Some SF residents worry new Salesforce Park could become destination for the city's homeless

- The new Salesforce Park is now open for the public to enjoy. But, some have expressed concerns the park could become a destination for the city's homeless.

On a bright sunny afternoon, the new Salesforce Park is buzzing with activity. But, in a city struggling with a homeless crisis-- some worry the park will become a destination for the homeless looking for a place to stay.

"I'm a San Francisco native. I've been living here for 36 years, so I definitely know there's a lot of homeless here. And I was like, wait until they come up, they're definitely going to make their presence known," said Jennifer Glover.

The new park is similar to other parks in the city. Like the Yerba Buena Center, the open space at 50 California St. and the outside patio at 101 California St. -- privately managed public spaces.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority runs the park and has posted rules for its use, including no tents or plastic tarps. Head of Security Sidonie Sansom says the park has three levels of security from police to private security officers and ambassadors.

Bottom line, this is a park not a campground. "No it is not, and our ambassadors are here to help people connect with services, that's part of their training, but that's not part of our mission, to house homeless people," said Sansom.

Sam Lew works with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. 

She argues that parks and public spaces are critical for the homeless to take care of bodily functions and hygiene and worries some of these private public spaces are designed to exclude the homeless. 

"The Transbay Transit Center has reduced the amount of seating that is actually in that space to prevent homeless people from being there and sleeping in those spaces," said Lew.  "Actually, when that happens it stops a public space from being public."

The Joint Powers Authority security chief says the aim is not to exclude homeless, but rather it's a focus on behavior.  "We try to set expectations before people even come onto the park, by providing the rules and regulations because we want it to be a park for everyone and everyone to enjoy it." said Sansom.

Park users say they hope the park remains a destination for everyone. "I mean, I hope that that works, it's just there are so many homeless people here," said Glover.

The Joint Powers say one of the best ways of maintaining the park may be something as simple as enforcing the operating hours. Essentially, the park is only open during daylight hours and park staff can empty the park every night.
 

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