Frustrated residents of San Francisco neighborhood speak out at meeting about RVs parked on street where homeless live

ByKate Larsen via KGO logo
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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A meeting in San Francisco's Portola neighborhood was full of people frustrated by the RVs parked on their streets, where homeless people are living.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A meeting Monday night in San Francisco's Portola neighborhood was full of people frustrated by RVs parked on their streets, where homeless people are living.

More than one hundred people attended the meeting at the Palega Recreation Center, where tensions were at times high between the homeowners, Supervisor Hillary Ronen and the director of San Francisco's Department of Homelessness, Jeff Kositsky.

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"I'm at my wits end," said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who has been holding meetings about the RVs in her district since October.

She was about to propose legislation in November but says Mayor London Breed asked her to hold off, while she and Supervisors Vallie Brown and Ahsha Safai generated a new plan to deal with the RVs.

"I've had such a hard time getting the city to move with a responsible visionary solution, but I can't allow my constituents to suffer in the meantime," said Ronen. ABC7 news reporter, Kate Larsen, asked her why she hasn't proposed legislation to create an RV park and she said, "that's exactly what I'm going to do."

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Ronen also says San Francisco's Department of Homelessness has not come up with a plan and timeline for change. The director of the department, Jeff Kositsky, says six weeks ago, he redirected a team of four employees from tent encampments to the RV issue.

"We might consider doing safe parking, we're looking at short term vehicle storage, we're also looking at how we can help people with a subsidy or a deposit assistance for people who want to move into some of the RV parks."

SFPD and the Director of SFMTA were also at the meeting to discuss enforcement for vehicles parked overnight. One resident took video this week of police towing several RVs in Portola. But towing RVs doesn't necessarily solve the problem. In fact, it can cause new problems.

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"I saved money to get an RV and now they're kicking us out, get rid of us," said Couper Arona, who is homeless in San Francisco and says she moved out of a tent into an RV. "When you tow the vehicles and you mess with that life, guess where they're going to go? They have no vehicle, they're going to be in a tent on the street again." Arona says she used to be a firefighter in Sacramento, but injured herself on the job and is now disabled. She used to live with her wife in San Francisco's Diamond Height's neighborhood, but after they divorced she became homeless.

"It's a tough situation. We have a wealthy city and we have people living in their vehicles," said SFMTA Director, Ed Resikin, who says MTA's board can change parking rules on certain streets in Portola, so that RVs and commercial vehicles can't park overnight. But, he also says that may just move the problem to a different neighborhood. "Just kind of pushing them around and saying they have to live somewhere else, that's not great either. But I also understand there are people in this neighborhood who are having a hard time."

For more stories and video about homelessness in the Bay Area, visit this page.