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Tech firms displace SF homeless

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POSTED January 12, 2014 5:17 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The arrival of Twitter and other tech companies in San Francisco’s long-neglected Mid-Market corridor is pushing more homeless people into adjacent neighborhoods.

Civic Center Plaza, Hayes Valley and other areas next to the Mid-Market neighborhood have seen an increase in homeless people and uncivilized street behavior, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.

Residents and business owners are complaining about more people sleeping in storefronts, urinating on streets, setting up sidewalk tents and having sex and doing drugs in public.

“It’s gotten really extreme,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener. “We need to be clear that there are certain basic rules of behavior — that this is not the Wild West.”

The shift in the homeless population coincides with Mayor Ed Lee’s push to clean up the notoriously blighted section of Market Street and attract more tech companies there with tax breaks.

The Department of Public Works sends cleaning teams to Market Street and the surrounding alleys early on weekday mornings to roust the homeless and wash down the sidewalks.

Police Chief Greg Suhr says his department has added officers to the Civic Center Plaza area and is working to ensure that behavioral codes are enforced.

“As the Mid-Market corridor gets more and more foot traffic and more and more bicycles, it takes folks and pushes them one block in either direction,” Suhr said. “When you concentrate on an area, you get displacement into adjacent areas, and the focus becomes there.”

Sean Sterling, a 46-year-old homeless man, said he’s noticed an increase in homeless people near City Hall since the Mid-Market cleanup effort began.

“The mayor could see it without any help — no binoculars,” Sterling said. “They don’t so much want to get rid of you, but they want to move you around.”

William Bulkley, president of the board of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, said more homeless people are camping in the neighborhood’s alleys, urinating and defecating on the sidewalks.

“It’s our goal to look compassionately at the situation,” Bulkley said. “What we need is more coordination with homeless outreach.”

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