Sunset Community Meeting on Homeless 6/1/06
"the sound of hands wringing"
Arranged and moderated by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, a dozen city officials
crowded the stage of the County Fair Building to hear from about seventy
very unhappy residents of the Inner Sunset. Police Captains of the Richmond,
Park, and Taraval Stations were joined by reps of various homeless programs,
plus the Mayor’s Office, City Attorney’s Office, Rec and
Park, and DPW were represented.
As the community expressed their outrage at the decline of livability
in our area with the exponential increase of vagrancy, the panel was
forced to acknowledge that the unintended effect of current homeless
outreach in the eastern side of the city has pushed the more incorrigible
homeless out to the western side. With a current policy that sleeping,
or even living in Golden Gate Park, is not a citable offence, the failures
of Care not Cash have moved to the Inner Sunset/Golden Gate Park in
droves. At the same times, the outreach programs that have moved a quarter
of our homeless off the street into permanent housing or tickets home,
according to the Mayor’s representative, have not reached the
western side of the city.
Combine the influx of homeless with a legal system that doesn’t
enforce “quality of life” violations and we have a previously
quiet neighbor that finds itself on the frontlines of a battle of acceptable
conduct or craziness and mayhem. Currently, personal conduct citations
such as bodily functions in public, passing out across a sidewalk, even
throwing bottles, end up in Traffic Court along with running stop lights
and speeding. Most are outright dismissed. Because of this the police
are loathe to spend their time citing what is clearly uncivilized conduct
knowing nothing will come of it. To their credit, the police have methods
to encourage proper conduct, but all require civil communication with
many that are less than civil.
What can we do? In the short term, the Inner Sunset
“community,” both merchants and residents must organize.
We must communicate with each other and with Captains
at the three police divisions that divide our community and the Mayor's
Office so that they understand that “we aren’t going to
take it anymore.” Secondly, we must encourage a change
to the current court system, creating a specific
court to judicate homeless crimes. Only when offenders are faced with
real alternatives can we expect change.
Homeless outreach hasn’t reached the Park yet. When they do, they
will walk the Park explaining that housing and services are available
for those that get on the bus at Stanyon and Haight and are transported
back downtown. They admit that it takes about 2 years to finally convince
entrenched homeless to accept services.
As I walked home from this meeting, at the end of my block was a van
pulled into the blue zone. The door was open and a group of junkies
were lined up as orders were placed and small quantities of something
dispensed from the curtained side of the van. Though City Homeless Services
haven’t reached out west, more basic services have.
Welcome to the Fog.
31, The Public/Private Partnership in Public Parks
28, Art coming to a meadow near you.
THE FOG or Homeless in Golden Gate Park
23, Those That Ignore History...
of the Bay to Breakers 2006
20, An Open Letter
to the Mayor: How can we take back our Park?
MUSIC IN THE MUSIC CONCOURSE
18, DEDE to allow some
of her Oscars to be viewed by visitors to her museum.