Squatters seek refuge in ‘unauthorized encampment’ in University housing

Firefighters discovered evidence of squatters on the ground level of a University Park North building when they responded to a fire alarm that awoke residents early Feb. 16, according to SF State’s University Police Department.

San Francisco Fire Department identified a portable skillet in an electrical room as the cause of an alarm that sent strobe lights through the halls of 265 Buckingham Way. The recently used grill was still hot to the touch with burnt food on it when it was found, according to UPD Officer Edward Palor.

“The door to the room was unlocked,” said Officer Palor in a police report, “there were signs of someone living inside.”

Across from the electrical room, Palor entered two unlocked doors including the janitor’s sink room, which was drenched with the scent of urine and an unmarked closet that contained scattered articles of clothing, bedding and garbage.

In late October of last year, a master key that opened doors to every apartment in UPN was reported stolen. University employees managed to re-key over 3,000 apartments at UPN and the Towers at Centennial Square within days, Golden Gate Xpress reported previously.

“I can confirm the loss of two master keys for UPN and two residence halls on the main campus last Fall of 2013,” said Marilyn Lanier, senior associate vice president of Physical Planning & Development, adding that the issue was “immediately addressed to ensure the safety of all residents of these facilities.”

It is unconfirmed as to whether the stolen keys also opened maintenance rooms and closets in the UPN towers.

Trespassers were last found on SF State campus almost a year ago when, after they were discovered in a Mary Ward Hall dorm room, they engaged in a scuffle with police. Most of the trespassers were members of the then recently disbanded squatters collective SF Commune, Golden Gate Xpress reported previously.

Before then, a squat persisted from 2002 to 2012 on SF State’s campus at the site of the defunct San Francisco High School of the Arts building on Tapia Drive, Xpress Magazine reported previously.

In February, the UPD arrested someone asleep in the J. Paul Leonard Library when officers were flagged down at five in the morning, according to the UPD arrest and crime log. They learned that multiple warrants were out for the subject, including one felony, but it is unclear whether the individual slept in the library with the intent to squat.

Individuals may lose their library privileges for exhibiting disruptive hygiene or behavior, according to the library policy, but it is not illegal for them to sleep on the premises, where students are allowed limited 24-hour access.

“The poverty among students is real,” said Amy Donovan, an anthropologist at University of California San Francisco who studies young homeless populations, “and the notion that there would be a squatter-student in dorms is real.”

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  • I wasn’t squatting — I rented this on Airbnb! Totally legit!