief, that i 100% agree with. it is, quite frankly, unusual, and a dilatory expectation to expect a police officer to be in a certain situation and not respond a certain way, and i truly believe that's why you should not be visible or present in certain situations. that's why we have a street crisis response team. that's why we have the focus on putting strategies in place like c.a.r.t. that's why we have substance use and mental health professionals responding because it is a daunting expectation to put on a police officer to be in a certain situation and not respond with a law enforcement lens.
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that's why not calling out police officers to respond to mental health issues, to respond to substance use issues is a problem in the first place, so i assistant with you on that statement because i wouldn't want to put you or any of the officers in that predicament. director carroll, i do have just a couple of questions from you because most of my questions have been asked earlier -- oh, go ahead, chief scott. >> oh, thank you, president walton, and thank you for that observation that i just made. this is one of the reasons why i urge to voice support on this. as we stand right now, at 2:00, 3:00 in the morning, when all of this stuff is still happening, we don't have the resources to do just what you said. we don't have them, and the reality is this: this stuff doesn't stop at 10:00 at night,
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11:00 at night, and people are still putting themselves in harmful situations using dangerous drugs. as it stands right now, we're [indiscernible] it's so important to build this infrastructure right now because if we want to stop there, and you know this from district 10. there's times that we needed to be there 24 hours a day to stop what you described in your districts. not that we're the only answer, but who else is out there 3:00 in the morning. >> president walton: there's definitely different responses what's needed in d-10 versus some of the others. but street crisis response is supposed to be a 24-hour team
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that's out there. we should be putting more resources into that to make sure that happens across the entire city. when c.a.r.t. is up and running, when we do everything we say we're going to do around mental health s.f. in fact, street crisis response should be responding 24-7 right now, but i do agree with you, the police department is too strapped to respond to certain situations, and police officers should not be put in certain situations because there are people with the expertise to respond differently, and we need to make sure we understand when we have an adequate
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response. the people with the expertise are on this plan. director carroll, can you tell us which providers support this plan? >> so we're working with d.p.h., who's working with the providers. adrian, are you able to answer more specifically some of the folks that will be providing services. this is adrian dekelly, and she's the closest pulling the plan together. >> sure. good evening, honorable members of the board. right now, we are working with department of public health,
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homelessness, and supportive housing. our intention is to utilize the full community provider network that we already have on contract. as you know, we're trying to expedite this as quickly as possible, and so we are in specific negotiations with some of those providers. i don't want to speak to that at this point -- >> president walton: not to interrupt you, but this question is not necessarily about contracting, but it really is specifically to the note that it was mentioned that everyone is working with providers, and i'm just curious which providers, community-based organizations, nonprofits, have stood out in support of this proclamation. >> we also have an additional community stakeholder working group that we've established.
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it includes both people who are working with us and trying to help us improve our plans, so it includes the community-based districts including market and tenderloin c.b.d.s. we've been working with additional partners, glide, st. anthony's, others in the area. >> president walton: so i really just asked the specific question because i really wanted an answer to know what providers were supportive of the plan, and this is not a gotcha moment, but glide has sent e-mails definitely in opposition to the plan, so i just want to -- if we don't know who is supportive of the plan. i can tell you that we've got members of glide who don't support the plan.
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so my question is very specific. which providers in our community that work with mental health, that work in the tenderloin. which providers are supportive of that -- >> supervisor, let me just jump in, we haven't had anyone who refused to work with us. for us, the work we're doing is not around supporting or not supporting this declaration. those are not the conversations that we're having as we're putting this operation together. as adrian indicated, we are working with our city partners, and we intend to staff our linkage partners, and they tend to be career based and community based organizations, but we're not having
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conversations about do you support the community declaration or not. everyone we work with has been very cooperative, and no one has said we refuse to work with you because we disagree with you. that has not happened. so i cannot say, we're into this thing and who's into this thing or not. i think everyone is interested in a better way in the tenderloin. everyone we've been working with has been supportive, and i don't think -- adrian, correct me if i am wrong -- but no one has said no, we disagree, and we're not going to work with you. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> president walton: again, director carroll, this is not meant as a gotcha moment. again, i have great respect for you, and we have a great
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working relationship. i know in your earlier statements, you talked about working with providers, so i just wanted to know if there were providers that came out and stood in support of this, and if we don't know that right now, that's fine. i just wanted to know if there's some i could be reaching out to, maybe having a conversation with, but yeah, that was the intent of the question. >> i think that there are -- i think that within some of these organizations, and even within our organizations, okay, there are differing opinions about approaches to the problem. and in every organization, and in every department, you are going to find that, so i don't feel like it's a gotcha at all. i'm really just trying to understand the question or maybe answer the question. but what i'm saying to you is no one has shut the door on the conversation. everyone we've invited to the
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table has come to the table, and we're altogether trying to figure out the best plan. adrian and i are subject matter experts, and we help to coordinate in a way to help keep this moving forward, but that's the best answer that i think we can give to your question, is that we know within glide, we know of the different approaches within the organization, but i'm pleased to say, for the most part, the folks that we're working with are there and willing to work together. >> president walton: thank you, director carroll. supervisor safai, i know you made a statement earlier just in terms of a comparison to, you know -- obviously, there have been questions about making this declaration without having a plan, and i know you
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stated that we didn't have a plan what we went into the pandemic, and that emergency response, which is 100% true. i would say that this pandemic, you know, that we're still in was -- is a once in a lifetime, we hope type of emergency, and the reality of it is, we have tenderloins here in san francisco. we have tenderloins in los angeles, tenderloins in baltimore, tenderloins in d.c., and it's a travesty in terms of what those areas look like. and, you know, these are not new tragedies that we've had to deal with here in san francisco, so i just don't want to act like this is the same magnitude because we shut complete cities down as a response to the pandemic because this is something that we haven't seen different.
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this is a response to the pandemic. i just want to say -- i'll come back and say a few more comments later, but i can't see me being in a position where i don't have clarity to what is going to happen and what the approaches are for this proclamation of emergency declaration. and knowing that what is conservatorship and knowing that i was the only one who voted against it. any opportunity we allow for negative interaction between law enforcement and people of color is very problematic. being someone who has had personal experience with that, being someone who has lost family members, and someone who can't forget the george floyds, the breonna taylors, and mario
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woods, i just don't get the clarity from this declaration that we are not going to be criminalizing black and brown people or people of color with addictions with this declaration. and i do believe, after hearing from the chief, after hearing from director carroll, after hearing from certain leaders with the city and the community, that we have the ability to respond to this without going through this declaration. in fact, i know there's probably about 100-plus million of prop c resources that have not been utilized, and there's strategies and a plan that we actually supported in may 2020 that was specific to responses in the tenderloin, and we could
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beef up responses to this. so i'm not in a position to support anything that may possibly lead to mass incarceration again, and i just wanted to state that for the record. supervisor haney? >> supervisor haney: thank you, president walton. i'm going to come back after, if it's okay. i know supervisor chan was cutoff, and she wanted to jump back in before i made my comments. >> president walton: thank you, supervisor haney. >> supervisor chan: yes. thank you, supervisor safai and president walton. i am sitting in my house, and the power just went out. thank you, supervisor haney, for allowing me to jump back in. colleagues, the last part that i wanted to mention was our
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colleague, supervisor peskin, that his district includes part of the tenderloin, and i know he's introducing another motion to decide if we want to continue this conversation when we return on january 4, so i'll be supporting his motion on january 4, too, just so we can continue to hold people accountable, and i want to make it clear where i stand on my vote, that although i have clear concerns, that i will leave the decision to supervisor haney. he lives in the tenderloin, in the heart of the tenderloin, and he has to answer to the residents of the tenderloin community. i will align myself with his position today. i do want to make it clear, president walton, that i am low on battery on my phone, and i am having challenges to connect to my laptop and my wifi at
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this time. i am worried that i will not -- if this meeting goes on much longer, i may not have the actual battery or power to stay on. i just want to make that clear right now while i have the chance. my apologies. >> president walton: supervisor chan, and no, we definitely accept your apology and understand in this world of technology and the fact that this meeting was not something that any of us was prepared for completely. please keep me posted, and i'll let everyone know where you stand as we go through the meeting. >> supervisor chan: thank you. >> president walton: supervisor haney? >> supervisor haney: thank you, president walton, and colleagues, for your comments and concern. i heard pretty much everything that was said, and i appreciated all of the questions and clarifications. i have a few more questions
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that i wanted to make sure were addressed that i think are pretty critical. some of them were addressed, and i wanted to make sure that i have clarity. you know, one brought up the tenderloin. the containment zone has been a place where people of other neighborhoods have been displaced, they haven't received services. we are a tremendously compassionate neighborhood, but as a part of that, we have a neighborhood who have a high level of need who come to us from all over the city and
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beyond. i wonder, director carroll, if you could help us understand, by declaring an emergency specifically in the tenderloin, and i will say, we did ask for a public health emergency to be declared on overdoses, and obviously, the tenderloin is an area that has the highest impact along with soma, and the highest rates of overdoses, but i never asked for it to be
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specifically in the tenderloin. i wonder if people come to the linkage center who are from the tenderloin versus coming from the south of market or the mission, is there a difference in the way that they're going to be treated? is there a difference in the prioritization that you're going to give to people from the tenderloin versus other neighborhoods? and i wonder, if that is the case, as other people have suggested, that we have a lot of people that are experiencing overdoses or addiction on our streets or in our neighborhoods that aren't in the tenderloin, that we're going to focus our
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efforts strictly in the tenderloin? >> okay. thank you for the question. if it turns out that we are -- were able to make a huge difference in the tenderloin -- and, i mean, that will be a huge success -- we are -- we are -- we're talking about this and about how to expand this through the rest of the city as needed. i think this particular linkage site is intended to serve the tenderloin. and i do want to say, if we do not have this declaration, we cannot -- we cannot do this for months to a year. it will take a very long time, so we will have to -- we're just not going to have this particular resource, and it
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really will impact our ability to make a difference in the neighborhood. before i go, i just want to tell supervisor chan that there's 8,000 people that lost power in the richmond, but pg&e is on the way, so i just wanted to give you an [indiscernible] as we speak. sorry. i'm distracted by pg&e. so to answer your question, we, of course, again, we're going to be assessing on a daily basis what the accessibility, what our census is on the site, if we have room, then we would certainly start within the impact area of what we're doing in the tenderloin. i also want to say that we still have the -- while this
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skirt and all of the citywide teams are all citywide, so we have not said we're taking all the city resources that exist and all they're going to do is the tenderloin. we are looking at how is the best way to maintain it in the tenderloin while serving other areas of the city. >> supervisor haney: well, you're going to standup a linkage site, but i wouldn't even -- the location that i heard, i wouldn't even necessarily describe as the tenderloin, so if you have a linkage site to serve the tenderloin, how do you define the site that's going to serve the tenderloin over and above other neighborhoods?
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if people show up from the mission or soma in the tenderloin, are you going to prioritize where they come from or is it just that the outreach is going to be overwhelmingly focused in the tenderloin or they'll be served equally no matter where they're from? >> so we are somewhat constrained by the emergency declaration, that these resources are meant to be targeted for the tenderloin. that said, self-preservation is not something we're going to be interrogating people around. i mean, that doesn't make any sense. if we are -- if we're experiencing, you know, outflow, and we're going to
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focus there. if our outreach is there, we believe the most people we're going to get is from the tenderloin. we're kind of refining how the referrals will come from, for example, community-based organizations or others -- or advocates who may bring someone in. we're asking if those are from the neighborhood. and for this, we're mostly constrained by our objective, which is to make a difference in this particular community, but also by the definition of the declaration. my hope, and i think that supervisor ronen spoke to this a few hours ago, is we see this really work. so once


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