Lot in San Francisco could become new parking site for people living in vehicles

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Housing is a big issue where we focus our efforts to build a better Bay Area. San Francisco's homeless population is the highest in the bay area, and it's been rising.

Now, there's a new idea in San Francisco aimed at giving people who don't have a home, who sleep in their cars, a safe place to park.

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The lot would be next to the Balboa Park BART station on Geneva Avenue and have enough space for 33 vehicles. There are already plans to build 138 affordable housing units here.

But construction doesn't start until the fall of 2020. So in the meantime, the vision is for this to be a safe place for people living in their vehicles to park and get services too.

"I think it would be actually pretty good," says John Naniola who lives in the area.

Naniola says it's better than what's happening now. People are parking cars and RV's on the streets, in front of people's houses.

"I see it all the time you know?" Naniola says. "It's kind of like sketchy because you know you don't know what's going on in there."

"I've heard a lot of the neighbors saying I'm concerned that those living in vans and in RV's and in other places," says San Francisco District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai. "What are you going to do about it?"

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Supervisor Ahsha Safai proposed this idea of making the lot the city's first ever Vehicle Triage Center.

"It will have 24-hour security," says Safai. "We will have bathrooms. It will have on-site services and the idea is why we're calling it a triage, is to get folks out of their vehicles and into more prominent housing situations."

Supervisor Safai says it's more than just safe parking.

There will be staff on hand to connect people with social services.

"Personally I think everyone deserves a second chance so I personally wouldn't have a problem," says Giana Orellana. "But I think if it does become a concern maybe the city will have to try and see what they can do about that. How they can further improve."

Mayor London Breed has already committed one million dollars to fund this pilot program.

Still, in order for it to happen here, there has to be a planning code change and approval from the board of supervisors.

"We just got to help people get off the streets," Naniola says. "You know?

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Supervisor Safai told me he wants to hear from the community.

That's why he's holding a community meeting this Saturday from 11 to 1 at Balboa High School to hear from residents before moving forward.

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