An estimated 700 people are thought to live in RVs and vans in San Francisco, according to city officials. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF to open safe parking site for RV dwellers by November

San Francisco will open its first ‘safe parking’ site to address the growing population of people living in their vehicles on residential blocks by November.

The site, in Supervisor Asha Safai’s District 11, which is being called a vehicle triage lot or safe parking, will allow up to 30 vehicles with people living in them to park overnight for up to 90-days as they engage in services and possibly transition into housing.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the project Tuesday. A second and final vote is set for next week. The board approved legislation requiring such a site to be opened in April.

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing will have a presence on the site and it is expected that the nonprofit Urban Alchemy will provide around the clock security, as they do in other public places and public restrooms.

“Today, we took a small but important step in combating the rise of those living on our streets in their vehicles by providing them a safe place to park surrounded by services,” Safai said. “This idea has been discussed for over a decade and today we responded strongly to a crisis that is plaguing all corners of the Bay Area.”

He continued, “I’m proud that the constituents of District 11 embraced this idea to provide a safe place to transition people into more permanent housing from their vans, cars and RVs.”

The first-of-its-kind facility comes on the heels of a growing number of complaints about people living in their vehicles and some residents asking for increased enforcement and no overnight camping signs.

“This is a creative solution to a problem that we could have easily just said let’s give everybody parking tickets or let’s kick these people out of our neighborhoods, but instead we are doing the creative thing, the compassionate thing, the more effective thing that can actually get to real solutions,” said Supervisor Matt Haney.

The city-owned site at 2340 San Jose Ave. will have 33 parking spaces, three for staff and 30 for clients. It will include solar-powered generator and lighting. It is near the Balboa BART station.

The site is expected to open in the first week of November and remain in operation for one year at an estimated cost of about $700,000. Ultimately the site is slated for a 100 percent affordable housing project.

Jeff Kositsky, director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, told the city’s Local Homeless Coordinating Board Monday that there are an estimated 700 RV and van dwellers in San Francisco.

“It’s a growing problem that we are having a very hard time just keeping up with,” Kositsky said.

Supervisor Vallie Brown emphasized that the site will open as a result of political collaboration. “We can get things done,” Brown said.

She said that she wanted The City to get “creative” in finding other places to open similar sites.

“We do have state land in my district and other places that, if we can get their permission to use, we can open more of these. We are going to have to open more of these unfortunately. We cannot get many vehicles into these lots,” Brown said.

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