Pando

SF politician vows to clean up homelessness (that can be seen from window of giant tech HQ)

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on September 14, 2016

From The Disruption Desk

Good news, middle class people! San Francisco Board of Supervisors member (and champion of the oppressed) David Campos is going to clean up all the unsightly homeless people living in the Mission!

In an email sent out earlier this week, Campos outlined his plan to remove the homeless encampments set up in the Mission District and relocate the inhabitants to shelters and actual housing.

Writes Campos:

“Our plan, and my commitment to you, is to remove all Mission encampments within the next four months, in an effective and humane manner.

I am glad to report that the process for encampment removal is already underway. The current focus is the encampment around the Pacific Gas and Electric facility at 19th and Folsom. After that, the Encampment Resolution Team will address the portion of the North East Mission hit hardest, with is between 16th-19th street, from S. Van Ness to Bryant Street. Encampments in the rest of the mission will follow.”

For the benefit of Pando readers unfamiliar with SF geography, the Mission District is a predominantly latino and Asian neighborhood that has seen growing tensions between those residents and the recent influx of tech workers.  

Of course, only a cynic would suggest that a city supervisor - least of all David Campos -- has suddenly made the “removal” of homeless people a priority now that the area is attracting rich, white techies.  And certainly, as Campos explains, the numbers of homeless people living in the Mission has risen sharply in recent months thanks to the redevelopment of the abandoned buildings in Bayview.

Still, there’s something odd about how Campos is prioritizing his plan. Again:

The current focus is the encampment around the Pacific Gas and Electric facility at 19th and Folsom. After that, the Encampment Resolution Team will address the portion of the North East Mission hit hardest

Why wouldn’t Campos want to address “the portion of the North East Mission hit hardest” before cleaning up a random street corner around a PG&E facility? The facility itself is surrounded by a high fence and barbed wire and there's no suggestion that the row of tents running alongside poses any great inconvenience to the smooth running of what is essentially a storage yard. I walk past 19th and Folsom almost every day and, compared to some of the other homeless camps in the city, it’s pretty low-key. There’s some cool chalk art on the sidewalk and often you’ll see someone standing outside a tent sweeping up.

So why the urgency in cleaning up that particular block?

Could it possibly have something to do with the fact that, unmentioned in Campos email, 19th and Folsom is better known as the home of Lyft’s Mission headquarters? A headquarters that the  $5+bn tech giant recently announced plans to vacate,  leaving a chunk of premium real estate in need of a new unicorn tenant.

And might it not be a huge help to the building’s owners if prospective tenants weren’t faced with the sight of a mini homeless village right on their prospective doorstep?

But, no, I’m sure the need to find a new tech occupant for a big expensive tech building had nothing to do with Campos’ decision to prioritize cleaning up that block before an area that’s actually “hit hardest” by homelessness.