SAN FRANCISCO—On Friday, June 22, Mayor Mark Farrell, Mayor-Elect London Breed, the San Francisco Police Department and BART announced a new joint plan to improve public health and safety conditions at the Civic Center Station.
“The conditions at the Civic Center Station are unacceptable,” said Mayor Farrell. “The corridors are unhealthy and unsanitary—our transit passengers, commuters and families deserve better. By working in close partnership with BART, we will make our transit station clean and safe, while ensuring that our at-risk individuals receive the services and support they need on their path to wellness and recovery.”
A joint partnership between the City and County of San Francisco and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) will apply a comprehensive action plan, increasing officers and closely aligning existing health strategies.
According to a news release from the Mayor’s website, the SFPD will dedicate 290 extra officer hours a week to patrol the Civic Center Station area. BART officers will expand their patrol staffing levels by 78 hours a week, a 30 percent increase from their current efforts. In addition to the enforcement component, a new syringe disposal kiosk was installed at the United Nations Plaza entrance at the Civic Center Station, to address public health concerns.
“What we see on our streets in and around Civic Center Station is unsafe and unsanitary,” said Mayor-Elect London Breed. “We need collaborative approaches like this one which bring together our public health and safety agencies to implement creative and compassionate solutions to get those struggling with mental health and challenges with addiction the housing and support they need while also improving public safety.”
“These beefed up patrols build on the strong relationship that has already been established between BART and the City of San Francisco for the joint BART and Muni stations,” said BART General Manager Grace Crunican. “Our latest budget reflects our commitment to safety by providing $1.6 million to fund Homeless Outreach Teams, elevator attendants, and other quality of life initiatives at our downtown San Francisco stations.”
Partners, including BART, will organize services through the city’s Healthy Streets Operation Center (HSOC), a multiagency initiative to address homelessness and street behavior issues in San Francisco. Established in 2018, the HSOC comprises units from the Police Department, Public Works, the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and 311. The group works collaboratively to safeguard that residents experiencing homelessness, including those suffering from mental illness and substance use issues, receive the health and social services and support required for their recovery to wellness.
“The San Francisco Police Department is committed to providing safety with respect for all in our City,” said SFPD Chief William Scott. “This collaboration with our law enforcement partners at BART and our other City agencies will help ensure a safer, more pleasant experience for all who use Civic Center Station.”
“Since taking the lead of the BART Police Department a year ago, I have made boosting the visible presence of our officers a top priority,” said BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas. “We think the ongoing efforts of our officers combined with this boost from the San Francisco Police Department will make a big impact on public safety that will be noticed by our riders.”
DPH’s Street Medicine Team and Comprehensive Crisis Services will rise their time to assure dedicated resources and are available to support individuals in need of behavioral health services and harm reduction strategies.
“The Health Department has a long-standing commitment to improving health and safety at the Civic Center Station,” said Barbara Garcia, Director of Health. “We have been providing health care, outreach, case management, substance use care, crisis response and needle clean up services. With this partnership we will expand our efforts, help more people and make the station a better place for all.”
The cooperative enforcement efforts at the Civic Center Station are part of San Francisco’s ongoing efforts to address homelessness, street behavior and public safety challenges in San Francisco. The Mayor’s two-year budget includes efforts to increase staffing levels at the San Francisco Police Department citywide, and allocations to expand critical behavioral health services and shelter housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.
“Without actively engaging city services, we can’t make Civic Center Station what it should be,” said BART Director Bevan Dufty, who represents San Francisco on the BART Board. “We will continue to work together on housing, treatment, and care.”