SAN FRANCISCO—On Tuesday, December 13, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors proposed a new plan to open safe consumption sites throughout the city in an attempt to reduce drug overdoses.
This proposal comes shortly after the closure of the Tenderloin Linkage Center which reversed 333 overdoses in its 11 months of operation. The center officially closed on December 4.
This new plan includes:
- An updated hearing on why the city ceased plans for Wellness Hubs after months of work to open the centers.
- A $5.5-million budget supplemental to fund the near term opening of Wellness Hubs in neighborhoods where death by overdose and open-air drug use is most prevalent.
- A resolution calling for a portion of the funds from the opioid settlements to fund the opening of Wellness Hubs over the next two years.
Supervisor Matt Dorsey stated:
“Given the potent lethality of drugs like fentanyl now fueling our drug OD crisis, there is real urgency to pursue harm-reduction approaches that save lives and provide an interim step toward the promise of real recovery. I’m convinced that Wellness Hubs offer a workable model that can assure safer use and safe neighborhoods — affirming the principle that harm reduction is about the quality of life and well-being for individuals as well as for the community.”
Mayor London Breed supports the idea, but believes the city could face legal challenges.
In August, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed Senate Bill 57 writing in his memo:
“The unlimited number of safe injection sites that this bill would authorize … could induce a world of unintended consequences.” Newsom noted that open drug use in cities like San Francisco and Oakland “cannot be taken lightly.”
Senate Bill 57 would have authorized the City and County of San Francisco, the County of Los Angeles, the city of Los Angeles, and the city of Oakland to approve entities to operate overdose prevention programs for persons that satisfy specified requirements until January 1, 2028.
Proponents for consumption sites feel that they are a better alternative than arresting people for using drugs, that they would reduce HIV and hepatitis C by encouraging safe injection practices, and that they would lower emergency department admission and hospitalization costs. Opponents feel that consumption sites exacerbate addiction and encourages illegal behavior.
The San Francisco News contacted the Board of Supervisors for a statement but did not hear back before print.