KCBS_740 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Homeless people in a San Francisco neighborhood say an auction house drenched them with sprinklers in an effort to drive them away.

Heather, a homeless woman, had been camping in the northeastern edge of Potrero Hill next to U.S. Highway 101 recently and said some businesses make a difficult situation worse.

“There are some businesses that purposely cause trouble. They believe that it is a sanitation problem because certain people use the restroom in their tents. But, the city of San Francisco doesn’t give us any public access to restrooms that we can use. Nobody wants to go to the bathroom where they sleep,” Heather said.

Heather said Bonhams Auction House on San Bruno Ave. between 15th and 16th Streets turned on their roofline sprinklers two nights ago, drenching her tent.

In response, Kristin Guiter, Head of Public Relations and Press U.S. for Bonhams, said the company did not intend to drench the homeless, in an email statement to KCBS.

The action to clean Bonhams’ building and perimeter sidewalks during non-business hours intermittently over a 48-hour period was not intended to disrespect the homeless or any visitor to our premises.

The increasing homeless population has been a challenge for many years in San Francisco generally, and in our business district specifically. We and our neighbors have worked with the City for many years, including attending hearings and meetings, but the situation has escalated as of late, leading to dozens of encampments, garbage piles with feces and needles, fires, theft and other crime.

After many calls for assistance, the City has yesterday acted to work with the homeless in the neighborhood to provide services and remove the leftover garbage from the camps.

Bonhams continues to be invested in maintaining the quality of our business district and strongly supports the Bay Area community. 

At least five city trucks were cleaning up along Utah Street Wednesday after police told about 12 homeless campers to vacate the area.  Bonhams’ building is centered between San Bruno Ave. and Utah St.

An employee of a showroom in the design district at the foot of Potrero Hill told KCBS she was relieved to see those trucks. “It’s dangerous. You feel threatened every time you walk to work. You’re walking over needles. You’re walking through human waste,” she said. She didn’t want to give her name.

Heather said she’s not sure where she will go next.

Police and city workers say keeping the sidewalks clear of homeless camps is like a game of whack-a-mole.

Another nearby business has soaked homeless campers before, as has the San Francisco Archdiocese to homeless people sleeping in the alcoves of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

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