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San Francisco’s struggle in dealing with homeless people entered a new dimension Thursday night when an artist listed boulders — placed on a street to deter sidewalk campers — free for the taking on Craigslist.
The boulders — 2 to 3 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide — appeared on the sidewalks along Clinton Park, a two-block alley between Dolores and Valencia streets, earlier this week. They were placed anonymously, but neighbors have said that a group of residents raised money to set up boulders on the sidewalk in an attempt to dissuade homeless people from setting up tents and hanging out on the street.
Because the rocks aren’t in the way of pedestrians, they’re not illegal, and city Public Works officials said they have no plan to remove them.
This didn’t sit well with Danielle Baskin, 31, an artist who lives and works in the area, so she listed them for sale on Craigslist.
“Some neighbors pooled together $2000 to dump 24 boulders into the sidewalk as a form of ‘anti-homeless decoration,’” Baskin tweeted. “The city won’t remove them, so I put their rocks on the Craigslist free section.”
Some neighbors pooled together $2000 to dump 24 boulders into the sidewalk as a form of “anti-homeless decoration”.
The city won’t remove them, so I put their rocks on the Craigslist free section. pic.twitter.com/yv5fsfodJ4
Her Craigslist post was flagged and removed, as were several subsequent posts, she wrote on Twitter. Baskin, who’s attending a conference in New York, said in a phone interview with The Chronicle that she walks on that street several times a day and was appalled when they first appeared two to three weeks ago.
At first, she thought it was the city’s doing, which bothered her. But when she heard it was a group of her neighbors, she felt she had to do something to protest. She decided against graffiti or otherwise damaging the rocks.
“It’s just so obviously a hostile act to ward off homeless people,” Baskin said. “I really want the people in the neighborhood to realize what they’re doing is not a good use of money and resources, and is also mean.”
On Friday evening, six of the 24 rocks had been rolled off of the sidewalk onto the street. But the others remained, positioned on a half-block stretch of the sidewalk directly behind a pet food store.
Residents on the street have been silent about how the boulders got there and who arranged and paid for their arrival, but they have been vocal about problems with open drug dealing and other issues on the street.
San Francisco’s 311 call center said it has received 224 requests concerning homeless camps, sidewalk cleanup and other service requests on the 200 block of Clinton Park since the beginning of the year.
Chronicle Staff Writer Lauren Hernandez contributed to this report.
Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @ctuan
Michael Cabanatuan is a general assignment and breaking news reporter who’s covered everything from wildfires and sports fans to protests and COVID masking requirements. He’s also written extensively about transportation and covered Contra Costa County for The Chronicle. He’s ridden high-speed trains in Japan, walked in the Transbay Tube, been tear-gassed in Oakland and exposed to nude protesters in the Castro. Cabanatuan worked at the Paradise Post (long before anyone heard of the town), the former West County Times (in Richmond) and the Modesto Bee before joining The Chronicle. He is a two-time graduate of UC Berkeley.