Harassment of individuals in Golden Gate Park during open hours must stop!
Nowhere in the park code does it allow for people who are homeless to be bothered during open hours. Having a sleeping bag or camping gear does not constitute camping. Sleeping does not constitute camping. In fact, no one has the right to disturb a sleeping person in the park who is otherwise not breaking any laws. It is legal to sleep in the park during the day; officers will cite anyone sleeping in a bush. When these tickets are defeated, off the trail tickets are issued. Then when those tickets are defeated, the police give more tickets and threaten to arrest.
However, Mayor Newsom office gave out specific instructions to the contrary when you issued the evictions for Golden Gate Park. When you instructed people to leave Golden Gate Park it was during the day. Your Homeless Outreach Team, Park Rangers, Park Administration and gardeners were instructed to tell people to leave Golden Gate Park. This is not the first policy handed down, that was outside the law toward homeless people. Police have complained that Mayor Newsom's office has given out instructions that are stricter or harsher than the law allows.
Mayor Newsom said in a press conference that 52 people were housed. However, that number included 32 people who took part of the Homeward Bound Program. The Homeward Bound is designed for stranded individuals that reside outside the bay area. Yet is staffed by police who pressure homeless clients to leave the city under duress and coercion.
The housing implied by Homeward Bound comes under questionable circumstances and is not thought to imply that housing would be continual. Therefore without knowing for certain that individuals will in fact be housed upon arrival fills shelters elsewhere and leaves most homeless after a hard cross country travel with only twenty dollars for all meals. These trips can last up to three days.
Confiscating camping gear poses life-threatening exposure as hypothermia may set in at 96 degrees. Stresses that a Homeless person may go through everyday may make hypothermia inevitability. Yet, Mayor Newsom allows and has specifically told Parks and Recreation to confiscate property that Park officials believe belongs to homeless individuals. Courts have been ruling against the city in every case where property was confiscated and not returned.
There were more than 30 such civil cases filed this year and more everyday. Supposedly, articles of clothing, blankets, pillows, tents, are not to be stored as a matter of policy according to Rose Marie Dennis the Director of Communications and Public Affairs. However according to recent and many previous court rulings, the city is still financially responsible for these missing articles.
The people in the park out number the empty beds in shelters that Trent Roher of SF Dept of Health spoke of. Current homeless statistics for the city of San Francisco as well as across America, only involve those receiving services as homeless individuals. San Francisco Homeless Counts normally do not count those outside of service areas, meaning the parks and streets.
If there are more than one thousand shelter beds, (in the City and County of San Francisco,) there are 20% open shelter beds in the city; this means around one hundred open beds. However, these beds are inaccessible to most homeless individuals. Since these beds are reserved for respite clients, Care not cash or must provide their own transportation, which the city does not provide transportation for a majority of clients. According to some estimates there are between four hundred and twelve hundred people living in Golden Gate Park.
Corporations and commercial property owners insist that the People living in the park have to leave. However, shelter, education and job opportunities are not to be made available in the Haight-Ashbury Improvement district. Historically the Haight-Ashbury is a low-income neighborhood.
These same Corporations and Commercial Property owners want to sell their property to redevelopment organizations for branded neighborhoods surrounding the Park. This plan will displace thousands of people currently living in the neighborhood. There are hundreds of seniors and disabled people still living in the neighborhood.
The characterization of the homeless as criminal, diseased, drug addicted homebodies is a clear act of slander. It leaves some question as to if you are focusing on the smallest demographic of the homeless the 17-35 age group, that is unemployed and drug addicted. The largest Demographic of the homeless is Families with Children. The next is the disabled or senior citizens. Then the marginally employed is next. Leaving only twelve percent addicted to illegal drugs.
Leaving us to remind you of the real failure of services the services for families and children.
Mayor Gavin Newsom you must cease the harassment by public officials of individuals who are homeless who are in the park between 6am and 10pm. This costs the city millions of dollars every year.
You must stop the confiscation of personal items and critical survival gear immediately as it is unlawful, discriminatory and will cost millions of dollars to be paid out to homeless individuals for items of little value and of a harmless nature.
The shelter and housing of individuals should involve considerate, diverse programs managed and staffed by individuals whom have been homeless for mor than a year. Shelters are only part of the solution, education, job opportunities and drastic reformation of the city welfare policies.
We the signers of this petition find the above acts deplorable, inhumane and discriminatory and demand a stop to harassment of individuals in Golden Gate Park who are sleeping.
We demand real solutions to homelessness, unemployment and education, no more excuses.