The creation of parklets in San Francisco has led to some unintended consequences. They aren’t on park land, so park rules and regulations can’t be enforced. They aren’t a sidewalk, though, so sidewalk laws don’t apply. And even though they might be in the street, their design is such that laws governing what you can and can’t do in a street don’t quite fit either.
City Supervisor Scott Wiener has introduced legislation that will spell out what is and isn’t allowed in the two parklets in his district – both near the heart of the Castro. Â According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
Highlights of Wiener’s legislation include banning sleeping at any time in the plazas; prohibiting camping, cooking or creating any kind of shelter; banning the selling or bartering of any merchandise without a permit; and prohibiting four-wheeled shopping carts. Also, plaza goers couldn’t smoke.
Violations would be an infraction with a maximum fine for repeat offenders of $500.
To me, this all sounds prettyÂ innocuousÂ and reasonable. It’s one thing to create a parklet with the hope of attracting visitors to liven up the streetscape during the day, it’s something else entirely to assume that means they can stay the night and set up a camp. Occupy parklet just doesn’t have the same ring as Occupy Wall Street.
People who make a living out of ‘advocating’ for the homeless are, expectedly, outraged and feel this is just one more horrible and mean-spirited piece of legislation.
My experience is that San Francisco bends over backwards to try and work with the homeless population and find solutions to a problem that has no easy solution, particularly given the larger framework of cuts at the state and national level for mental health care.
If we are truly compassionate, we should be focused on finding the dollars for mental health care, and not spewing outrage over common sense public courtesies. But those are just my two cents – what about yours?