In an unusually contentious vote (4-3), and despite the lack of a clear policy on such bans, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors voted to ban oversize vehicles on De Wolf Street, forcing homeless RV dwellers to vacate this Ingleside street.
City officials are now rushing to research solutions for homeless RV dwellers, who, much like tent encampments, draw complaints from the communities surrounding them, reports the San Francisco Examiner.
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.
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.
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.
“It’ll be at least six months or so before we’re up and running with all the resources needed to address this,” Jeff Kositsky, director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, 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.