proposition Q Photo: Franck Michel/Flickr

San Francisco’s tent cities recently made national news, and as the November election approaches, officials are looking for ways to address the city’s homelessness problem. Proposition Q, which will be on the ballot next month, is one measure that’s been introduced. It would give police the power to remove street tents and encampments after giving 24 hours of notice — as long as the city can shelter those being displaced.

That might sound positive, but many have doubts about how well the policy would work. For example, who will make sure enough beds are always available? According to Stuart Schuffman of the San Francisco Examiner, “[t]he problem that it doesn’t seem to take into account is that there are already more than 700 people on the list each day to get into shelters — there are no lonely beds thinking, ‘oh, why won’t somebody just sleep in me tonight?’”

Similar issues have been widely raised by others. The headline of a recently published San Francisco Chronicle article is simply Prop. Q will do nothing to clear S.F. sidewalks,” while another San Francisco Examiner story is titled “November ballot measures incite class hatred in San Francisco.” 

Of course, the proposition does have supporters. All told, there’s a fund of $270,000 behind it, and much of that money was donated by prominent venture capitalists like William Oberndorf and Michael Moritz, as well as angel investor Ron Conway. Conway is known for investing $85,000 in Proposition L back in 2010 — that measure banned people from sitting or lying on sidewalks between 7am and 11pm.

We’ll be watching to see how San Francisco residents vote on this divisive issue in November. Some opponents have quipped that if it doesn’t go through, its wealthy backers could instead use their money to directly purchase clothes, food, feminine products, blankets and more for the homeless.

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