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City bans RVs on small Ingleside street, promises to offer services first

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Recreational vehicles sit parked in between cars on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Homeless RV dwellers will soon need to vacate an Ingleside Street after a vote by The City’s transportation board Tuesday.

City officials are rushing to research solutions for homeless RV dwellers, who, much like tent encampments, draw complaints from the communities surrounding them.

However, despite the lack of a clear policy on such bans, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors voted to ban oversize vehicles on De Wolf Street in an unusually contentious vote, 4-3.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai requested the ban in August following complaints from residents near De Wolf Street, a small, one-block-long street tucked behind Alemany Boulevard, near Cayuga Playground in The City’s south side. Neighbors said the RV dwellers created a nuisance with their generators and refuse, while RV dwellers said San Francisco had banned them from parking on so many streets that they had been shuffled across The City with no solution in sight.

The SFMTA board initially agreed and held off from voting on banning oversized vehicles on De Wolf in September, citing a need for a citywide solution.

SEE RELATED: Supervisor moves to ban RV dwellers on Ingleside street

Since then, city officials have come forward to offer some preliminary solutions. Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she would introduce legislation Nov. 13 calling for public land to be used for RV dwellers to park and be offered homeless services, and the Department of Homelessness has launched a vehicle encampment resolution team, social workers who target homeless people living in RVs to offer them help and a way out.

SFMTA board director Malcolm Heinicke, who in September wanted the board to vote to ban RVs on De Wolf, said the directors who opposed his position may have had a point; by opposing the ban on De Wolf, the board forced The City to begin work on a plan.

“You took a stand and now we have Mr. Kositsky here and a proposal,” he said. “I’d like to think that would have happened anyway, but I’m not so sure.”

He added, “we’re now all kind of working together.”

But those solutions aren’t all here yet, the dissenting members of the SFMTA board pointed out, and are months, if not years away. Even a policy the SFMTA board considered voting to approve Tuesday, dictating how and when they would approve RV bans, will not be ready until December.

Jeff Kositsky, director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said the solutions will take time.

SEE RELATED: SF weighs new policies, plans for RV dwellers

“It’ll be at least six months or so before we’re up and running with all the resources needed to address this,” Kositsky said in a presentation to the SFMTA board. He also told the board, “we have been on De Wolf, we know what’s out there, but we haven’t put a lot of resources into providing that assistance or trying to get those people indoors.”

Newly appointed director Amanda Eaken voted against the ban, arguing the SFMTA board needed a policy on vehicle bans before proceeding.

“We all just agreed there’s a missing step in the process of getting to an actual restriction, we all just agreed that step is missing,” she said. “We just heard from (Kositsky) … that a more humane, thoughtful intervention had not even had a chance to fail.”

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin told the board if they approved the RV ban on De Wolf Street that enforcement would not occur until Kositsky has time to send homeless social workers to help those living in RVs there.

Ultimately, SFMTA board directors Heinicke, Cheryl Brinkman, Lee Hsu, and Art Torres voted to approve the De Wolf RV ban. Eaken, Cristina Rubke, and Gwyneth Borden voted against it.

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