Over a period of years, San Francisco has earned a reputation for being one of the most tolerantly liberal cities in the United States. But now, residents there may have hit their limit for compassion after homeless tent camps, feces, and trash litter the streets and a new interim mayor has vowed to do something about it.
Interim Mayor Mark Farrell says he wants to spend up to $750,000 to hire more people to pick up the discarded needles, and spend another $13 million over the next two years for more heavy duty steam cleaners and pit stop toilets. Farrell has also directed crews to clean out the homeless tent camps that have overrun the city's Mission District.
"The trash, our homeless, the needles, the drug abuse on our streets, I've seen it all in our city and it's gotten to the point where we need to really change course," Farrell said in an interview with the AP. "We've gone away from just being compassionate to enabling street behavior and that, in my opinion, is a shift that's unacceptable."
Last year, the city logged more than 24,000 requests to clean up feces and human waste, and another 9,500 for needle pick-up. So far this year, there have been more than 8,300 requests to pick up waste and another 3,700 for needles.
Farrell says the squalor seen on San Francisco's streets has gotten out of control and that residents should feel safe while using the city's sidewalks.
One video shot by a San Francisco resident has been grabbing a lot of attention lately. Shannon Gafford documented his trip to work through one of the busiest BART stations in the Bay Area. In the video, you can see drug users blatantly shooting up out in the open, while commuters walk by, while others lay on the ground, slumped to one side.
"Every day. Every morning. 5:30 to 6 o'clock. You can see there's dozens of them. Needles everywhere. Crack. Heroin," Gafford narrates.
Homeless services are offered to those in the city's BART stations, but the agency admits they've been overwhelmed by the crisis that has taken center stage in its hallways.
A current number of homeless in San Francisco isn't available, but a one-night count last year found about 7,500 residing in the city.
Photo: Getty Images