SF mom, kids sleep in car as SFMTA plans to limit RV parking to install bike lane

Luz Pena Image
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
SF family sleeps in car as SFMTA plans to limit RV parking
At least 50 families living in RV's parked on San Francisco's Winston Drive are scrambling to find a new street to park their vehicles.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At least 50 families living in RV's parked on San Francisco's Winston Drive are scrambling to find a new street to park their vehicles.

The city is gearing up to make improvements along Lake Merced and need several streets to be clear.

ABC7 News reporter Luz Pena spoke to multiple families last week who say they want the city to help find a safe parking site.

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For the past year, Nelly Sorto and her two kids have lived in an RV on Winston Drive. Before the RV, they rented a room for $1300 in the Mission District.

"The rent is too much money. After the Coronavirus, work is down. I can't work too much and my check is like $200 - $300. So, I can't pay rent," said Sorto.

Sorto rents the RV for $800 a month and works as a housekeeper at a motel.

At night, she hugs her two kids and prays for a miracle. "We pray and then we fall as sleep," said Sorto.

Her 7-year-old daughter Zuleyka Perdomo says it's hard to sleep.

"This is moving a lot and there is noise back there and then I have to close the windows and it's too hard to sleep," said Perdomo.

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Nelly's family story is one of at least 50 who live along Winston Drive and Lake Merced Boulevard in RV's.

Next month, they likely won't be able to park there on weekdays for more than four hours.

Supervisor Myna Melgar represents this district and her office says they've been working on helping these families.

"We've been working with the department of homelessness and supportive housing for over a year. To find permanent housing solutions for these families to find a safe parking site," said Jen Low with Melgar's office.

SFMTA proposed the parking restrictions ahead of the construction of a bike lane. Their quick-build pedestrian and bike safety project will remove parking on the east side of Lake Merced Blvd. from Higuera to Winston Drive impacting approximately 101 parking spaces.

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RV dwellers parked on San Jose streets will soon be allowed to move into the city's largest safe parking RV site.

SFMTA is planning to start construction as soon as September. Low says they are running out of time.

"We've been urgently trying to get sites. We've been trying to push for other resources. Trying to get assessments done. We need that same sense of urgency from the city departments this is a public health and a public safety issue," said Low.

In a statement SFMTA said:

"The SFMTA continues its commitment in providing sufficient and advance notice for any towing and parking enforcement. As for the Lake Merced Boulevard vehicle residents, we are focusing our efforts with services and shelter opportunities as previously mentioned and are still discussing the possible solutions with the project team and city partners that will best fit the needs of those who may be impacted."

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San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan sat down with ABC7 News to discuss how it's working to solve big issues like homelessness.

SFMTA said they'll give these families a two-week heads up.

We checked on Nelly on Tuesday and sadly she is no longer in the RV. On the phone, she said they couldn't afford it anymore. On Monday, they packed their bags and slept in her car. They are homeless.

San Francisco's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing confirmed there are about 1,000 people living in vehicles across the city.

Nelly opened a GoFundMe.

SFMTA board can still oppose or change the parking limit requirements any time between September and October.