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Member, Board of Supervisors

District 8

City and County of San Francisco


January 19, 2016

Chief Greg Suhr, San Francisco Police Department
Trent Rhorer, Human Services Agency
Sam Dodge, Director of HOPE
Barbara Garcia, Director of Public Health
Chief Joanne Hayes-White, San Francisco Fire Department
Mohammed Nuru, Director of Public Works
Re: Tents in Public Spaces and Housing/Shelter Services

Dear Department Heads:

I am writing to officially inquire about the Citys efforts (a) to transition those living in the
growing number of tents in our public spaces into housing/shelter, and (b) to enforce the ban on
tents in public spaces.

Tents in our public spaces are a public health and safety hazard for those living in them and for
our neighborhoods. They are neither humane nor acceptable. Their growing prevalence in San
Francisco represents our city's failure to provide adequate housing/shelter and assistance for
those who want help, as well as a failure to make clear to those who refuse help that tents on
our sidewalks and in our public spaces are unacceptable. We need to know what is driving this
specific homeless population, and what we can do to promptly transition tent occupants into
housing/shelter and to eliminate these tents in a humane way. Mayor Lee has made housing the
homeless a top priority, and I am very supportive of the Mayor's efforts to create more shelters,
navigation centers, and supportive housing. Indeed, the Mayor has made an unprecedented
investment in housing for the homeless. Eliminating the tents on our streets must be part of this
important policy goal.

Specifically, I request that you provide responses to the following questions:

- How many tents are on our streets, with how many occupants?

City Hall 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place Room 244 San Francisco, California 94102-4689 (415) 554-6968
Fax (415) 554-6909 TDD/TTY (415) 554-5227 E-mail:

January 19, 2016

Who is living in these tents, and are they distinct from other segments of our homeless
What public health and public safety hazards, including fire hazards, have been identified
when in contact with those living in tents? For example, in my district, residents recently
observed a tent with a propane tank in it.
How many nightly vacant shelter beds are there?
What are our plans to expand shelter and navigation center capacity, and when can we
expect enough capacity to absorb the tent population and eliminate the tents?
What other strategies are being pursued to expand or improve our temporary housing
What efforts are being made specifically to connect people living in tents to these services?
What are the barriers to transitioning people from tents into housing?
Assuming the availability of enough shelter beds, what will be done to remove illegal tent
encampments from our streets? In other words, does the city intend to remove these tents
as part of a transition of the tent occupants to housing or shelter, or will the law continue to
be ignored, as it is being ignored today?

As I am directing this inquiry to the heads of multiple City Departments, please address the
question(s) that pertain to your department. This information will help both me and the general
public understand how the City is working to move people off our streets into housing and
what strategies are being considered to eliminate the growing and unacceptable number of tents
in our public spaces. We all want people living in safe and sanitary conditions, not in tents.
Thank you for your assistance in helping all of us to better understand this issue.


Scott Wiener
Member, Board of Supervisors

City Hall 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place Room 244 San Francisco, California 94102-4689 (415) 554-6968
Fax (415) 554-6909 TDD/TTY (415) 554-5227 E-mail: