Oversized Vehicles Banned From City Streets

File photo by Noah Arroyo.

File photo by Noah Arroyo.

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Oversized vehicles that line the streets of the northeast Mission will have to start parking elsewhere after the Board of Supervisors approved a law on Tuesday that prohibits them from parking overnight.

Over objections from homeless advocates that the law criminalizes the poor, the supervisors passed the ordinance 7-4. Supervisors John Avalos, Jane Kim, David Campos and Christina Olague cast the dissenting votes.

Starting March 1, any vehicle that is 22 feet in length and 7 feet tall will be banned from parking overnight on certain city streets from 2 to 6 a.m., or risk being fined or towed.

In the Mission, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) intends to install signs prohibiting oversized vehicles from parking on 16th and 17th streets between Harrison Street and Potrero Avenue.

Over the past two years, the northeast Mission — where the only previous parking restriction was to make way for weekly street cleaning — has become a magnet for oversized vehicles. The police department has tried to enforce a current law that bans parking in the same spot for more than three days, but the problem persisted.

“It’s a cat and mouse game right now,” said Bevan Dufty, the city’s director of Housing Opportunity, Partnership and Engagement (HOPE). “It’s very hard for an individual to let go of the only housing they have.”

A survey by the SFMTA found 461 oversized vehicles parked on city streets in 2011 – most of them in the Sunset, Potrero Hill and Bayview districts. The SFMTA also collected registration data on 208 cars, of which 64 percent were registered to San Francisco addresses.

“Forgive me if I come across as a little incompassionate about it,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen, whose district includes Bayview Hunters Point. “I am tired of my neighborhood being the dump.”

Residents citywide have complained to supervisors about the trash dumping and graffiti they associate with the oversized vehicles.

The San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness and other organizations have spoken against the law, arguing that people live in their cars not by choice but rather a last resort.

Some supervisors, including Campos and Olague, asked the board to assess the needs of those living in their vehicles. Their amendments failed to pass, 4-7.

The program would start next year, to give the city’s HOPE program an opportunity to reach out to vehicle owners and attempt to get them into permanent housing.

15 Comments

  1. I take it this law was paid for by the hotel industry?

  2. S.W.

    Very good news. For the tax paying residents of these neighborhoods, the long-term parking of RVs makes it impossible to pull out of garages and driveways, and can make it nearly impossible to see oncoming traffic at certain intersections. I’m sorry that people have to live in these RVs, but there are plenty of places better suited to parking these things than residential neighborhoods, and since they’re, you know, ON WHEELS, they can drive back into these neighborhoods if they really need to be here.

  3. two beers

    yet another victory for the Yuppie Douche Brigade

  4. RV Owner

    I hope/assume this wouldn’t apply to an RV with a neighborhood parking permit? I often park my RV outside my house for a few days as i get ready for a trip. That should be legal.

  5. Neighbor

    How can anyone oppose this? This is great news.

  6. Christine

    “…(SFMTA) intends to install signs prohibiting oversized vehicles from parking on 16th and 17th streets between Harrison Street and Potrero Avenue.”

    That seems like it’s almost too short of a stretch to be useful at all. What about all the RV’s parked on 16th between Harrison and Folsom every day? Or the ones constantly present on Shotwell, Treat and Florida? This problem is not limited to the 3 block stretch of Harrison–Potrero, and I feel like banning them there is only going to make the other streets even worse.

  7. I live at the top of Potrero Hill and I own an RV that I park in a storage yard in the East Bay for most of the year, but during the summers, when my family uses it for various weekend excursions, I park it at the bottom of the hill for easier access.

    Although the area where I park doesn’t seem to be included in this new law, it surely will eventually as all the displaced vehicles will move that direction just like all the limos and busses did when they put parking meters on Townsend street.

    It’s not clear to me that there was any attempt to enforce the existing no habitation laws before passing this new one. I experienced the pink placard 72 hour warning notices all the time, but the thing about that is if someone is living in their RV they’ll have no problem moving it within 72 hours. Was there any other systematic attempts to actually enforce the existing law?

  8. We hope Bevan Dufty can come up with a solution before this takes effect.

  9. reba

    Until you’ve experienced the joy of an RV dumping its sewage tank into the gutter about 50 feet from your apartment window, you will have a difficult time understanding why this is a good thing. I’m sure many of the folks living in the RVs are nice people and would be living in a traditional home if they could, but running gas powered generators at the wee hours of the morning and dumping sewage in gutters are not appropriate things for residential blocks. There are lots of more commercial and industrial areas of the city, such as around the abandoned warehouses of the Dogpatch, where nobody would be disturbed by their parking or running generators. However dumping sewage or trash is never appropriate. Sorry if not wanting an open sewer under my apartment window makes me a yuppie douche… I’d rather be that than an inconsiderate jerk.

  10. Tico

    I agree with EricSir & RV Owner, there are plenty of people who drive large vehicles for reasons other than being homeless. And let’s not kid anyone here. This law is entirely about better-off homeowners criminalizing those they consider undesirable elements out of their neighborhoods. I’ve worked in Dogpatch, and had to deal with tweakers, theft, vandalism and human feces. I am not at all unsympathetic to the aggravation these folks cause, they’re truly on the fringe. But this law will hurt people who drive trucks, large vans and other commercial vehicles with no discrimination. It’s an unworkable attempt to address a problem that affects very few people.

  11. Sam

    What’s the harm with vehicles using 16 and 17th between Harrison and Potrero? I see this as industrial with no homes.

  12. mmmm..when law is in effect;lets examine the stats for:auto burglaries;property thefts;animal thefts;drug busts(vans;ect.)..speed use;..and bicycle thefts(usually taken before they blow town for the next concert of whatever group theyre following around

  13. SF_Native_on_17th

    I live on 17th where these RV’s are often parked. The street is not designed to be an RV park. There are no power or sewage services where the RV’s park and that means the street is a toilet or worse. Also, a typical RV takes up between two and four parking spaces. I wish I could post pictures here; some of these RV’s are x-tour buses. If it’s thought that the City should provide RV parking spaces for RV owners with water, sewage and electrical services and with the associated tax increase or funding system to pay for it, that’s a different debate entirely. In the mean time, let’s use city streets as they were designed.

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