Lingering concerns about the impact on homeless people are delaying enforcement of San Francisco’s ban on overnight parking of motor homes and other large vehicles in certain neighborhoods.
The law, passed by the Board of Supervisors in September and slated to be enforced starting in March, raised the ire of homeless advocates who saw it as an attack on the less fortunate and were worried it would force more people onto the cold San Francisco streets. Such concerns reverberate as The City prepares to enforce the law.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors is expected to vote in the coming months on which streets to target, with a focus on the Sunset and Bayview districts where residents are complaining about the vehicles.
But the law has highlighted a lack of resources. San Francisco’s roughly 1,150 shelter beds are nearly all full every night, said Mayor Ed Lee’s director of homelessness, Bevan Dufty. Also, there are only four vacancies of the 234 “stabilization” beds, which are within The City’s single-room occupancy hotels operated by nonprofits.
Dufty said during last week’s board committee hearing on the law that he is working with the mayor’s staff to pay for more of those units. He also is working on an agreement with Treasure Island officials so The City can offer free vehicle storage if people agree to move out of their vehicles and into city shelters.
A homeless count from two years ago identified up to 180 people living in vehicles. An updated count is expected to be released March 20.
Jason Albertson, a social worker with the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team, said fliers were handed out earlier this month to those expected to run afoul of the law. Four people responded. They were employed but not making enough to pay for rent, Albertson said. He explained that some have “retreated” to their vehicles to avoid “the violence and drug-drenched social environments in the Tenderloin and Bayview district where affordable housing is to be found.”
Supervisor David Campos, one of the four progressives who voted against the law, said the “frustration” expressed by the eight public commentators objecting to the law highlights the growing socio-economic divide in The City with the booming technology industry.
“Are we making sure that as we have this great wealth, that we are taking care of the neediest in our communities?” Campos said. “And it’s not just the neediest, it’s also working folks and middle-class folks; it’s a lot of people that rightly feel that they are being left behind.”
Enforcement of the law is now expected to begin in May.