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Planters installed outside San Francisco Walgreens in the Castro meant to deter illegal activity, loiterers

Planters outside of San Francisco Walgreens in the Castro meant to deter loitering
Planters outside of San Francisco Walgreens in the Castro meant to deter loitering 02:45

SAN FRANCISCO — Fed up with illegal activity and loiterers, the community, Walgreens and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman came together to place plants outside a popular corner store in the Castro.

Allen Janz, whose dad lives around the corner, took notice of the new planters outside the Walgreens at 18th and Castro streets.

"They're very pretty. And I think they're going to be trashed. I mean, they'll be trashed in a couple days I think," said Janz, who is visiting from Anchorage, Alaska. "And I don't have an issue with it, but the homeless people are just going to just move around the corner."

Walgreens provided the planters, SF Public Works paid for the soil and plants, and Mandelman invited the community to fill them over the weekend. 

"We have people setting up tents right outside the house," Janz said of his dad's house. 

"Like two days in a row, there's homeless right outside my flat and I should be maybe sympathetic of course, but I'm not really sympathetic. I'm just tired of this," said Geoff Wilson. 

KPIX's Betty Yu met Skyler, who declined to share his last name, panhandling outside Walgreens, where he says you can find him every day. He's been homeless on and off over the last 10 years. 

Skyler said he always maintains good sidewalk etiquette and often sees bad behavior outside the 24-hour store.

"I thought it was a good idea at first," he said of the planters. "People congregate there, which is OK in my eyes, but open drug use, and using the bathroom there and leaving trash there is not OK. I have to deal with that on the regular, because I'm also homeless."

Skyler said he hopes the planters will make the neighborhood, which is filled with small businesses and families, more welcoming.

"It's pretty much similar to the spikes for the pigeons above the doorway of Walgreens, on the ledge right there, they just go to the ledge above," he said. 

Other neighborhoods in San Francisco have used industrial planters in hopes of discouraging encampments.

In June, residents raised $40,000 online to beautify the Mission. Residents said they were able to walk that particular stretch of Harrison Street for the first time in years.

"We've been hanging around here for over 40 years and homeless people have been here forever, and it would be nice to see something better done," said Janz.   

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