San Francisco parents fume over encampment blocking sidewalk near school

Parents at a Mission District-based public elementary school are expressing growing frustration over a homeless encampment, blocking the sidewalk nearby.

"It’s not safe for children to have to walk around cars and oncoming traffic," said parent Danielle Swaney.

Classes are scheduled to begin at Marshall Elementary next week, and at the moment, tents, suitcases, and other items are blocking the sidewalk on the northwest corner of 16th and Capp street in San Francisco.

"I’m disappointed that we can’t do better for the children here who want to access their school," said Swaney. "This is better than it was in the past two weeks, but the problem is that we can call and request that it gets cleaned up, and that will happen usually within a couple of days, but usually within 24 hours it’s back."

Swaney says she’s taken her frustrations to everyone from the police to the city to her district supervisor but has gotten no response. Another parent, Naomi Fox, says she's also fed up. Fox lives on the block and her son is a first-grader at Marshall Elementary.

"It’s a huge public safety concern," said Fox, who also worries about illegal drug use taking place at the encampment. "I am definitely concerned about drug use around here. I see it every day, in daylight, shooting up as I walk by and yeah, I don’t want to have my kids walk past that, and for them to have to see that."

The City's Department of Emergency Management acknowledged the problem Friday in a statement, saying in part: "Earlier this week, multiple individuals were placed into shelters and offered residential treatments. We continue to monitor the situation to ensure the area remains a safe passage for the community and children, ahead of school starting next week."

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen released a similar statement Friday, saying, "The office of Supervisor Ronen is working with the different City departments necessary to address this encampment to ensure the area is clear, accessible, and safe for kids to go to and from school. The SF Homeless Outreach Team placed four people into a shelter of this block this week, and Department of Public Health behavioral health clinicians have been conducting outreach and offering residential treatment to people there as well. The Department of Public Works is working on a thorough cleaning of the area. We are monitoring the situation and providing updates to the school administration and SFUSD as they develop."

In the meantime, San Francisco Unified says, it "is working diligently to get schools ready for the first day of school in partnership with the City. We are committed to creating nurturing and welcoming environments for students and families, and will continue to assess and engage our City partners related to ongoing needs."