Famed singer Michael Franti may be known for his upbeat melodies, but on Tuesday he delivered a sour tune to the Board of Supervisors regarding noisy homeless RV dwellers near his Bayview home.
Franti, who was accompanied by one of his children and wife, Sara, turned up at the board’s public comment period in hopes of getting The City to respond.
“We’ve called 311 over and over again for weeks. When there have been altercations we’ve called 911, but the police don’t come out. They don’t come. It just got to a point where we’ve got to speak up for the community,” Franti told the San Francisco Examiner.
He said the issue had become a problem beginning about five months ago, which he attributed to enforcement actions taken against RV dwellers in other areas of San Francisco.
Franti told the Board of Supervisors that he has owned a home in the Bayview since 1996 and has lived in his current home on Hawes Street since 2005.
“In the last few months we have seen a dramatic increase of inhabited RVs moving into our neighborhood,” Franti said at the meeting. “We have always had a few people living in vans on this block. They we were always quiet, friendly. We’d have them over for holidays and we would often pay them to do odd jobs around the neighborhood. But where there was once one or two vans there is now a row of 20 inhabited vehicles, RVs and trailers, debris, human feces, needles, wastewater, dumping, and blocking of the sidewalk.”
His story is certainly not unique for many other residents in several parts of town who have had similar complaints. The increase in RV dwellers and complaints has prompted The City to ramp up enforcement and post no overnight parking signage in some parts of town. The City is also planning to open a safe site for RV dwellers to park their vehicles overnight in District 11, but the single site is inadequate to address the citywide demand.
Franti said that he has asked some of the RV dwellers to keep the noise level down “but it is only getting worse and there are more people yelling and fighting at all hours of the night.”
He estimated the noise from traffic, gasoline power generators and music persists from 10 pm to 8 am. He said there appears to be a drug operation being run out of the RVs.
Sara Franti said despite their calls to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Police Department “nothing has happened. We have never heard from SFPD or SFMTA regarding our calls or requests, which is what brought us here today.”
She said there were three main things that “we need and what we humbly request your help with.”
She said she wanted the RVs moved out from the 1500 block of Hawes Street and signs posted to prohibit camping and to have the noise ordinance enforced.
Asked to address the Frantis’ comments, SFMTA’s spokesperson Erica Kato issued a statement to the Examiner.
“There are too many vehicles of all types pushing on a scarce and finite amount of curb, and not nearly enough housing in the city and region, and we’re struggling as a city and region to respond to ad-hoc housing in the public right-of-way, on whichever side of the curb we find it,” the statement said. “The SFMTA is charged with maintaining safe, equitable, and sustainable public right-of-way, carried out with compassion and care, but striking a balance between order and compassion is extremely challenging.”
Supervisor Shamann Walton, who represents the Bayview on the board, said that he was “glad” the couple had reached out to his office last week “and are working with them, city departments and the community to address their concerns.”
“This increase in people living in vehicles has affected us in Bayview the most,” Walton said.
He noted The City is pushing to open “triage space for people living in their vehicles in D11, adding another Navigation Center on Evans Street” and passing a $600 million affordable housing bond in November “to get people off the streets.”
Franti told the Examiner that Walton “was very responsive, but there is no immediate plan for The City, at least in our neighborhood, District 10, to have a place for RVs to be.”
“Create a zone where they can safely park … at least out of earshot,” he said.