City Hall Watch: Supervisor grants new court an appeal

Although a committee of city legislators refused to approve $500,000 in funding for a new Tenderloin court proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom that would be used to tackle drug use and other quality-of-life crimes, one supervisor has launched a new effort to save the plan.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty introduced legislation Tuesday that would move the matter out of committee and allow the full 11-member board to weigh in on the proposal. Dufty says he's one vote shy of the six needed for approval.

City officials say the so-called Community Justice Center would handle offenders in the Civic Center, Tenderloin and South of Market areas charged with misdemeanors and such nonviolent felonies as drug use and theft.

The center would have a courtroom and social services under one roof and those charged would be told to take the services or face the usual legal consequences.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our justice system,” Dufty said.

The District 8 supervisor also pulled the building lease — which had not yet been voted on — from the committee, using a provision that allows a supervisor to do so with five board signatures. He also introduced legislation reappropriating the $500,000 for the court.

On June 3, the full board will decide whether to hold a hearing and vote on both items.

Dufty has the support of Supervisors Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu, Sophie Maxwell and Michela Alioto-Pier. Supervisors Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi and Jake McGoldrick voted against the funding for the new court last week at the board's five-member Budget Committee.

Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Gerardo Sandoval and Aaron Peskin said Tuesday that they remain undecided on whether to support the court proposal.

Mirkarimi said Tuesday that he might reconsider his position, but had some concerns, including whether the court would result in increased crime in other areas.

If the funding and lease do not receive board approval, the Mayor's Office has indicated it would put the matter before the voters to decide.

In other action

DRUG-FREE PARKS: Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier requested that the city attorney draft legislation that would make city parks “drug-free zones,” which would allow for harsher penalties for drug offenses. The City currently has drug-free zones in school areas.

ZONING ISSUE: Supervisor Sophie Maxwell introduced legislation that would change zoning rules for the Hunters View public-housing site that would be rebuilt under the SF Hope program. It would increase the allowed density from 267 units to 800 units and increase the maximum height from 40 to 65 feet.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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