LA councilmember tours San Francisco streets as both cities grapple with fentanyl crisis

Tara Campbell Image
Sunday, October 22, 2023
LA  councilmember tours SF as both cities grapple with fentanyl crisis
EMBED <>More Videos

California grapples with an increasingly complex drug overdose crisis with elected officials and mothers coming together to find solutions.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's all hands on deck as California grapples with an increasingly complex drug overdose crisis- with everyone from elected officials and mothers coming together to find solutions.

"It's not just fentanyl anymore it's 'tranq' and ISO," said Los Angeles City Councilwomen Traci Park, while walking the streets of San Francisco.

"I represent the Westside of Los Angeles including Venice Beach which has been ground zero of the homelessness, mental health and addiction crisis outside of Skid Row."

Fentanyl is fueling record deaths in both cities, with San Francisco on pace for its deadliest year yet amid the crisis.

MORE: 385 died of fentanyl overdose in SF this year; could set record, health officials say

Despite efforts to curtail the fentanyl crisis in San Francisco, health officials are reporting that 71 people died of an accidental overdose in July.

"They're making a lot of changes and trying different approaches, and I'm here to learn what's worked what hasn't worked," said Park, who was joined by Ellen Grantz, one of the founders of Mothers Against Drug Addiction and Deaths.

"What is your advocacy about, what are the policy changes you would like to see?" asked Park. "The first thing is we'd like to see the city close the open-air drug scenes," responded Grantz. "It's so important because it attracts more users, it attracts more dealers, it effects the business and communities."

San Francisco is now six months in to a multi-agency effort to shutter the open-air drug market. Governor Gavin Newsom sending in California Highway Patrol and National Guard to support police.

Tara Campbelll: "As you may know San Francisco a lot more arrests of drug users as well, is that happening in Los Angeles as well?

Councilwoman Traci Park: "Well, it's a little different. One of the things I appreciate about what San Francisco's been doing in recent months is that shift to focusing on especially the folks who are manufacturing and killing this poison that's killing people on the streets."

MORE: Here are reasons why San Francisco has a hard time convicting drug dealers

San Francisco's fentanyl epidemic continues to impact the city. Law enforcement says it's so difficult to convict drug dealers.

"Now we're in a race against the deadliest drug we've ever seen," said Supervisor Matt Dorsey, sitting in his office across from Park.

Dorsey is calling for millions more in funding for jail-based treatment. ""I've always seen our county jail as a system that's capable of doing incredibly progressive things," said Dorsey, adding that he's also backing harm reduction efforts, like safe consumption sites.

MORE: DEA warns drug used to sedate large animals possibly hitting SF streets amid fentanyl crisis

There's an effort to increase awareness about a powerful tranquilizer used to sedate animals from a becoming a deadly street drug in San Francisco.

"I'm going to support and have been vocal in supporting supervised consumption services if we can get to those."

Governor Newsom vetoed a bill last year that would have made way for pilot sites in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland

MORE: How a Bay Area mom is turning grief into action by distributing Narcan in San Francisco

Michelle Leopold and her husband, who lost their 18-year-old son to fentanyl overdose, are helping train people to use naloxone, as well as giving it away.

"In my view public order and public health is not a false choice. The idea that we have to have one or another is a false choice. We can have both."

Councilwoman Park is planning to present her findings to the Los Angeles City Council next week.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live