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City Tells Occupy Tents Along Market St to Vacate, Deems Main Camp Health Hazard

| November 17, 2011
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8:18 p.m. From AP:

Protesters at the Occupy San Francisco movement have significantly cut back on the number of the tents at their encampment, reducing tensions of a possible raid on the encampment.

Mohammed Nuru, director of the city’s Department of Public Works and Barbara Garcia, head of the city’s Health Department, toured the encampment just before sunset on Thursday.

They noted that many tents and tarps had been taken down, with Nuru saying there was “significant improvement” at the encampment.

Mayor Ed Lee had previously warned that police would move in if sanitation problems continued and the camp spread to other areas.

Protesters said the city had given them a 4 p.m. deadline to reduce the number of tents from 200 to 100. City officials did not say how many tents remained, but an Associated Press reporter estimated it was less than 100.

5:27 p.m. SF Weekly talked to Lee administration spokesperson Christine Falvey:

“While [Lee] believes overnight camping in a small public space is not sustainable because of the health and safety problems it causes, he absolutely supports the spirit of the movement and the group’s First Amendment right to assemble and protest,” she said. He has been working hard to come to some understanding with the group about how they can get their message across without overnight camping and all of the public health and public safety issues that arise from that….

“The group has been unable to meet the guidelines in any sustained manner. At yesterday’s meeting Mayor Lee asked for immediate compliance with all of the guidelines that were agreed to. That is where we are at.”

5:22 p.m. From the Occupy SF site:

Occupy SF, facing the threat of an Imminent San Francisco Police Raid, calls for community to show support. On Wednesday Nov 16th, Police in riot gear raided a number of Occupy SF tents along Market St in the middle of the night, arresting 8 occupiers– and threatened to raid the entire occupation. This was part of a wave of crackdowns on the occupy movement for standing up to the 1%. At a meeting between Occupy SF liaisons and Mayor Lee the same day, the Mayor walked out, went to the media to list a litany of complaints and implied that a raid was likely. At the meeting Occupy SF liaisons and community support groups relayed to the Mayor and department heads the camp’s commitment to making progress on a number of vital issues including sanitation, homelessness, mental illness, drug addiction, and others that plagued this city long before this occupation began. The city indicated it would to hold off on a police raid until a 4pm inspection of Occupy SF.

The SF police backed off the last planned raid after a massive show of community support and preparation for nonviolent direct action resistance. We need to show that the communities of the 99% will support the occupations stand against the rule of the 1% and for a better world. Join us!

4:32 p.m. KQED’s Stephanie Martin reports that the main group of tents at Justin Herman Plaza received a Department of Public Health notice deeming the encampment a public health nuisance. But only the tents along Market Street received an order to vacate immediately.

4:15 p.m. A Department of Public Works spokesperson tells Mina Kim that the agency only served a notice on the section of tents along Market Street, not the main encampment at Justin Herman Plaza. The spokesperson said the notice doesn’t apply to the main encampment.

Here is the notice of non-compliance (PDF) from DPW:

The occupants of the tents and encampment on Market Street and Main Street, near the Federal Reserve are hereby notified that they are in violation of City and County of San Francisco codes and must take down all tents and structures and vacate immediately.

Because of the critical health and safety issues and City Codes listed below, this memorandum from the City and County of San Francisco is to serve as the final notice to occupants to remove all structures on Market Street and disperse without delay.

Clear and safe access for everyone along Market Street in the public walkways must be maintained at all times. All tents on Market Street must be taken down right away. Occupants and tents have space at Justin Herman Plaza, and any encampment outside of that area is in violation of previously agreed
upon guidelines.

Comprehensive expectations and guidelines for the use of public space during the OccupySF occupation, as it pertains to health, safety and cleanliness, have been established. The assembling
and placement of tents along the sidewalks of Market Street is in violation of these agreements.

Earlier post
Occupy San Francisco says it has been served with a notice to vacate. One member of the Occupy group, Gene Doherty, told KQED’s Mina Kim that the group will hold a press conference at 4 p.m.

Photo: Don Clyde/KQED

“Twenty representatives came down and distributed letters to everyone on site,” Doherty said. “A final eviction notice saying we should all vacate the premises.” He said he thought the employees were from the Department of Public Works but wasn’t sure.

We have calls out to the city now to confirm.

Earlier today, Mina Kim visited the encampment at Justin Herman Plaza, where some members were cleaning up, per Mayor Lee’s dictate yesterday that the camp come into compliance with certain public safety and sanitation standards.

“Protesters were concerned about an imminent raid,” Kim said. “They’re expecting public health and public works officials to deem the camp a hazard at 4 pm today, and require it to be broken down. They are in the process of planning possible actions for 4 pm – possibly one in front of city hall.”



SF Board of Supervisors President David Chiu told Cy Musiker today that he shares the mayor’s concerns about health and safety issues in the camp and acknowledged that Lee has authority to order police to evict Occupy SF.

But Chiu said he wants there to be more discussion and negotiation before the mayor orders police to evict the protesters.

“I think it’s very helpful in a tense situation like this for there to be very clear expectations, and a very clear ability for the Occupy SF individuals to meet the conditions we have for there to be dialogue about this. And from my perspective I think there needs to be more discussion, more dialogue and frankly more interaction, before any kind of confrontation situation is set up.”

Chiu said he tried to find out from the mayor what immediate action is planned, and what kind of deadlines are in place, but hasn’t gotten anywhere.

Two nights ago, police dismantled some ancillary tents that had sprung up from the main Occupy San Francisco encampment at Justin Herman Plaza. Yesterday representatives from the camp met with Mayor Ed Lee and some city department heads in a meeting that had been scheduled before the raid. Our reporter Katrina Schwartz sat in on the meeting and reported Occupy representatives were surprised by the raid given their scheduled meeting with the mayor.

Lee, for his part, made it clear he doesn’t think the camp is in compliance with guidelines set out by the city Keeping walkways clear, mitigating fire hazards and sanitation violations, and keeping cooking areas clean were some of the things officials felt had not been addressed by the camp.

Camp members said they had tried hard to comply but don’t have a lot of money and have reached out to other community groups to provide them with assistance to maintain the necessary level of safety and hygienic conditions.

One representative said some of the members causing the most problems are chronically homeless and not used to living in a community. Some of this contingent is also mentally ill, they said. On this point, Occupy members asserted they were taking care of a problem the city itself can’t address.

Lee’s bottom line: If a dramatic increase in compliance doesn’t occur, “I’m going to do what I have to do.” He said the city is already stretched thin and expending a lot of resources on Occupy SF.

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Category: Poverty Issues, San Francisco

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