On May 27, Judge Vince Chhabria will hear a motion for injunction regarding Pacifica’s Oversize Vehicle Ordinance. A class action lawsuit has been filed by the ACLU on behalf of five named plaintiffs claiming they have rights to park their RVs, and live in them, on public streets and/or property and that Pacifica’s ordinance violates their constitutional right of movement and claimed disabilities.
Pacifica has never had public health services of any kind. The county does. The Pacifica Resource Center is the resource between those in need and how to get it. Two of the plaintiffs no longer live in town. If the motion is granted, it will suspend enforcement of, not only the ordinance, but potentially the 1987 municipal code covering sleeping in vehicles, until the case is settled.
A recent op-ed by a local advocate, published in the Tribune, states they “have shared stories of deprivation, fear, isolation, harassment, vandalism and threats.” I have seen posts on social media by individuals with those views. I in no way support those views and have spoken out against anyone with them. That is not the way rational people deal with problems.
To be honest, would a rational person expect the welcome mat to be rolled out for the dozens of homeless (RV dwellers are considered homeless officially) that descended on Pacifica in recent years? An ongoing outrage grew among the majority of citizens for enforcement of not only existing laws, but what could be done to stem the tide going forward. The previous piece in the Tribune erroneously states “minority rhetoric dominated (safe parking) discussions.” I also read a recent interview, of someone I consider a friend, stating, “As long as I can afford it and keep building businesses, I’ll never leave. A lot of my friends and family and other Pacificans are moving out in droves. There are three options: You can get a roommate. You can move. Or you fight like hell to stay. And that is why there are so many people in their motorhomes.” I find that statement conflicting.
A community task force was formed to explore possibilities to control and mitigate this increasing issue. Many avenues were explored such as private properties, church lots, city lots, county lots etc. None of those ideas panned out due to zoning, funding, community outrage and myriad issues relating to the specifics of each one.
Pacifica lacks two very important items: space and funds.
Two of the last feasible ideas were 10 specific street spots (two here, two there, etc.) They would be city designated and permitted, with fees, and mandated to be vetted and in a program with PRC. I advocated for that plan. It was met by a tsunami of negative feedback by the majority of Pacificans and that plan was shelved. One of the last ideas, presented by City Council, was to enter into talks with the SFRV Park. Those talks were not fruitful.
County help was virtually nonexistent, after many asks, to assist Pacifica with this issue. The problem, apparently, was the same with every city in the county. They were all asking for assistance and not even looked at on a “need” basis.
The state issued hundreds of millions of
dollars to counties to
purchase local hotels (one in Rockaway was on the list) and revamp them into transitional housing. This program was originally sold to the public as the best “bang for the buck,” and many existing laws and policies/rules were waived in the process.
This week, City Council will entertain a motion to approve a resolution to open talks with several entities to consider a possible agreement for safe parking. I do not think most Pacificans would argue that spots in the RV Park could work if the county foots the bill. Pacifica is facing serious financial shortfalls due to COVID-19. As it was prior, it would be unsustainable to start and maintain this type of program at this time unless externally funded.
Chris Redfield lives in Pacifica.