Officials no-show for homeless camp cleanout in SF


September 24, 2012 12:04:21 PM PDT
Another showdown is in the making over a homeless encampment in San Francisco near AT&T Park that just keeps coming back. Police tried to clear it out last Wednesday after a fire right under the 280 extension but now a serious warning has gone out. They were told to get out of the area by 8 a.m. Monday. They've been told to leave before, but say they've got nowhere else to go.

Ian Smith was still tidying up the spot he's called home Monday morning even though he will be moving out. He has been living under the highway at 4th and King in San Francisco with about one dozen other homeless people and say he has really enjoyed the spot. "It's just an interesting cast of characters, you know what I mean? A lot of good people here. They had a really tight-knit community. They all looked after eachother. There's a sense of security your really couldn't find anywhere else," he told ABC7 News.

Caltrans posted a notice saying everyone needed to be out by 8:30 Monday morning or else police would clear them out. Homeless advocates showed up to watch over the operation and make sure everyone was treated respectfully. "People here have nowhere else to go and you can see from their camp they're not bothering anyone," Dilara Yarbrough said. "They're just here. They're just trying to get by day to day."

Caltrans officials and CHP officers have been to the camp before but since the homeless have returned, they're planning to clean it out once again. Officials say it is a public health concern. The group packed up and waited, but officials never showed up."They told us to give them three days but expect them on the end of the third day no matter what they post. That's what the Higway Patrol told us the last four or five times ago," Brian Smith said. They say the waiting, wondering, packing, and uncertainty is tough. "It's been a pain in the butt with all the competition because most people, they just live their life and get by however they can," Ian Smith said.

A Caltrans spokesperson said they are not going to the camp on Monday because they want to give people as much time as possible to move on, but would probably be there on Tuesday or Wednesday to clear the area out. They say they will be putting the homeless people in touch with local officials to help them find shelter. They also said they do plan to continue doing the sweeps, so they are looking for a long-term solution for the area.