San Francisco

While Homeless Population Balloons, San Francisco Residents Use Environmental Lawsuit to Stop Homeless Shelter

Yet another neighborhood group is using a California environmental regulation to stop a housing project they don't like.

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In the most played-out storyline in urban politics, San Francisco residents are alleging that a new housing development was approved without appropriate environmental review.

The development in question is a planned 200-bed temporary homeless shelter on the city's Embarcadero waterfront area. It would replace what is currently a publicly owned parking lot used by fans visiting the nearby Giants stadium.

The shelter was first proposed by Mayor London Breed back in March as part of the city's Navigation Center program, which provides temporary shelter to homeless people while they are connected to other city services.

These plans met immediate opposition from neighbors, who in, public hearings, protests, and official appeals raised objections that commonly dog proposed homeless shelters: The new shelter would bring drugs and crime to the nearby residential neighborhood. Its 200-bed size would prove too large for the city to effectively handle, particularly given its record managing other Navigation Centers. The presence of contaminated soils and groundwater at the site would create health hazards for the people who would live there.

The city's Board of Supervisors ultimately rejected these complaints, approving the Navigation Center in June. In doing so, they also declared the project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which requires that government agencies study the environmental impacts of proposed projects before approving them.

The kind of environmental impact reports that CEQA demands cost a lot in both time and money to prepare, and would have delayed the approval of the Navigation Center by months at the very least. Because of how long and expensive these delays can be, NIMBYs frequently use the law to slow down, alter, or even stop projects they don't like.

This includes not just homeless shelters and affordable housing, but also regular market-rate developments as well.

City officials tried to avoid this problem in this case by saying that an exemption built into CEQA for urban infill projects applied to the Embarcadero Navigation Center.

But in a lawsuit filed last week, the neighborhood group Safe Embarcadero For All (SEFA) has argued that the many, many negative environmental impacts the project would bring to the neighborhood amounted to "unusual circumstances" that made this infill exemption inappropriate.

"This project will have a significant effect on the environment due to these unusual circumstances, including by attracting additional homeless persons, open drug and alcohol use, crime, daily emergency calls, public urination and defecation and other nuisances," reads the lawsuit.

Their lawsuit also argues that the state government's sign off is necessary for the Navigation Center.

SEFA is currently asking for an injunction to stop the Embarcadero Navigation Center from going forward while the case winds through the courts.

San Francisco's homelessness population has increased by 30 percent in the last two years.

This is not to say that the city's Navigation Centers have been a huge success at transitioning people into permanent housing. They haven't.

But the SEFA lawsuit is nevertheless a good example of how any response to the city's dire homelessness problem, whether its the constructions of more shelters or just the construction of more housing in general, is hamstrung by the state's onerous environmental review laws.

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69 responses to “While Homeless Population Balloons, San Francisco Residents Use Environmental Lawsuit to Stop Homeless Shelter

  1. The homeless problem is Drumpf’s fault. He has completely ruined the economy with his tariffs. That’s why so many people cannot afford housing — not because of environmental lawsuits.

    #DrumpfRecession
    #VoteDemocratToEndHomelessness

    1. PS — Also, I forgot to mention that implementing the Koch / Reason open borders agenda would dramatically reduce homelessness.

      1. The first one was a reach, even for you. It’s good to see you backpedaled to familiar territory in the PS.

      2. Only if it causes these hobos, bums and winos to head south of the border.

    2. Open Dumbass is wrong, and his use of derisory language proves it. He hs NO facts, but just the usual leftist ranting.

  2. You are my favorite one-note…
    With the cost of single family homes in SF so very high, who would want to initiate a program to decrease the value over night? They are acting in self interest to protect their investment, as anyone would expect.
    As a test, try to arrange to move the housing to the neighborhoods around the homes of the council members.

    1. I.e. crony capitalism

      1. Seriously? You want to argue that opposition to state-funded giveaways that violate environmental and zoning regulations amounts to “crony capitalism”?

      2. Please just call it cronyism. It isn’t capitalism in any real way, and calling it ‘crony capitalism’ Just gives capitalism a bad name.

        1. Meh. Just drop the “crony” part. Capitalism without cronyism has (A) never been tried, and (B) probably can’t be tried because it’s even more against human nature then socialism is.

      3. Melvin:go back to being one of the musical chipmunks, as your reply is that of a truly stupid individual.

    2. Absolutely true. The value increase of homes due to the lack of building is much higher than the lowered values of the homeless shitting on their sidewalks. The homeless are a protected class in San Fransisco, as beloved as the cable cars. A bum laying a massive turd on your stoop shows how deeply you care about his plight.

      But of course, things eventually have to snap. When the smell of shit overwhelms the property values, it will be too late to build new housing. It will be too late for shelters. It will be too late for treatment. When that time comes the city will be in an spinning downward spiral that only sanity can stop. And there is no sanity in that city.

      1. Why not tell the “homeless” (what a lie) that if they are willing to WORK shelters will be built, and then watch the smoke from these shiftless humans cloud the skies.

        1. A lie? Yep.

          As a police chief in a city I worked for once said, when asked, “Forty years ago we had hobos, bums and winos. But they stayed out of town and away from civil society. Today, we have homeless people and they move right in among us. What’s changed in forty years?”

          His response: “Forty years.”

          I’ve used that a thousand times when well-meaning but misguided folks talk about “the homeless”. They are hobos, bums and winos. Changing the name doesn’t do anything to improve their plight.

  3. One stupid policy being used to crush a different stupid policy. Not sure who to root for here…

    1. The earthquakes

    2. An argument could be made that by creating the shelter, they’re actually helping the environment by keeping people out of objectively environment-destroying encampments. But exempting themselves from the very rules they subject everyone else to? That’s distilled bullshit.

    3. It’s tough. I remember when the Libertarian Party or its activists put their weight behind the community objections to the building of an IKEA in New Rochelle because it would’ve used eminent domain to get part of the land for it. The project was scuttled on environmental grounds, but then IKEA turned out to be unable to build in New Rochelle even on a lot requiring no eminent domain, once opposition had been stirred up to them. They wound up building elsewhere.

      No way to know whether the bit of weight LP applied was enough to tip it against IKEA, nor whether had the antis not succeeded IKEA would’ve been allowed to build on their second-choice, non-eminent-domain site, but the haunting suspicion remains that in one of the few places LP may have been effective, they wound up with an effect against liberty.

      1. So you would have preferred for the government to just steal land instead? How is that in any way for liberty?

  4. So the city has a homeless problem and reason thinks the solution to that is to build shelters making it more attractive to homeless people.

    Yeah, that makes sense.

    1. It’s the New Libertarianism! Take people’s money at gunpoint and give it away for free to anybody who walks in! With so much libertarian winning, how can liberty ever lose?

    2. “So the city has a homeless problem and reason thinks the solution to that is to build shelters making it more attractive to homeless people.”

      Shelters with water-front views!
      And while I’ll never find the link again, last year there was a group of do-gooders who bough box-lunches and delivered them to the sidewalk tents!
      I’d have asked for a nice massage while they were at it…

    3. To be fair, the lack of shelters is part of the problem. Large urban areas that tend to have fewer issues with homeless people use the shelters as quarantine zones to keep them relatively zoned off from the rest of the population, so bums won’t end up in a pile of their own shit on apartment doorsteps or use the interiors of apartment complexes as a urinal or drug injection site.

      The hobo network is going to be a lot less concerned about the presence of homeless shelters than whatever welfare gibs and lack of law enforcement presence is there.

      1. “To be fair, the lack of shelters is part of the problem.”
        A “lack of shelters” is largely a result of SF’s efforts to pay bums to live here.
        How many shelters are the taxpayers to provide when the homeless activists continue to reward new arrivals?

        1. Like I said, they’re useful as quarantine zones. SF’s already screwed itself over by making it an inviting environment for bums to begin with. Failing to enable the development of flophouses is going to make it a lot more likely that old-timey urban diseases break out again, like the typhus epidemic in Los Angeles.

    4. No, the point of the story is that the city can’t even build homeless shelters because it hates the idea of more beds in the city. Part of the homelessness problem there is the lack of housing, to the point that the city can’t even manage to build a shelter. Nothing is getting built in that city. Nothing with a bed at least.

    5. Good point, John, and yes, Reason is getting unReasonable enough for me to cancel my subscription and stop coming to their website.

  5. Yet another neighborhood group is using a California environmental regulation to stop a housing project they don’t like.

    I’ll have to read about what this particular housing project looks like, but there has been an absolutely legitimate environmental concern over existing homeless encampments that’s been totally ignored by the local environmentally-minded polity.

    They’re discovering that homeless encampments are choc-a-bloc with PCBs– likely from illicit meth production by the homeless campers. Not to mention literal piles of human waste and trash which are nominally illegal to dump for everyone else, but are explicitly sanctioned by the local councils.

    1. The city’s Board of Supervisors ultimately rejected these complaints, approving the Navigation Center in June. In doing so, they also declared the project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA),

      Funny that. This is cynical beyond measure. I’m glad they’re getting sued– they should be if they’re subject to their own rules.

    2. The Lefties are so concerned about environmentally safe sewers. Every storm drain within fifty miles of the bay has a warning that it flows to the bay. Jail time if you don’t pick up after your dog. Etc.

      Yet they think it’s charming and delightful if a bum shits on the sidewalk to pollute the bay with human filth.

    3. How much you want to bet that when the shit piles and “homeless” encampments get near the council members’ homes that will change in a second.

      1. When council in a city I lived in expressed sympathy for the hobos, bums and winos that were finding their way into the neighborhood I lived in to steal recyclables out of peoples trash, yards, truck beds, etc. There were also numerous burglaries and petty thefts that many of us had reason to believe they committed although the police claimed that the homeless didn’t burglarize homes.

        So, I hatched a plan. I was going to print up cards to pass out to the bums essentially to advertise the availability of hot showers, food, clothing, etc. within the city and put each council member’s home address on them. I had visions of these cretins showing up on council members front porches seeking hand outs and the council members losing their minds trying to get a police response. After all, the bums wouldn’t be doing anything illegal. Right?

        I never did this because an attorney told me that if I should be identified as the provider of those flyers I could face grave, legal consequences. Although I could never ascertain what laws, municipal, state or federal, I would have actually violated by doing this. It would just be personal protest and bringing a problem directly to the politicians that were responsible for seeing that something was done.

  6. Apparently, one of the principles of the New Libertarianism is that it is the duty of tax payers to build and provide free housing in some of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city! NAP and Small Government FTW!

  7. “Homeless Population Balloons”

    Sold by the saddest clown ever.

    1. Worst product marketing since they wanted to call organized schoolwork assistance facilities “Concentration Camps”.

      1. Bwha. You win the thread.

  8. Yes, there is a huge growth in the number of bums, and this is exactly why: We reward them for moving here.
    We (taxpayers) are paying for ‘free’ housing, and in this case with stunning waterfront views. Wonderful way to make sure we have more people who can’t afford to live here free-riding.
    Sorry – swing and a miss; you’re out.

    1. BEST COMMENT ON THIS THREAD EVER!! WAY TO GO SEVO!!!

  9. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks. And it doesn’t matter which folks. As they say, if God doesn’t do something soon about San Francisco, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.

  10. Waiting for secession is taking way to long.
    I invite the population east of the Mississippi to travel together to California, stand on the San Andreas fault, and jump up and down until California falls into the Pacific.

    1. That’s not how it works. The San Andreas fault is an transverse fault. Meaning all that will happen is that San Francisco will end up off the coast of Portland and Los Angeles across from Oakland. A bit of property damage, but still keeping the progressive dominance centers intact.

      On the plus side, Ensenada will now be where San Diego is, to the delight of margarita lovers everywhere.

  11. “The new shelter would bring drugs and crime to the nearby residential neighborhood. Its 200-bed size would prove too large for the city to effectively handle, particularly given its record managing other Navigation Centers. The presence of contaminated soils and groundwater at the site would create health hazards for the people who would live there.”

    No word on whether it would cast a shadow?

    1. Or block a view.

  12. When I lived in Anchorage many of the creeks had coliform bacteria problems. The city council blamed it on dog walkers not picking up their dog shit, even has stations to deposit said shit (but never had the damn bags stocked). All the while they had homeless encampments along the aforementioned creeks, some had even built log cabins in city greenbelts. Of course there weren’t bathrooms for them to use. Guess what, the coliform bacteria were linked to the homeless camps but when the Republican mayor pointed that out the Anchorage Daily News (owned by the same parent company as the NYT if I remember correctly) attacked him for this observation.

    1. I really wish these exceptional liberal fucks would marinate in the sometimes literal shit that they encourage, instead of blaming accurate reports on the causes as bigotry and never living with the consequences of their advocacy.

      It’s really why a gigantic earthquake along the I-5 corridor from San Diego to Seattle is the last best hope for that part of the country, because I don’t think any President has the balls to nuke these fuckers like they deserve for their open subversion and vectoring of their hideous political ideology to livable, high-trust communities.

    2. Homeless in Anchorage? Doesn’t the long winter kill them off?

      Besides the sanctuary that SF provides, the other factor that attracts so many homeless to SF and, CA in general is the weather. If we had weather akin to say, Minnesota or Montana, I can assure you, our problems with hobos, bums and winos would be greatly mitigated.

      Darwinism at its finest I say.

  13. Yet another neighborhood group is using a California environmental regulation to stop a housing project they don’t like.

    But the SEFA lawsuit is nevertheless a good example of how any response to the city’s dire homelessness problem . . . is hamstrung by the state’s onerous environmental review laws.

    Since San Franciscans have allowed the government to have so much power, its only by using the power of the government against itself do they have any chance of actually having a say in how the city is run. Divide and conquer. I would hope that there are levers of power that can be pulled to pit on part of the government against another part – that sort of design has been a critical part of how our government’s have been organized since the founding of the country.

    1. “Since San Franciscans have allowed the government to have so much power, its only by using the power of the government against itself do they have any chance of actually having a say in how the city is run.”
      I have no part in the lawsuit, but I have no doubt that many who do are lefty fucking ignoramuses who have voted for the lefty fucking ignoramuses who populate the BoS.
      Perhaps, just perhaps, this might be a lesson.

  14. I don’t know what smokes cost in SF, but that bum seems to be able to afford them somehow.

    1. He’s also got a dog, as many do, so that he can 1) play on people’s pity for the poor animal and, 2) refuse to go to a shelter because they don’t allow dogs.

      A police officer that works with the homeless explained #2 to me once, as we had to use the PD to round up and evict some 20 such low lifes from our fenced off, private lot.

      Wanna bet that dog is not licensed and more importantly, not vaccinated. Animal control should be confiscating it for just that reason. After all, while Libertarians abhor excessive and overreaching laws, don’t we also believe in compliance with those the people agree to?

  15. “But the SEFA lawsuit is nevertheless a good example of how any response to the city’s dire homelessness problem, whether its the constructions of more shelters or just the construction of more housing in general, is hamstrung by the state’s onerous environmental review laws.”

    No, it’s hamstrung by the local residents who use such laws to protect their little fiefdoms….

  16. Once again progressives not only fail to solve a problem, by spending millions of taxpayer dollars, they manage to make the problem even worse.

  17. In other news, Google is now accused of PRC communist infiltration and working with the PRC military.

  18. In other news, Google is now accused of working with the Chinese PRC communist military- good times.

    1. duplicate sort of?

    2. Actually Google is leading the charge for big tech to start building housing to “ease the housing crisis”. As a public service of course.

      I can’t believe that the polls and their ilk who embrace this forget about workers, who in the words of Tennessee Ernie Ford ended up “owing their souls to the company store.”

      The one part of all this that gladdens my heart, is that the big tech companies that embraced big government and worked on cronyism are now running scared as big government has turned on them….as it does on one and all eventually.

  19. Offer the shelter neighborhood a carrot– sweep bums off nearby streets, and keep them off. (Otherwise, I cannot blame the neighbors for being NIMBYs.)

  20. […] While Homeless Population Balloons, San Francisco Residents Use Environmental Lawsuit to Stop Homele… […]

  21. As someone who was involved in obtaining government funding for projects and had to work with CEQA, I can say that SEFA will probably prevail in their efforts. Declaring this project CEQA exempt was a real faux pa on the City’s part. There is no way it is CEQA exempt.

    And, people need to realize that, the way the word “environment” is used in government regulations and programs these days (CEQA too!) is way beyond the common understanding of protecting land, air and water from pollution. It has as much to do with race, color, national origin and socioeconomic status as it does with the former three. Environmental regulation has been totally twisted by the SJW activists inside and outside of government while John Q Public stands apathetically by believing that government is just looking out to protect us all from pollution.

  22. […] the tax wouldn’t have done much to fix the city’s housing and inequality issues. Solving that will require repealing loads of zoning codes and regulations so that more housing can […]

  23. […] the tax wouldn’t have done much to fix the city’s housing and inequality issues. Solving that will require repealing loads of zoning codes and regulations so that more housing can […]

  24. […] the tax wouldn’t have done much to fix the city’s housing and inequality issues. Solving that will require repealing loads of zoning codes and regulations so that more housing can […]

  25. […] the tax wouldn’t have done much to fix the city’s housing and inequality issues. Solving that will require repealing loads of zoning codes and regulations so that more housing can […]

  26. […] the tax wouldn’t have done much to fix the city’s housing and inequality issues. Solving that will require repealing loads of zoning codes and regulations so that more housing can […]

  27. I don’t think any zoning laws should exist… But this WOULD bring in crime and problems.

    My neighborhood has been flooded with homeless people over the last few years… I went 10 years without locking my car doors when I parked ON THE STREET in front of my house… It took 7 years for somebody to go through it once, and not even take anything. 3 years later somebody did the same, so I started locking it.

    In the last 2 weeks 2 CARS have been stolen off my block. My car got hit and runned, probably in one of the stolen cars on the way out. A few more have been broken into. Somebody TRIED to break into mine, but ran away when the alarm went off. Finally, somebody tried to break into a neighbors house when they were out of town.

    This neighborhood has had MORE wealthy people move in compared to when I moved here. It is richer. It’s 110% the drug addled hobos. All these people fit into a couple categories.

    1. The ones the libtards want you to think represents all of them, which is those down on their luck, but good people who need a helping hand. This is really the smallest part.

    2. The drug addicts who could be helped by out patient treatment.

    3. The drug addicts who need to go to jail/in patient.

    4. The insane who need to be in institutions.

    Until somebody starts locking up the druggies and crazies as appropriate, the problem will only get worse.

  28. […] Yet another neighborhood group is using a California environmental regulation to stop a housing proj… […]

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