San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today joined State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and leaders from across California to highlight the need for statewide conservatorship reform and support newly introduced mental health bills, Senate Bills 43 and 363. Mayor Breed is co-sponsoring the bills as part of the Big City Mayors Coalition. The bills would modernize the State’s behavioral health system and advance support for those most in need.
If passed into law, SB 43 and SB 363 would greatly support improvements to San Francisco’s conservatorship programs and create efficiencies in the day-to-day work of practitioners. This is the latest effort to reform California’s conservatorship laws supported by Mayor Breed, which go back to 2018.
The Mayor and state leaders were also joined by representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California, the California State Association of Psychiatrists, and the Psychiatric Physicians Alliance of California.
"We are long overdue to improve our conservatorship laws to better address the current mental health and substance use crises we see every day in our cities, and to get people the care they deserve," said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. "It is not compassionate to leave people who cannot care of themselves to suffer on our streets and it is inhumane to let our current laws stand. I want to thank Senator Eggman for her leadership and work to bring forward legislation that will help cities like San Francisco provide care and support to people who are desperately in need of assistance so they can live healthy, fulfilling lives."
“Over the last couple of years, we have made critical investments and instituted important changes in our behavioral health laws, including the adoption of better data gathering requirements and, of course, the adoption of the CARE Act. More work remains to be done – and this is the year to finally enact critically needed reforms for the LPS Act. People are suffering needlessly, many on our streets, and we are leaving family members who are seeking help for their loved ones with few tools and little help. It is time to do better,” said Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton).
Senate Bill 43 seeks to reform California’s Lanterman–Petris–Short (LPS) conservatorship law by updating the criteria for determining if a person is “gravely disabled,” the standard for LPS conservatorship eligibility. SB 43 would update the definition of “gravely disabled” to include a new focus on preventing serious physical and mental harm stemming from a person’s inability to provide for their needs for nourishment, personal or medical care, find appropriate shelter, or attend to self-protection or personal safety, due to their mental or substance use disorder.
Senate Bill 363 would establish a real-time, internet-based dashboard to collect, aggregate and display information about the availability of beds in a range of psychiatric and substance abuse facilities, helping providers readily find and secure treatment for clients in appropriate settings, reducing delays or extended stays in emergency rooms.
Mayor Breed has advocated for a broad range of statewide conservatorship reform, working closely with State Senator Scott Wiener and other State and City leaders to successfully pass and implement mental health conservatorship process improvements both in San Francisco and throughout California.
“Our mental health and substance use crises worsen every day, and we need to be using every tool available to us to reverse this trend and save people’s lives,” said Senator Scott Wiener. “It’s neither progressive nor compassionate to sit by while people are dying on our streets due to untreated mental health and addiction disorders. Senator Eggman and I are in lockstep on strengthening our conservatorship laws to better serve those who are too sick to get themselves the care they so desperately need.”
"California's definition of 'grave disability', signed into law by Governor Reagan, institutionalizes a cruel libertarianism that allows people suffering from severe mental illness to die slow, undignified deaths on our streets,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “Updating this definition is a critical step toward creating an effective, humane continuum of behavioral health care across the state, and I am grateful for Senator Eggman and Mayor Breed's leadership on this issue."
In 2018, Mayor Breed helped spearhead SB 1045, authored by Senator Scott Wiener, which created a five-year pilot program for San Francisco and select cities to set up a conservatorship program focused on providing housing with wraparound services to the most vulnerable people living on the streets. The Mayor again joined Senator Wiener and City leaders to advocate for adding conservatorship amendments in 2019 to ensure the population in most need of support would be helped.
Today’s press conference was livestreamed and can be viewed here.