S.F. “can’t use its ordinances to criminalize homelessness.”

Lee Heidhues 4.3.2023

Check out the reader comments in The Chronicle Conversation in response to the federal magistrate’s Order protecting the unhoused in San Francisco.

Depressing to read all the MAGA intolerance crowd on full throated arrogance display in The Chronicle Conversation bloviating once, again.

San Francisco has been woefully negligent in taking care of its unhoused.

All Mayor London Breed’s carrying on about the unhoused and crime being the ruination of San Francisco is just so much boilerplate pandering.

Now that Mayor Breed and the MAGA crowd no longer have Chesa Boudin to Scapegoat the Judiciary is a convenient alternative.

Excerpted from The San Francisco Chronicle 4.3.2023

The federal magistrate who prohibited San Francisco in December from removing homeless people from encampments without providing them immediate shelter refused to suspend her order Monday while the city appeals it.

It means “San Francisco can’t use its ordinances to criminalize homelessness,” said John Do, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer for the Coalition on Homelessness, the plaintiff in the case. 

Mayor London Breed talks with a homeless man in front of Outfit on Castro Street as she takes a neighborhood walk morning on Monday, Aug. 13, 2018 in San Francisco, Calif. (Photo By Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

City officials argued that the Dec. 23 injunction by U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu had put San Francisco in an ”impossible situation,” as City Attorney David Chiu put it in a court filing. He said some people on the streets have refused shelter, others have obtained shelter beds but still choose to live on the streets and Ryu’s order left the city “powerless to do anything in those situations.” 

But Ryu said late Monday that the city had failed to show any improvement in the plight of the homeless in San Francisco, or in the city’s overall treatment of them, since her earlier order.

The unhoused. Life on the streets of San Francisco

It is still the case, she said, quoting her previous findings, “that ‘San Francisco does not have enough available shelter beds for all homeless San Franciscans,’ falling short ‘by thousands of beds,’ and that ‘homeless San Franciscans have not been able to voluntarily access shelter beds since April 2020’ because waitlists and same-day lines are closed.”

“Despite the opportunity to finally substantiate (city officials’) position that ‘every homeless person is offered shelter before being displaced by the City,’ none of (their) witnesses stated that San Francisco officials offer shelter to every homeless individual before telling them to vacate public property,” Ryu wrote.

And despite San Francisco’s claim that her order prevented the city from keeping its streets safe and clean, Ryu said, since her December injunction, the city has been able to offer “shelter and services” to some encampment residents and to clean areas where encampments are located. That means officials “have found ways to accomplish their public health and safety goals despite the preliminary injunction order,” she said.

The ruling means Ryu’s order will remain in effect during the city’s appeal to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, unless that court grants the city’s request for a stay. Such appeals ordinarily take many months to resolve.

San Francisco street life for the unhoused


Top photo – Homeless sleep in plain sight of City Hall