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.