SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – People living along a street in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood say the city had done little to prevent the noise coming from a homeless encampment on the sidewalk, so the neighbors decided to take matters into their own hands.
No one’s saying who did it, but twenty-five large boulders have been placed along the sidewalk on the 200 block of a quiet street called Clinton Park. Neighbors say before the rocks, the sidewalk was crowded with tents and meth dealing, and drug use went on all night long.
They say the drug activity began about a year ago after a nearby homeless encampment was cleared out.
“People would come here in the morning and set up a tent, get the dope,” said a resident who didn’t want to be identified. “Sales would start early, and then they’d set up, shoot up and either break it down or stay for a day or two.”
Neighbors say they lodged more than 300 complaints with the city in the last 3 months before finally taking up a collection to buy the boulders, which, at least so far, has worked.
One resident named Marius says he doesn’t think it was the right solution but says he understands why they did it.
“People can’t sleep!” he said. “It’s frustration because they’re not getting any sleep at night, and they don’t know what to do…they don’t know what to do.”
Eric Mills has been living on the streets since his wife died 4 years ago. He admits the homeless can be disrupting but says the rocks should not be seen as an answer to the problem.
“It’s just going to move them down the street a little further so it’s somebody else’s problem, you know?” he said “That’s part of the mindset today, hey, as long as it’s not happening to me I don’t care. But that’s not going to solve anything. It’s just going to get worse, worse, worse, worse, worse.
The dilemma puts Public Works officials in a tough spot. They don’t want the drug dealing to return either, but the boulders were placed there without the city’s knowledge or approval.
“In terms of public safety and a hazard, there’s not a hazard with them,” said Communications Director Rachel Gordon. “That said, these are public sidewalks and we want to see what, if anything, can be done to legalize them if someone wants to go through that process.”
The boulders have now been in place for about 2 weeks and the City says it may be possible they could be properly permitted and allowed to stay, but it’s hard to do that when no one has come forward to admit that they put them here.
Locals say it’s not the first time this has been done in the area. In 2018, Public Works reportedly installed metal barricades about a block away on Market Street to keep people from sleeping on the sidewalk in front of Safeway.