Homeless Campers Exploit City's Jurisdictional Red Tape


It's easy to forget you're in San Francisco when hiking Lands End. Located at the city's far northwestern edge, the pristine locale features stunning views, shocking precipices, and nary a reminder that a crowded bus ride brought you here. But stepping off the beaten path and continuing into the brush, there are reminders this is an urban wilderness: Food wrappers. Shards of plastic. Blankets, sleeping bags. This must be San Francisco after all — here be homeless.

Ferreting the homeless out of the National Park Service's 34,000 local acres is a tall order — especially when the Park Police Department's hands are tied by maddening jurisdictional issues the homeless have grown wise to. Say a park cop spots a homeless camper at Ocean Beach – which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “All they [the homeless] have to do is move across the street,” says National Park Service spokesman Michael Feinstein, “and they're in the city.” And out of the park cops' jurisdiction.

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