San Francisco supervisor calls for 'drug tourism' data to see where users are coming from

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Friday, February 2, 2024
SF supervisor calls for 'drug tourism' data on users
A San Francisco supervisor is calling for more data on where people who are using and dying from illicit street drugs are coming from.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On the heels of the deadliest year yet, amid the drug overdose crisis, a San Francisco supervisor is calling for more data about where people who are using and dying from illicit street drugs are coming from.

"We know anecdotally, that there are people who come here from out of town. And often, over the years, I've seen it play out that there are debates on whether San Francisco is a city for drug tourism," said Supervisor Matt Dorsey.

The supervisor sent a letter Thursday to the city's controller office, requesting it compile home address histories of people arrested for drug use and those who have died of an overdose.

"I wanted to work with the controller to develop a methodology. These numbers are not unknowable, and I think SF should have the ability to get its arms around what the numbers really are," Dorsey said.

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And, once a methodology is established, the supervisor would like to see an annual report. This would also include data on where people who are receiving general assistance benefits from the city are from.

"We owe it to our taxpayers to make sure the services we provide as part of a social safety net that is worthy of being the City of San Francisco is something that is for the residents of the City of San Francisco. We can't be the social safety net for the Western United States," said Dorsey, adding he believes an annual report will help policy makers make more informed decisions when addressing the drug overdose crisis.

"We have to have to a clear-eyed view of what we're incentivizing and what we may need to change in terms of public policy. But before we do that we should have a complete report."

However, not everyone agrees with supervisor's approach.

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"Where do we focus our energy? Focusing our energy on pointing a finger is just not effective," said Lydia Bransten, executive director of Gubbio Project, a nonprofit providing services to people on the streets.

"We're now going to ask for people to research where did these people come from for what purpose? What's the endgame here? My question is how do we as a city approach a crisis that is nationwide," said Bransten, suggesting more emphasis on approaches like easily accessible treatment and safe consumption sites, where people can go to use their drugs under supervision in case of an overdose.

"I would ask for our city politicians to focus on the fact that 806 people died on our streets that could have been prevented, rather than focusing on where they came from," Bransten said.

In the meantime, Dorsey said gathering the data is just one tool in battling the crisis.

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