San Francisco Mayor promises crackdown on homeless camps

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell vowed to crackdown on homeless camps in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle last Friday:

“Enough is enough,” Farrell said Friday. “We have offered services time and time again and gotten many off the street, but there is a resistant population that remains, and their tents have to go.”

When it comes to tent camps, Farrell added, “We have moved as a city from a position of compassion to enabling (unacceptable) street behavior, and as mayor I don’t stand for that.”

As a supervisor in 2016, Farrell wrote the voter-approved anti-tent Proposition Q, giving city officials the right to remove tents if they give campers 24 hours notice and offer them shelter.

As Ed pointed out in February, an investigation by a local NBC affiliate found the city was covered in trash, used drug needles, and human feces:

The Investigate [sic] Unit spent three days assessing conditions on the streets of downtown San Francisco and discovered trash on each of the 153 blocks surveyed. While some streets were littered with items as small as a candy wrapper, the vast majority of trash found included large heaps of garbage, food, and discarded junk. The investigation also found 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown.

And that’s just a small fraction of the overall problem. Author Erielle Davidson wrote last month that “In November of 2017 alone, 6,211 needles were collected, while via the 311 App (the ‘concerned citizen’ reporting app set up by recently deceased San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee), 1,498 requests were made to clean up human feces.”

That’s not just a miserable situation for people who live there. It also is having an impact on tourism to the city. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in January that hotel owners and managers in the city were becoming frustrated with the situation:

Kevin Carroll is the executive director of the Hotel Council of San Francisco, which advocates for 110 hotels. Among hotel managers and owners, “everybody’s talking about it,” he said.

“You see things on the streets that are just not humane,” he said. “People come into hotels saying, ‘What is going on out there?’ They’re just shocked. … People say, ‘I love your city, I love your restaurants, but I’ll never come back.’”

So a change is badly needed but this local news report suggests past crackdowns have merely resulted in people moving their belongings a few blocks away and then return once the crackdown ends.

Finally, the same outlet (KTVU) produced this special on the homelessness problem in the city last September. The expert quoted here says more housing would solve some of this problem. I can believe that might help some individuals get off the street, but it’s probably not going to be enough to help those with drug or alcohol problems or those with mental issues.

There are an estimated 30,000 homeless people living in the Bay Area. That’s equivalent to a small city who have no security, no bathrooms, and no jobs. Caring for all of the many needs of that many people would be an incredibly expensive effort. I guess we’ll see if the well-off, progressive residents of San Francisco want to pay for some kind of housing for the thousands of people who are currently refusing the other options offered to them.