UPDATE 12:30 P.M.:
Julie Zberg, the San Francisco woman who drew controversy for starting the Facebook page “Manpiles of SF” has taken that page down.
“The page is down for the moment,” she told me. “I need a break from it.”
After local impresario Broke-Ass Stuart and this column highlighted her Facebook page, where she posted photographs of homeless people with harsh critiques, Zberg has been inundated with Facebook comments, messages, emails and people trying to “doxx” her by releasing her place of residence into the public sphere.
But it seems she’s had enough, for now.
Read the original story below.
One woman’s crusade to highlight on Facebook who she calls the “Manpiles of SF” is drawing sharp rebuke in the City by the Bay.
And, hoo boy, does this get ugly.
The story starts as many in our foggy small town often do, with a spat between neighbors. Kate Torres, a 32-year-old Mission District resident, suggested to her neighborhood group via email that they help local homeless folks, perhaps with a street cleanup or a group sock donation.
That’s when Torres’ South of Market neighbor, Julie Zberg, shot back.
“I hate to be the downer of the group but someone has to be 🙂 in a nutshell – NOTHING WILL CHANGE. The supervisors are gutless,” wrote Zberg, who is 59 and has lived in The City for more than two decades.
In her reply, she dropped the name of a Facebook group she started: “Manpiles of SF.” In it, she does her best Greg Gopman imitation, posting articles about the homeless crisis but also photographing homeless people, often with a side of ruthless commentary.
“Meth head with dug up face,” Zberg wrote next to a photo of one disheveled man in a red jacket, with a pinched face, pushing a shopping cart. Next to a photo she posted of sidewalk tents, she wrote, “The one on the right is new. Soon the entire street will be a loud, filthy, drug infested and chop shop infested area where people like me who actually live around here can’t walk their dog or enjoy life.”
Torres was livid. She connected with local impresario Broke-Ass Stuart and inundated Zberg’s Facebook page on his blog.
“It’s a page fueled by hate,” Torres told me. “These are people’s mothers, brothers, fathers, sisters. These are people with stories long before she took a photo of them, with decades of stories to tell.”
(Full disclosure, after researching Zberg’s Facebook for a few minutes, I realized we went on a few dates about a decade ago. It’s been a long while, but I remember her as being very — ah, how can I put it? — blunt.)
She told me that The City has failed the homeless and the housed.
“It was my way of kind of protesting, what wasn’t being done for me, the taxpayer. I was taken hostage by these encampments,” Zberg told me.
This is her way of helping, she said. But I asked her, what about the more cutting things you’ve said on the page?
“You get to a point where you just don’t care anymore,” she said. “But not all homeless people. Let’s be clear.”
Zberg drew a distinction between the “elderly, disabled, veterans and families” who are down on their luck and “these grifting motherfuckers, who came here from wherever, who shoot up, rob, feel entitled and prostitute themselves. That’s not cool.”
Oy vey! Sometimes it’s just best to let people speak for themselves.
* * *
Former state Sen. Mark Leno may be running for mayor, but in some ways, he’s been out of the spotlight. It’s a smart strategy for him. Leno is so far ahead in the polls — oft shared quietly between politicos — his best strategy may be to not rock the boat.
Still, that didn’t stop Leno from staking his first political claim last month, when he made himself heard during the debate over inclusionary housing requirements for new development, which passed 11-0 at the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday.
Our would-be mayor told me that he urged Supervisor Ahsha Safai “not to declare six votes a victory.” This would have been easy to do, as Safai and his more moderate wing of the Board could easily outvote the five progressive supervisors.
Leno urged consensus.
“When I authored the original ordinance in 2002, it was the product of two years’ work and it passed 11-0,” he told me. “I think it’s best when there’s greatest buy-in. A broader set of constituents will benefit. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘the sweet spot.’”
With that, our candidate took what may have been his first political risk, however minor. But will he weigh in on more policy battles in the future?
“Using some discretion, yes,” he told me.
Well, well, it seems our city legislators had best be “On Guard.”
* * *
Sonja Trauss is a magnet for attention, that’s for sure. Readers may recall last week’s column on the housing density advocate, in which I reported Trauss’ intent to run for District 6 supervisor. A flood of tips came in on what some called her racist “rants” on email groups and public listservs.
One tweet in particular, from July 2016, stood out:
“Gentrification is what we call the revaluation of black land to its correct price,” Trauss wrote.
Trauss told me, via email, that she was trying to explain the black-white wealth gap and the phenomenon when a “good neighborhood” that is predominantly black suddenly becomes attractive to city residents at large, who price out minorities already living there.
Basically, she said, gentrification is good for black homeowners because they can cash out and leave.
I hate to say it, but I’m not sure that explanation makes the tweet sound any better. Maybe it’s just me.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.