With homeless camps once again sprawling across sidewalks and vacant lots, San Francisco’s Public Works director has taken it upon himself to sidestep the city’s much-publicized system of coordinated agency response and is preemptively cleaning out the most dystopian tent encampments. In a single week, Public Works packed out 53,100 pounds of garbage and 3,295 used syringes from six encampments in the South of Market neighborhood and Mission District. At a block-long encampment adjacent to the Caltrain yard on Townsend Street, which thousands of commuters and tech workers pass by daily, a Public Works “hot spot” crew found 15,000 pounds of debris, 700 needles “and a lot of rats,” agency Director Mohammed Nuru said. Public Works says it hasn’t confiscated anyone’s tent, but that workers did find a number that were abandoned. Nuru said the campers were given fair warning to leave, but insisted that the sidewalk “cleanups” were not technically removals — and therefore were not governed by the rules set down by voter-approved Proposition Q, which requires the city to offer shelter to camp residents before removing their tents. Coalition on Homelessness Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach said the result for homeless people was the same as in any police-enforced sweep. Sam Dodge, a spokesman for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, referred requests for comment to Mayor Ed Lee’s office — which voiced support for the cleanups. Nuru said a lack of shelter beds and space in navigation centers has him looking into whether Public Works should open its own shelter. […] she has an alternative solution — have the city provide portable bathrooms and garbage cans at the camps, much as Oakland has tried at a homeless encampment near Interstate 580. San Francisco’s new police chief, William Scott, has dismissed two police recruits — one just two days before completing probation —over cheating allegations involving the unauthorized use of a study guide for tests administered during field training. A department insider told us that one of the fired rookies warned that if she was going down for alleged cheating, the department would have to fire all 20 recruits who graduated from the Police Academy a year ago. […] Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran confirmed Tuesday that the two recruits were notified of their dismissals in the past couple of days. The rookies study the books to prepare for written tests, covering police codes and procedures, that they must pass during field training. Halloran estimated that the department spends about $1 million for every officer it recruits and trains before they pass probation.

Source: SF hauls tons of trash, thousands of needles from homeless camps – San Francisco Chronicle