SF mayor wants to clean up area around main library

SF Mayor Ed Lee is concerned about the growing homeless population near the main library and wants to clean it up.
January 13, 2014 10:10:55 PM PST
With Twitter in the neighborhood and a shopping mall in the works, San Francisco's plan to clean-up a gritty part of mid-Market Street appears to be working, but there's a new trouble spot emerging that's not too far away. Police are paying special attention to the city's main library branch near Civic Center.

When you move people from one place, they have to go someplace else. In this case, we're talking about street people, the homeless, and those who cause trouble. The library has become a hangout for many of them and the mayor wants it stopped.

You can see the difference on the mid-Market Street corridor. The mayor's orders to clean it up appears to be working. There is heavier police presence, the motorcycle units, patrol cars and officers on foot.

"We kind of saturate this with as much manpower as we can and do our best to clean it up," said San Francisco Police Officer Franco Fleming.

Those who are causing the unruly and violent behavior appear to be moving to neighboring districts. One of them is the Civic Center, which has always been a magnet for drug users, the mentally ill and homeless. The main library may have now become even more of a refuge. Disturbing incidents have been on the rise.

San Francisco resident John Earl hangs out at the Civic Center.

Lee: "Is the area around the library and inside been worse recently than before?"
Earl: "Definitely."
Lee: "Why is that?"
Earl: "The drug users abuse people and the homeless hanging out."

"Individuals that either have had some situation with drugs, they've been inebriated. That kind of behavior is what we're talking about," said San Francisco city librarian Luis Herrera.

Last week, Mayor Ed Lee sent a letter to Herrera. The mayor said he wanted to restore the library to a safe and welcoming place for families. He wanted stronger penalties for violators. Herrera told us, he's instituting a no tolerance policy. Those causing disturbances will be thrown out immediately.

"In some cases, if it's that egregious behavior, we'll banish them to the extent that due process allows," said Herrera.

When we came to the library on Monday, we already noticed more police presence. Chief Greg Suhr has assigned a Sgt. Fulltime to supervise the library's in-house security team. He's also added an officer to patrol the library's perimeter.


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