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Community Meeting Draws Irate Crowd In Opposition To Sharper Future's Move

Photos: Hoodline
By Nuala Sawyer - Published on February 10, 2016.

Monday evening's Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association (DTNA) general meeting was attended by over 180 people, including a handful of children, crammed into a room at CPMC Davis Campus. The large turnout was spurred by the topic of Sharper Future, a sex offender rehabilitation center, moving into the empty commercial space at 100 Church Street

Tension was running high in the room before representatives from Sharper Future took to the microphone. Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose office met with the CEO and Executive Director of Sharper Future back in November, spoke about how neighborhood outreach was necessary in this situation. 

"You have a right to be upset," he told the room. "When you're talking about something as controversial as a registered sex offender clinic coming in to a residential neighborhood, whatever anyone's view on the topic, there has to be good community outreach. It is my hope that that will be rectified."

But Wiener also called for a respectful meeting. "I know there is a lot of energy in the room and really strong opinions. But I ask that we all treat everyone with respect and let's listen to what Sharper Future and Maitri (the owner of the building) have to say."

Maitri has a hospice center upstairs, but the downstairs of 100 Church is vacant

Sharper Future began their presentation with introductions and an expression of humility. "I agree with Supervisor Wiener that we've stumbled in the process," said Executive Director Dr. Mary-Perry Miller. "We've never been through a process like this, even though we have 15 clinics in California. Now that we understand that the process is different than we thought before, we're changing what we're doing as fast as we can." 

Much of the presentation made by Dr. Mary-Perry Miller and Dr. Kim Yano, a clinician at the rehab center, touched on the points that we covered in our interview with them in late January. The clinic serves about 15-20 clients a day, three days a week, in ongoing therapy sessions that seek to customize care and create a strict rule structure for each of its clients.

But before the presentation was complete, the crowd, which was overwhelmingly in opposition to Sharper Future, began chiming in. Despite his initial call for calm, Wiener had to stand up a couple times to request that the crowd quiet down. As Dr. Miller explained who Sharper Future’s clients were, shouts of “liar!” could be heard emanating from the crowd. “Why should we trust you now?” interrupted one meeting attendee.

Questions raised by community members ranged from the legality of the clinic's hours to how high-risk the clients were. One issue that raised loud concern from residents were two daycare centers, purportedly close enough to Sharper Future to make the clinic's move illegal. The recidivism risk of Sharper Future’s clients and the crimes they committed also came into question. After Dr. Tobin explained the Department of Correction’s definition of high risk vs. not high risk, one attendee asked sarcastically, “So you trust them to define these people’s risk, but they can’t even track down two daycares in the neighborhood?"

Sharper Future CEO Dr. Tom Tobin said that the Department of Corrections researched the neighborhood for such a situation, as did the realtor. Neither found the daycares. "All you had to do was ask any neighbor, and they would have told you," said one attendee in response. (Update: commenter marchare and tipster lasalle have identified the two daycares in question as St. Francis Childcare Center (50 Belcher St./152 Church St.) and Mary Lane Infant and Toddler Center (1 Webster St.)

100 Church's previous tenant, which was zoned for both medical and retail use

While some questions were answered at the meeting, many were not. Vague regulations surrounding the zoning of the space (it's part medical and part retail), the issue of the nearby daycares, and the legality of Sharper Future being allowed to occupy the empty commercial space under its current zoning are still being investigated. 

But the ball is getting rolling. On Monday, Supervisor Wiener released a proposal for a new piece of legislation for the Upper Market NCT District. The legislation would create "interim zoning controls for an 18-month period, requiring a Conditional Use authorization within the Upper Market Neighborhood Commercial Transit District for (1) any new or expanded use of a Medical Service or Institutional and Non-Retail Sales and Services use, or (2) the establishment or expansion of an Institutional Medical Facility (as defined)." 

According to Wiener's aide Jeff Cretan, Board President London Breed is co-sponsoring the legislation. "This is legislation that would require a robust outreach process through a conditional use permit at the Planning Commission," said Wiener. "This will ensure that we have an enforceable outreach and community planning structure, and will allow for full community participation."

We'll keep you updated on the process, and let you know how Sharper Future, Maitri, the DTNA, neighborhood residents, Supervisor Wiener and the Planning Department handle the situation going forward.

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