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article imageSan Francisco still working on where RVs and campers need to go Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Dec 1, 2013 in Lifestyle
San Francisco - The aftermath of the Recession has given rise to housing and homelessness in San Francisco. A city renowned for its openness and compassion must now figure out what to do about people living in their RVs or campers.
Created last year as Section 7.2.54 of the Transportation Code, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority has been placing restrictions on large recreational vehicles (RV's and campers). This code restriction applies to vehicles that are more than 22 feet long or seven feet high. The current time limit for an over-sized vehicle allowed to be parked is between Midnight and 6:AM. A fine of up to $110 can be issued.
Carmen Chu who was then serving as Supervisor for the Sunset District proposed the legislation as a way to monitor and restrict the increasing number of vehicles that have been congregating near streets and avenues near or Ocean Beach. From her proposal, The SF Board of Supervisors passed the over-sized-vehicle parking restriction with a 7 to 4 vote in Sept. of 2012.
Speaking on behalf of SFMTA, communications representative Paul Rose noted, "the oversize vehicle overnight parking restriction has shown to be effective in the 11 pilot locations where it was posted." The locations being areas where residents like John Zwolinski and merchants like Pat and Buffy Maguire, voiced concerns; mainly the outer-Sunset and outer-Richmond areas especially along Fulton, Lincoln Way, The Great Highway and La Playa near Ocean Beach. So far over the past few months 74 citations have been issued. And, as the San Francisco Examiner reported in November, after three months of enforcing the new law, just two violations were counted in October. Sunset Boulevard had 17, but zero after enforcement began. Along La Playa Street and the Great Highway, for example, 21 oversize vehicles were known to park. But now no more. Some say it is because the large vehicles have found other spots to camp out.
While Ocean Beach area of San Francisco has always been a more 'easy-going' atmosphere, that in itself has consistently been a magnet for transients. Residents fear amid such transiency, a disregard for the neighbors and merchants increases. This was expressed last year when this reporter talked with neighborhood local resident and activist Steve Ward. He sees it as a quality of life issue and not something to be ignored.
This concern regarding RVs and campers illegally homesteading along or near Ocean Beach is not new. SFMTA notes that as far back as 1971 the Board of Supervisors at that time established restrictions on over-sized vehicles used as human habitation. Listed under the Transportation Code as a subcategory of oversize vehicles, those used as housing, are subject to the SF Police Code.
More than 300 signs are posted in many locations around the city, along park and beach borders as well as industrial and undeveloped areas. Yet, according to the SFMTA, it has been very difficult to enforce since vehicle habitation is a misdemeanor, citations must be served personally, so police officers may knock on the door of an inhabited vehicle, but if no one answers, no person can be cited.
Rose also pointed out, after only three months of active enforcement, all locations signed with the restriction have greatly reduced numbers of oversize vehicles parked overnight. "In most pilot locations (like the Ocean Beach area) over-sized vehicle parking has been nearly eliminated."
Yet, Rose also mentioned that the effectiveness of the code enforcement is off-set by concerns of displacement of over-sized vehicles to other locations, as well as concerns for the displacement of people living in vehicles.
“It is not uncommon for people in San Francisco to use their very last resources after losing their job to invest in a large vehicle or camper and move into it,” said Jennifer Friedenbach of the Coalition on Homelessness to The SF Examiner last year.
Some displacement of oversize vehicles to other locations was observed during the pilot period and further use of the restriction is recommended in those locations where on-street storage of oversize vehicle is a problem, and other parking management measures (e.g., meters, time limits) are not indicated or planned.
SFPD at Taraval and Richmond Stations were not able to provide any of their own statistics on this subject at the time of publication of this article.
Meanwhile as it was reported recently in the San Francisco Examiner, while the enforcement of the city law/ordinance has been successful, the problem of homelessness remains.
More about San Francisco, California, Oversized vehicle ordinance, ocean beach, OuterSunset District
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