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Homeless Advocates Pushing Back Against Proposed Night Closure Of SF Parks

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People walk by a homeless man. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

People walk by a homeless man. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

ChrisFilippi 20100909_KCBS_0379r Chris Filippi
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Dozens of homeless advocates camped out overnight in San Francisco’s Dolores Park Monday night after holding a “sleep-in”. The protestors say one city supervisor’s plans to close the parks after midnight will hurt the city’s most vulnerable people.

Despite the protests, Supervisor Wiener’s proposal will go before the full Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon.

Brother Paul Joseph, with the Society of Saint Francis, said he provides nursing care for many people who sleep in the park.

“What I have discovered is they’re just like us. They just happen to be poor, but in our country today, we’ve criminalized poverty,” said Joseph.

Supervisor Scott Wiener said his proposal to set the city parks operating hours from 5 a.m. to midnight is not anti-homeless.

“This legislation will help prevent vandalism and dumping in our parks. We’re the only major city in the U.S. that has no statutory opening and closing for parks.”

Recreation and Parks Department officials have said vandalism and dumping cost the city more than $900,000 each year to clean up.

Lisa Marie Alatorre, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, said that, although it is already illegal to camp in city parks, the proposed law would further “criminalize” homelessness and result in more citations for the hundreds of people who use the parks as shelter.

She said a lack of housing for homeless people forces them into parks, and that this law would in turn push them onto the sidewalks, where certain subgroups — such as youth, women and LGBT members — are more likely to become the victims of crimes.

If approved, the ‘operating hours’ would apply to all of San Francisco’s 220 parks.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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