Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Wiener calls for hearing on property crimes


An abandoned sleeping bag sits atop a fence at the Safeway parking lot at Church and Market streets; some Duboce Triangle area residents have seen an uptick in homelessness. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener this week called for a hearing on property crime trends in the city's residential neighborhoods, including home invasions, robberies, and auto break-ins.

"Our neighborhoods continue to be confronted by a relentless wave of property crimes," the gay District 8 supervisor said in a news release before the Board of Supervisors' regular meeting Tuesday, December 8. "There are high profile cases of home invasions, and everyday disturbances like car break-ins and packages being stolen off people's porches. We need to know what's actually happening, how the city is responding, and what approaches residents can take to protect themselves and their property."

Wiener, who for years has been pushing to increase the number of police officers in the city, added, "We need more officers walking beats, and more focus on property crimes."

He said that the city's police, district attorney's office, courts, probation personnel, and community organizations need "to work together to ensure accountability for crime, as well as strong efforts at rehabilitation to reduce recidivism."

At the hearing, which will be held in early 2016, police, the DA, and the Superior Court will be asked to report on property crime trends and what's being done about the issues, according to Wiener's office.

Crime statistics for District 8 weren't immediately available, but in a Friday, December 4 Facebook post, Wiener pointed to an "escalation of crime" there. The incidents include someone recently being assaulted with a knife in Noe Valley, he said.

Wiener said he's also planning a District 8 public safety meeting for January to "discuss the situation, including ways to make our community safer and how to have strong communication between the police and the community."

The meeting will include representatives from the police department, the DA's office, and others. A date and location hasn't been set.

"In terms of why do a district-wide meeting, I wanted to make sure we have high level representatives from the police department and the DA's office and adult and juvenile probation," Wiener told the Bay Area Reporter.

He said, "To do that multiple times over and draw senior people is much harder," and "I want to have senior voices in the departments there."

Wiener wants to talk about what's going on, why it's happening, the public safety agencies' response, and "what neighbors can do to be safe."

Some people have been expressing concern about recent incidents.

Longtime Duboce Triangle resident Jamison Wieser, 39, has been working with others to form a neighborhood watch for the 100 and 200 blocks of Noe Street.

Wieser, who's gay, said, "I feel like our neighborhood is definitely one of the safer ones in the area." However, he said there have been muggings, and there seems to be an increase in thefts from cars, judging from the broken glass on the streets and sidewalks. He said there have also been more homeless encampments, trash that's been strewn around, and used syringes, among other "quality of life" issues.

Work on the neighborhood watch project includes making a list of people with surveillance cameras, but it's "not so much us wandering the streets and looking for things," he said. It would more likely involve trying to keep the neighborhood clean, with more planters and other improvements, Wieser said.

Police haven't been as helpful as he would like, he said.

"I'm feeling really dissatisfied" with police, Wieser said. When neighbors started developing the watch, they met with then-Park Station police Captain Raj Vaswani, who's since been reassigned to the Bayview police station.

"Under him we had seen a lot of bike patrols" and "a lot of police officers walking the streets, talking with the homeless," Wieser said.

When Captain John Sanford took over at Park Station, "bike patrols disappeared overnight. I do not see SFPD in my neighborhood at all anymore," unless officers are responding to an incident, he said.

Wieser said he hasn't yet contacted Sanford, but residents hope to meet with him soon.

Sanford didn't respond to an emailed interview request.

Alan Beach-Nelson, president of the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, said, "I haven't gotten a lot of complaints about increased crime."

Six to nine months ago, "I remember seeing lots of posts about car windows being broken" and "packages being stolen from people's porches" on the social networking site Nextdoor, Beach-Nelson, who's gay, said, but "I haven't seen that many lately."

He said the Castro Cares program, a coalition of neighborhood groups, businesses, and programs designed to help link people to services has been "helping tremendously" with crime and quality of life issues in the Castro business district. He also praised Mission Station Captain Daniel Perea.

"He's a really phenomenal captain, and I hope he's here for a while longer," Beach-Nelson said. "He really cares and has developed a really strong working relationship" with him and others.

However, like Wiener, Beach-Nelson thinks the city should increase its police force, and he'd also like to see more patrolling in the neighborhood.

Wiener's been pushing for increased funding for police academy classes.

"Earlier this year," his office noted, "Wiener authored legislation making it city policy to tie police staffing to population growth. This would take our minimum staffing goal from around 2,000 officers, which the voters approved in 1994, to 2,200-2,300 based on today's population."

The supervisor also wants to involve community safety groups like SF SAFE in the upcoming discussions.




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