SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — There is no end in sight over the battle of large boulders in one San Francisco neighborhood in response to homelessness and drug use.
Neighbors got together two weeks ago to have 12 massive rocks put together on the sidewalk in an apparent protest to prevent drug dealing and homeless encampments near Market and Dolores Streets, on the quiet street of Clinton Park.
Since then, it’s been nothing but a battle; people keep pushing the rocks into the street and crews from the city’s Department of Public Works keep putting them back on the sidewalk, as recently as Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, they were back on the road.
The cycle has happened three times in one week. Neighbors are now divided on whether the massive boulders are the right answer to the city’s homeless crisis. Others say they’re just fed up with the city’s lack of action on the issue.
“There’s frequently tents, people sleeping, people taking drugs,” said Clinton Park neighbor Gloria Smith. “I’ve seen people shoot up here, and I’m just trying to walk down the street with my dog, so I completely understood why whoever placed the rocks here, what their motivation was.”
“I just think it’s incredible how, you know, whole blocks and neighborhoods and neighbors can pull together and spend so much effort and time and money into something that doesn’t seem the most positive or productive to the problem they’re trying to solve,” said Wesley House, a San Francisco native.
House spent hours Sunday afternoon writing positive messages in chalk on the sidewalk near the entrance to the Clinton Park Alley, just a few yards from the boulders. He said he wants to encourage dialogue between neighbors and he’s been amazed at how much emotion the rocks generated on both sides of the argument.
Wesley is still at it with the sidewalk chalk. Two more messages added:
“It is a great theft if we don’t give to those in greater need than ourselves.
“I got neighbors. They more like strangers. We could be friends.” pic.twitter.com/AGONyq21Dw
— Katie Nielsen (@KatieKPIX) September 29, 2019
A spokesperson with the Department of Public Works said they did send crews out Sunday morning to put cones and caution tape around the boulders, but they don’t have plans to put the boulders back on the sidewalk for the rest of Sunday.
The spokesperson also said the DPW is looking at alternative options and is committed to supporting and working with the neighbors.