Why Aren’t Feds Closing SF Drug Markets?

by on June 12, 2023

Photo shows dealers at 7th St Federal Bldg.
Dealers at 7th St Pelosi Federal Bldg.

Pelosi Federal Building Remains Dealer Hub

“Mayor London N. Breed today celebrated news that San Francisco has been named the host city for the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit, or APEC, in November of next year. San Francisco will welcome President Biden, various chiefs of states, heads of government, and other officials from around the world.”—November 18, 2022 press release

San Francisco has less than six months to get its sidewalks and public spaces in order.

To this end the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department announced last week it would provide 130 officers to close San Francisco’s open air drug markets. The Sheriff’s office joins the California Highway Patrol in helping the SFPD address this crisis.

But where are the feds? Why is the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building on 7th and Mission still full of  dealers and users?

Mayor Breed has called for federal assistance. The mayor attended a May 22, 2023 meeting with Congressmember Pelosi and the US Attorney’s office to discuss “secret” plans to close drug markets.

Yet  the “secret” plan has not reduced drug activities. Even on federal land.

APEC Arrives in November

“The summit will be held at Moscone Center and is expected to draw thousands of attendees from around the world to the City with an estimated $36.5 million in total economic impact. —press release

If San Francisco still has open air drug markets when APEC begins in November, no amount of SF Travel advertising will compensate for the damage to the city’s international image. When Governor Newsom met with San Francisco business leaders on May 24 he made it clear he did not want drug markets in the city during APEC. Mayor Breed’s office has said the same.

Yet San Francisco’s most populated drug market is on federal land!

In recent months I’ve heard many positive plans. A new DEA head was said to be coming to San Francisco who would prioritize closing drug markets. Democrats were said to be embarrassed by drug dealers and users surrounding a building named after Nancy Pelosi. Mayor Breed has repeatedly called on the feds for help in addition to her recent Pelosi meeting.

But nothing has changed.

My March story about these illegal activities on federal land could have been written today.

For 37 years I’ve worked a block from the Phil Burton Federal Building in Civic Center. Security guards aggressively police the area.

Why is the same security not expelling dealers and users from the 7th and Mission Federal Building?  San Francisco deserves to know.

Randy Shaw

Randy Shaw is the Editor of Beyond Chron and the Director of San Francisco’s Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which publishes Beyond Chron. Shaw's latest book is Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America. He is the author of four prior books on activism, including The Activist's Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century, and Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century. He is also the author of The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco

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