Sep 7, 2022 - Politics

SF supervisors introduce strategy to address fatal drug crisis

Illustration of San Francisco City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

San Francisco Supervisors Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman and Catherine Stefani yesterday introduced a resolution to address drug overdose deaths, incentivize recovery for people struggling with addiction and attempt to stop public drug dealing in the city.

Why it matters: San Francisco has a drug overdose epidemic, largely driven by the opioid fentanyl. Almost 1,700 people in San Francisco have died of overdoses since January 2020.

  • While there were 7% fewer accidental overdoses in 2021 than 2020, raw numbers remain high.
  • Last year, 650 people died of accidental overdoses, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Between January and June, the city counted 297 overdose deaths.

Details: Called San Francisco Recovers, the newly proposed resolution urges 21 city departments and six commissions to report to the Board of Supervisors within 90 days what resources they need to address the ongoing drug crisis in SF.

  • SF Recovers also makes recommendations across five areas:
    • Public health
    • Criminal justice
    • "Right to Recovery" program to establish priority law enforcement areas near substance abuse treatment facilities
    • "Sober New Deal" program to offer job-training programs to people in recovery
    • Increased transparency into drug-related programs.
  • Hundred of millions of dollars from settlements with opioid manufacturers would help fund the SF Recovers initiative, Dorsey said.

What they're saying: "San Franciscans are demanding solutions as big as our problems, and none of the problems facing our city right now are more visible, more destructive, or more deadly than rampant street-level drug dealing, open-air drug scenes and overdoses," Dorsey said in a statement.

The intrigue: California Gov. Gavin Newsom last month vetoed a bill to legalize safe drug consumption sites in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles.

  • SF Recovers, however, asks the city's Department of Public Health to determine what it would take to implement supervised consumption facility pilot programs.
  • Following Newsom's veto, SF City Attorney David Chiu said in a statement to Axios that he supports the idea of a nonprofit safe consumption site pilot in the city.

What's next: Dorsey introduced the resolution at yesterday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

  • The goal is to reach a consensus among city supervisors on how to best address the ongoing drug use and drug dealing crisis.

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