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San Francisco Mayor Declares State of Emergency to Fight City’s ‘Nasty Streets’

The conditions in San Francisco have been fodder nationally for Fox News and other conservative outlets as signs of disarray supposedly created by liberal governance. In San Francisco, opponents of the district attorney, Chesa Boudin, have tried to leverage a perception of disorder and high-profile incidents of retail theft to further a recall effort. This week, Ms. Breed used more strident language than even her city’s harshest critics.

Her announcement came as mayors across the country are grappling with a rise in gun violence, homicides and overdose deaths.

Ms. Breed detailed a list of initiatives intended to disrupt street sales of stolen goods, expand police surveillance powers and pressure those who use drugs into treatment. Ms. Breed said that declaring a state of emergency would cut through red tape and increase funding to the police, who she said had already started arresting “people who have been holding this neighborhood hostage” during felony warrant sweeps.

Some who work in the Tenderloin said they were heartened by Ms. Breed’s announcement.

A block away from a deserted playground, Hanh Huynh, 33, said that the Vietnamese grocery store where she works was frequently robbed, and that she had recently moved because she worried about raising her 2-year-old in the area. Ali Baalouach, 44, said homeless people often stole the food he sold at his father’s halal grocery store. “I love the mayor,” he said. “Listen to her, follow the rules and do what you have to do.”

Fatou Sadio, 37, who lives two blocks from the Tenderloin and frequently shops in the area, said she was happy about the crackdown on drugs and homelessness. “You step out of your door and you have to be careful,” she said, “because somebody’s sleeping there, using needles, pooping there.”

But not everyone welcomed the news from the mayor.

“It is absolutely clear to everyone who lives or works in the Tenderloin that we need to be doing more,” said Laura Thomas, the director of Harm Reduction Policy for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, adding that increased criminalization and coerced treatment do not work. “We don’t have enough services, we don’t have enough housing, we don’t have enough shelter beds.”

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