SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — San Francisco is working to keep clear a popular camping spot for the homeless by having crews place huge boulders on areas under the Highway 101 interchange at Cesar Chavez St.

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The streets and ramps beneath 101 on the edge of Potrero Hill is the area known as the “Hairball” because it’s such a confusing array of routes for drivers, who often mistakenly find themselves driving onto Potrero Ave. or Bayshore Blvd. instead of 101 or Cesar Chavez. It’s also been a popular place for the homeless to set up camp for decades, until the city cleared the encampment last month.

As first reported in Mission Local, boulders placed just off the roadway in different sections of the Hairball are the deterrent the Department of Public Works Deputy Director Larry Stringer hopes will make it a hard place for the homeless to set up camp.

“The boulders was an idea that we thought we’d try,” Stringer told KPIX 5. “This is an experiment. We’re trying something different, kind of see what happens.”

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It cost $10,000 to put the boulders here. Stringer believes it is money well spent.

“We would spend that amount of money in a day, definitely in a week, because of the amount of time we were spending over there cleaning up the encampments,” said Stringer.

Jennifer Friedenbach, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness says the city is missing the point with moves like this.

“It’s just another do-nothing type response to homelessness,” said Friedenbach. “I would say it’s not a good use of city resources.”

Friedenbach said it’s yet another band-aid approach to a bigger problem. Many of the homeless displaced are still camping here, but the public works department argues something had to be done in the short-term.

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“We understand it’s not their fault for being there, it’s not by choice,” said Stringer. “But there’s also a balance for the public as a whole – safety-wise, health-wise, what’s good for the safety and the public right-of-way.”

Homeless advocates say the strategy only makes the homeless move down the street just past the boulders. The city says it will continue to place more boulders in the area to send a stronger message.

Stringer indicated there were no plans to put boulders in other areas of the city where homeless people set up camp, saying the solution is specific to the unique layout of the Hairball highway exchange and underpasses.

Comments (27)
  1. So the liberals encourage the homeless, now reap what they planted.

  2. Yirmin Snipe says:

    Why not just install water sprinklers like the church did… Oh that’s right the city didn’t like it when the church tried to get the homeless from using their entry way as a toilet but its different when its the city that has to deal with their filth.

  3. Why not use a different title: “Outdoor Residents”.

  4. Chuck Finley says:

    So wait a minute, the homeless are bad? Just making them move is the answer?

  5. Steven Andros says:

    Incarcerate the drug addicted.

    Institutionalize the mentally ill.

    Help the 3% who have ACTUALLY fallen on hard times.

    That’ll take care of 99% of the “homeless” problem.

  6. These are the same people trying to tell us Texans and the rest of the country how to run our business!

  7. Just saw an article about culling a herd of reindeer somewhere. How about trying that?

  8. years ago the university got Berkeley to wash the sidewalks around the university with spray trucks every night around 4AM. It worked.

  9. It’s not their fault for being there? It’s not by choice?
    Did someone drop them off there and tell them, “Now, don’t move . . .”?????

  10. Try sharp jagged rocks like they do in San Diego.

  11. Could not be in a more suitable place…San Francisco…a liberal’s paradise!

  12. Glen Robison says:

    Orange County used dump truck loads of dirt and rocks. Worked like a charm.

  13. Why not encourage affordable housing, addiction treatment centers, and a climate for better wages instead? These people hanging around in plain site are a testament to the failures of those in charge. They sure don’t want to be reminded of that. One bad idea after another is going to solve nothing at all.

  14. Chilling and heartless San Grinchcisco!

  15. Build a campground with proper rest rooms and showers on a vacant lot. Make it open to the public and charge a modest fee, but make it free (vouchers) for homeless. Turn no one away, unless they are disrupting other people. People are homeless for a variety of reasons; some don’t have any money, others have mental disorders or drug addictions. Let’s show some Christmas Spirit and help those less fortunate.

    1. Chris, there are dozens of shelters in and around San Francisco, they have a basic requirement that no drug and alcohol use is allowed on premises, the solution isn’t creating a campground that would become a drug and crime den within hours of opening. Bay Area liberals are tolerant of the homeless (though certainly not conservatives) to a fault. The solution is tough love, either sober up and sleep in a shelter or you will be physically removed beyond the city limits. San Francisco is fast becoming known as an open-air toilet, it’s a disgusting health hazard. Bring back the mental hospitals.

  16. Zardoz Wiz says:

    take away the mentally ill and the crackheads and how many are homeless?

  17. The city of Everett, WA has a BIG problem under I-5 with illegal camping by drug addicts. They hang out under the freeway because of the Everett Gospel Mission nearby. These druggie homeless don’t want the help the Mission has to offer. They hang out and camp there for the free food at the mission. Perhaps Everett should plant huge boulders under the freeway, leaving just enough room for people to walk under there, but not enough room for camping.

  18. So…. murderous illegals can find sanctuary in SF, so they can murder innocent Americans, but American homeless are crossing a line into offensive? ya…California you are one f’d up place.