Well, let’s go way back for starters, back when the Bicycle Thieves Of San Francisco aimed to steal your entire bike. They’d sometimes get caught with stolen bikes and car jacks.*
But these days, it’s bike parts thieves seem to settle for, so cyclists need to protect not just the frame but also the wheels, the saddle and the headset, and other bits too, if you can.
So that means that today’s bike thief needs room to store stuff and that’s where Division Street comes in. It’s been a good place to park a vehicle or pitch a tent without being bothered too much, plus it’s close to the action – it’s close to 7th and Market and the Main Library.
This is what things looked like under the I-80 before Fall 2015 as I remember things:
This is how I remember things being for a decade or two.
But then all of a sudden, instead of a few tents here and there, a bunch of tents popped up. They filled up practically every possible space in lines that stretched from Costco #144 all the way to South Van Ness. I’m guessing this occurred anywhere from mid-to-late November 2015 to early December at the latest.
This is part of the north (aka west) side of Division on Dec. 13th:
Compare that with this shot of the same place on Dec. 9th
And this is the other side of the street closer to 10th Street at the end of December:
I’ll tell you, most of these hundreds of people are NOT bike thieves.
So why did they show up here at the end of 2015?
The Holidays? I could see why the SFPD et al might want to ignore things until after Thanksgiving, Christmas and whatnot.
El Nino? This would be a good place to stay out of most of the rain, of course, and the forecast was for lots of it coming soon.
Super Bowl 50? The corporate party part of Super Bowl 50 had lots of knock-on effects for SFGov – it seemed like each and every SF Department was gearing up. At the time I thought, well, this doesn’t look too good either, if this is the alternative to homeless people hanging out near Super Bowl City in the Financial.
Availability of Tents? I remember seeing truck upon truck delivering stuff here, something like an FM radio station with “Chuy in the Morning” written on the side, something like that. So sure, food, but tents too? IDK.
Those are some ideas, anyway.
I don’t know, if SFGov cleans out all these tents in February 2016, will that end shoplifting at Rainbow Grocery?
We’ll find out soon enough.
Anyway, that’s your brief history of the tents on Division from 2015-2016.
*Stolen from the trunks of boxy Volvos. It was a thing.