Sherman R. Frederick
It’s been more than a year since the Pacifica City Council authorized the city manager to formulate some kind of plan for dealing with trashy RVs parked forever on public streets.
After COVID-19 threw city business processes for a loop, that plan may finally be presented to the council this summer.
City Manager Kevin Woodhouse sent a memo to the UP Task Force and city and local officials who have interacted with the task force calling for a definitive update on their work that can be presented to the Council and the public.
Woodhouse writes that he needs the “status of the UPTF’s work to identify church or other private properties that are committed to providing spaces for motorhomes as part of an Unhoused in Motorhomes Permit Parking Program. I will need to include this information in the staff report being prepared for the City Council’s consideration of this program, which will occur at a special meeting on this topic in mid-July.”
The date for the Council meeting is yet to be determined, but probably mid-July.
The issue has been a hotly debated one. Pacifica historically has been lax in enforcing RV parking on public streets. Many in Pacifica have told the Council that they no longer want RVs “squatting” public street in Pacifica. The latest trouble spot is on Terra Nova Boulevard where residents there have peppered the city with complaints. But the Pacifc Resource Center has raised a flag about what strict enforcement might do to the “mobile homeless” who have nowhere else to go other than to park their RVs on public streets.
Also controversial is the Task Force itself. It was devised to avoid state open meeting laws. And although the city manager said at the time that the committee could meet in public if it wanted to, it didn’t. All but one of its meetings have been held secretly and almost none of their work has been made public until now.
The Pacifica Tribune received a copy of the Task Force’s thinking. It tentatively envisions a prohibition of RV parking on public streets, but the advent of a permit system for the down and out.
About 20 permits would be allowed by the city and administered by the Pacifica Resources Center. Ten of the permits would allow homeless RVs to park on Pacifica public streets; and 10 more would be allowed to park in neighborhood church parking lots and amenable commercial parking lots.
There would be a cost to obtain a permit, the draft report says. For families with an income of 30 percent below the median income, the cost would be $1 per day. The cost goes up from there. The draft says that a “permit is valid for 29 days and renewable based on progress made toward housing goals.”
The draft report does not contain a list of churches or parking sites. Although the Tribune has reported that the Task Force has met with at least two churches in Pacifica, it appears no churches have formally committed to be part of the program. Homeowners near churches courted by the Task Force have vowed to fight the idea of creating homeless camps in residential neighborhoods. The residents also have been vocal about the secretive way the Task Force and churches have gone about the process. Neither the Task Force, the churches or the city have reached out neighborhoods that might be involved.
The draft report also does not address who would be responsible for liability should something go wrong with a city-sanctioned RV homeless camps.
While the permit idea is designed to be temporary, a person could hold a permit for 29 days and then renew it at the discretion of the PRC. There appears to be no cut off date.
The draft report also includes rules and regulations for safety. For example, no one in the program would be allowed to do illegal drugs or possess a firearm.
City Manager Woodhouse told the Task Force and city officials working with the Task Force that “the critical part of the program that the City Council is interested in hearing and will be evaluating in their deliberation is the commitment from private/church property to be part of the solution. The unhoused in rnotorhomes issue is not a challenge the City can solve on its own; this cross-sector collaborative approach was the origin of, and has been the focus of, the Task Force’s work, all along.”
Woodhouse praised the Task Force for doing “a great job developing the program concept with the PRC and exploring church property interest.”
He added that “The legal, permitting, and zoning/land use issues to allow the program now require City Council decision/direction, followed by ordinance revisions depending on the Council’s decision.”