Homeless advocates fight Wiener on park closures

Swing votes targeted before measure is considered by the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 29.


SF Print Media Company file photo

The Coalition on Homelessness has launched a campaign to defeat Sup. Scott Wiener's legislation to close down all city parks and most major plazas from midnight to 5am, which the Board of Supervisors is set to consider on Oct. 29. Activists are targeting three swing votes who could decide the controversial issue: Sups. London Breed, Norman Yee, and Katy Tang.

In an email blast to supporters, COH urged people to contact those three supervisors to raise their concerns, even suggesting a script that includes these arguments, "It further eliminates access to public space for all, it will displace homeless people, and is a waste of city funds." [UPDATE: To protest the proposal, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club is hosting a "sleep-in" protest at Dolores Park tonight (Mon/28) starting at 9pm.]

COH Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach told the Guardian that she has the support of the four most progressive supervisors — John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim, and Eric Mar — and that she just needs two of the three swing votes that COH is targeting to kill the measure outright and avoid the kind of compromise that has become Board President David Chiu's specialty this year.

She said the measure would be particularly harmful to the homeless LGBT community and other vulnerable populations that seek refuge at night in Golden Gate Park and other hidden spots, but that it's bad for everyone. "It forces them out into the storefronts and streets and neighborhoods and nobody will be happy with that," she said.

Wiener denies that the measure is aimed at the homeless, telling the Guardian that his intent is to address graffiti, illegal dumping, and damage done to park facilities overnight. "We've had an epidemic of vandalism in our parks and it's getting worse," Wiener told us. "It's a significant problem and it absolutely degrades people's ability to use the parks."

Friedenbach said she appreciates that Wiener isn't aiming his rhetoric at the homeless, even though she said that's who will be most effected by it.

"It's great in terms of not bashing homeless people, but we know every time something like this comes up, it increases public anger toward homeless people," she told. And she notes that the measure is being trumpeted by people who do want to use it to go after the homeless, including Mayor Ed Lee, who went off script last month and told the Examiner that he hopes the measure will be a tool to clear the homeless from Golden Gate Park.

"The mayor said it was a great idea because we need to get the homeless people out of the park," Friedenbach told us, noting also that, "Wiener has had a thing of going after homeless people."

Wiener denies that this is about the homeless, and he responded to Lee's comments by telling us, "I can't speak for anyone else." He also said that it's already illegal to sleep in the parks and "to the extent the police want to do sweeps in the parks, they can already do so."

The measure would apply the closing hours to all property controlled by the Recreation and Parks Department, which includes every city park and the city's largest plazas, including Civic Center Plaza, Justin Herman Plaza, and Union Square.

"One thing people don't think about is this also applies to the plazas," Friedenbach told us. "A lot of our plazas are hangout spots late at night, and there's no reason they shouldn't be."

Wiener said that small plazas, such as Harvey Milk and Jane Warner plazas in the Castro, aren't under RPD jurisdiction and therefore aren't effected by his legislation. And he said the ordinance was already modified to allow people to walk through the affected plazas without stopping, and that he's open to further amendments.


Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

there will be one more home available and therefore one more place to make a homeless person housed

if everyone who thinks the way you do, leaves, we'll have housing out the wazoo

end of problem
(because the homeless in this country are not infinite you know)

so start packin' guys!

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:21 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

i'd rather just have you leave and eminent domain your place for a better, more egalitarian resident, who legitimately cares about his or her fellow human beings

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:54 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

we could figure out a way to pay less

Posted by racer x on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

it is "theft" if you freely agree to pay what a landlord asks?

Let me know when your ED law passes. I imagine you are working on the wording for the voter initiative right now.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

at an excessive price because i have no choice

is not an "agreement"

Posted by gdlkhfd on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

"again, a relationship in which i am forced to buy something
at an excessive price because i have no choice

is not an "agreement""

Of course you have a choice.

Stockton is waiting!

Tenancy is theft, Comrades!

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

You could take a smaller, cheaper place. Or a less posh neighborhoof. Or move further out. Or relocate to the East Bay. Or away from the Bay Area.

Or get an RV, or camp out, or become one of those homeless people that you appear to soa dmire.

To claim you have no choice is to admit that you have no imagination.

Posted by Lillipublicans on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

why i do not seek to be equated with a pathetic selfish inbred twit like lilli

~ racer x

Posted by jjhfdgu on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

Having made some bad academic and professional decisions, which led to you being low-paid and financially insecure, you are now stuck renting at an age when you really should have made something of yourself.

And rather than accept reality and move somewhere cheaper, you stubbornly insist on staying in SF, which means paying a rent that is probably more than half your minimum wage job.

Rather than accept and admit your mistakes, you turn angry on the entire system, accusing your landlord of "stealing" from you, and rail endlessly at capitalism.

While of course never doing anything about it except trolling here 24/7.

Pretty good summation huh?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

do you even know who the "you" is that you believe you are talking to?

at this point, i guarantee you

you definitely are very confused on that point

Posted by jjhfdgu on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

Although I'd add that he doesn't really care about anything except his frail ego. He has no life beyond trying to get an edge in a debate on an anonymous website that nobody reads.

If there is a better definition of sadness and neurosis, I do not know what it is.

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

what does that say about you?

Posted by jhdyey on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

I write; I don't read.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

How long have you lived in San Francisco?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 3:54 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

- saying that this is about vandalism is ridiculous. I think we should close these parks etc because sleeping in parks engenders unhealthy behavior. from the drunks to the thieves to the stabbers, its generally not healthy homeless people who are living there. its a magnet for people who are not well and may be destructive. the homeless usually need a path towards wellness that does not involve sleeping in a bush. seriously, i cant believe anyone who has their interests at heart thinks that this is a constructive option for them or us

- the homeless advocates that say that LGBT people are abused in the shelters and thus should sleep in the woods are totally delusional. if there is a problem in the facilities, that is a problem with the facility. its not a way to make a case for them sleeping in the wild. way to mine a few anecdotes to push a lame agenda

this is another issue that has to do with these questions : 1) are homeless best served staying in parks, 2) do taxpayers have to stumble over someone's living room when theyre out for a run in the park. the fact that our politicians frame this as LGBT abuse or vandalism means that both side have their heads up their asssssessssss

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 5:59 am

Translation: "Both sides are bad, so screw the homeless, close the parks."

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:18 am

no, that's not the translation. I made it clear that my belief is closing the parks does not equate to "screwing" the homeless - exactly the opposite. Lets work under the assumption that being homeless is not desirable. If this is the case, then what is your best avenue to not being homeless anymore? Is it sleeping in the park or accepting a working plan while using the resources that the taxpayers are funding?

Seriously, have you ever known a mentally ill person intimately? Do you trust their judgement when they say "this is whats better for me.." .. Sorry, I dont think it is compassionate or logical to say "you're right, you should be sleeping under that bench".

And - by the way - why dont I have the right to say that I dont want people sleeping in the parks that we pay for? Technically, those parks belong to taxpayers. Just like your living room belongs to you ..

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:48 am

"Seriously, have you ever known a mentally ill person intimately? "

How much time have I spent around politicos?

Either there are alternatives or people sleep in the rough. Absent alternatives banning sleeping outdoors is a non-starter.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 6:59 am

outside, but we can certainly stop them sleeping in recreational areas.

There is some disused land around Bayview CalTrain station that could be perfect for them, with some porta-toilets.

Let them sleep outside but only where we designate.

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

"Lets work under the assumption that being homeless is not desirable."

When I've evicted from my apartment so the landlord can become even more rich selling my apartment as a TIC, rather than leave the city I think living in the parks will be just fine. I lived under a nice spruce tree in GGP the first couple of weeks I visited a few decades ago and it was just grand then and I know it will be just fine after the no-fault eviction.

When it rains a few days out of the year it's nice to get a dry cot, so thanks for paying more taxes to fund a roof over my head during those few days.

If you don't like us in "your" parks, move to Marin or Lafayette or Los Altos or Belmont. Problem solved.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 7:14 am

towards vagrants, itinerants and others who use our recreation areas as bedrooms and toilet.

If you don't like that, maybe you should move to Europe, where I am sure they will throw money at you.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:02 am

Neoliberal discipline for everyone!

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:25 am

The no sleeping in the park rule, like the sit-lie rule, apply to everyone here and not just the homeless.

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:36 am

Soylent green….

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:33 am

San Francisco does not have a homeless problem, it has a VAGRANCY problem. This is the result of a political culture in San Francisco that defends and even glorifies self-destructive and abusive behavior under the guise of "tolerance." I have no problem with being tolerant of somebody who wants to live differently than I do so long as they don't engage in behavior that is harmful or abusive towards me or violates the basic rules of civilized society. When social workers offered the vagrants in Golden Gate Park a chance to go to a shelter, many REFUSED saying they had a RIGHT to live in the park. Even when San Francisco provides public bathrooms, these same people vandalize them making them unusable by anybody. You would think after pursuing the same failed homeless policies and programs for 30 years the voters of San Francisco would wise up and start electing people who would try something different. But no, they keep electing the same brainless "progressive" lemmings who are trapped in an ideological straight jacket.

For that I blame the voters of San Francisco who keep electing politicians who pursue policies that act as co-dependent enablers for this type of behavior which is why the problem will continue no matter how much money the City spends on this problem. Somebody once said that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again each time expecting a different result. The voters of San Francisco need to regain their sanity if they are to have any hope of fixing this problem and one way to start is to start electing common sense supervisors who act as problem solvers rather than problem enablers.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 8:44 am

then you can judge whether or not people should sleep in parks

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:50 am

there are always some people who quite simply cannot function at any other level.

I've seen homeless people even in places like Sweden and Switzerland.

Nowhere in the west is it as bad as SF though, because we encourage it too much.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:02 am

Thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by The real racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:16 am


There are different types of 'homeless'.

There are a small population who are generally quite intelligent, and do not have substance abuse issues, who might be deemed 'feral'.

They just don't want to deal with the hassle of the 9 to 5 and other conventions of conventional society.

Then there's the ones who survived some sort of war zone, whether a meth camp out in the woods or a few tours of duty in Afghanistan, and have serious PTSD and tend to over self medicate.

Then there's the economically displaced, who, for whatever reason failed to keep up with rapidly changing economic factors.

These last are genrally high functioning, have jobs, family, freinds. They can keep it together with an RV to live in or put up with endless rounds of couch surfing.

At any rate, it's true that 'Homelessness' as defined by conventional people will never be eradicated.

The idea that SF is some kind of magnet for homeless people is absurd, though.

Honolulu Hawaii has a far higher rate of homelessness then SF. As do most cities in Texas and Florida.

A freind of mine lives in Key West and describes that towns population as about one third homeless.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:25 am

You can camp, live in a trailer and do other things if the weather is benign.

That said, SF is a target destination for the homeless and some scaling back of homeless services can help reverse that.

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:36 am
Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:44 am
Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:52 am

the trolls are putting a lot of effort into scrambling a noble symbol

Fiat Lux!


Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:07 am

the trolls are putting a lot of effort into scrambling a noble symbol

Fiat Lux!

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:17 am

The imper has been imped.

The troller has been trolled.

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:25 am

Ignore everything I say!

It's all lies!

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:41 am

Homeless people are not executives.

They don't go shopping for the best benefits package. Go online to research what city offers the highest level of service.

I spend several days a month in downtown San Jose for my job and the homeless population of that burg is at least that or more than SF.

Whereas services, compared to SF, are practically nonexistent.

If I ask a SJ homeless person why they don't move to SF for all the 'homeless services' they look at me like I'm loco.

Further, SF is notoriously inefficient at allocating it's homeless services. Not just inefficient, but downright arbitrary, and even incomprehensible.

I guarantee nobody is moving to SF to get in on some mythical 'homeless services' bonanza.

Posted by pete moss on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

Then maybe some of the homeless that came here for easy street will go abck to where they came from.

Or the city could buy them a one-way bus ticket.

Or build a camp for them in West Oakland.

Posted by anon on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

Anon, is your other screen name 'SF Annie'?

There's the same strain of obstinate cluelessness in your posts.

One more time: Homeless people don't come to SF for easy street.

Other than that, I agree with you, the best thing to do for the Homeless is nothing. Leave them alone.

Posted by pete moss on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

"Guest" and "John".

There is more than one person who shares my views, as odd as you may find that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

Matter of fact, since you missed it apparently, I agreed with you on the issue of what to do with the homeless.

Except now, rereading your post, you actually made 3 proposals.

So which one do you favor?

1. Do nothing.

2. Set up a homeless compound in Oakland


3. Sorry, I forget what your third proposal was.

Posted by pete moss on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

O right, hand out 1 way bus tickets.

Surely you are aware that the City already does this?

Posted by pete moss on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

racer x: it is IMPOSSIBLE to make sure every person in San Francisco has a home. That is an absurd statement. And even when you offer many of the people a place to stay, they refuse saying they have a "right" to live in the park. You need to wise up.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:16 am

What was I thinking?

Posted by racer さ on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:27 am

so claim that we can't provide housing for everyone is clearly crap

Posted by kjfdhiu on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

too wary of rent control. He'd rather leave it vacant or AirBnB it than risk a lifer/loser tenant.

I'm not sure we can blame that situation on anything other than rent control.

But I am working on raising funds to buy all vacant homes and put homeless people in them.

I call it the Mitten Fund.

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

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