The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advised employees at the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building in San Francisco to work remotely due to public safety concerns stemming from a nearby open-air drug market.
HHS Assistant Secretary for Administration, Cheryl R. Campbell, issued a memo recommending employees to maximize the use of telework for the foreseeable future.
Driving the news: The memo, obtained by The San Francisco Chronicle, stated, “In light of the conditions at the (Federal Building), we recommend employees… maximize the use of telework for the foreseeable future.”
- The Nancy Pelosi Federal Building on Seventh and Mission streets houses various federal agencies, including HHS, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the office of Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.
- The area surrounding the building is known for its brazen drug market, with dozens of dealers and users congregating on a daily basis, openly using drugs and causing safety concerns.
- While HHS advised its employees to work from home, it is not immediately clear if other tenants in the building issued similar directives. Pelosi’s office and the Department of Labor have been working closely with local and federal law enforcement for employee safety but have not recommended remote work.
- Pelosi’s spokesperson, Aaron Bennett, mentioned that the safety of federal workers in their buildings has always been a priority for the Speaker, and efforts are underway to address the drug-related crises in certain areas of the city.
The backstory: San Francisco is included in a federal program called Operation Overdrive, which targets drug traffickers in areas with high levels of drug-related violence and overdoses. The federal General Services Administration (GSA) maintains the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building, and security is handled by the Federal Protective Services.
- The GSA coordinates with the San Francisco police to enhance the safety outside the building through routine patrols and camera systems. The building is considered a safe and secure space for federal employees and visitors.
- The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Federal Protective Service, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.
- Additional security measures have been implemented, including pulling personnel from other nearby properties for enhanced security, a pending vote on funds for an additional dedicated guard, and the creation of a “BART Buddies” program that provides escorts for employees walking to and from BART during specific hours.
- The San Francisco Police Department is working with local, state, and federal partners to address the drug crisis in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, seizing large amounts of fentanyl and making arrests of drug dealers and people openly using drugs.