San Francisco eyes possible park sites for safe homeless encampments during pandemic, May 19, 2020

By Maureen Kelly

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – San Francisco officials are now compiling a list of possible sites for more sanctioned homeless encampments during the pandemic.

The plan includes land managed by the city’s Rec and Park Department.

The move is part of a compromise between the supervisor behind the idea and the head of the parks department.

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer shelved the controversial emergency ordinance introduced only a few weeks ago after the general manager of the city’s Rec and Park Department agreed to compile a list of potential sites for sanctioned homeless encampments by June 2.

Phil Ginsberg said in a statement that he understands the importance of working with the board to identify additional locations for safe sleeping sites on Rec and Park land that do not interfere with the public critically needed access to the outdoors during this health crisis.

The proposed emergency ordinance got a lot of pushback from park goers when it was introduced but the founder of a San Francisco nature education program supported the legislation and also thinks the compromise is a good one.

“Because it didn’t mandate any of the spaces. It asked for a list of possibilities and certainly possibilities include parking lots, golf courses that may not being used, it certainly doesn’t include Stow Lake, it doesn’t include the Botanical Garden. If we don’t do something, define safe spaces for the homeless, the pandemic will not only continue and endanger everyone, we’re gonna lose a lot of the homeless people who are on the sidewalks or all clustered together and for what reason?” Nancy DeStefanis said.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, one safe sleeping site has been established near the Asian Art Museum.

Another is in the works going in on the site of the old McDonald’s at Haight and Stanyan across from Golden Gate Park.

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