San Francisco residents question safety of new navigation center following nearby homeless condo attack

ByLiz Kreutz via KGO logo
Thursday, August 29, 2019
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The backlash continues against a navigation center for the homeless that's being built on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The backlash continues against a navigation center for the homeless that's being built on the Embarcadero in San Francisco -- right next to the high-rise where a woman was recently attacked by a homeless man.

Concerned neighbors showed up to a planning meeting for the center to get answers on how the city plans to keep them safe.

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"I know that everyone here seems very committed to the idea that you're going to help establish a safe and sane navigation center," DJ Duffy, who lives in the South Beach neighborhood, told the city and advisory board. "As you see, none of us believe you."

Duffy is one of several neighbors who feel there has been an influx of homeless people in their neighborhood since the announcement of the new shelter.

"We keep getting promised it will be safe, it will be safe eventually, but it sure isn't safe now," Duffy told ABC7 News.

Neighborhood opposition to the 200-bed navigation center -- which will be the largest of its kind in the city -- isn't new. It's already been approved by the city and, just hours before the meeting, a structure on the site of the center was put up.

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But it's the incident of a homeless man attacking a woman at the condo right next to the center, along with two other recent violent attacks in the area, that have neighbors doubling down on their concerns.

"I don't know whether the assailant in that attack was there because of the navigation center," Wallace Lee, the President of Safe Embarcadero for All, said. "But what proves our point is that the city is unable to keep us safe."

Randy Quezada, a spokesperson for the Port of San Francisco, assured concerned neighbors that safety is a priority.

"We're working with the police department, we're working with the neighbors, and we all want to work together to make sure instances like that don't happen again," he said.

Extra police will patrol the area, but many neighbors say it's not enough.

Norma Altshuler is one neighbor who did stand up to offer support for the center.

"It seems to me to be a fundamental part of human rights and what it means to be a San Franciscan... to support the vulnerable among us," she explained.

Construction for the center began in July and is expected through winter.

RELATED: Video shows new attack near where woman was assaulted by homeless man

Wallace with Safe Embarcadero for All did warn the advisory board that he is drafting a ballot initiative that would make it harder for the city to build and renew leases for navigation centers. He says if this center proves to be unsafe, he will move forward with it.

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