New community justice center doesn't pass

May 14, 2008 7:36:21 PM PDT
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's dream of creating a special court to deal with so-called quality of life crimes, was dealt a setback on Wednesday. City supervisors refused to give him the money to pay for it.

Police say they arrested this woman this morning in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood for public drunkenness.

"Quality of life crimes. That's pretty much what it's about and that's one of the things that takes up the most of our time during the day," says Officer Tim Kielty, with the San Francisco Police Department.

This is the kind of arrest the Community Justice Center is designed to handle. As well as prostitution, vandalism, and drug charges. Those taken to the center would be connected to social services on site. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is all for it.

"San Franciscans are telling us enough is enough. We have to deal with lower level misdemeanors and non violent felonies," says Steve Falk with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

The center would tackle those crimes committed just in certain neighborhoods, the Tenderloin and south of Market. It's modeled after a similar system in New York.

This is where it would be located on Polk Street across from the Federal building.

On Wednesday, San Francisco Supervisors debated a request by the mayor to release half a million dollars to set up of the system. Which is expected to cost nearly $3 million a year to operate. Critics say don't do it.

"When we're facing such huge budget cuts, it doesn't make sense to do a new initiative that we don't even know if it's going to work or not when we have proven, effective programs that are slated for closure," says Jennifer Friedenbach, with the Coalition of Homelessness.

Darius Kittles told supervisors he supports the proposal.

"I've been to a few prisons in my lifetime. Programs have helped me a lot. I think the community center you all are proposing so a good thing for the community," said Kittles, a San Francisco resident.

However, after hearing from dozens of people on both sides, the supervisors delivered a split decision. The majority of them denied the money. It's unclear what the mayor's net step will be.


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