The good news: The ban on oversize vehicles parking on certain streets in San Francisco has been extremely successful in curbing the problem. The bad news: Those vehicles have merely moved to avoid the banned areas, sometimes right around the corner.
Three months ago, the Board of Supervisors approved a ban on oversize vehicles parking overnight on certain streets, mainly in the Sunset, Richmond, Bayview and Potrero Hill neighborhoods. The ban was in response to certain issues, namely public health and safety, that were linked to areas where people lived in the vehicles.
Now The City is considering expanding the areas in which the oversize vehicles would be banned from parking — and it is right to do so, but only if there is a coordinated effort to give social services to those who are using their vehicles as homes.
As the crackdown shows, people will continue to shuffle where they park depending on the rules. For some, the vehicles are a last refuge from ending up on the streets, and too broad of a crackdown surely will backfire by either adding to the homeless population or by piling fines onto those who cannot afford them.
There are now more people using vehicles for habitation than in years past. The last homeless count in San Francisco found that 13 percent of those surveyed lived in a vehicle. That percentage, which likely is below the actual number, was up from 3 percent in 2011. The homeless count is performed every two years.
Residents in the neighborhoods where the vehicles park do not want to deal with trash and unsanitary conditions sometimes left behind on the streets and sidewalks. But shuffling the vehicles around The City does not solve any problems either.
A coordinated effort of expanding the ban and providing services could steer the issue down the road to a solution that is equitable on all sides.