San Francisco sanctions third world tent cities as a new way of life, both accepted and promoted. Mayor London Breed and her allies say they’re the best option available. It’s time to “embrace the inevitable,” the officials say.
The encampments will have a lot of taxpayer support.
Inside San Francisco’s “safe sleeping sites,” where tents sit inside squares marked on the asphalt eight feet apart to promote social distancing, there are hand-washing stations, portable toilets, showers, meals, and security guards.
Santa Rosa also opened a sanctioned tent encampment this month. Seattle and Olympia, Washington, have them too.
Oakland and San Jose have taken a different approach, mostly focusing on funneling homeless residents out of encampments.
“For the time being, our focus remains on partnering with the County to bring people indoors (into hotels and our trailers) rather than keep them outdoors at a campsite,” Karen Boyd, spokeswoman for the city of Oakland, wrote in an email.
For those Oakland can’t house, officials have installed portable toilets and hand-washing stations at their camps.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors demanded Breed convert 8,000 empty hotel rooms into homeless housing, while the mayor insists that’s not feasible. So far, the city had secured 3,178 hotel rooms and RVs for homeless residents, front-line pandemic workers and other at-risk groups. Of those, 1,387 were occupied.
In other words, they want to steal private property and convert it into homeless shelters.
Sarah Snider, 32 years of age, who shares a tent there with her boyfriend, said it’s “pretty chill.”
“Everybody can pretty much do whatever they want, as long as they’re respectful,” she said.
One will allegedly last six months, but nearby residents envision it becoming permanent.
On a recent afternoon, 32-year-old Devon Davey and several friends who live nearby were drawing chalk messages on the sidewalk in front of the lot. “Cole Valley + The Haight welcomes our new neighbors,” they wrote, next to a drawing of a rainbow.
“Community is about belonging and neighborliness,” Davey said. “And everyone deserves that.”