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San Francisco residents, hotels sue city over rampant crime, homelessness, open-air drug use
Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

San Francisco residents, hotels sue city over rampant crime, homelessness, open-air drug use

Several San Francisco residents filed a lawsuit Thursday over the rampant crime, homelessness, and open-air drug use that they say city officials have failed to stop, the Associated Press reported. Operators of the Phoenix Hotel and the Best Western Road Coach also joined the lawsuit against the city.

The plaintiffs, including five anonymous residents and the hotels' operators, claim that the Tenderloin district has become a "containment zone" for illegal activities. They argued that city officials have prevented the homeless encampments and open-air illicit drug markets from spilling into nearby neighborhoods but have allowed it to continue in the Tenderloin.

The group's lawsuit demands that the city clean up the poor conditions in the neighborhood; the plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages.

Matthew Davis, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, stated, "They demand an end to the rampant illegal street vending and from the squalor and misery that exists throughout their neighborhood because the city has decided that people in the throes of addiction can live and die on the Tenderloin's streets."

Davis told KABC, "Every day, at all hours, people are dealing drugs and using drugs in front of [the plaintiffs'] apartment building. There are encampments. People are lighting bonfires. Their sidewalks are filthy with all kinds of problems from used syringes to human waste."

One of the anonymous plaintiffs, referred to as Jane Roe, explained that drug dealers often loiter outside the building where she lives with her two young children. Roe claimed that she has seen "users openly injecting or smoking narcotics" and individuals "who appear unconscious or dead."

Susan Roe, an elderly woman and a plaintiff in the case, stated in the complaint that she has a difficult time navigating the neighborhood's sidewalks with her walker because they are blocked by shopping carts and broken bicycles. Instead, she is forced to walk in the street, where she navigates around "excrement, used syringes, vomit, and garbage."

One of the hotel operators claimed that the establishment is facing challenges in hiring workers because of the area's squalid conditions. The Phoenix Hotel has decided not to renew its lease next year, citing the issues around the establishment.

The Coalition on Homelessness, a nonprofit group, is also suing San Francisco, claiming the city's sweeps of homeless encampments violated individuals' rights.

In a statement to KABC, the city attorney's office said, "While we understand and share the frustration of Tenderloin businesses and residents, the City is making efforts to reduce crime, disrupt open-air drug markets, and address homelessness, all while complying with the preliminary injunction issued in the Coalition on Homelessness case."

Democratic Mayor London Breed believes that recently approved Proposition E will curb the issues plaguing the Tenderloin district by increasing police officer presence and resources.

Breed's office stated, "We have made improvements in the neighborhood, but the mayor understands the frustrations of residents and businesses in the Tenderloin and will continue her efforts to make the neighborhood safer and cleaner."


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