Easter weekend. Photo by Lydia Chávez

One San Francisco Supervisor is pushing the city to designate up to five public sites for sanctioned homeless encampments in an effort to protect unhoused residents from COVID-19.

Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro, Noe Valley and Glen Park, said he will introduce a legislative resolution today urging the city to begin establishing the sites, which would include toilets and handwashing stations. They would also be laid out to allow sufficient space for homeless residents to follow social-distancing health guidelines. Mandelman has said Everett Middle School would be suitable for a sanctioned encampment, and other potential sites include Kezar Stadium and the Department of Motor Vehicles. The concept has backing from at least one neighborhood group in Mandelman’s district.

“There’s a public-health imperative. Housed people are going to extraordinary lengths to limit their social contact with other people,” Mandelman said. “But unhoused folks just generally do not have the opportunity to social distance.”


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  1. Everett, Kezar, DMV – all these have v limited capacity. A couple of dozen max.

    I’ve suggested the Cow Palace before. It has the advantage of existing plumbing and electricity for a large crowd, a huge parking lot but also cavernous indoor space – with TOILET PAPER! It would centralize food delivery, security, and care-giving. And it’s closed for the crisis.

    DMV and Everett don’t have toilet capacity (not sure about Kezar, but I’m doubtful). And it might actually help the City’s revenue stream, if FEMA were to reimburse for usage (certainly no event revenue presently). Hotels only offer the opportunity of lawsuits on the City later.

    1. The Cow Palace is an interesting suggestion. But only one of its two parking lots is in San Francisco — and the larger one is just across the border in Daly City, as is the structure itself.

      The Cow Palace is also overseen by its own commission. So, those would promise to be bureaucratic challenges.


  2. This is a better, wiser approach than the unworkable, unsustainable “give-everyone-a-hotel-room” scenario