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Under A State Of Emergency; SF Officials Focus On Troubled Tenderloin's Future

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- It took much of the day and all of Thursday night, but early Friday morning the San Francisco Board of Supervisors signed off Mayor London Breed's emergency declaration for the Tenderloin.

The vote was 8 to 2.

Over the course of that 10-hour meeting, a lot of people, on both sides of the vote, made a point to acknowledge that the situation here is unacceptable, a disaster. And with the board's vote, it's official, the neighborhood is in a state of emergency. No one is entirely sure what is going to happen next.

"I think they're still figuring that out," said District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. "Mary Ellen Carrol, who is the Director of the Department of Emergency Management, has been tasked with making this work. She and her people have done an amazing job during the pandemic. Now they're trying to take on this, and try to stand up a facility that can serve up to 100 folks, and get those folks off the sidewalks."

Mandelman was one of the 8 'yes' votes Friday. He says just getting everyone on the same page for a job this complicated - will be complicated.

"Bureaucracy is hard," Mandelman said. "Figuring out how to do it legally, how to bring the different departments together. That's the hard part."

"You know, the truth is, we have a united group on our incident management team," Carroll said at the mayor's announcement last week. "They have very desperate views about how to approach these problems. That's the truth."

Supporters of the mayor's plan say, in some respects, the challenge isn't impossible.

"I actually think the discussion, and the debate last night, made things more complicated than it really is," said Randy Shaw, head of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. "90% of the problem is drug dealers. Not truck users, not homeless people. Drug dealers. If they were arrested, or they're deterred from being there. I'm going to see a vastly improved Tenderloin in a very short amount of time."

The initial push in the Tenderloin will last 90 days. It's expected to start in mid-January. If nothing else, the mayor has compelled some action on what everyone agrees is a crisis. For a lot of people, that alone is a significant start.

"I completely agree," Shaw said. "It is a game changer. We have never had the entire city riveted on the tenderloin. I've never seen the tenderloin trending on Twitter, as it was last night. So there you go. That tells you something."

"So she had to do something, but now she said she's going to have to make changes," Mandelman said. "I think people are going to hold her to it. So it does raise the expectation level, but I think she had to do something."

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