City Destroys Van Ness Planters After Hostile Activist Pressure

by on April 1, 2024

Unearthed Facts On The Garden Planters Controversy

More Troubles Around SF’s Van Ness Avenue

Two weeks ago, a big white RV pulled up and settled in on Eddy and Franklin Streets.

A White RV Parked On Eddy And Franklin Streets. March 27, 2024

At first, neighbors on Eddy Street thought it was an SFPD Unmarked Mobile Command Center.

The RV took up 3 parking meters and parked right across the street from the Oasis Inn which is St. Anthony’s Kaplan Family Oasis Shelter on Eddy and Franklin Streets, a temporary housing site for unhoused women, children, and families.

A few days later, the neighbors started to notice that the people who lived in the RV weren’t cops, they were drug dealers.

Drug Addicts By The RV On Eddy And Franklin Streets. March 27, 2024

They saw drug dealers dealing drugs and addicts fiesta and siesta throughout the day from their windows.

According to them, there were usually 20-30 drug dealers hanging around the RV between midnight and 6:00 a.m.

They made a lot of noise that kept the neighbors up at night and left piles of trash and feces on the sidewalk in the morning.

They kept calling the Police about the drug activities right below their windows.

The Police came to kick the RV out on March 22 around 11:00 p.m. but they came back to the very same spot in the morning according to the neighbors.

The neighbors said that they never saw any parking tickets on the RV even after calling 311 numerous times to report it.

They said, “When we park there and the parking meter expires, we get a parking ticket immediately.

Are meter maids afraid of drug dealers or does the City discriminate against people based on unhoused or housed status when it comes to parking citations?”

I asked Rene Colorado, the executive director of the Tenderloin Merchant and Property Owner Association, whose ambassadors program is contracted by Vance Apartments at 830 Eddy Street to patrol and keep Eddy and Willow Streets between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street clear of homeless encampments, drug dealers, and addicts if he or his ambassadors ever saw any parking tickets or any kind of notifications from the City posted on the RV.

He said, “No. We don’t see any parking tickets. We call 311 every day about the RV.”

SF Standard reports that residents even get fined by the City for parking in their driveways.

A block up, on Ellis Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue, just a stone’s throw from Sacred Heart Cathedral School, there is an open-air drug market that the City is still struggling to shut down.

SHC students navigate around drug dealers and addicts on Ellis Street on their way to the MUNI stop on Van Ness Avenue every day.

Sacred Heart Cathedral School Students Walk On Ellis Street

I asked the students what they think about the drug dealers and addicts on Ellis Street they have to walk past every day.

They said, “We want to be just like them when we grow up.”

Property owners take matters into their own hands because the City can’t clear drug dealers, addicts, and homeless encampments from their sidewalks and install garden planters at their own great expense.

That was how San Francisco’s Urban Garden District was developed.

Shortly after, a civil war between homeless activists and planter owners broke out.

The planter owners I talked to said that drug addicts and homeless activists have been digging and stealing their plants, and tagging their planters.

They can see them from their CCTV cameras, confront them, and find out homeless activists are the ones pulling up their plants, graffiti their planters, and then reporting them to the SF Department of Public Works for not maintaining their planters.

Cameras Capture Planters Vandalism In SF’s Urban Garden District

The DPW requires planter owners to maintain plants in their planters and clean up graffiti on the planters.

The planter owners told me that they would have complied with the DPW’s regulations but drug dealers and addicts hang around their planters every day making it difficult for them to get to their planters to replace their stolen plants and clean up the graffiti.

Drug Dealers And Addicts Congregate Around Vandalized Planters
on Ellis Street Between Franklin Street And Van Ness Avenue

Please Give Us A Break!

Frustrated by the ongoing vandalism of their plants, one of the planter owners on Van Ness Avenue between Turk and Eddy Streets installed fake plants in their planters in the hope of complying with the DPW’s regulations.

Fake Plants In Garden Planters On Van Ness Avenue.March 20, 2024

Nevertheless, some of the planter owners in SF’s Urban Garden District have been cited by the DPW.

Viveka Rydell-Anderson of the Pacific Vision Foundation at 711 Van Ness Avenue spoke to CBS News about the citation she received from the DPW for her planters on Larch Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street:

Frustration mounting as San Francisco sends out code violations for sidewalk planter boxes

“So, I’m just thinking — I’m a lawyer, and I find this confusing,” Anderson said.

“When there were tents blocking the whole sidewalk, we didn’t get any help,”  Anderson said.

“We’ve had a lot of drugs and a lot of scary threats,” Anderson said of the previous problems. “And we know if we remove those planters, the encampments will come back.”

This was what it was like on Larch Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street before the property owners installed the garden planters:

Larch Street in San Francisco 6-16-2020

They had to sue the City to clean up Larch Street.

What Do A City Supervisor And A Mayoral Candidate Think About The Planters Controversy?

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman spoke to CBS News about the planters controversy:

“Mandelman said the answer is expanding shelter capacity to speed up efforts to get people off of the sidewalks. The planter debate, he said, is a symptom of larger problems.”

“It’s incredibly frustrating that people who are doing this, taking on themselves to do something that takes care of a problem the city ought to be solving, are then getting these notices,” Mandelman said.

Daniel Lurie, one of the San Francisco mayoral candidates, also weighed in on the issue by tweeting (X), “Yet another example of City Hall’s messed up priorities. This time it’s whether planters have real or fake plants. Are you kidding me? This doesn’t solve anything. The real question is: why are the planters there in the first place?

A Homeless Activist Pressures The City To Get Rid Of Garden Planters

“It’s a disgrace because San Francisco uses disability justice language to justify sweeping homeless people who are themselves disproportionately homeless,” said Hazel Williams, an activist who has been a leading critic of the planters- Per SF Standard.

According to SF Standard, “In November, Williams unearthed records showing the department helped residents install planters in Fisherman’s Wharf.”

What Do The Neighbors Think About The City’s Citations?

I asked the neighbors what they thought about the DPW issuing citations to the planter owners.

They said in emails, “The citations being issued is straight BS!

Nothing but harassment and lack of peace for residents in any neighborhood.

This is maddening and so wrong. Where does one begin?

Taxpayers have fewer rights than drug addicts and folks who receive handouts.

The City can’t keep them from setting up tents on sidewalks.

Property owners who are trying to go about their business are being held hostage by the unlawfulness of others.

 

It is not hostile architecture, people are just trying to live their lives in peace but they have tents, drug dealers, and addicts right under their windows and they have to be subject to noise and trash at all hours of the day.

That is not fair.

Hope the planter owners file petitions and protest every one of the citations!”

Who Is Hazel Williams?

The planter owners and the neighbors said that “they wanted to know who the “Karen,” the angry menopausal harpy, was.”

Williams got the attention of the San Francisco Beat podcast host and independent journalist, Erica Sandberg.

She dug deep and unearthed some facts about Williams.

She wrote in her substack, The Sandberg Times, “It appears that Hazel “Williams” is Hazel W. (HDizz), co-chair of the DSA-SF, one of the most radical political organizations in the city.”

Hazel W.’s photo before it suddenly disappeared from the CA DSA State
Committee’s website On Dec. 15, 2023

Shortly after her story was published, Hazel W.’s photo disappeared from the CA DSA State Committee’s website but her name, “Hazel W” is still there.

Like Homeless Encampments, Garden Planters Won’t Just Go Away

“We could put wheels under our garden planters and ride in them over to the Ninth Circuit Court to protest if we have to.

We have to fight for our rights to keep our garden planters” said “The Young And The Restless” garden planter owners.

“As The World Turns,” the garden planters saga on Van Ness Avenue might just run as long as the soap opera, “All My Children” and even become a topic in San Francisco mayoral race debates.

Just another City’s April Fools’ Day!

Filed under: San Francisco News