San Francisco supervisors on June 25, 2019 approved turning a parking lot near Piers 30 into a navigation center that with 200 beds for homeless people.

Bob Butler/KCBS Radio

San Francisco Leaders Approve Waterfront Homeless Shelter

Carrie Hodousek
June 26, 2019 - 10:37 am

SAN FRANCISCO — A controversial plan to build a homeless navigation center along the San Francisco waterfront has been approved by city officials. 

This 200-bed facility is part of Mayor London Breed's pledge to open 1,000 new beds for homeless residents by the end of next year. 

The approval for the center, to be located along the Embarcadero just south of the Bay Bridge, came after two hours of public comment on the plan on Tuesday. Several residents turned out to speak against it, claiming it will bring more crime, open drug use and encampments to the area. 

"I like walking my dog at night, and I feel really threatened by having something without community input," one woman who lives across the street from the proposed site said. 

Another nearby neighbor is worried about the center's impact on local traffic. "This is a very busy area, traffic is already bad enough as it is, with the Bay Bridge on -ramp and the Embarcadero. Daily emergencies will make it worse," he said. 

Related: Homeless Navigation Center Planned For San Francisco’s Embarcadero

Homeless advocates spoke in support of the center, saying it will get people off the streets, and get them connected with services they need. 

"It seems everyone is worried about parking, 911 calls and crimes, but nobody sounds very concerned about all the people living in un-safety on the streets," one advocate said. "It is a center to help people in need."

"I think so often that the humanity of people has been lost," said another supporter. "We all need to be doing what we can to help our fellow San Franciscans." 

The city has six shelters, but those fill up quickly most nights, often leading to wait-lists of up to 1,000 people. 

The group Safe Embarcadero For All has threatened to sue the city over the supervisors' nine-to-zero vote to reject an environmental appeal of the project. 

But the plan is to start construction on this navigation center as quickly as possible, with ground set to be broken as early as this year.