SAN FRANCISCO—On Friday, June 12, the City of San Francisco settled a lawsuit regarding the livability of the Tenderloin district by agreeing to eliminate 70 percent of the tents and encampments where homeless occupants are currently sheltering by July 20.
After July 20, the City intends to make efforts to continue removing sidewalk encampments from the Tenderloin. As of June 5, there were over 420 recorded tents and encampments.
This settlement policy cannot go into effect unless the Board of Supervisors votes in favor of it.
The lawsuit in question was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on May 4. The plaintiffs included the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, the Tenderloin Merchants and Property Owners Association, along with four individuals.
From mid-March to the beginning of May, the number of tents and encampments set up along Tenderloin streets more than doubled, going from 173 to 391, according to data from the San Francisco Clean Program of Urban Alchemy.
The increase came as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which led homeless shelters across San Francisco to cut occupancy by 75% in order to obey social distancing measures.
The plaintiffs held that the growing number of tents and encampments was leading to overcrowding in the streets of the Tenderloin, posing health and safety risks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to clearing up the sidewalks of the Tenderloin neighborhood, the lawsuit requested that San Francisco officials find safe housing solutions for the homeless populations that were sheltering in the encampments. The suit did not demand any monetary compensation from the city.
The Mayor’s Office has promised that occupants of the up to 300 tents that are to be removed will be migrated to one of three locations: a shelter-in-place hotel room, a safe-sleeping village, or some other off-street site like a Tenderloin parking lot.
The plaintiffs have responded positively to the City’s decision.
Co-plaintiff Kristen Villalobos said in a public statement, “These last few months have been frightening and frustrating, but I’m hopeful about the agreement that has been reached.”