June 2, 2006

A daily report on the happening in Golden Gate Park(ing lot)

Inner Sunset Community Meeting on Homeless 6/1/06

or "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.

May 31, The Public/Private Partnership in Public Parks

May 28, Art coming to a meadow near you.

May 25 LOST IN THE FOG or Homeless in Golden Gate Park

May 23, Those That Ignore History...

May 22, Faces of the Bay to Breakers 2006

May 20, An Open Letter to the Mayor: How can we take back our Park?


May 18, DEDE to allow some of her Oscars to be viewed by visitors to her museum.











Remember it's not a Park it's a Parking Lot.