Ingleside’s Supervisors Pledge to Improve Public Safety

The supervisors plan to implement security and cleaning measures amid lack of funding and community unease.

Supervisor Myrna Melgar (left) and Supervisor Ahsha Safaí at the 2023 Lunar New Year celebration. Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light
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The lawmakers who represent Ingleside are working to improve public safety and cleanliness in the neighborhood, two issues that have been decried as out of control across the city for years.

At the city’s annual Lunar New Year celebration in Unity Plaza on Ocean Avenue, District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí announced that he would lead an initiative to install security cameras and District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar would get community ambassadors assigned to the neighborhood.

Safaí, who may be planning a run for mayor, said merchants he spoke to during a corridor walk in February told him they want support to deal with crime.

Public safety and cleanliness have been hot button issues for years. The number of San Francisco Police Department officers from Taraval and Ingleside stations on patrol has declined as the force grapples with a pernicious hiring shortage. The problem is compounded by the city’s projected budget shortfall of $750 million over the next two years.

Police coverage of Ocean Avenue has been intermittent since its two footbeat officers are called away to higher priorities due to the understaffing.

Mayor London Breed asked the Board of Supervisors in February to approve an additional $27 million to fund ambassadors and police overtime. Safaí said it was not enough Tuesday given the lack of coverage in the outer neighborhoods.

“Supervisor Safaí is requesting an increase in funding that was proposed by Mayor Breed, to cover the Ingleside and Taraval stations because the police supplemental, as it’s written, largely covers the downtown area,” Lauren Chung, Safaí’s legislative aide said. “We want to make sure that in this upcoming budget, we have enough funding to actually staff up SFPD instead of just using a band-aid.”

While police funding and staffing may be an ongoing problem, security cameras are more easily obtainable.

Chung said the security cameras may be funded by SF Safe, a nonprofit by the police department to focus on crime prevention in the 1970s. The organization is primarily funded through a grant from SFPD, other city departments and private fundraising.

“We have been working with SF Safe to identify funding for cameras along Ocean that would be private cameras not owned by the city,” Chung said. “We would put them on businesses who agree to do so and then if SFPD needs to use them, they would request access and that would help them in investigations.”

Safaí is also seeking $25 million for the Department of Public Works to clean streets, address illegal dumping, and maintain trees among other projects.

“It's a more holistic approach that we're trying to bring forward,” Chung said. “We know that residents have been asking for more presence from the police, but the issue isn't just safety. It's also cleanliness in our streets.”

Implementation for the measures is expected by some time in the fall, depending on funding.

Community Ambassadors

Melgar secured funding for community ambassadors, she said in an announcement.

“I will continue to advocate for the community ambassadors and ensure they have the support they need to make a positive impact on our district,” Melgar said in the press release. “Now is the time to ensure we are entering a new phase of recovery that prioritizes public safety and law enforcement for San Francisco.”

Melgar's staff could not provide more information by press time.

The program will put ambassadors throughout District 7 to provide an extra set of eyes on the street, engage with residents and visitors and provide resources to those in need. The ambassadors will be retired police officers and are currently working in West Portal.

The city funds multiple community ambassador programs for the Mission, Outer Sunset, Bayview and other neighborhoods. The nonprofit Ocean Avenue Association implemented in February its community ambassador program, which was supposed to have launched more than a decade ago, according to its 2010 contract with the city.

Funding for this program was granted from last year’s add-back budget. Melgar received $1,000,000 in the overall budget, $35,000 of which was allocated for public safety activities like the community ambassador program.

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