The News-Times

Board OKs emergency order over opioids


The Board of Supervisor­s approved an emergency order to tackle the opioid epidemic in San Francisco’s troubled Tenderloin neighborho­od, despite reservatio­ns by some that the declaratio­n will be used by the mayor to criminaliz­e people who are homeless, addicted to drugs or both.

The vote shortly after midnight on Friday was 8-2, following a marathon 10 hours of debate and public comment. The public health emergency declaratio­n authorizes the Department of Emergency Management to re-allocate city staff and bypass contractin­g and permitting regulation­s to set up a new temporary center where people can access expanded drug treatment and counseling.

Advocates for the homeless and substance users urged supervisor­s to reject the emergency order because Mayor London Breed has also pledged to flood the district with police to halt crime, which some residents want. The mayor also said some drug users may wind up in jail unless they accept services, although drug possession is a misdemeano­r crime and rarely enforced.

The board ultimately approved the declaratio­n, calling the abundance of cheap fentanyl a crisis. More people in San Francisco died of overdose last year than of COVID-19.

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