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Crosscurrents

ELECTION BRIEFS: Prop Q - Sidewalk tent ban

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"Day 36/366.....I Voted," by Flickr user Denise Cross Photography. Used under CC BY 2.0. Cropped and overlaid with text.

Prop Q is about clarifying the city’s policy on homeless tent encampments. Right now, tents and other make-shift shelters often violate a few rules, like sit/lie or public nuisance ordinances and other rules against blocking sidewalks. Prop Q would make them specifically illegal.

Prop Q would also set out a procedure for taking down tents. The city would have to give residents a day’s warning, in writing. It would also have to be able to relocate people—so either by providing shelter or offering Homeward Bound, a program in which the city pays for a bus ticket elsewhere, as long as the participant has someone on the other end willing to take them in.

Prop Q was written by supervisor Mark Farrell, who argues that the city is not being proactive enough about transitioning people off the streets. The measure’s backers have spent 270,000 dollars on its campaign; most of that came from three venture capitalists.

Opposition to Prop Q has come from community groups; the Coalition on Homelessness has been most vocal. It says the city doesn’t have enough housing or shelter to relocate encampment residents and that crackdowns “harass” people without productive results. No official money has been raised to defeat Prop Q, but groups have gotten the word out as part of their regular advocacy work.

Jeff Kositsky, the city’s new head of housing and homelessness, has expressed frustration that this issue is going to the ballot, saying “every election cycle homeless people are used as red capes. When we politicize this issue, it makes it very hard to solve.”

If you think the city should disband tent camps as long as it has housing alternatives and can give a day’s notice, vote "yes" on Prop Q. If you don’t think this is the right way to help unhoused San Franciscans, vote "no."

Citizen respondents to KALW's elections call-out contributed to this post. Our call-outs are part of our community reporting project.

Liza got her start in radio with KALW's Audio Academy. Now, she is KALW's econmy reporter and a mentor for in the KALW Audio Academy.