“It’s like the end of the world! Worse than any other third world country,” says fed-up San Francisco business owner Noeme Chahenian.
Her 40-year-old, family-owned jewelry business sits on the edge of a Potrero Hill homeless encampment.
Tent cities have swallowed up the sidewalks and she watches it all unfold outside her window overlooking San Bruno Avenue. “We see people stealing personal property and dealing and doing drugs right in the open and it’s not just weed. We are talking about heroin and meth,” said Chahenian.
Our cameras caught some of that drug use in just a matter of minutes. Noeme also snapped a number of pictures showing the homeless breaking into cars and shooting up. The encampment has scared off her clients and she wants action.
“There is no law. People are committing violent crimes and there’s nothing done. The police don’t even come out,” said Chahenian.
“We have 19 employees and half of them have had their car broken into,” said Austin Forebord. Forebord owns the D-Zine Center on nearby Utah Street.
Garbage was caked on his front steps, but inside a lavish showroom of high-end furniture and a hefty five-figure rent.
“My nephew is 5-years-old and came to visit last week. He went outside and picked up a syringe. Syringes are literally everywhere,” said Forebord.
A fire was started by the homeless campers a few days ago. These business owners can’t take much more, but relief seems so far away.
“It seems like Mayor Ed Lee only cares about Airbnb and Twitter and Uber. All the big companies! It seems the mayor has forgotten the smaller businesses that are the lifeblood of the economy,” said Chahenian.
City Hall is listening now. Their outcry has motivated San Francisco to send out its Public Works Crew and SFPD to address the health and safety concerns.
As for the long-term, Mayor Lee says they are working on it, but it is complicated when you are dealing with the human condition.
“Finding land and a permanent solution does take time. So we’ll ask for people’s patience, but keep them informed and right now for the particular sight we are on it to try and resolve it as quickly as we can.”
Officials with the SF Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing hope to have that area cleared and “resolved” by the summer.