On joining the Clean Safe 365 Coalition & why the Tenderloin must be a priority

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The world is watching San Francisco. It will take a broad range of committed community members from across the City, united in their mutual vision for a clean, safe and welcoming city to make the changes we so desperately need. In some cases, the answers will be led by compassion, and in others, by enforcement. We may have differing opinions, strategies, and values, but we will accomplish nothing if we do not work together. With that in mind, the Tenderloin Community Benefit District (TLCBD) is joining the Clean Safe 365 Coalition.

From May 2017 to May 2018, the TLCBD collected 387,876 pounds of trash, responded to 1,936 instances of human/animal waste and collected 26,287 needles within the District’s boundaries, an area of approximately 30 blocks located between City Hall and Union Square.

These same 30 blocks are among the densest in San Francisco, home to more than 25,000 residents. Per block, there are more children living in the Tenderloin than any other neighborhood in San Francisco. Several thousand seniors reside here. And countless neighbors, workers, and visitors from all over the globe traverse Tenderloin sidewalks.

TLCBD brings a unique perspective to the Clean Safe 365 effort.  By joining the Coalition, we add the following to the conversation:  

It’s about people on the sidewalks. Any solution that the City and the Clean Safe 365 Coalition brings needs to take into account the most vulnerable.

We are a compassionate neighborhood that feels for the people and the struggles behind the numbers. Approximately half of the people counted citywide as facing the trauma and crisis of homelessness reside in this area. We understand the humanity of those suffering so visibly from mental illness and addiction.

We are also the community hardest hit by the impacts of the deteriorating street environment. Who bears the brunt of the impact from unsafe and unclean sidewalks? The low-income residents, the families and children, the seniors looking for a breath of fresh air, the striving small businesses, and the newcomers who have fled war-torn countries looking for safety.

The quality of life issues they face are about people, not needles, feces, garbage, or other statistics. Ultimately, the solutions will be found working with people, and the best ideas may come from those we believe are the problem.

Safe needs to address the impact of drug dealing, the brazen drug dealing by people from outside the Tenderloin and the drug trade’s disproportionate impact on the residents of the Tenderloin.

The most difficult and frustrating issue for our community members is that many people come from outside the Tenderloin to engage in an illegal drug trade of constant, 24-hour transactions, serving buyers from all over the Bay Area. Inevitably, this drug trade erupts into violence and other crimes. Our community is hostage to this, and it often prevents those from outside from seeing the beauty and opportunity in our neighborhood.

Clean Safe 365 advocacy should be about equity. As we address these issues, the solution cannot be doing a better job of containment.

For decades, the Tenderloin has been a place to contain unwanted problems, a strategy that has allowed those issues to fester and spread into neighboring areas. We are not aware of many other neighborhoods in San Francisco where these issues persist at such an extreme level. 

We join with Clean Safe 365 to invite our new Mayor London Breed and other City partners to show the world what is possible when we work together to address San Francisco’s degraded street environment. Furthermore, we would like to add that the Tenderloin cannot be the place to contain the problems we face, but the place to put in the difficult work of getting through it.

About CleanSafe365: CleanSafe365 is a coalition of businesses, merchant groups, civic organizations, community benefit districts and property owners committing to advocating for and supporting sustainable solutions to keep San Francisco streets safe and clean every day of the year.

To learn more, receive updates, and join the coalition, visit CleanSafe365.org