Hey, that was exciting yesterday, and according to the police, no one got hurt. A lot of people were frustrated, though, what with Caltrain being seriously delayed.
Officer Teper said in an email:
Hi. The incident occurred on 22nd between Illinois and Pennsylvania. The suspect was having a psychotic episode and was taken in for treatment. There were no injuries.
I have not seen anything regarding any incident on the 600 block of Texas.
Thank you for writing.
The rumor that the individual (suspect?) was living under the freeway remains unconfirmed.
Maybe now is the time for us as citizens to figure out how to be empathetic. I haven’t been able to get past the first chapter or two of “Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco“, but it is about people who lived here in Dogpatch only a few years ago — probably under that bridge. Is there anything in it that could teach us about our neighbors? Please let us know if you have read it and if it opened your heart or closed it up.
A pity it takes a beleaguered survivor’s psychotic episode to lead people to wonder who lived on Iowa Street before the condominiums. Glad, however, that the question is being asked.
Yes, as of fifteen years ago, all of Iowa Street under the 280 freeway, and Tennessee and Minnesota Streets between there and Third, used to be semi-tolerated camping areas. Mainly there were RVs in the open; mainly under the freeway there were tents and makeshift “hootches” and less self-contained small trailers. A lot of living was done there.
A very little of it is described in Alfredo Vea’s novel _Gods Go Begging_. Some of it’s also described in an article on RV campers by Joel Engardio in the SF Weekly in 1998 (easily Googled). Many campers found that article unfair, viewing it as far too favorable to the notoriously heavy-handed code enforcement officer who was Engardio’s main source and escort for his research. But it gives a sense of what those times were like.
Jesse is aware of a thing I wrote a while ago that told a very small part of the story, just about the mound on Minnesota near 25th that is now a landscaped park. See http://lodginginpublic.blogspot.com/2012/03/nothing-but-flowers.html
Many crimes were committed on Iowa Street under 280, and probably some marbles were lost there too, but the floating community of campers who lived there and around there was not by any means all pathological.
A lot of the clearance stages were very sad. Particularly, RVs containing possessions were impounded and crushed, and many dogs were shot or put down by ACC.
The clearances were accomplished mainly by SFPD and DPW, mainly under pressure from condo developers and the early generation of condo buyers, in order to make Dogpatch the expensive neighborhood it is today.
Newbies in Dogpatch, if you feel something is missing from your local sense of place, you are right. Your neighborhood’s texture and history was scraped nearly bare for your ostensible benefit. You didn’t ask to have that done for you. As of now, you can’t undo the harm done, but you can pay attention to your real corner-by-corner history. You can try and reconnect some threads that were broken in the clearances — to make sure that what you have now is a neighborhood instead of a colony.
Some of the former campers and vehicular residents are in housing, some are dead, a few are still trying to camp despite the much fiercer code enforcement now inflicted in the Dogpatch area. Among housed people still working in the area who would remember, you could ask longer-term Muni yard workers, possibly longer-term Food Bank staff, and anyone who has been 10-15 years or more at the Oysterbed warehouse on Tennessee Street. The Oysterbed people used to be decent: they provided a free open water tap that helped preserve many surrounding people’s health. You could also see if anyone has been working at the 3rd/25th Shell station, which provided the main available public bathroom for many blocks’ worth of campers. The Shell station, too, helped to preserve many people’s health and sanity. In retrospect, the Shell and Oysterbed owners should really each be honored for their tolerant decency.
Saying all this, I feel like the Once-Ler in _The Lorax_, except unlike the Dr. Seuss character, I’m expressing regret not only for the loss of the primordial trees, but also for the loss of the grickle-grass. Or rather, in Dogpatch, the wild fennel. There used to be a lot more of it.
Grickle-grass is worth a little respect too.
P.S. Meant to say “You could also see if anyone has been working steadily since the 1990s at the 3d/25th Shell station.” Meaning, there might be someone still at the station who would remember that bathroom’s history as a community’s main water and washing well.
Jesse — I got around to reading Teresa Gowan’s good book and, yes, it is good and I really recommend it to you. It contains some fine elegies for the Dogpatch that was. Not that all vehicular residents or recyclers are gone, btw. It’s just, they’re now more thoroughly harassed into furtiveness and ill health, and city/business campaigns against recycling centers are depriving them more effectively of livelihood.
Everyone should keep in mind that the illegal surveillance and harassment via audio and other tech. Likely handed out via Patriot Act violates everyone’s liberty. It can just as easily be target at a condo.
New & temp. but the Oystrrbed folks are still decent/nice. UNfortunately condo contractors are not. Also, seems that block coukd also be a spot to catch bad case of stalking by possibly hipster assholes or…?