San Francisco Public Works has placed metal barricades on the sidewalk on the north side of Market Street between Church and Reservoir to prevent people from sleeping on the sidewalk in front of Safeway.
When a Hoodline reporter visited the area yesterday afternoon, a crew was cleaning the area with a pressure washer and a leaf blower.
Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon confirmed via email that the agency installed the barricades last week "to prevent re-encampments from occurring on that corridor," she said.
"Our cleaning crews had been out to the site regularly over an extended period of time to clean up encampment-related debris and used needles, and to ensure that a safe path of travel is maintained," Gordon said. "It became a Sisyphean task, and the public complaints had been mounting."
Safeway spokesperson Wendy Gutshall told Hoodline that the supermarket wasn’t involved in the decision.
When we looked at the city's public data for 311 requests at 2068 Market St., we found 84 encampment cleanups in 2017, compared to seven in 2016. Citywide, 41,834 encampment cleanup requests were submitted last year, while residents made 23,916 requests in 2016.
"The barricades seem like a Band-Aid for a much bigger problem," Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association President Kimyn Braithwaite said via email.
Braithwaite said creating a healthy environment around Safeway and along Market Street has been an ongoing challenge for the neighborhood, but she also added that the supermarket has made some improvements.
According to an October 2017 report published by the city's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, there are nearly 100 encampments of one or more tents or structures in the city. Approximately 25 of these are considered large encampments with more than five tents or structures.
Project Homeless Connect CEO Meghan Freebeck said that when it comes to serving unhoused residents, the main priority should always be housing. "All steps taken should be steps that are working toward that goal," she said.
Yesterday, the city announced that it was adding 75 additional shelter beds to accommodate people facing inclement weather. In total, there are 2,200 spaces available in the city's traditional shelters, reports The Examiner.
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