Castro merchants threaten civil disobedience over ongoing homeless problem in SF

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Saturday, August 20, 2022
SF Castro merchants threaten civil disobedience over homeless issue
Business owners in San Francisco's Castro District are calling on city leaders to provide more beds for the unhoused community.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Business owners in San Francisco's Castro District are calling on city leaders to provide more beds for the unhoused community.

Some are threatening civil disobedience if the city doesn't address the growing issues in front of their storefronts.

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"It's next to impossible to run a successful business in the Castro right now," Dave Karraker, Co-President of the Castro Merchants Association said.

Karraker, owner of the MX3 gym in the Castro, has had enough of the unhoused community impacting the neighborhood.

"You shouldn't have to worry about is your window going to get smashed today by a mentally ill person who sees their face and reacts to it, I should be worried about whether I can sell more gym memberships," he said.

He's even had to install extra security cameras to help protect his business.

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"We're demanding that the city set aside 35 beds, specifically for the Castro, to deal with these people that we know are perennial problems," he said.

In a letter sent to city leaders, the association says they'd also like to see a comprehensive plan on how to address people who repeatedly decline services and clear monthly metrics on how many people in the Castro have been offered shelter or services.

If not, he says, they're prepared for civil disobedience.

"Which means not paying taxes, which means not paying your business license fees, that's where we might end up," Karraker said.

And Karraker isn't alone.

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Many community groups are doubling their efforts to clean the streets of the Tenderloin of crime, drug dealing and homelessness.

"If we're not getting what we're paying for, I don't think that's a bad idea," Martin Mendoza, owner of Louie's Barbershop said.

Mendoza is the owner of the oldest barbershop in the Castro. He agrees with this plan.

"One day we had that guy that was just blocking the door, yelling at the customers and yelling at me, and then I had to shut the door and call the police, but they were like ok yeah well is that an emergency or not, I mean there was not a response at all," he said.

ABC7 reached out to San Francisco Mayor London Breed's office and the San Francisco Department of Public Health but did not hear back.

"Safe, clean streets are an entirely reasonable demand, and the city could make a real difference in the Castro with targeted resources including places to take people who are publicly intoxicated or experiencing psychosis, and an increased community policing presence," Rafael Mandelman, a San Francisco Supervisor who represents this district said in a statement.

"Our message to the city leaders is, tell us what you're doing to fix the problem," Karraker said.

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