Forget the coyotes. Do you really think your biggest concern is getting bitten by a wild animal?
Frankly, if you are in Golden Gate Park, a far greater danger is that you, or your child, or your pet, will step on a dirty hypodermic needle. Step off the paths, and you'll have plenty of chances...
"Needles?" said homeless park resident Christopher Ash when we asked him if there were any syringes at his camp site near the 25th Avenue-Park Presidio Boulevard split. "Sure. I stuck one in a tree right over here."
Ash found a needle in 30 seconds. A cheerful soul, he says he began taking LSD at the age of 13 and insists he has been living in the wilds of Golden Gate Park for five years...
"It's kind of like one big family," camper Valo Astonea said when he poked his head out of his sleeping bag. Among the 10 to 12 campers in the area, Astonea said, there were sometimes intravenous drug users, "but we kind of frown on that here."
That's not good enough. Inevitably when we write a story like this, there are complaints that we are unsympathetic to the homeless. But this isn't a homeless issue...
Volunteers like Bakewell and Stan Kaufman are doing their part cleaning up areas on their own. Now it is time for city government under this mayor to do its part.
"I am ... paying $8,500 a year in property taxes," says Kaufman. "In an ideal world, it wouldn't fall to volunteers to do this."
Of course, this is no ideal world. It's San Francisco.
Do you ever watch the television show Intervention? (We're hooked on it--heh, heh.) It's worth checking out just to see some of the interesting ways families and friends service their loved one's addiction. For example, parents frequently give their addict children money to buy drugs believing that it will keep them from resorting to prostitution or violent crime as means of funding a spiraling addiction. Eventually, something gives and they arrange an intervention. By that time, the damage is usually extensive and severe. (The 30-minute television format imposes some provocative limitations; the show is very watchable and easily engenders complex discussions that I won't get in to here. But you can if you want.)
Anyhow, I want to say San Francisco and its homeless (if those two things can be made separate) share a similarly co-dependent relationship. But where individual families can eventually come together and agree 1) that something must be done and 2) what that something is, it seems impossible that a whole city will ever be able to do that. Two contributing factors: a lack of strong leadership, San Francisco's deeply ingrained suspicion of strong leadership when it appears.
The result is variously comic, pathetic, frustrating, maddening and all kinds of other things.