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Tenderloin Residents Sue San Francisco Due To Unsafe Streets 

By Maggie LaBarge 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – On Thursday, March 14th, two hotels and many residents in the Tenderloin District sued San Francisco accusing the city of using their streets as a containment zone for rampant illegal drug use and other vices. 

There are reports of locals getting threatened with violence on the streets, leaving them terrified to exit their homes. The residents who have sued San Francisco are not seeking monetary damages but would rather have officials clear their streets of any illicit drug dealers, users, and tent encampments. 

These kinds of issues have been occuring in the Tenderloin District for quite some time now. The Mayor, London Breed, and other city officials promised to clean the streets without follow-through. 

Recently, Breed approved Proposition E, which will bring in more officials to regulate the streets and provide resources like security cameras to make the neighborhood safer. A 2022 lawsuit filed by unhoused members of the community and their advocates protects the dismantling of their encampments. 

This lawsuit prohibits officials from forcing unhoused individuals out of public camping sites without shelter space. The Phoenix Hotel, Best Western Road Coach Inn, and five anonymous residents are the plaintiffs of this lawsuit. 

The first resident, Susan Roe, uses a walker to assist her and is forced to cross into busy streets due to the bicycles, shopping carts, and other debris blocking the street. Roe stated that she’s forced to maneuver around “excrement, used syringes, vomit and garbage.” 

The second resident, Jane Roe, is a married housekeeper with two young children who does not have the financial stability to move out of the Tenderloin District. She often encounters drug dealers, users actively using drugs, and people who are unconscious outside her building; she said her children can never go outside without an adult. 

The reason the Phoenix Hotel joined the lawsuit was because of an incident that happened in their parking lot. An employee asked a trespasser to vacate the property and, in turn, was struck in the head; also, their restaurant has been unable to hire a new qualified chef due to the conditions of the street.

Jen Kwart, spokesperson for city attorney David Chiu, responded to the lawsuit with this statement: “While we understand and share the frustration of Tenderloin businesses and residents, the City is making efforts to reduce crime, disrupt open-air drug markets, and address homelessness, all while complying with the preliminary injunction issued in the Coalition on Homelessness case.” 

A similar lawsuit was filed in May 2020 by the College of Law San Francisco, which has since filed a new motion. When the original lawsuit was filed, the city pledged to reduce the amount of tents, but this has yet to occur. 

Mayor London Breed says she takes this issue seriously and will work aggressively to improve conditions. Residents hope they will see change this time, but only time will tell. 

Resources: 

https://www.kqed.org/news/11979508/san-francisco-residents-sue-for-drug-and-tent-free-streets in-tenderloin-district 

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/terrified-residents-san-franciscos-tenderloin-district-sue-st reets-108132634#:~:text=SAN%20FRANCISCO%20%2D%2D%20Two%20hotels,businesses% 20unable%20to%20recruit%20staff. 

https://ktvz.com/news/ap-national-news/2024/03/14/terrified-residents-of-san-franciscos-tenderl oin-district-sue-for-streets-free-of-drugs-tents/ 

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