San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter poised to face legal battle

The 130-bed shelter is planned near one of San Fran's wealthiest neighborhoods
May 04, 2019 01:00PM

Lawyer Andrew Zacks, San Francisco (Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Zacks, Freedman & Patterson)

San Francisco city officials approved the city’s largest homeless shelter last week, but fervent opponents of the project say they aren’t giving up their fight to kill it.

The Embarcadero Navigation Center is set to occupy a Port of San Francisco-owned parking lot near beneath the Bay Bridge in Rincon Hill, a wealthy area of the city along its eastern waterfront, according to SFist.

Attorney Andrew Zacks, who leads the opposition to the shelter, claimed at last week’s meeting that the project violated the California Environmental Quality Act. He also claimed the city violated a state law that requires governments to openly share certain documents.

CEQA is the most common law used to challenge development projects. Elected officials in Sacramento perennially propose reforms to the law to reduce the number of bad faith challenges meant to slow down development projects over non-environmental issues, but have failed to pass meaningful changes.

There are around 7,500 people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco, a crisis exacerbated by seemingly never-ending growth in the cost of housing in the Northern California city. The planned challenge comes after officials agreed to reduce the number of beds at the shelter from 200 to 130.

The opponents to the shelter are mostly people who live in the surrounding neighborhood. Their top complaint is that the shelter will attract dangerous people and drug users. The fight highlights the increasingly sharp economic divide between San Francisco’s residents.

While shelters are often contentious, there’s also indications of wide support from some urbanites: 59 percent of respondents to a recent survey in New York said they would support some kind of shelter in their neighborhood. [SFist] – Dennis Lynch