[Hpn] SF Homeless booted from Ferry plaza

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Wed, 06 Jun 2001 13:03:56 -0700

Homeless booted from Ferry plaza

Police, cleanup crews spruce up waterfront
Ilene Lelchuk, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, June 2, 2001
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle


San Francisco -- San Francisco police shooed away homeless people yesterday,
and public works crews steam cleaned Justin Herman Plaza South, near San
Francisco's famed Ferry Building, in response to complaints about a growing
encampment there. 

Some of the homeless who lived in the park, however, said they will probably

"The police were really polite, but it sucks," complained Sunshine, who said
she sleeps in the park because she can't bring her Rottweiler with her to a
hotel room or a homeless shelter.

San Francisco has spent $50 million beautifying the area around the historic
Ferry Building, landscaping parks and plazas, planting a small forest of
palm trees and installing two six-story Millennium Towers that shoot light
beams 600 feet skyward. But part of this new city centerpiece, Justin Herman
Plaza South, has attracted more homeless than tourists and working lunch

The scene this week included a tent, men sleeping on benches next to their
shopping carts and benches covered with personal belongings and blue tarps.

A story in The Chronicle yesterday highlighted the growing numbers of
homeless drawn to the grassy plaza. Yesterday morning, Mayor Willie Brown's
staff dispatched outreach workers to offer homeless people temporary shelter
and various social services, including lockers to store their stuff, but the
city's offers were turned down.

"Everyone just wanted to be left alone," said George Smith, head of the
mayor's Office on Homelessness.

Homeless advocates criticized the city for sweeping people out of the plaza
rather than concentrating on finding solutions such as more affordable

"Their whole homeless program is 'It's only a problem if you can see it,' "
said Paul Boden of the Coalition on Homelessness.

The mayor's spokesman, however, defended Brown's record on creating
affordable housing and pressuring state and federal officials to help.

"There is no war on the homeless," said P.J. Johnston. "There is a constant
balancing act for the interests of all the people of San Francisco."

The police and public works crews showed up about 11 a.m. yesterday and
began clearing the area. Bob Diaz, a supervisor for the Department of Public
Works, said everyone left peacefully.

"This is not the first time we've been here," Diaz said. ". . . But you know
what happens is we clean and leave and, boom, they are back again. It's like
we clean house for them."

Police Capt. Bill Davenport said he dispatched his officers to the plaza in
response to community complaints.

"We are aware of the situation up there now and we're going to have to pay
close attention to it and make sure it does not continue," Davenport said.

E-mail Ilene Lelchuk at ilelchuk@sfchronicle.com.

©2001 San Francisco Chronicle   Page A - 13

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**
9000+ articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
INFO & to join/leave list - Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net>
Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy
A Publication of the Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
415 / 346.3740-voice € 415 / 775.5639-fax