Video: Homeless advocates speak out over police enforcement of quality-of-life laws

 

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Tensions are high at a community meeting in San Francisco Tuesday night, as the city deals with homelessness in the Haight.

Many people are at the meeting because of the recent increased police enforcement in the Haight over quality-of-life laws. Every seat was taken at Tuesday’s meeting.

While the meeting was calm, tensions were high as the neighborhood addressed an on-going issue there. More complaints from Haight neighbors and business owners have been coming into the police department, saying the constant drug use, trash, and passed out people is ruining the quality of life.

To address this, police started a zero tolerance policy for quality-of-life violations by increasing patrols and offering more city services. And the homeless has taken notice.

“We left town because we heard like five or six of our friends had been picked up and put in jail in like a matter of minutes,” said Sheldon, who only would tell KRON his first name.

Crestina Scolaro, a student at San Francisco State, said the current system is not the answer.

“Ticketing the homeless is criminalizing them, and it’s not fixing bigger issues we have, such as housing, shelter, and services for them,” Scolaro said.

But police said they will enforce the laws to anyone who violates them.

“What we make clear is that whether you are a homeless person, a transient person, or any other person, you are not allowed to violate the laws of the city or the state of California,” San Francisco police Cpt. John Sanford said. “If that happens, again, no matter who it is, we are going to take swift actions against those individuals.”

San Francisco police said if they see quality-of-life violations, that could result in a warning or an arrest. But they also reiterated being homeless is not a crime.

Police said they will continue the extra enforcement until the end of the year, and then revisit their plan.

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