Crime tied to Transbay closure

Transients who called the Transbay Terminal home before it was closed for construction last summer are responsible for a spike in crime, police said.

The men and women who used to sleep around the perimeter of the terminal have moved to areas such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Washington Square Park and Justin Herman Plaza and have contributed to a 26 percent increase in aggravated assaults in eastern portions of The City, Central Station police Capt. Kevin Cashman said.

Between Sept. 12 and Oct. 9, at least 30 percent of the 24 aggravated assaults reported in Central Station district — which includes the Financial District, Chinatown, North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf — were committed by transients believed to have migrated from the closed-down terminal, Cashman said.

There were 19 such incidents the prior month, data showed.

Kevin Carroll, executive director of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, said he has “definitely noticed an increase in the number of homeless” along Jefferson Street and in area parks.

“They are pretty aggressive, and in some cases very aggressive,” he said. “Our visitors are seeing things they shouldn’t have to see or experience.”

To deal with the population uptick, beat cops have been assigned to affected areas, Cashman said. Also, police have asked the Recreation and Park Department to post signs prohibiting camping at Conrad Park, at Columbus Avenue and Beach Street.

Dariush Kayhan, the mayor’s adviser on homelessness, said that of the 50-plus individuals estimated to have stayed at the Transbay Terminal — some who had lived in the Transbay Terminal for more than four years — all but a few are now in housing and connected to services.

Homeless outreach teams have been in contact with the individuals since the terminal closed at midnight Aug. 6, Kayhan said.

To address the problem citywide, the mayor’s Office is working with Police Department, the courts and Sheriff’s Office to strengthen charges against chronic transients by “bundling” the many citations each individual receives.

Those with multiple citations could face misdemeanor charges, which would allow The City to “offer services in a more controlled court environment like the Community Justice Center,” Kayhan said.

The CJC aims to combine the muscle of the courts with the heart of social services.

“It’s a reality that some people don’t want to be helped,” Carroll said. “The solution is going to involve everybody. It won’t be just police or outreach teams. We need to find a solution.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocalSan FranciscoTransbay Terminal

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