(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF judge allows construction on waterfront homeless shelter to continue

A San Francisco Superior Court judge declined to grant a temporary restraining order Monday to a group of residents suing The City to block the opening of a 200-bed Navigation Center on the waterfront.

The temporary restraining order, or stay, would have forced The City to cease ongoing work on the Port of San Francisco’s Seawall Lot 330 to ready the facility to begin housing homeless residents as early as December.

Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman declined to grant the restraining order and instead set a court hearing on Monday, Sept. 23, at 1:30 pm to hear the merits of the case.

Schulman said that Safe Embarcadero for All, a group of nearby residents suing to stop the shelter, and their attorney Peter Prows did not meet the burden of proof needed to show that irreparable harm would occur if the stay was not granted.

The “irreparable harm” that residents contend will be caused by the facility, such as public urination and increased crime, will occur when homeless people occupy the facility, so the legal matter could be decided before the facility is opened, Schulman said.

The arguments presented by the City Attorney’s Office show delays in construction would cost The City $100,000 a month and also delay housing during the winter months for the homeless who would stay there.

The shelter opponents argue that the project didn’t undergo proper environmental review and should have gone before the State Lands Commission for a vote, which it did not.

“We are asking to stop construction,” Prows said after the hearing. “[The City’s] violating the law every day that it is proceeding in construction of this project.”

Peter Prows, Attorney for Safe Embarcadero for All, discusses the lawsuit filed to block San Francisco from opening the Seawall Lot 330 Navigation Center. (Joshua Sabatini/S.F. Examiner)

Jeff Kositsky, director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, told the city’s Local Homeless Coordinating Board Monday that “our confidence is very high that it will not be stopped.”

“We are moving forward as if it is going to open in December or in January,” Kositsky said. “Most San Franciscans support this. I understand the concerns of people in the neighborhood. I want to make sure that we stop giving the mic to the people who don’t want it and focus more on the fact that most people in that neighborhood are excited about having that there.”

Wallace Lee, a resident of South Beach and member of Safe Embarcadero, said after Monday’s court hearing that “we think putting that population in the middle of 10,000 residents is a recipe for violent crime.”

“We suggested the city put it in front of City Hall,” Lee added.

South Beach resident Wallace Lee, a member of Safe Embarcadero for All, discusses with media why he opposes the waterfront Navigation Center. (Joshua Sabatini/S.F. Examiner)

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