After a week of delays and bluffing, public works crews and police finally cleared out San Francisco's Tent City from underneath the US-101 overpass at 13th and Division streets on Tuesday morning.
The biggest homeless camp in recent memory — an impossible-to-ignore concentration of the city's roughly 7,000 street people — sprang up thanks to a combination of rainy weather and the arrival of Super Bowl 50, which occupied the bulk of downtown (and, as Mayor Ed Lee infamously proclaimed, led the homeless to “leave the street” during the big game).
For more than a month, Camp Lee lingered underneath the freeway. Its demise — and the relocation of more than 50 tents and possibly more than 100 campers — came after not one but two 72-hour deadlines imposed by the Department of Public Health expired with campers still in place days later, some in semi-permanent structures that had electricity from gas-powered generators.
City officials had waited and delayed the spectacle of a sweep in the hopes that homeless campers would “willingly” accept the city's offer of relocation to a new homeless shelter at Pier 80. Some did, but many more stuck around, claiming that the remote Pier 80 shelter was inadequate (and according to homeless advocates, it's full, too). Even Sam Dodge, the city's homeless czar, called Pier 80 “intimidating,” according to the San Francisco Examiner.
Until there's a viable alternative, it appears the tents will merely relocate. Tents can still be found within walking distance, further down Folsom Street or closer to Valencia Street. Then again, with rains on the way, the tents may yet return.