Most of SF's Board of Supervisors is now on record as wanting to ban the notorious sweeps of homeless encampments conducted during extreme weather.
Readers are aware the city has been pummeled by rain and storms in recent weeks, a spell during which SF Weekly reported that homeless tent sweeps continued even during significant storms. Many of the tents confiscated in a Feb. 1 stormy-weather sweep, per the Weekly, had been donated by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) San Francisco Chapter, who’d raised more than $5,000 in a GoFundMe effort.
Those tents disappeared just twelve hours later during sweeps conducted during a downpour.
The local DSA chapter, along with Glide SF, the Coalition on Homelessness, and other advocacy groups, put the question to the somewhat-new Board of Supervisors on whether they would oppose street sweeps during storms. And the San Francisco Examiner reports that a majority of the board does oppose tent sweeps during extreme weather.
Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez’s Examiner report contains a collection of statements from supervisors, but there is no legislation or vote immediately pending. Sup. Gordon Mar told the columnist, “When the shelter people do have is taken from them during extreme weather — leaving them exposed to rain, cold, and worse — it’s not only ineffective, it’s immoral.”
District 6 Sup. Matt Haney — who upon being sworn in last month told a Chronicle podcast that “I do think it’s a conspiracy” to make the Tenderloin a containment zone for urban blight — also supports laying off the sweeps during storms. A recent Examiner op-ed from the executive director of St. Anthony’s adds that Haney plans to hold hearings on the city’s homeless response during major storms.
Board president Norman Yee was more vague, not actually calling for bad-weather sweeps to end, but saying in a statement that he’s “supportive of [Haney’s] hearing and does not support confiscation of property without any fair and practical protocol in place.”
The Board now has its perceived progressive majority in place, so do expect the supes to be further pushed on similar questions from particularly active advocacy groups like the DSA. But whether this new board’s efforts ever materially impact homelessness, or merely represent talk, remains an open question.