You may be allowed to leave your heart in San Francisco, but you won't be allowed to leave your tents out any longer.
Counselors, cleaners and police flooded the Mission District on Wednesday as part of Mayor Mark Ferrell's new efforts to rid city streets of tent encampments. By noon, the area had been completely cleared and cleaned of homeless tent camps - the first time residents have seen that in a long time.
“This is just the beginning,” Farrell told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Tents should not be part of the permanent landscape in San Francisco. If, at the end of the day, a person resists everything we offer them in counseling, housing and other services, they shouldn’t be allowed to keep tents on the sidewalk.
“Maybe it takes a mayor not running for office to do it, but we need to clean up our streets throughout the city. We haven’t been pushing hard enough. We will now.”
The clean up was part of a nearly year-long intensive effort that began with intensive counseling and police patrol operations. San Francisco city officials had been hearing constant complaints from businesses and tourists about homeless defecating in the streets, leftover, stray needles and the dozens of tent camps that lined the city streets.
“The streets are filthy. There’s trash everywhere. It’s disgusting,” the president of S.F. Travel, Joe D’Alessandro told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’ve never seen any other city like this — the homelessness, dirty streets, drug use on the streets, smash-and-grabs.
Tourists say they've been threatened by many of the aggressive panhandlers who appear either mentally ill or high.
Wednesday effort by city officials is being characterized as a ramp-up of counseling outreach and enforcement of existing laws that prohibit tents from obstructing sidewalks.
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