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Neighbors concerned homeless will flock to new Transbay Transit Center

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The Transbay Transit Center, picture Jan. 15, is scheduled to open in June with bus service commencing June 17. (Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Less than five months before the expected opening of the Transbay Transit Center, a group of residents wants The City to better prepare for an influx of homeless people who could be drawn to the new hub.

Two months ago, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority Citizens Advisory Committee held a meeting with a panel of city officials to discuss their strategy around homelessness. But the committee remained concerned and on Wednesday sent a letter to Mayor Mark Farrell and other city officials calling for increased measures.

“We do remain concerned about the potential impact of an increased homeless population on neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the Center,” wrote Bruce Agid, chair of the TJPA Citizens Advisory Committee. “These neighborhoods don’t have the level of dedicated and coordinated resources that will be onsite within the Center, and would face challenges responding to and assisting the homeless.”

SEE RELATED: Security contracts for Transbay Transit Center approved ahead of opening

Representatives from the South Beach/Rincon/Mission Bay Neighborhood Association, Rincon Hill, Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association and Salesforce attended the December meeting, the email said.

Salesforce built a 1,000-foot skyscraper nearby and purchased naming rights of the five-story transit center, which replaces the former Transbay Terminal at First and Mission streets.

The group is advising The City to establish a committee comprised of both city officials and residents to develop a plan to “to ensure safety, security and quality of life services” at the site, which will officially be known as the Salesforce Transit Center, and the surrounding neighborhoods.

The requested committee is intended to give residents and business in the area a greater influence over the homeless services provided. They could more closely monitor the effectiveness of The City’s services and ask for changes including increased city funding, if necessary. They’d like this committee to meet twice a month.

The opening of the transit center has been delayed, but is now scheduled to open in June with the first AC Transit bus service commencing on June 17. The center will include retail shops and a rooftop park.

“I hear the neighborhood concerns,” Jeff Kositsky, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said Thursday. Kositsky sat on the panel in December and attended other community meetings.

Kositsky said he remains in talks with the TJPA and the area’s community benefit district, East Cut. There will be a more detailed plan in place in March or April to address potential homeless issues.

“I’m comfortable with where we are right now,” Kositsky said. “I think the committee is a great idea.”

Kositsky said he didn’t think there was a need for more resources but for the coordination of existing services. He noted the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team will have a presence at the transit center, and his department will train the security staff on how best to interact with homeless people.

As previously reported, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors approved a 3.5-year, $18.2 million contract with Universal Protection Service, LP, otherwise known as Allied, for unarmed security guard and ambassador services.

“We are working hand in hand with security experts and social service providers to make sure that the new Transit Center is a welcoming and safe space for everyone who visits,” Mark Zabaneh, executive director of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, said in an email Thursday.

He continued, “Please note that we have been working closely with the SFPD, their assigned homeless team, and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to make sure the Center addresses this issue appropriately and with a service approach.”

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