Cost of Occupy SF camp is nearing $1M

Mike Koozmin/The SF ExaminerThe Recreation and Park Department says protesters did $50

The City has spent nearly $1 million and counting on controlling and cleaning up after the Occupy SF movement that for two months called Justin Herman Plaza home — until police kicked everyone out during an early morning raid Wednesday.

Mayor Ed Lee estimated The City has spent about $950,000, but the bills continue to mount. The Recreation and Park Department estimates up to $50,000 in damage was inflicted on the Justin Herman Plaza area by Occupy SF participants, including killing the grass and damaging the irrigation system.

The Police Department, which spent about $400,000 up until the day of the raid, will continue to incur costs as it keeps Justin Herman Plaza from being re-occupied.

Lee said The City can’t legally prevent protesters from using the Justin Herman Plaza site, but the mayor was adamant that there will be no overnight occupation.

Portions of the plaza were closed for repairs Wednesday. The Recreation and Park Department estimated the repairs — including replanting of the grass, lining the bocce ball courts with oyster shells and fixing the irrigation system — could take weeks.

Wednesday’s raid came after weeks of notices of violations, threats and deadlines from The City. Lee had long resisted using police force and even offered the movement an alternative site in the Mission, away from the downtown businesses that were fed up with the disruption, including allegations of theft. The alternative Mission site is no longer being offered to the Occupy SF participants, who previously could not agree whether to accept the offer.

“I think I have done what I think is right by balancing The City’s needs, and I have been incredibly patient,” Lee said.

The future of Occupy SF remains uncertain. “What we have heard from [Occupy SF] is that they are not going away,” said Supervisor David Campos, adding that he doesn’t see “anything legally that prevents them from going back [to Justin Herman Plaza].”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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