San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai called the planned store closures a major hit to children, families and seniors, particularly residents with lower incomes in his district, many of whom rely on Walgreens for their prescription medications and other basic necessities.
"I am completely devastated by this news. This closure will significantly impact this community," Safai said of the Mission Street store, in the Excelsior neighborhood, which he represents. "This Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for families and children for decades."
Safai recently proposed legislation that he hopes will reduce theft and prevent more stores from closing, and said he has been working directly with Walgreens and other retailers on the issue.
His legislation would amend the city's administrative code to allow sheriff's deputies to contract with businesses, private events and community benefits districts to provide security. Private companies would pay the deputies' overtime at no cost to taxpayers.
"The city needs to act with a sense of urgency to reduce and deter the number of incidents of commercial retail theft," Safai said.
In a statement, San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto said he supported the legislation.
"Our office and members support the legislation that will allow for [sheriff's office] staff to have a presence in stores and businesses to keep everyone safe and reduce opportunities to commit crimes," he said. "It is important to help keep stores in our community for access not just to retail outlets, but pharmacies and medical services they host or provide."
Safai also has convened a commercial retail theft working group, which includes Police Chief Scott and District Attorney Chesa Boudin, to make policy recommendations.
Last month, Scott and Mayor London Breed announced a series of new initiatives to address retail theft, including expanding the police department's retail crime unit, recruiting more retired police officers to patrol neighborhoods and making it easier to report shoplifting.
"We care about criminal justice reform. We care about second chances. We care about making sure that people are not wrongly accused," said Breed in announcing the new measures. "But don’t take our kindness for weakness, our compassion for weakness."
This post includes reporting from KQED's Matthew Green, Bay City News and The Associated Press.