A 1.8-acre parking lot that sits at the intersection of Geneva and San Jose Avenues, next to I-280 and across the street from the Balboa Park BART station, has been proposed by the city to be used temporarily as a vehicle "triage" lot for the homeless.
The project, mentioned multiple times in recent months by "homelessness czar" Jeff Kositsky as a proactive measure being taken to corral the city's expanding homeless population, will be the first to specifically address the issue of homeless people living out of cars and RVs. The "safe" parking lot would feature bathrooms and showers, as well as housing services and other things offered at homeless navigation centers. And the parking lot in question, known as the Upper Yard and formerly used as a sort of junkyard, is set to become an affordable housing development with construction scheduled to begin in Fall 2020, as the Chronicle reports.
SFist first heard about the affordable housing plan for the Upper Yard back in 2015, when then supervisor John Avalos floated the proposal for a 100-percent affordable, 80-unit structure devoted to family housing. District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí now says that a performing arts and cultural space will also be constructed across the street.
The triage lot will include space for about 30 mid- to large-size vehicles, with those living out of them being permitted to remain there up to 90 days — like a Navigation Center. Some vehicles will be left empty, stored safely in the lot under city supervision while their inhabitants sleep elsewhere, like in a Navigation Center somewhere else in the city.
Safaí tells the Chronicle that the project is "a real step forward in addressing the need of that neighborhood." He adds that people living out of vehicles in the Excelsior and elsewhere will be offered the chance to move to the lot, and if they refuse they will not necessarily be allowed to remain parked where they are.
The paper talked to both an employee at a cafe across the street, and an elderly resident on an adjacent residential street, and both said they didn't mind the idea of the homeless vehicle triage lot. The cafe employee said, "We already get a lot of people here that are homeless," and suggested that the lot would provide some welcome organization for that population.
But opposition from the site's neighbors is more than likely, especially after the widespread coverage of neighbors' opposition to the planned Embarcadero Navigation Center at a parking lot that is Port property, near Folsom Street. Those neighbors just filed a lawsuit last week that is already being criticized for using the CEQA angle as its grounds — The Guardian went with the headline "Wealthy opponents of new shelter claim homeless are bad for environment."
Related: Residents file lawsuit against Embarcadero Navigation Center [Chronicle]