Federal judges to hear San Francisco's appeal regarding encampment removal

J.R. Stone Image
Wednesday, August 23, 2023
Federal judges to hear SF's appeal regarding encampment removal
San Francisco city officials are appealing a recent judge ruling that they say has tied their hands when it comes to removing tents or encampments.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The issue of homelessness in San Francisco will go before three federal judges Wednesday.

San Francisco city officials are appealing a recent judge ruling that they say has tied their hands when it comes to removing tents or encampments from sidewalks and other areas.

Several tents were lined up along Van Ness Ave and Eddy Street in San Francisco Tuesday night, just two blocks from City Hall.

"It's very frightening to see what they're doing!"

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Challiss Mosher and others we spoke with live at nearby Opera Plaza, Mosher is referring to the homeless situation and the tents that they say, now sit on sidewalks along Van Ness Avenue for long periods of time.

"Constantly, we call 311 and nothing we can do, nothing we can do," said San Francisco resident Eddie Ramos.

City officials will go in front of three federal judges Wednesday to appeal a court order that temporarily limits the city from enforcing certain laws that prohibit public lodging or camping against "involuntarily homeless individuals." That is, as long as the number of people experiencing homelessness exceeds the number of available shelter beds in San Francisco.

Officials say those on the street won't take the help.

MORE: San Francisco pilot program diverts 911 calls about homeless from police to new street crisis team

San Francisco has a new approach in dealing with non-emergency calls involving the homeless. Instead of police, a street crisis team will now respond.

"Over half the folks they're reaching out to, are refusing offers of shelter by the city or have shelter elsewhere but chose to keep a tent on the streets," says San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu.

We asked those with the Coalition on Homelessness if that is true.

"Only half the people are accepting shelter because they only have shelter to offer half the people. We can see how many shelter beds are being offered in the encampments, they've only got enough for half of them, the other half they mark down as refusing shelter," said Jennifer Friedenbach of the Coalition on Homelessness.

As the city battles in the court system over enforcement, some community members say they are now angry over what they call a lack of any action.

MORE: SF crews making a difference cleaning homeless encampments, but here's what's slowing them down

"I've lived here since 1974, I've never seen San Francisco this dirty, it's pathetic - my wife and I have to cross the street just to go up to dinner just because of all of the tents are blocking everything," says Ramos.

"They're coming here for one reason and it's not to pay taxes, it's to use our facilities and use the drugs that are here just very close by," said Mosher.

"People are compassionate but there is also growing frustration, we've spent billions of dollars, we've tried many many things, none of it seems to be working and now it's going into the legal system. You're just figuring, when does this end and what is an answer?" says ABC7 News political insider Phil Matier.

This court hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at the federal building at 95 7th Street in San Francisco. City officials will rally with the public at 9 a.m. at that same location outside of court. It's unlikely we'll see a decision by these judges on Wednesday but that will likely come soon.

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