The new “vehicle triage center” opened Wednesday at Candlestick Point, but those who’ve been invited to stay are balking at the idea because propane tanks and generators are prohibited.
San Francisco has only ever had one sanctioned place where people experiencing homlessness could live in RVs and vehicles, the vehicle triage center next to Balboa Park BART that opened in late 2019 and remained until March 2021. And it was a magnificent success, in large part because the unique (very industrial) landscape of that area made it so neighborhood residents did not really even notice it was there. And if you ever traversed the Balboa Park BART during that period, you probably walked right by it and didn’t notice it either.
In an attempt to duplicate that success with a longer-term model, the Bayview Vehicle Triage Center opened Wednesday at the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area’s Park Boat Launch Parking Lot. But the Chronicle reports that many people with invites are unwilling to relocate there, because it has very limited electricity hookups, and prohibits propane tanks and electricity generators.
“That pretty much makes your RV a storage unit,” vehicle dweller B.A. Anderson tod the Chronicle. “No one would say, ‘I’m gonna rent this house to you, but you can’t cook.’ Treat people like human beings.”
The site does have running water for those dwelling there, but it sounds as if the hot water is hardly reliable. And the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (DHHS) is vowing to add more electrical hook-ups, they are unwilling to budge on the propane tank and generator bans, considering the fire risk those devices pose.
“There are long-term plans for power, but it’s going to take a little while to be up and running, so we are working on an intermediate solution,” DHHS deputy director Emily Cohen told the Chronicle. “There’s limited power capacity available currently.”
There is also another matter of Bayview residents being none too happy about the lot, because they feel they already deal with the lion’s share of vehicle dwelling in San Francisco. And to that end, the Candlestick Height Community Alliance filed a lawsuit against the city on November 29, 2021 seeking to end the program.
That Bayview vehicle triage center is only slated to stay open for two years. But concerns from people who live near there, and additional concerns from people who’ve been invited to live there but just don't want to, may pull the plug on this effort long before its time.
Image: A Google Street View image of RVs parked on Hunters Point Expressway in February