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Group sues city of San Francisco over safe sleeping sites created to help the homeless

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – In San Francisco, safe sleeping sites expected to open Friday are now getting some pushback and creating controversy for those in the neighborhood.

A group of merchants are now suing the city because of it.

Lines for city sanctioned homeless tent city for the unhoused to shelter in place during the pandemic are already drawn. It’s supposed to be only a temporary site — existing anywhere from three to six months on the site of the old McDonald’s at Haight and Stanyan for 40-plus tents. 

Campsites will be going to homeless who are already camping out in the Haight and are not maintaining social distance — clumping on a few corners in the district. 

Sunshine Powers, who operates the tie dye shop Love on Haight says many of those sleeping on her corner are young, ranging in age from 16 to 32. She supports the idea of the safe sleeping site.

“Some of us aren’t even going to be open by the time it’s gone,” Powers said. “The reality is we’re probably not going to have a lot of business by the time it’s gone and I think it’s safer, better and more humane than having these kids right out on the street.”

But not everyone in the Haight thinks this is a groovy idea.

A group calling themselves “Concerned citizens of the Haight”, which filed a lawsuit against the city Tuesday. The lead council is a Republican party official who champions conservative causes.

The owner of Amoeba Music, adjacent to the site, is part of the lawsuit. He said they are not against the homeless, but they think this is the wrong location. 

He released a statement that says in part, “The merchants on Haight Street have long been on the front lines dealing with the collateral issues of the homeless, who unfortunately at times have drug, alcohol and/or psychological issues. Establishing this camp next to us exacerbates these problems exponentially.”

Another resident not part of the group suing says he isn’t entirely opposed to the idea of using this location, but would like to see more plans in place to deal with potential overflow.

“This site’s going to get filled very quickly,” Adam Bee said. “And if there is no backup site, then lots of people are going to spread out to the surrounding streets and it could become very dangerous for residents and for them.”

The spokesperson for the City attorney’s office says they plan to review the lawsuit and expect to defend the city’s sensible decision to move forward with the safe sleeping site. That site is still slated to open on Friday. 

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