All around the city, San Franciscans can be found seated on steps, curbs, retaining walls and on the grass — but not on benches. In a tacit surrender to the overwhelming problem of homelessness, the city has simply removed public seating over the last two decades. Benches in Civic Center Plaza were removed in the 1990s. Those in nearby United Nations Plaza were ripped out in the middle of the night in 2001, to discourage the homeless from congregating and camping there.
--Zusha Elinson, NYT, on why we can't have nice things