San Francisco police officers made two arrests after the discovery of a meth lab inside a hotel designated as a pandemic shelter.
San Francisco law enforcement arrived at the Civic Center Motor Inn around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday after receiving a call about a “strong chemical odor” coming from a room on the upper floor. Both police and residents were forced to wait for the arrival of a hazmat team.
“I was just, like, shocked,” said one guest, who told local Fox affiliate KTVU that a police officer knocked on her hotel door. “He’s like, there’s a meth lab right above your room, so we need you to evacuate, cause it could explode at any time.”
“Officers conducted an investigation and discovered chemicals in the room known to make narcotics,” said San Francisco Police Department spokesman Robert Rueca. “We believe this was isolated only to one guest room and two adults were taken into custody.”
A local business employee, identified only as “Sami,” expressed concern for the safety of these designated shelters. “I would like for the government to have a bit more of monitoring of the space,” he said.
“I do see that a place like this can be abused to be used for those kind of activities,” said Sami, “If you are housing people that are not there with a security deposit or anything that makes them liable, liability is key.”
The rooms were made available as part of an effort to house thousands of displaced or homeless people during the city’s coronavirus quarantine. San Francisco made more than 2,500 hotel rooms, 120 RVs, and 1,000 other shelter beds available for this purpose. Unfortunately, it has not been particularly effective in keeping the vulnerable population safe.
San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto responded to the concerns, explaining that the patrols had to end at the beginning of July:
The Sheriff’s Office provided patrol and response to calls for service at established SIP sites from March through June as part of our Safer Streets Program during the COVID shelter in place. Deputies responded to domestic disputes, overdoses, and persons in crisis and checked in on all sites every few hours. Patrols ended in July as we prepared for the lifting of health restrictions and the opening of the courts and regular services
Both suspects arrested on Saturday were registered guests at the hotel. They remain unidentified as of press time.