It’s not exactly "hostile architecture" if it’s just a four-by-eight-foot slab of plywood, but the Ingleside Path wall has rustled up a similar controversy to the now infamous anti-homeless boulders of Clinton Park.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock installed last month by wealthy neighbors, you’re surely aware of the anti-homeless boulders that have come and gone from a little Mission District street called Clinton Park. The class-warfare debate on neighbors’ struggles with unsheltered populations has also been ignited in Ingleside, as the Examiner reported last weekend that a roughly four-foot-wide pedestrian walkway right off Ocean Avenue was walled off and shuttered as neighbors complained of “needles in our front yard” and frequent “screaming, swearing, fighting” in the walkway. The slapdash wall has since been removed, but the debate continues among Ingleside residents on whether to barricade the tiny Ingleside Path.
#Update | The plywood wall was removed but the anonymous neighbor who placed it said they’re working on a gate.— Luz Peña (@LuzPenaABC7) October 15, 2019
Why? To keep the homeless and drug dealers out of the alley.
Full story: ⬇️https://t.co/pjLI5DDFoJ@abc7newsbayarea pic.twitter.com/WvZ7O8kLjh
An ABC 7 reporter’s tweets above provide a little timeline, and the wooden wall was apparently torn down Monday. This is not a tiny, backwoods neighborhood — the M Oceanview rolls right by this spot, and it’s a busy area of Ocean Avenue towered over by the recognizable creamsicle-colored El Rey Theater. The contained sidewalk itself is rather small and discreet, though, and according to KRON 4 it’s been a public walkway for more than 100 years.
More significantly, KRON 4 reports that “the head of the Department of Public Works signed at the director’s order allowing the lane to be sealed off at both ends by a temporarily locked gate.” In other words, a lockable gate is probably coming, but who knows which way public sentiment will turn.
SFist’s visit to the site this morning showed that yeah, people probably are crashing on the sidewalk. We didn’t see needles, but it’s certainly a place where you could leave your stuff and and have a reasonable expectation that it would still be there when you got back. But not everyone is on board with boarding up the sidewalk.
“I did not agree with the blockade at all. That was a very nuclear decision,” vice-chair of the Ocean Avenue Association Miles Escobedo told KGO. “Why board it up? That's a circumstance of fear. Which is almost worse. We should not be scared. We should be able to contact our local authorities.”
The back of the walkway facing Ingleside Terrace is now clear too, though KPIX reports that it was also barricaded “for a few days” and “with the blessings of the DPW.” KGO also added that neighbors met at Ingleside Library to discuss the situation last night, so it remains on open question if, when, and how the alley will be closed.
We tend to blame all of these urban problems on the homeless population, but that’s not entirely true. As the Examiner noted in their report, “Uber drivers consistently tried to drive into the too-small walkway and found themselves stuck.”