SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Governor Gavin Newsom is weighing in on San Francisco’s homeless encampments. He said during an interview with Politico on Tuesday that the state will intervene in the federal court case barring the city from clearing tents.
The Coalition On Homelessness filed a lawsuit against the City of San Francisco last year, claiming they were clearing homeless encampments without offering those who are unhoused a place to live. They were successful, and the city’s appeal against the ruling was rejected last month. Newsom is now speaking up, siding with the city.
In any one of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, you’re likely to see tents along the sidewalk. During a sit-down interview Tuesday with Politico, Governor Gavin Newsom said he plans on filing an amicus brief, supporting the city’s efforts to overturn the ruling that bars the clearing of homeless encampments.
“I’ve had it,” he said. “We’re going to intervene, and I hope this goes to the Supreme Court, and that’s a hell of a statement for a progressive democrat out of Supreme Court to say.”
Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director for the Coalition On Homeless, says the city cited and arrested people who were unhoused and had no other choice more than 3,000 times. She was disappointed to hear the governor side against the coalition.
“We’re very disappointed that he is trying to overturn some narrow fundamental rights of impoverished Californians,” she said.
The federal injunction has been in place since December. Friedenbach says the city can still clear encampments to provide safer conditions for housed and unhoused, but she wants a more thoughtful approach.
“Making it illegal to be homeless and summarily destroying their property, taking away their medicine and throwing it in the trash and causing increased deaths – that is not ok,” she said.
Residents and business owners in San Francisco have had their own frustrations with homeless encampments. Lorenzo Bouchard, an operating partner at One Market Restaurant, says tent sweeps will help change the narrative that San Francisco is unsafe for tourists.
“For a lot of us in the industry, you know we have these compassion candles and our wicks are burnt down to about a nub because there’s only so much that many operators can take before you’re going to see the floor drop out,” he said.
Newsom acknowledged the stubbornness of solving homelessness, saying all levels of government have become complicit. California is home to roughly one-third of the nation’s unhoused population.