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SF Luxury Auction House Allegedly Turns Sprinklers on Homeless [Update]

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Dousing the homeless with water as a preventative measure is nothing new in San Francisco

Potrero Hill's Bonhams Auction House office, a British auctioneer of fine art and antiques, has reportedly installed a sprinkler system that appears to douse the neighborhood's homeless people with water, presumably in an attempt to keep them from gathering on the sidewalk.

This is the word according to BrokeAssStuart's Candance Cui, who writes:

As of Monday morning, June 6th, the homeless people were gone but the water was still going. So not only is it mean and wasteful behavior, random people (ahem, like me) got rained on for no good reason other than turning the corner while walking down the street. No signs around and apparently no shame either.

Curbed SF talked to Jim Bettencourt, Bonhams Auction House's director of human resources, who neither confirmed nor denied the sprinkler system's anti-homeless purpose. When asked about the homeless problem in the area, Bettencourt explained, "It's really bad, but I can’t get into that right now."

Sarah Thibault captured the following footage outside Bonhams.

Using a sprinkler system to remove homeless people from structures is not a new idea. In 2015, the San Francisco Roman Catholic Archdiocese got into hot water after it was discovered that they were using sprinklers to regularly douse people camping overnight in the doorways of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Curbed SF will update as soon as we learn more.

UPDATE: Kristin Guiter, Bonhams head of public relations and press, wrote to Curbed SF denying that the company uses the sprinkler system to douse homeless people sleeping outside (even though it would appear otherwise).

Her full statement:

The action to clean Bonhams’ building and perimeter sidewalks during non-business hours Intermittently over a 48-hour period was not intended to disrespect the homeless or any visitor to our premises.

The increasing homeless population has been a challenge for many years in San Francisco generally, and in our business district specifically. We and our neighbors have worked with the City for many years, including attending hearings and meetings, but the situation has escalated as of late, leading to dozens of encampments, garbage piles with feces and needles, fires, theft and other crime.

After many calls for assistance, the City has yesterday acted to work with the homeless in the neighborhood to provide services and remove the leftover garbage from the camps.

Bonhams continues to be invested in maintaining the quality of our business district and strongly supports the Bay Area community.