Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Public spaces getting less public for RVs, again

So there's a San Francisco legislative proposal being portrayed as an effort to stop big parked RVs from gumming up the view and hurting public safety along Ocean Beach.

Except the plan is a little bigger than one neighborhood's gripes, and it looks to have been designed, not by some naive indignant Ocean Beach neighbor, but by clever people at SFMTA who know damn well it would jam inhabited RVs between an existing law and a new one.

The new proposal, brought by Sup. Carmen Chu, would ban RVs, trucks and buses from overnight parking on specified blocks, including some where they've been clustering.

At the same time we've still got Municipal Police Code 97, which comes in two parts: Section 97(a) bans sleeping in vehicles at all in residential-zoned neighborhoods. And then, in non-residential neighborhoods, Section 97(b) only bans sleeping in "any house car, camper or trailer coach."

So you can kinda sorta sleep in your car in less homey, riskier parts of the city if you have to, but you can't sleep in a larger, safer, more comfortable vehicle. And now there's going to be a list of places where you can't even store such a vehicle. That will save the cops the trouble of jumping on your bumper in the middle of the night to make you come out so they can catch you at "habitation". They can just cite you for the new infraction-level offense of parking there at all.

So we are looking at a tightening of places where large vehicles may be parked -- meaning comfortably inhabitable vehicles -- meaning the targets are mainly the vehicular residents commonly called "homeless", and secondarily (and I really hope they notice) the more politically powerful owners of big Burning Man artmobiles.

Meaning that if you want to live on either waterfront -- ocean or Bay --  or along Golden Gate Park -- or in a few more areas that are richening and tightening up, including bits of the Potrero and Bayview -- well, then, you have to pay full freight, and no living parked along the curb.

If you don't have money, well, you belong semi-incarcerated in a downtown subsidized hotel, and don't try to be independent, don't try to make a living from recycling, don't try to camp on your own: your self-reliance and entrepreneurialism and other traditionally valued American qualities are not appreciated.

Because San Francisco isn't for just anyone any more, it's for people who can buy the views.

Because making a contribution to the city now is something people do with their wallets.

Meanwhile, how come the SF Chronicle still hasn't caught on to this story so the solid coverage is from the Ocean Beach Bulletin via its fine Twitterly own self (also, as of this evening, via KQED) and the Examiner via Tenderloin Geographic Society?

And then how come the Ex's headline is "New RV rules irk homeless advocates?" These aren't merely rules but a proposed municipal ordinance, out of a Supes committee Monday and "expected to pass" the full Board (per the Ex) next week. And how come only the advocates get to be "irked"? Don't actual residents of RVs get credited with sufficient agency to be at least equally irked?

Here's the proposed ordinance -- via the Ocean Beach Bulletin again. And, why, yes, supporting documentation includes a Concerned Citizen's request to add a lot of the streets in Dogpatch and the Potrero where RVs are still able to park at all. And check out Page 17 of the PDF: the hot spots on the map for "large vehicle" parking are pretty much the same as the remaining zones of half-tolerance for independently living homeless or informally housed people. Also check out Page 22, where SFMTA more or less spells out its intention to turn repeated citations into towing, and towing into towing fees, and on the whole to make it too expensive to own an RV in San Francisco for anyone but a high-rolling software executive who enjoys attending Bohemian Club II in the Black Rock Desert once a year.

And the SFMTA memo about it has a cheery slogan in the footer of every page: "Circle Less, Live More." They got a nerve.

It was coming, I know, but it's tragic, and it's another heavy dent in the residual decency of this city.

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