A proposed new "Vehicle Triage Center" out at Candlestick Point has some NIMBY neighbors angry, but Supervisor Shamann Walton is reminding everyone that the homeless and their cars and RVs are already in the area anyway.
Community outreach has begun for the temporary Vehicle Triage Center (VTC) that plans to open in December at the Boat Launch Parking Lot in the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area. This is the second VTC to open in the city, the previous one being next door to the Balboa Park BART station — and that one closed earlier this year to make way for an affordable housing development.
The concept of the VTC is to create an invitation-only, safe space with amenities and services for unhoused people living in their cars and RVs — a first step to transitioning them into more permanent housing. This VTC, like the one at Balboa Park, will offer counseling and housing services, as well as bathrooms, mobile showers, laundry, fencing, 24/7 staffing, private meeting rooms, and security cameras in a well-lit space.
The Candlestick VTC will have parking spaces for 150 vehicles — about five times the size of the previous lot at Balboa Park. And the lease for the parking lot is for two years, with this VTC likely (but not guaranteed) to shut down after that time.
As Supervisor Ahsha Safai said when the earlier VTC closed, "There is still a significant number of people that are living on the streets in vehicles. As this model has shown, we can transition them into a safe spot. We can get them the services that they need."
District 10, which includes Bayview and Hunters Point, has been looked at for a while as an area in need of a VTC, and a citywide survey in December found that the district had the most RVs and inhabited vehicles parked on its street than any other district in the city, with 310.
As ABC 7 reported this week, some neighborhood residents are lodging complaints and suggesting that District 10 doesn't need to be the city's repository for the homeless and their vehicles.
"We are not being NIMBYs, [like] 'I don't want you in my backyard,' but something has to be done," said neighbor and Bayview Hill Neighborhood Association Vice President Shirley Moore, speaking to ABC 7 and sounding very much like a NIMBY. Moore suggested there should be more "equity" in terms of where these VTCs are put in the city.
Walton responded saying, "I can't tell you what's happening in other areas in terms of why we wouldn't put this there, but I can tell you that these people who are living in vehicles now are already here."
Walton added that most of the neighbors' concerns, especially about safety, generators running all night, trash, and human waste, will be addressed by the services at the new VTC.
As Walton tells NBC Bay Area, the planned lot is a temporary solution for addressing the clear need of people who are already parked all along the Hunters Point Expressway near Candlestick Point.
"We aren't going to be moving folks and sending them back to the streets in the middle of a pandemic," he says. "What we are proposing is a vehicle triage site."
And, Walton adds that the goal is to "get people back on track to where they don't have to live in vehicles."
Top Image: A Google Street View image of RVs parked on Hunters Point Expressway in February.