AP

San Francisco May Force Treatment on Mentally Ill Drug Users

Jun 4, 2019, 2:44 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:06 pm

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 10: A homeless man sleeps in the park on December 10, 2012 in San Fran...

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 10: A homeless man sleeps in the park on December 10, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco officials struggling to help people on the streets who are mentally ill and addicted to drugs will consider a proposal Tuesday to force them into treatment, but critics say that plan goes against the spirit of a city known for its fierce protection of civil rights.

Mayor London Breed and other supporters of the measure say the move — known as conservatorship — is necessary to help people who are often homeless, addicted to drugs and have a mental illness, making them a danger to themselves.

If passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the measure only would apply to a handful of people, the city’s department of public health estimated.

Critics call the measure a violation of civil rights that runs against the principles of the liberal city. They also say San Francisco lacks the services and shelter to successfully expand the number of people in such a program.

Incomes are generally high in San Francisco, where the median price of a home is $1.4 million and median monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit is $3,700. But the city struggles with income inequality and a growing number of homeless people — some with disturbing street behavior tied to drugs, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

They shuffle from the streets to jail and psychiatric care, unaware they need steady treatment, sometimes dashing into traffic or screaming at strangers.

“Anyone who’s been to San Francisco recently, either in our downtown or in the neighborhoods I represent, has seen an alarming number of people who seem to be mentally ill or in some kind of psychosis, and they seem to be not getting the care that they need,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, a measure co-sponsor whose district includes the Castro neighborhood.

Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, co-authored state legislation that allows five-year pilot programs for forced treatment in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego counties. He is working on a bill to amend that legislation to expand the number of people affected.

The 11-member San Francisco Board of Supervisors has been divided on the proposal, although there was talk Tuesday of compromise amendments. Supervisors in San Diego and Los Angeles counties have not officially considered it. Los Angeles County saw a 12% rise in the number of homeless people over the past year.

The proposal would allow a court to appoint a public conservator for someone who has been involuntarily detained for psychiatric hospitalization at least eight times in a year. The treatment could last for as long as a year.

Only about five people could be forced into treatment in San Francisco, said Rachael Kagan, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Health. Wiener’s new bill could bump that up to 55, which is the number of people who now fit the definition for at least eight holds.

The health department has identified an additional 48 people who have been detained six or seven times.

The agency has budgeted nearly $400 million this year for mental health and substance abuse services and last year helped more than 25,000 people.

Voters last year approved a tax on some of the city’s wealthiest companies to raise money for homelessness and mental health services. And this year, several supervisors are proposing a November ballot measure to guarantee mental health services for everyone.

Jen Flory, a policy advocate with the Western Center on Law and Policy, which lobbies on behalf of poor people, said it’s no accident that the most expensive cities in California are seeing more people with serious problems on the streets.

Her organization opposes the San Francisco measure, saying not enough services are available to make it work. She hopes people are offered outpatient services with fewer restrictions.

“These are very difficult people to house, but what works is to continually try to work with somebody until something works,” she said. “We don’t know of forced models that work.”

Mandelman, the supervisor, said most of the people targeted by the program are well-known to merchants, residents and staff at psychiatric facilities. Watching them deteriorate is heartbreaking, he says.

“They see them going from ‘kind of not great’ to being in absolute and complete distress,” he said.

KSL 5 TV Live

AP

FILE - A vehicle charges at a Tesla Supercharger station in Detroit, Nov. 16, 2022. Owners of Ford ...

Josh Ellis

Ford electric vehicle owners can now charge on Tesla’s network, but they’ll need an adapter first

Owners of Ford electric vehicles can now use much of Tesla’s charging network in the U.S. and Canada, but there’s a hitch.

2 hours ago

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmac...

Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press

Older US adults should get another COVID-19 shot, health officials recommend

Older U.S. adults should roll up their sleeves for another COVID-19 shot, even if they got a booster in the fall, U.S. health officials said Wednesday.

15 hours ago

FILE - An unsold 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee sports-utilty vehicle stands for inspection outside a Cos...

Associated Press

Chrysler recalling more than 330,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees due to steering wheel issue

Chrysler is recalling more than 330,00 Jeep Grand Cherokees because of a steering wheel issue that may cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles.

16 hours ago

U.S. Capitol riot...

Mark Sherman, Associated Press

Supreme Court sets April arguments over whether Trump can be prosecuted for election interference

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to decide whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted on charges he interfered with the 2020 election and set a course for a quick resolution.

16 hours ago

FILE - U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., a member of the House Freedom Caucus, speaks during a new...

Colleen Slevin and Jesse Bedayn, Associated Press

Rep. Lauren Boebert’s son arrested in connection with string of vehicle break-ins, police say

The oldest son of U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert has been arrested in connection with a recent string of vehicle break-ins and property thefts.

16 hours ago

FILE - Comedian Richard Lewis attends an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Dec. 25, 2012. Lewis...

Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press

Comedian Richard Lewis dies after suffering a heart attack

Richard Lewis, an acclaimed comedian known for exploring his neuroses in frantic, stream-of-consciousness diatribes while dressed in all-black, leading to his nickname “The Prince of Pain,” has died. He was 76.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

San Francisco May Force Treatment on Mentally Ill Drug Users