Skip to main content
Politics & Policy

Should San Francisco ban encampments? Mayoral candidates respond

The image depicts a split scene with the Supreme Court building on the left, and a tent encampment with people and belongings on the right, with the word "VOTE" in bold red letters.
A reader wanted to know whether mayoral candidates would ban camping after a Supreme Court ruling enabled stricter laws. | Source: Illustration by Clark Miller for The Standard; photo by Nick Otto for The Standard

A major U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued Friday that will transform how San Francisco and cities across the country can address homeless encampments comes just months before mayoral candidates face off in a November election. 

As part of our project bringing reader questions to the five leading candidates, Erika Jordening asked the following: As mayor, using the newfound powers from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, would you support a city-wide ban on encampments? 

Mayor London Breed  

“Camping on the streets of San Francisco is already prohibited. This is not something that should be happening in general, and so as a result of this decision, we are able to enforce the law and to clear the encampments off the street,” Breed told The Standard during a press conference at City Hall. “We don’t need to introduce a new law to do anything about what we plan to do to clear these encampments.”

Board President Aaron Peskin 

“The overturn of Grants Pass v. Johnson by the U.S. Supreme Court will give law enforcement additional tools, especially when encampments are primarily focused on the selling and using of fentanyl. But, from both a pragmatic and effective perspective, San Francisco must still work to create the 2,000 additional shelter beds I called for on the first day of my campaign,” Peskin said in a statement. “Creating these shelter beds is an absolutely necessary part of my comprehensive approach to homelessness. I am the only candidate to propose policies that will prevent homelessness by strengthening rent control and providing rent relief for low-income tenants. 

“I have consistently called on Mayor Breed to stop misspending hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for affordable housing and permanent supportive housing that we desperately need in a time of crisis. I will enforce the laws to control and regulate encampments, but we already have seen that attempting to arrest our way out of our homeless crisis is the most expensive and least effective alternative we have.”

Nonprofit leader Daniel Lurie 

“I would have cleared the encampments years ago,” Lurie told reporters at a press conference on Friday outside the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

“What City Hall insiders have been doing is pushing the problem from one block to another,” Lurie later told The Standard. “And this is what we get. We get the same crisis on our streets. So there’s no more excuses. Now, it’s crystal clear. And if you don’t accept any of the options, people will face arrest. No one wants to arrest our way out of this problem. That is not the way to go about it. But it’s got to be a tool in the toolkit.”

In a follow-up statement, a spokesperson for Lurie said he would “rapidly build sufficient emergency shelter beds to ensure no one needs to sleep on the street, nor will they be allowed to.”

Former Supervisor Mark Farrell 

Through a spokesperson, Farrell responded “yes” when asked whether the city should enact a citywide encampment ban. The campaign then deferred to a statement. 

“The City always had the authority to remove tent encampments from our streets, but Mayor Breed has consistently failed in her ability to do so,” Farrell said in a Friday press release. “Her latest tent count numbers were misleading and were directly rebuffed by people on the ground living with her failed leadership daily in the Tenderloin. While the ruling provides more clarity, it should not be viewed as a panacea. It takes a consistent and determined effort to ensure tents are not a part of our permanent landscape in San Francisco.” 

Supervisor Ahsha Safaí 

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling doesn’t change the fact that people need a place to go, and it’s our responsibility to offer them shelter. Punishing people for trying to survive is a cruel and heartless act that flies in the face of basic human decency,” Safaí said in a statement provided Friday. “That’s why I have always championed a different path—one that focuses on support and stability, not punishment and neglect. My plan is to bring homeless individuals off the streets and into single space shelters where they can start to rebuild their lives. 

“We will coordinate neighborhood-by-neighborhood efforts, conduct regular counts of our homeless population, fund Homeward Bound trips to reconnect people with their families, create more shelter beds, and ensure clear pathways to permanent housing.”

Gabe Greschler can be reached at