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Anti-homeless rocks gone from Clinton Park—for now

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City removes boulders at residents’ request

A street sidewalk clear of any debris.
Clinton Park on Wednesday, October 2.
Photo by Brock Keeling

A few weeks ago, Clinton Park was one of San Francisco’s most obscure byways.

But now this small residential alley near Market Street and Valencia made national news thanks to some two dozen, heavy, obstructing boulders that appeared on its sidewalks in September. The boulders were purchased and placed there by neighbors in an effort to make it harder for homeless residents to sleep there.

Now the rocks are gone. CBS SF captured footage of Department of Public Works (DPW) personnel hauling them away Monday.

But the city didn’t seize the materials. Instead, Clinton Park residents asked for the haul-away so the boulders could go into storage.

A new anti-camping deterrent will soon replace the rocks—which were marginally effective; unidentified people rolled several of the boulders off the sidewalk on Friday night—but there’s no word yet on what the effort will look like.

DPW spokesperson Rachel Gordon confirmed to Curbed SF that crews removed the rocks earlier this week—the fourth time city personnel have had to visit the site after having to replace stones toppled into the street previously—and said that DPW is “committed to working with” Clinton Park residents on “neighborhood improvements.”

That could possibly include new features to discourage camping or may be as broadly benign as elements like a dog run or better lighting, depending on what proposals the neighbors conceive.

Although there are rules about placing huge obstructions on public streets and sidewalks, Gordon previously said that, because of the specific place the rocks sat near the curb, they didn’t count as obstructing foot traffic and would not have been removed as illegal dumping.

Not everyone who lives on Clinton Park was enamored over the rocky road. Some neighbors telling Curbed SF that they felt the endeavor made the neighborhood look bad.

“It sets a bad precedent”, said a 30-year resident who asked to remain nameless, “that a group of neighbors can decide to do this.”