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Bayview merchants resist homeless shelter plan

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Bayview homeless
  • Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo
  • The Mother Brown's organization is planning to open a 100-bed homeless shelter on Jennings Street.

When Don Reinstadler arrives to work in the mornings at his garage door business on Jennings Street in the Bayview, he has to cross diesel spills, urine and sometimes human feces.

Reinstadler's business, American Overhead Garage Doors, is also located next to Mother Brown's -- the proposed new location of a homeless shelter. He's concerned that if a 100-bed shelter is built there, things will get worse.

"There will be more people," said Reinstadler, who is paraplegic and uses a wheelchair. "I get along with everyone that works there just fine, but not the people peeing on my front door or parking in my driveway when I can't come in."

Reinstadler is not alone in these thoughts. Roughly a dozen owners of industrial businesses located around Mother Brown's have submitted a petition to The City protesting the idea because of safety reasons and fears that it will be "extremely detrimental" to the businesses if the homeless shelter is approved.

"The block on which the shelter is proposed is zoned for light industrial," the petition states. Businesses "all require large numbers of shipments by large trucks ... This creates a hazard to non-workers passing by that is exacerbated by the existing homeless population at the corner of Jennings and Van Dyke and will be made worse if the proposed shelter is built."

Dave Eisenberg, president of Anresco Inc. and Micro-Tracers Inc., said an industrial area is not the right place to house homeless people.

"We moved here in the 1980s because it was industrial," Eisenberg said. "We don't want humans living right next to our laboratory; we don't want human beings living next to industrial activities with all sorts of dangerous chemicals."

Mother Brown's hopes to expand its current operations, which include a soup kitchen and drop-in center, to provide a 100-bed shelter in an unoccupied space next to its current location.

Gwendolyn Westbrook, the executive director of United Council of Human Services, which oversees Mother Brown's, previously told The San Francisco Examiner she is aware of nearby businesses that are against the expansion, but noted there is a need for the beds.

"These people need some place to lay down," she said. "We're not trying to get political with it."

Westbrook said the need often pushes the drop-in center to open overnight to give people a place to sleep. Currently, though, they're only equipped with chairs, and as many as 45 people take up the offer.

Bevan Dufty, The City's homeless czar, said last month that as many as 1,000 people need a place to sleep in the Bayview.