[Hpn] Fwd: PROPERTY RIGHTS
Coalition on Homelessness, SF
Thu, 27 Jul 2000 23:24:38 -0700
>Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 18:46:29 -0700
>From: "Coalition on Homelessness, SF" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: PROPERTY RIGHTS
>email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
>firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
>Is San Francisco's new "free storage facility" just a scam for the
>City to get rid of shopping carts owned by homeless residents?
>The lustrous glitter from the lattice of metal on wheels is a
>familiar view to anyone who has seen Tom McNally drive his cart on
>the roads of San Francisco. Tom's shopping cart is a vital resource,
>as it is usually his protection from vicious weather at night and a
>repository for the items he collects while working as a recyler.
>While sitting on Second and Mission Streets, attentive to his
>earthly possessions in the shopping cart, Tom noted a writhen smile
>on the face of the police officer who approached him. A 46-year-old
>homeless person with an unattractive house on wheels, Tom had
>perceived this would be an unfriendly encounter.
>"Hey! If you are not gone in five minutes, you and your damn
>shopping cart will end up in the garbage can."
>When the storm subsided and Tom had regained his calm, he scrabbled
>to hasten himself from the perils of the hostile policeman. Tom
>stood up and prepared to find a place in San Francisco where civil
>rights were still regarded as the foundation on which humanity is
>built. As Tom pushed his cart, the policeman handed him a flyer,
>which promoted free storage for his personal property.
>On June 15, 2000, Mayor Willie Brown's Office on Homelessness opened
>a free storage facility in a building also used as a temporary
>homeless shelter. George Smith, Mayor Brown's Homeless Coordinator,
>conceived and coordinated the process of creating a space where
>homeless people like Tom McNally could store their personal property
>without fear of having it stolen or lost.
>After its fourth week of operation, the free storage space at 150
>Otis Street has become the topic of much discussion throughout the
>homeless community in San Francisco. My editor, Lisa Gray-Garcia,
>and I decided to examine the claims made by the director of the
>Mayor's Office on Homelessness, George Smith. According to George
>Smith, the free storage facility was brought on line after many
>discussions with homeless people in San Francisco, all of whom said
>they needed a place in which to put their belongings. Smith has been
>quoted as saying, "We kept asking them [homeless people with
>shopping carts], 'what would you need to stop using a cart?'"
>A community organization that champions the rights of homeless
>people, the Coalition on Homelessness, has surveyed most of the
>people who use shopping carts and has determined through analysis of
>the surveys the needs of the shopping cart community. My editor and
>I were shocked to learn that the City did not tap into this vast
>supply of information before it opened the storage facility on June
>15th. Neither was anyone from POOR Magazine contacted, another
>wealth of insight into the underpinnings of poverty. Since neither
>the Coalition on Homelessness, nor POOR Magazine was consulted, we
>began a to further scrutinize the intent of the creation of this
>During an interview with an employee of city government, who asked
>to remain anonymous, it was learned that 'the City wants the
>shopping carts off the streets'. This glaring wrinkle was consistent
>with warnings issued by the Civil Rights Project of the Coalition on
>Homelessness. The Coalitions' warnings came in the form of a flyer,
>stating, among other things, that:
>"The City will take your shopping cart, and may bring your property
>to 150 Otis Street for storage."
>The Coalition went on to inform people of their rights against any
>attempt by the City to confiscate shopping carts by including the
>following language in the flyer:
>"If you must leave your property unattended, leave it neat and
>organized with a sign indicating you will be returning shortly. This
>may or may not stop the City from seizing your property.
>If your shopping cart is marked as being owned by a store, even if
>you are with it, they can legally seize it. You do have a right to
>remove your property first. If the cart belongs to you, they do not
>have a right to take it if you are attending it.
>If your property was confiscated by the City, you can check 150 Otis
>Street between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday..."
>George Smith has gone on record as touting this project as a
>convenience for homeless people with shopping carts. According to
>George Smith, "One of my promises to them [homeless people with
>shopping carts] was that we would come up with a storage facility."
>He added that the storage facility will not be used to store the
>property from shopping carts confiscated by the Department of Public
>Works. However, he stated that this project will not prevent his
>office from looking in the future at other ways of reducing the use
>of shopping carts. In view of all the conflicting information my
>editor and I had discovered while investigating this issue, I
>decided to contact George Smith to ascertain from him the true
>intent of this project.
>I asked Smith if he intended to develop this project gradually so
>that it would be well established before the apparent purpose of
>confiscating shopping carts would be realized. Smith replied, "The
>City has no plans to grab unattended shopping carts and take them to
>the new storage facility at 150 Otis Street, at this time."
>I then asked if that meant the City will never use the new storage
>facility to store the property from confiscated shopping carts. He
>replied, "I never said that," and reiterated that "The City, at this
>time, has no plans to use the site at 150 Otis to store property
>from shopping carts."
>I responded by stating that I could infer from that statement that
>the new storage facility could be used at a later date in the
>not-to-distance future to store confiscated property.
>I concluded my interview with George Smith by asking him to promise
>me that the City would not, at some later date, use the depot at 150
>Otis Street to store illegally seized property by DPW from
>confiscated shopping carts. Smith replied, "I do not make promises."
>Does George Smith make promises or not? In an article written by a
>San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, Jonathan Curiel, on Wednesday,
>July 5th, Smith was quoted as saying, "One of my promises to them
>was that we would come up with a storage facility." Or does he only
>make promises when its politically expedient to do so?
>Amid the wrangling between community organizations and the Mayor's
>Office on Homelessness, the free storage facility has gotten a good
>report card from the shopping cart community. People like Tom
>McNally think it can be a model for other cities if it continues to
>exist in its current state.
>Kaponda and Peter Flores
>Kaponda and Peter Flores are community journalists with POOR
>Magazine. To learn more about POOR Magazine, POOR News Network, and
>POOR's community journalism training program, contact Lisa
>Gray-Garcia (la Tiny) at (415) 863-6306, or visit them online at
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
vox: (415) 346.3740
Fax: (415) 775.5639