San Francisco has long been one of the most courteous cities to its large population of homeless individuals (more than 6,000). The city has a forward-thinking political attitude, with several soup kitchens and other programs to advance the cause to end homelessness in the city and throughout the United States.
A new law has been proposed that seeks to change that reputation.
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener has introduced legislation that would require the city’s parks to remain closed from midnight to 5 a.m. Critics might claim that the new legislation is not intended to harm the homeless population of San Francisco, as the city already has laws prohibiting sleeping in the parks. Still, it’s tough to enforce that law, as people fall asleep for varying periods of times on park benches or while lying on the grass, even in midday.
Many of the homeless individuals in San Francisco sleep in the city’s parks at night. A closed park would mean that no one would be allowed to enter, so the thousands of homeless people in the city would have to seek refuge elsewhere.
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Of course, the closing of the parks would be similarly difficult to enforce, but would still be an excuse for police officers to patrol areas and hand out tickets just for being on a public space at the wrong hour. The new legislation proposes fines of up to $187 for being in a park during closed hours, a price out of reach for many of the homeless who need a quiet, safe place such as a park to sleep.
Wiener claims that the new legislation is intended to reduce escalating property crimes throughout the city. “We’ve had an epidemic of vandalism in our parks and it’s getting worse,” Wiener said to the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
The law, however, may have unintended consequences that would negatively affect a large amount of homeless individuals.
The legislation is up for a vote in the Oct. 29 San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ meeting.