Yesterday, workers from the San Francisco Department of Public Works removed the homeless encampment along Cesar Chavez Street under the US101 freeway. The camp had reportedly become the largest in the city.
Street cleaners, police and outreach counselors descended upon the camp about 6 a.m. and spent the morning methodically bagging up trash and flopping tents onto flatbed trucks. The counselors’ goal was to get the campers into homeless shelters or other poverty services, but the cleaners’ goal was purely to clear out what has become a smelly, messy eyesore to passersby and neighbors in recent weeks.
Camps have dotted the maze of trails, bushes, freeway-ramp ledges and dirt lots at that part of Cesar Chavez for decades. But ever since a giant encampment along Division Street was finally swept out in March the Cesar Chavez population has mushroomed into the largest street settlement in the city. […]
“Thirty years ago you saw older people and vets with bad luck,” David Johnwell, foreman of the hotspot cleanup crew for the Department of Public Works, said as he directed the dismantlement operation under Highway 101. “Now you see a lot more younger people, women and dogs and needles.
“It’s not for us to say where they should sleep… They’ll move back in, but we did our job. Nobody has the answer. But at least when we leave here it’ll smell good.”
He said officials have been contemplating erecting fencing to keep campers out, but nothing was imminent. Fencing successfully reduced camps at a similarly longtime homeless haunt near the Caltrain station at Interstate 280 after tents were swept away from there in 2013. At that time, it was the biggest camp in the city.
That was yesterday. As of this morning, some of the tents have already been re-established.
PHOTO: Encampment under US101, February 24, 2016 by Telstar Logistics