Last night's Lower Haight Safety Meeting was a huge success — we had a turnout of over 100 folks, and could hardly pack them all in to the Peacock Lounge. Thea was there and led the meeting in her capacity as President of the Lower Haight Merchant and Neighbor Association, or LoHaMNA.
Police Captains Mannix and Corrales, from Northern and Park stations, respectively, as well as current supervisors Olague and Weiner, were in attendance to speak about the issues surrounding the uptick in crime seen recently in the Lower Haight.
The captains, supervisors, and attendees pinpointed several clear causes of crime. One was the difficulties posed by the construction on Fillmore from Haight to Duboce, which de-activates the space and provides opportunities for taggers and robberies. Another was the shrinking ranks of the SFPD — Capt. Mannix said that Northern Station has fewer officers than it has ever had — and the number of formerly incarcerated folks being released into the community (as a result of California's corrections realignment plan) without adequate re-entry services.
Fortunately, efforts are underway to address all of these issues. The supervisors just passed a budget yesterday that will allow for three police academy classes per year to bolster the SFPD in the face of retirements. The reentry council will hold a hearing in the fall to address the needs of the 33% of offenders who are homeless upon their release from the prison system. In a neighborhood-centric issue, Capt. Mannix said she'd move the successful decoy operation currently combating crime around the Laguna and Geary area to the Lower Haight.
And, of course, we discussed the many things residents can do to protect themselves and ensure that crimes are reported to the police. There were some very simple pieces of advice — never walk with your phone out, always report any thefts or break-ins — as well as encouraging residents to get in touch with San Francisco SAFE (a nonprofit organization that works with communities and individuals to provide education and support regarding public safety).
Here at the campaign we're firm believers in neighbors working with neighbors. To that end, we encourage all of you to talk to people you meet on the street, and grab a buddy — any buddy — if you're walking alone at night. Really get to know your communities. We can all be each others' eyes and ears. Attend safety meetings whenever you can. If there aren't safety meetings happening in your neighborhood, set one up!
Thea's background in neighborhood activism and her deep conviction that safety is the foundation of a thriving community make her an ideal resource for anyone with questions on these matters. Please don't hesitate to email us if you think we can help you in any way.
Last note: we're in the last few days of signature gathering! Let us know if you want to volunteer — we're sending out a big email call to action in the next few days. Unlike some candidates, we aren't the least bit ambivalent about our love of campaigning. It's our chance to get to know you, and there's no better way we can think of spending our time.