Democratic lieutenant governor and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom said San Francisco has become “too permissive” in its handling of open drug use and public misconduct.
The former San Francisco mayor made the comments during a meeting last week with The San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board in which he discussed the city’s diminishing quality of life. In recent years, rampant homelessness, open drug use and human feces littering the streets have become commonplace.
Widely seen as one of the nation’s leading progressives, Newsom said his views were “hardened by reality” while serving as mayor of San Francisco.
You can be too permissive, and I happened to think we have crossed that threshold in this state – and not just in this city. You see it. It’s just disgraceful.
“People shooting up on the streets and sidewalks, where kids are in strollers, is not acceptable – it’s just not,” Newsom reportedly told The Chronicle’s editorial board.
“When you are accountable to quality of life, and accountable to diverse communities, you cannot allow the streets to be taken over.”
After being sworn in earlier this year, San Francisco Mayor London Breed pushed to open safe injection sites for drug users, among other solutions to the city’s problems. Newsom said he was open to the idea, but questioned the effectiveness of such sites, citing two members from the Homeless Outreach Team who told him, “San Francisco is too complicit as it relates to drug use on the streets, and unless that changes they don’t think injection sites alone will … solve the issue.”
He added, “You can be too permissive, and I happened to think we have crossed that threshold in this state – and not just in this city. You see it. It’s just disgraceful.”
Newsom, who was elected Lt. Gov. in 2011, has been attacked by his rival, GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox. Newsom is set to debate Cox at San Francisco public radio station KQED on Monday. The hour-long session will not be televised but will be broadcast on public radio stations around the state.
The race for governor is one of the top contests in the Nov. 6 election as Democrats try to solidify their control over California’s state government, which has taken a leading role in the liberal resistance to President Donald Trump.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.