Monday, March 21, 2016

#1 SF Issue is Homelessness, Next to Parking, of Course

A recent SF Gate article, "Homelessness soars to No. 1 concern in SF" showed that residents of the city have come to grips with an issue that has plagued San Francisco for decades.  Some city officials have been quick to react and try to find a way to quickly build six new Navigation Centers to help people in need.   City supervisor, David Campos,  identified 36 parcels, none near his neighborhood of Bernal Heights, which included some parking garages and surface lots.  Even the mere suggestion of parking removal sent some residents into a tailspin.

"West Portal neighborhood leaders are irate that Campos suggested a parking lot next to the beloved Ambassador Toys and another parking lot nearby on Claremont Boulevard as possible sites for new homeless centers." said the Chronicle.   One resident said a Navigation Center "wouldn’t fit" on a corridor with lots of children, and that removing a surface parking lot would make it tough on shoppers to find cheap parking. "When we said it was our #1 concern, we never thought we had to clarify our inalienable right to store private property on public land for pennies a day or less.  Oh and children safety something something..." said one resident.

"Large lots dedicated to not move vehicles for most of the day outweighs the benefits of serving the homeless community."
Right Photo: Leah Millis, The Chronicle
Homeless advocates like Jerry Mandrake see things differently.  He explains, "First of all, let's dispel this notion that homeless people are more likely perpetrators of violence.  There's plenty of evidence to suggest that homeless people commit less crime than people with homes.  These groups of people, sadly are more likely to be the recipients of violence.  We can't allow neighborhoods to spread these biases and untruths.   The supervisors of San Francisco should be educating their constituents instead of allowing them to propagate these ideas that harm our most vulnerable people living in our communities."

Although there's zero evidence to suggest that homeless people pose any hazard to children, city leaders like Norman Yee prefer their district's parking lots over homeless centers.
Jerry went on to say, "...and if neighborhoods really cared about children they wouldn't be putting them in or anywhere near motorized vehicles.  Parking increases air pollution, the chances of leaving your child in a car to get heatstroke, or getting backed over in a parking lot.  Do they have any idea that the rates of traffic-related injuries and death are highest for children from age 5–19 years?  But you never hear anyone advocating less car use?  Don't even get me started on how detrimental a sedentary life is for a child, or what we're doing to their future environment."

Oddly enough, vulnerable people without homes did not make the list of injuries or deaths among children.
image found here
In the recent Chronicle article, a resident was asked if cars should take a backseat to the well-being of vulnerable homeless people.  They exclaimed “It’s insane...It’s people pushing their own agendas for something that’s reckless and irresponsible.”  When asked about the inherent dangers of cars and parking in and around children she said, "oh yeah, that's cool. "

Agitated neighbors formed a new coalition, NIMPS, which stands for "Not in my Parking Space".  One of the NIMPS member explained, "San Francisco has serious challenges, and one of them is protecting our most vulnerable and often mistreated residents of our city, that's right, cars."

Homeless advocates still hold out hope that one day the mayor and all the supervisors of San Francisco will declare a homeless emergency and actually support it in their district by swapping car storage for people storage.  Jerry said, "we just hope that one day the city has as much respect and compassion for a human being as they do for a parking spot."

Division Street - where homeless people were forced to leave because they weren't unused combustible metal boxes.

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