The City of San Francisco is targeting houseless residents, stealing their survival gear, all of their belongings and, consequently, their ability to belong in the city. These actions are largely carried out by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and San Francisco Police Department, though Parks and Rec and Caltrans workers are also involved. The orders come from the top down. Thus, it is our city's lead decision makers that need to hear our collective voices demanding that they STOP THE SWEEPS. Housing and services NOT harassment!
These thefts are in violation of human and constitutional rights, and also often in violation of SF’s own city policies.
The fourth amendment is meant to protect people from illegal search and seizure, and the fourteenth amendment is meant to protect people’s due process. This letter from ACLU and LCCR details how the City's sweeps have been violating both of these constitutional protections for many years now. Not only are city workers seizing and trashing residents personal items, but they're threatening to send people to jail if they don't allow the workers to take everything. The option to either let the cops and DPW take all of your things or go to jail is no option at all. It is violent and coercive.
The City of SF is also regularly breaking their own policies of what must be done if conducting a sweep:
The city can take unattended property, but has to store it for 90 days and leave a notice behind with instructions on how to retrieve it. Unattended property is when the owner is not around and includes suitcases, and backpacks.
The city can ONLY throw away abandoned property, and they define that as garbage and soiled items, or things that present health hazards.
The city must store unattended property for 90 days
The city must give 72 hour notice before a sweep, and leave a notice behind for 24 hours when they do.
The city cannot take property away from someone, unless they ask the person to move and they refuse. That property must be bagged, tagged and stored for 90 days where it can be retrieved.
Pre Planned Clean Up Events vs. Regular Scheduled Cleaning
For Pre Planned Clean Up events, AKA sweeps, the city must provide 72 hour notice
For regularly scheduled cleaning, where residents can return to the sidewalk after the cleaning, 72 hours is not required, however staff must give residents adequate time to move their stuff out of the way.
The residents’ stories we'll be sharing throughout the coming months will show how the City is ignoring these laws and policies, and we will be revealing other evidence of even worse violations.
The SF adult shelter waitlist is regularly 1200 names long, so the city's refrain that it offers shelter before they enact a sweep is mere smoke and mirrors.
Escalating the sweeps and increasing the criminalization of homelessness IS NOT THE SOLUTION.
SF has the most billionaires per capita, the highest rents, and the highest income inequality in the US. Thousands of people endure homelessness here every year, approximately 70% of which were once housed in the city. The numbers are only increasing. Now is the time to TAKE ACTION!