'We want our neighborhood back': SF locals talk Tenderloin public safety with city leaders

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Friday, August 4, 2023
SF locals talk Tenderloin public safety with city leaders
The Saint Anthony Foundation held a town hall with San Francisco city leaders to discuss safety in the Tenderloin.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's been over three months since Governor Newsom announced the state was stepping in to help get drug dealers off the streets of the Tenderloin.

Many residents of the San Francisco neighborhood say they still feel unsafe.

On Thursday, the Saint Anthony Foundation held a town hall with city leaders, including the police chief and district attorney, to discuss safety.

"We got seniors that can't or won't come outside. We got children that can't play outside anymore. We want our neighborhood back," said longtime Tenderloin business owner Del Seymour.

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It was a plea for greater public safety.

On Thursday, Seymour joined dozens at the St. Anthony Foundation in San Francisco to talk with city leaders.

The social services provider called for the community meeting, following rising violence in the area.

That includes a shooting several weeks ago not far from their front door.

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"In the same week, two people being shot and two people being stabbed really within easy walking distance here of Golden Gate Avenue and our building here. Two of them have died," said CEO of the St. Anthony Foundation, Nils Behnke.

Besides violence, open-air drug markets were another big subject of discussion.

Both District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and law enforcement officials believe the solution to that has to be multifaceted.

However, they all say they think a form of deterrence has to be part of the equation.

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"When addiction is that strong, people can't make a rational choice for themselves to get into treatment. We have to help them detox and make the responsible decision," Jenkins said.

Despite the concerns from some locals in attendance, SFPD Chief Bill Scott says his department is arresting more people than they have in years.

"We've almost exceeded where we were all of last year already," Scott said.

That was something that was echoed by Jenkins, who says she thinks the courts are a big part of the problem of letting repeat offenders back on the streets.

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"It's taking four open cases -- so that means the police have to arrest the same person four times on average before the court will agree to hold them in custody," she said.

The panel says the collaboration between their departments, as well as state and federal partners will ultimately make the Tenderloin a safer place.

A hope for Del Seymour, who thinks this neighborhood is worth fighting for.

"My California license plate says Tenderloin. That's how much I love this community. I'm not going to let it go to waste like it seems like it is sometimes," he said.

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