Last week, San Francisco voted for Proposition Q, which would authorize a 24-hour notice period for the City’s removal of homeless camps. But in the meantime, police continue to enforce an already-existing law against outdoor sleeping, according to recently obtained data.
The City’s Police Department reported a total of 337 cases of illegal lodging—law enforcement’s term of art for sleeping outdoors—from January 2016 to September 2016.
The department released the figures and a map of frequently enforced areas in response to a public records request by Christopher Herring, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.
The statute, which is listed as Section 647(e) of the California Penal Code, requires police to fill out a report for citations, warnings and arrests, Lt. Michael Nevin wrote in response to Herring’s query.
Of these 337 lodging reports this year, 282 resulted in tickets and 25 in bookings. Nevin added that duplicates for some of those cited were possible.
The Mission District apparently has the highest incidence of rough sleepers in the City. That’s not a surprise, considering that area includes Division Street, where a set of encampments stretched for almost one mile beneath a highway overpass. Earlier this year, worldwide attention was focused on the encampments during the Super Bowl celebrations, until police and health department officials ordered tent dwellers to move. Also, the corner of Shotwell and 19th streets has at least four citations. That area gained notoriety for the fatal police shooting of Luis Góngora Pat, who lived in a nearby tent.
Additionally, a section of 16th Street sees multiple reports. About one mile away, the Tenderloin neighborhood is clustered with cited camps.
Also, figures from the City’s Department of Public Works show 106 encampments—with at least two tents or structures each—recorded throughout 2016.
Apparently, the state anti-lodging statute is duplicated by some of the City’s police codes, including sidewalk obstruction, trespassing and the sit-lie law. Proposition Q, the tent ban that is likely to pass, is San Francisco’s 24th local ordinance that restricts homeless people’s outdoor activities, the most for any city in California.
A related ballot measure, Prop. R, went down in defeat. It would have set aside neighborhood police units for enforcement of homelessness-related offenses.