SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Residents in some San Francisco neighborhoods are increasingly concerned about fires at homeless encampments. In the city’s Hayes Valley, multiple complaints are sent to the city on a daily basis.
One resident captured pictures of a homeless encampment fire over the weekend.
For months, the city had its hands tied with homeless encampments because of a federal injunction that barred them from moving unhoused people living in tents. That’s not the case anymore, but according to the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association the encampments are still causing safety concerns.
“Neighbors are afraid,” said David Robinson of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association.
At the corner of Gough and Page streets in San Francisco Saturday afternoon firefighters and police responded to the scene of a homeless encampment where a tent caught fire.
Robinson, who lives in the neighborhood, captured images of the scene.
“Burnt right down to the ground and you’ll see on the pictures that the sidewalk is charred, there was nothing left from what was ever left in that tent. Right under a power pole, the power pole itself was even scared,” said Robinson.
Previously, planters were set up along the sidewalk to deter homeless encampments.
Robinson serves on the board of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association and says multiple complaints are sent to the city on a daily basis. They include reports of fires, open air drug markets and the selling of stolen property.
“To me it’s not a homeless encampment, it’s criminal activity taking place, right in our street, in broad daylight and at night,” Robinson said.
Last month, a federal judge ruled that the city can now sweep encampments, but only if the unhoused person refuses shelter.
According to the Mayor’s Office, training the city workers, police and firefighters who are enforcing the law will take a few weeks.
When residents hear that, they bring up the four-alarm fire that destroyed a building in August at the corner of Octavia Blvd and Oak Street.
The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association had sent complaints to the city of fires started by unhoused people near the building for several months prior to the fire.
“When is the next building going to burn down before something is done?” Robinson said.
The cause of one fire on Octavia and Oak in August is still under investigation, but KRON 4 continues to reach out to the San Francisco Fire Department for answers.