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SF Neighbors Divided Over Proposed Parking Lot For Homeless People Living In RVs, Cars

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Hundreds of people showed up at a community meeting in San Francisco Saturday afternoon, to voice their opinions about an overnight parking lot for homeless people who are currently living in their vehicles.

The site is near the intersection of Geneva and San Jose Avenues right near the Balboa Muni and BART Stations.

Those who attended the meeting were divided on the plans for the parking lot, which is currently a lot for MUNI employees. If the triage center opens, it would be the first of its kind in San Francisco.

"It seems like you've spent a lot of resources to develop this plan and Trojan horse it down our throat, so will it actually go to a vote of the people who own property and live here?" asked SF resident Shane McGrath.

"No. It goes through the legislative process," answered City Supervisor Ahsha Safai.

Shane McGrath has lived near Balboa Park for 17 years and was visibly frustrated after Saturday's community meeting.

"My concern is that they're going to turn Balboa Park BART station and make it look like the 24th and Mission BART station or the 16th and Mission BART station where it is overrun with homeless people, it's an open air drug market," said McGrath.

He was one of hundreds who showed up at Balboa High School for a community meeting with San Francisco Police, homeless outreach service providers, and City Supervisor Ahsha Safai.

"These individuals already live here. They're living in their vehicles now and this is a particular tailored response for our neighborhood," said Supervisor Safai.

Safai says over the past two years, the number of homeless in the area has increased and, in response, he wants to open a triage center. It would have 24-hour security, bathrooms and social services. People could park their vehicles for 90 days with the goal of helping them find permanent housing during their stay.

"I think it's great that the city is being creative about trying to find solutions for this intractable or seemingly intractable problem," says Balboa resident Scott Cataffa.

"Something needs to happen to help the homeless and also to keep them off ... from sleeping in front of people's homes," said Joseph Martinez.

Others at the meeting voiced concerns about whether this is the right plan for the area.

"We work hard for what we've got and we don't want to see our neighborhood go down the tubes, and it's just going to be a big mess," said Balboa resident Melvin Noguera.

The latest estimates show there are more than 400 people living in their vehicles and if approved, the triage center can only hold 33 vehicles.

The pilot program would not be long term. Next year construction is set to begin on a low-income housing development at the site.

There will be more community meetings about the overnight parking plan and, if approved, the lot could open for overnight parking in November.

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