San Francisco can now enforce laws relating to homeless sweeps following court rulings

ByTim Johns and Gloria Rodríguez KGO logo
Tuesday, July 9, 2024
SF can now enforce homeless sweep laws following court rulings
San Francisco will soon be able to sweep homeless camps without previous, court-ordered restrictions.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco will now be able to cite and arrest unhoused people if they reject services as the city looks to ramp up enforcement of encampment sweeps.

Following a recent Supreme Court ruling, on Monday an appeals court overturned an injunction that paused the city's efforts to enforce laws preventing people from staying out on the street.

This is a move that City Attorney David Chiu believes will allow officials to more effectively tackle the problem.

Until now, the city has been clearing parts of encampments if they posted a health or safety risk on sidewalks but they could not force unhoused people to leave, even if they refused shelter or services.

Chiu says the city has spent billions of dollars on homeless services over the years.

"We could make all the offers of shelter and services that we wanted but there were many moments where unhoused folks would simply reject or refuse services. Reject offers of shelter," said Chiu.

MORE: Why some of SF's formerly unhoused set up tents, frequent the streets again

Homelessness remains a top concern for San Francisco voters.

At Monday night's mayoral debate hosted by KTVU, candidates laid out their plans to address the crisis, with the two currently not in city government - promising stricter measures.

"I believe our sidewalks belong to everybody in San Francisco. They belong to young children, they belong to families, they belong to the elderly," said Mark Farrell.

Entrepreneur Daniel Lurie added, "Under my watch, we are going to stand up 1,500 shelter beds in the first six months of my administration. People will no longer be able to resort to nor will they be allowed to stay on our streets."

There are many people in San Francisco who disagree with the recent court rulings though. And some of them accuse city leaders of using homeless people for political theater.

MORE: SF says homeless population is at lowest level in years. So why are some costs going up?

That includes Nisha Kashyap, whose Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights was part of a lawsuit that sued the city over the rights of unhoused people.

"We as a community and our political leadership, over decades not just the current leadership but going back decades, have made concerted choices to dis invest in affordable housing and instead invest in policies that push people out," Kashyap said.

Kashyap believes these sweeps will only push people from place to place and ultimately do little to solve the problem.

She's instead, calling on elected leaders to invest in what she believes are real solutions.

"Cities will be in a race to the bottom to enact the most punitive, harmful ordinances or laws that they can designed to push people out of their communities," Kashyap said.

There's still ongoing litigation regarding how the city deals with homeless folks' property. A lower court is expected to rule on that soon.

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