San Francisco Catholic Church Installs Watering System To Ward Off Homeless

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A Catholic cathedral in San Francisco installed a watering system in an attempt to soak homeless people who try to loiter and sleep near its doorways, radio station KCBS reported on Wednesday.

Saint Mary’s Cathedral, which, the radio station reported, is the main church within the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the home of the archbishop, has four tall side doors which are used as sheltered nooks by homeless people in the city.

While the church has “No Trespassing” signs, the watering system doesn’t come with a warning and the showers rain down throughout the night, KCBS reported.

The spigot is 30 feet up on the ceiling of the doorway alcove and when it spews water, the alcove and unsuspecting homeless people reportedly get soaked. According to KCBS, the water runs for about 75 seconds every 30-60 minutes.

“We’re going to be wet there all night, so hypothermia, cold, all that other stuff could set in,” a homeless man named Robert told KCBS. “Keeping the church clean, but it could make people sick.”

KCBS reported that the water system doesn’t in fact keep the alcoves clean and in fact pools on the steps and nearby sidewalk since there’s no drainage system installed.

A staff member at the cathedral reportedly told the radio station that the showers were installed about a year ago for the purpose of keeping homeless people away.

Archdiocese spokesman Chris Lyford told KCBS that the church refers the homeless to charities for housing but noted that they keep coming back.

“We do the best we can, and supporting the dignity of each person,” he said. “But there is only so much you can do.”

While the cathedral showers unsuspecting homeless people with water, California is currently in the midst of a serious drought during which time residents are encouraged to minimize nonessential water use.

According to an update from KCBS, the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection found that the water system violated city safety codes and issued the Archdiocese a notice to have it removed within 15 days. The Archdiocese reportedly secured a plumbing permit to have it removed.

Watch video of the water below, courtesy of KCBS:

This article has been updated.

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for jw1 jw1 says:

    ‘But if you’ve got some cash-- c’mon in and set a spell!’


  2. Stay classy, Catholic Church.

    I just heard that they have been ordered to remove it.

  3. Something tells me this isn’t going to go over very well with the boss.

  4. Who ordered the removal? I hope it was Pope Francis.

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