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State Sen. Scott Wiener Continues Push For Safe Injection Sites, More Housing Near Transit

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) on Tuesday introduced new legislation to legalize overdose prevention programs, or safe injection sites, in select California cities.

Under Senate Bill 57, people suffering from substance addiction could safely consume in the presence of medical professionals who are equipped with the medication naloxone to prevent overdoses. The sites would first be implemented via pilot program in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles.

SB 57 marks Wiener's third legislation pushing for the sites.

Back in 2018, Wiener's initial legislation Assembly Bill 186, was vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown and after that, Wiener introduced AB 362 earlier this year, but that too was ultimately canned.

According to Wiener, safe injection sites operating in places like Canada, Australia and Europe have already proven successful in reducing overdose deaths and getting people into treatment.

In the face of COVID-19 and a skyrocketing overdose death rate -- nearly 800 recorded in San Francisco so far -- Weiner said the legislation is desperately needed.

"So many communities in our state are experiencing dramatic rises in public drug use and overdose deaths, and now is the time to implement a proven anti-overdose strategy that helps get people into recovery," Wiener said in a statement. "People struggling with addiction deserve access to treatment, as well as care and supplies that reduce the risk of overdoes and infections. COVID-19 has led to a substantial and worrying increase in deaths of despair -- overdose deaths and suicides. With a Newsom Administration and Biden in the White House, I'm hopeful we can finally get this done in 2021."

Both San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf are in support of Wiener' latest legislation.

Also on Tuesday, Wiener introduced separate legislation that would allow California municipalities to expedite new apartment buildings, in a bid address the state's housing crisis.

Senate Bill 10 would allow for local governments to upzone neighborhoods and allow for faster, easier approvals of apartment buildings with up to 10 units, so long as the buildings are not in "sprawl" areas, areas farther away from jobs and transit hubs.

Currently, many urban areas are forbidden from building any more than one unit of housing per parcel due to single family zoning laws. However, if SB 10 is approved, multiple housing projects could be approved faster and more people could have access to housing near transit and jobs.

"California's massive housing shortage is driving people into poverty and homelessness and threatening our environment, economy and diversity, we must take bold steps to end this devastating crisis," Wiener said in a statement. "SB 10 provide cities with a powerful, fast and effective tool to allow light-touch density exactly where it should be near jobs, near public transportation and in existing urbanized areas. SB 10 will help move California away from sprawl-based housing policy and toward a more sustainable, equitable, and effective housing policy."

An earlier version of this bill, known as Senate Bill 50 and also authored by Wiener, failed to pass earlier this year.

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