San Francisco Public Works officials wearing yellow vests and rain boots were on 20th Street near Treat Avenue and the John O’Connell soccer field around 8 a.m. Thursday morning to haul away belongings from an encampment of at least three tents — two of which had been there for six months.
Jesus Barragan, a 44-year-old, said he had been living there for a few weeks. As he stood by with a friend, Armando, officials used rakes and shovels to load former residents’ scattered belongings into a dump truck.
Barragan’s face was sweaty and he looked distressed. “They’re making me go to the shelter, they kind of forced us and shit. I have 10 minutes to move all this shit, ” he said. Ten minutes later, the dump truck drove away and a portion of 20th Street was cleared of Barragan’s possessions.
His friend Armando said the latter are important things collected “from the trash to try and make some money or have some hobbies.” After a sweep, “we have to start all over again.”
Barragan adds: “They say they’re doin’ something, but they aren’t doing nothing.”
A Public Works official who did not give his name to Mission Local, said “If the street is full of stuff and you’re pushing a stroller or wheelchair, what are you going to do then?”
The worker said he personally felt it wasn’t about homelessness, but blocking the sidewalk. “A lady in a stroller, somebody in a wheelchair, they should have access to the sidewalk,” he said.
Barragan disagrees with the worker’s summation of events. “Before, I was not blocking the sidewalk, before you guys came and made me move all my shit. There’s no way I can move all my shit in 20 minutes without blocking the sidewalk … They even took my motherfucking bike, man.”
His friend Armando points out the Public Works officials are just doing their job. “It’s the neighbors’ fault,” he says. “I know the city is smart and knows the answer. They need to help us.”
Christopher Zupancic also had to move his things from the encampment today. Zupancic has been without a home for 10 years and had been camped on 20th street for six months. “They told me I could go to a parking lot or something,” he said, “but I need to store some stuff.”
According to Zupancic, he was living on 20th Street with his girlfriend, and they had two tents. The Public Works officials “took a scooter of his and some other things.” Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for Public Works, says that the encampment moving today was coordinated by the Healthy Streets Operation Center, an effort backed by the San Francisco Police Department.