Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Former mayor Art Agnos has a game changer for homelessness: Put ‘em on a boat! Create a new Navigation Center on a retired Navy ship, to be specific. The idea apparently comes from a post-earthquake emergency effort to house the recently homeless in 1989. But it’s drawn more than its fair share of criticism on social media, ranging from people pointing out that plenty of homeless individuals are veterans and being corralled into cramped quarters on a warship might be particularly unpleasant for them, to people pointing out that a “temporary” fix can only be temporary if there’s real progress happening on the housing front. Plus, others say, shlepping a giant freakin’ war boat all the way from Hawaii just to have it rust in the Bay seems like maybe not the most environmentally sound plan ever. I’ll say this for the idea though: It is nice to hear something really different suggested for a change.

Apparently there is some sort of plan to make the tent encampments disappear. City staff plan to go tent-to-tent to figure out how to get homeless individuals off the street and into some kind of shelter. Watch to the end of that video, though, and see what transpires when the newscasters broach the topic of timeline: That’s not for the public to know, apparently. It does seem that at least the tent dwellers themselves will be given notice before they are, er, “resolved.”

It’s been well established, of course, that homelessness is the top concern for San Franciscans at the moment. It comes up repeatedly at community meetings, city government bodies, and it features prominently in two controversial measures on this upcoming ballot. One of those measures, Prop Q, makes encampments on city sidewalks illegal and requires shelter options (which can include a bus ticket out of town if there’s someone on the other end willing to take the person in) to be offered to those in the encampment before it is cleared.

The Navigation Centers like the one 16th and Mission streets are a major piece of this puzzle, being the “golden ticket” placement that most consider the only non-dead-end option for the chronically homeless. 16th and Mission, however, will not remain a Navigation Center for long, as it is itself transitioning into housing. The nonprofits building that housing have officially submitted plans to the Planning Department to raze the structures in place currently and construct an 85-foot-tall, 157-unit building. Meanwhile, the city is scrambling to put up new navigation centers.

What else is afloat? Bacteria-killing enzymes, apparently, in the form of a lavender-scented mist BART is testing at Civic Center station to eliminate the stench of urine and other malodorous mystery sludge inside elevators. And speaking of elevators, SFist introduces us this week to Sunday Parker, a wheelchair user who is using social media to press BART on making improvements (like the mist but, you know, better) to accessibility infrastructure in the system.  

By the way, if you like interactive graphics and public transit wonkery, you might have fun exploring this Commute-o-meter – see how far you can get from any point in half an hour, 45 minutes, two hours, etc. on public transit.

Finally, the state controller’s office is bringing back a tax protection for seniors: A statewide program begun in 1978 and suspended in 2009 due to lack of funding allows low income seniors and people with disabilities to defer their property tax payments until they move, sell, refinance, die or default on a loan. New applications are being accepted this year.

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  1. Boat sounds good. At least give folks an alternative. They dont have to stay on it if they dont want to nobody is forcing them. Or how bout allowing tents only from midnight till 6 am. That way they can still have some protection in the evening but sidewalks would be cleared by the morning for businesses and discourage trash buildup. Any new idea would be better than no ideas and waiting for more affordable housing which will take decades.