Demonstrators Pitch Tents Outside San Francisco City Hall « CBS ... - CBS Local https://t.co/Y1XyTA96bZ— San Francisco (@SanFrancisco361) October 18, 2016
A group going by the moniker Civil Disgrace, led by Mission resident and Bay Area native Jennine Jacob, set up tents Monday outside City Hall in order to press the city for more emergency shelter funding but it's an image that calls to mind the sprawling tent city that popped up in City Hall Plaza in 1988-90, under Mayor Art Agnos's watch, dubbed Camp Agnos. Also, confusingly, while Jacob is upset by the sight of campers near her Potrero Avenue home and believes the city should be clearing encampments and offering alternatives, she does not support Prop Q, which would ostensibly do just that. Jacob tells CBS 5 that she doesn't think Supervisor Mark Farrell, who sponsored the proposition, should be legislating a Mission problem from his home in Pacific Heights. "I don’t believe it’s the right path moving forward, to criminalize the homeless because they don’t want to be in that situation anymore than we want to see it."
The encampment along Polk Street, near the front steps of City Hall, appeared around 8 a.m. Monday according to Bay City News, and it was briefly home to a "handful" of demonstrators. But as Jacob and her cohort told C.W. Nevius at the Chronicle, they weren't planning to make this an overnight thing. "Oh, I’m not staying the night,” one demonstrator said. “I have kids.”
Jacob earlier told Hoodline that she felt compassion for the homeless because her father was homeless himself for about five years. "I understand that there are a lot of different reasons why people end up on the streets," she told Hoodline. "But it’s not good for the people living on the streets, and it’s not good for people living in the neighborhood."
Also, she explained she staged a one-woman tent protest last week (see below), but after being shooed off by cops and told to bring her complaints to a Board of Supervisors meeting, she decided to come back with enforcements, posting a flyer on social media encouraging more people to join her.
“If there was a disaster that suddenly left 7,000 people on the streets, we would not just leave them there, so why are we doing it now?" Jacob asks.
And while the city's budget for homeless services and housing has ballooned over the last decade to over $240 million, many homeless advocates agree that the city does not have adequate shelters or options for the volume of people it must deal with, and there should be a better way than simply clearing encampments and shuffling them to other streets. These latest demonstrators seem frustrated by the lack of immediate solutions, but Jeff Kositsky, the head of the city's Department of Homelessness, told them, according to Nevius, "Homelessness has been 30 years in the making. We are not going to solve this overnight."
Prop Q has been called pointless and mean-spirited by many of these advocates who point out that we don't need a new ordinances making sidewalk camping illegal it already is. The Proposition calls for the Department of Public Works to give 24 hours notice to street campers and offer them shelter alternatives though one-night shelter beds aren't an adequate solution either.
As protests go, I'm not sure this one had a clear enough agenda they got Nevius's attention, though. And as one protester told him, "I think most of us in the city embody both points of view. These people need shelter, but there also has to be some enforcement."