Housing Activists Rally In Support Of People Who Live In Vehicles

Homeless advocates rallied in front of San Francisco City Hall this morning against continued bans of oversize vehicles from parking overnight on certain city streets, arguing that the bans displace people who have no place else to go.

The bans were adopted as part of a pilot program in 2012 and were made permanent and expanded by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors in March.

Vehicles more than 22 feet long and 7 feet high—including trailers, semi-trailers, motor homes, and boats—were banned from parking in certain areas of the city from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. during the pilot, primarily in the Sunset and Bayview districts and the Mission Bay neighborhood.

The SFMTA cited public safety and health problems, including impaired sight lines for road users, illegal dumping of garbage, limited parking available and vandalism of the vehicles overnight, according to a November report on the pilot.

“The disturbance and displacement of people living in vehicles is a serious matter, and mitigating adverse effects from the oversize vehicle parking restriction requires sensitivity and engagement,” the SFMTA wrote in the report.

But housing activists charge that there has been limited engagement in helping people finding needed services and that taking away the option of being housed in a vehicle pushes people onto the streets.

“This is a community that needs support,” Coalition on Homelessness activist Lisa Marie Alatorre said today.

Zach Pususta said at today’s rally that he has been living in an RV in the city for the past six weeks and needs another three weeks as he transitions into a new job and apartment in Martinez.

Pususta will be a caretaker for a friend that he has been caring for voluntarily for some time now, he said, but is waiting to officially register with the state so that he can be paid for the work.

Adam Jibreel has been living in San Francisco for about seven years and lives in a van that he parks in Mission Bay and near the airport. He said prior to that, he was living at San Francisco International Airport but prefers the van because it keeps him out of the elements.

Jibreel held a stack of parking tickets that he had received because he did not wake up in time to move his van. He said that he had accumulated more than $1,000 in parking tickets since January.

One solution the group advocated for is better outreach for homeless services. Notices distributed by San Francisco police cited the law requiring oversized vehicles to be moved out of the area, but gave no information about where they could legally be parked and what other services are available, the group said.

Members of the group planned to attend a meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ budget and finance committee to discuss homeless issues today.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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