SF mayor’s plan to build sober living facility in Chinatown slammed by business owners

SF mayor’s plan to build sober living facility in Chinatown slammed by business owners
via KRON 4
Michelle De Pacina
February 20, 2024
Business owners in San Francisco Chinatown have expressed discontent over Mayor London Breed’s plan to establish a sober living facility in the area. 
Breed’s plans: Mayor Breed announced plans for a pioneering sober living facility in the heart of Chinatown for homeless people with drug abuse issues. With Breed’s vision of providing recovery and stability for the most at-risk residents, the sober living community is conceived as a refuge, providing housing and on-site supportive services aimed at empowering those in recovery.
The innovative project, spearheaded by the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, anticipates an investment of around $3.7 million in the first year and contemplates securing a long-term lease at the historic Hotel North Beach, a significant landmark of Chinatown’s history. The hotel would undergo a conversion into a facility accommodating 150 recovering addicts
Locals blindsided: Although locals agree on the need to support those battling addiction, merchants feel blindsided, emphasizing the need for community involvement in the decision-making process. They expressed feeling disrespected for not being consulted earlier and are calling for improved communication between the city and the local community. 
“We were kind of surprised. How come we didn’t hear anything from anyone?” Chinatown storeowner Nancy Yu Law told Kron4. “And we did give her a lot of questions because we have concerns, we don’t know exactly what kind of program it is. It’s the first of its kind in the nation according to what they say.”
“I think what could be improved is really the communication between our neighborhood and the city and for the city to have better methods of reaching out to a monolingual community as well as communities of color,” added business owner Cynthia Huey. 
Location controversy: The chosen location of North Beach Hotel is also met with skepticism as business owners believe placing a sobriety home amid bars and businesses, including liquor stores, may not be ideal. Concerns include the impact on tourism and the nightlife atmosphere. 
“It couldn’t have happened at a worse time, in the middle of Chinese New Year,” Eva Lee, the chairperson of the Chinatown Merchants Association, told ABC7 News. “I was alarmed. It was a little unsettling. Chinatown is suffering already. We’ve been through the pandemic, the lack of tourism, the anti-Asian hate. We don’t need this right now.”
“Our tourists are not comfortable. They should be put somewhere else. A different location would be a better environment for them,” added Edward Siu, who is president of the Chinatown Merchants United Association of San Francisco.
Breed’s response: Due to the public opposition, Mayor Breed has since hinted at a potential reconsideration of the location, citing ongoing community outreach. A community meeting is reportedly scheduled for March 21.
“The city is committed to continuing to invest in efforts to support people in recovery and save lives,” the mayor’s office said in a statement. “There is still a lot of community outreach and consideration that must be done before a final decision is made on this particular proposed facility, and there are alternatives as to how we can collaborate to support our community.”
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