SAN FRANCISCO—On Tuesday, August 18, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the settlement between the city of San Francisco and the University of California Hastings College of Law in which they agreed to remove 70 percent of the tents where homeless people were sheltering in the Tenderloin District.
In a 7-4 vote, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance authorizing a $0 settlement that ordered the city to remove the tents and the encamping materials located in the sidewalks of the Tenderloin by July 20. The terms of the settlement included relocating the homeless people in hotel rooms and safe sleeping sites offered by the city. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, more than 87 percent of the tents were already removed from the region and 615 people were relocated.
Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton voted against the ordinance. According to the SF Chronicle, Preston said he was disappointed because he expected that the lawsuit would enable more resources to respond to the homeless crisis.
“I thought the lawsuit might result in that, whether it was the city agreeing to ramp up and get another 500 or 1,000 hotel rooms, or Hastings or other neighbors agreeing to contribute their abilities,” said Preston.
“The situation two months ago had become so awful and untenable, and we really needed some urgent and sweeping change,” said Haney. “And we’ve seen some of that. But we still have a long way to go.”
The Coalition on Homelessness noted that of the 2,000 San Francisco residents in the Tenderloin District, only 400 had been relocated to hotel rooms or other safe sleeping sites. Before the vote, the organization asked the public to email or call their district supervisors to tell them to oppose the settlement of the lawsuit. One of the arguments of the coalition is that according to them, the lawsuit will set a precedent to prioritize those who are uncomfortable due to the tents over those who may need services equally.
Some residents who publicly commented about the settlement to the Board of Supervisors showed an approval of its terms. Susie McKinnon, the community relations director at Cova Hotel urged them to approve it before the meeting on Tuesday.
“We are writing to express our strong support for this settlement. We also want to thank UC Hastings and its partners in initiating this case. Sidewalk encampments, homelessness, and illicit and open-air drug activities have substantially increased over the last two years and especially during the pandemic. We hope this case and the work involved will produce on-going and long-term effects to help those in need and create an acceptable quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors,” McKinnon said in a statement.
Others were calling the supervisors to ask them to vote against it because they were in disagreement.
“Hello, I’m calling to ask the Government Audit and Oversight committee to vote ‘no’ on the UC Hasting Settlement, which will endanger unhoused people left on the TL’s streets by this settlement. The lawsuit itself is racist and unjust. In particular, the goal of zero tents in the Tenderloin will mean sweeps and policing–which advocates and unhoused people agree unjustly criminalize the very existence of homeless folks without offering alternative resources. Indeed, visible poverty is not a crime, and should not be treated as such,” said Kavin Goyal in a message to the board.