A public safety meeting Tuesday afternoon provided concerned residents an opportunity to address Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton regarding safety issues surrounding Franklin Square.
At least two dozen community members met at Sports Basement near the Potrero Center to express their frustrations with a neighborhood they lamented as befouled with trash, feces, hypodermic needles in the playground, and people acting in intimidating and inappropriate ways, as well as car break-ins, assaults, and other crimes.
One woman said she has yet to return to Franklin Square Park since she was chased and verbally harassed in broad daylight. She now carries pepper spray for protection.
Another man said he’s been observed and followed by people who hide behind the trees and foliage at the park.
An additional problem raised by neighbors is the lack of access to proper restroom facilities for the homeless population.
“Mostly what bothers me is seeing people urinate and defecate in the park, and it has happened on my property four times,” said a resident. “It’s unhealthy and degrading to the people who have to do that, and it’s degrading us.”
Frustrated neighbors reported they have been repeatedly calling 311, but have received little help. Others said they have been receiving mixed signals from the city and are unsure of which response system to call.
Another resident later suggested expanding the Pit Stop Program to provide public toilets at Franklin Square Park.
“This has always been a very tolerant city,” said a man standing in the back of the community room. “Now we’ve become tolerant of homeless people living in the street. The deterioration of the city lies at the feet of the Board of Supervisors. Your tolerance has to end.”
Met by applause, his sentiment also invoked an abrupt remark from a resident, who added, “It’s an embarrassment!”
The supervisors, along with departmental officials, allowed the aggrieved residents to vent for nearly an hour before weighing in.
Larry Stringer, who is the deputy director of operations at San Francisco Public Works, said that his department is working toward improving communication with 311 calls, so that residents will receive notifications when their requests are resolved.
“All I can say is, be patient with us, and I know that’s hard because you’re seeing it on your door every day,” he said. “We are trying very hard as a department.”
Stringer and Ronen noted they will work with Friends of Franklin Square, a volunteer organization, to determine the best location for a Pit Stop toilet, as well as to schedule a walkthrough with the volunteer group and Public Works to address any further issues at the park, such as lighting and trimming of the trees.
Police Sergeant Davin Cole asked residents to continue calling 311, despite frustration, as the messages are received in real-time. Walton said residents are welcome to follow up with his office after placing those reports.
At the end of the meeting, Walton reiterated that while the problems are difficult, “we’re going to continue to work together to address and solve some of these things are happening right now.”
The gathering went half an hour past time, and, at its conclusion, many scrambled for the doors. This neighborhood’s problems won’t be abated in two weeks but Ronen pledged that attendees who left their email addresses would receive an update in that time.