Street Parking, Homelessness, and “Storing Personal Property in Public”

Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an  ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.”

I look forward to seeing all of the parallel parked citizens arrested.

The article over at Nation of Change is very positive.  It describes a new Utah program to house people and provide social workers. But first the article lists other programs that have been recently implemented around the country.  This Tampa one struck me because ‘storing personal property in public’ is such a common activity.  I’ve lived in San Francisco where people overwhelmingly use street parking, and it is a fiercely fought over commodity, generating arguments over permits, parklets, construction and bus lanes.  I’m fairly sure this law was not applied in that context however.  Have you ever stopped to think how much money is spent on paving roads, grading curbs, and assisting people to store their car in the public space?  How many miles of lanes of public parking are in your town? Have you had a neighbor  who parks his boat/trailer/car that doesn’t drive on the street?

Appearing better off gets you advantages. Cars, boats, RVs, etc are a more valuable class of property and thus supported by the city, and when someone has so little, what they have is begrudged.

Programs like the one described do not fix the problems; they shift and change the problem.  The city and people still have to pay for the arrests, and cleanup the area.  Investing in long-term improvements, facilities and assistance programs for the individuals can actually be cheaper.  Homelessness in America should be fixable – we have the facilities and ignoring it isn’t free.

I’m excited to see how Lava Mae  will do in the Bay Area.

Reblog: Why Is There So Much Human Shit on the Streets? – The Bold Italic – San Francisco

Why Is There So Much Human Shit on the Streets? – The Bold Italic – San Francisco.

“We need to start by seeing our homeless population as actual human beings who need to eat and drink and wash their hands and who, yes, need a place to take a nice private dump once in a while”. 

I’d add showers to the dream facilities as well, because however people end up on the streets, sanitation is important. Keep people sane through access to basic resources! It also helps keep the city cleaner.

Being kind or losing my mind?

I see a problem every day. I live next to a park and in that park homeless people regularly use the shadiest corner as a bathroom. Sometimes they drag over an abandoned couch or mattress and sleep there as well. When this last happened, we were discussing dragging the couch back out to the street and calling the city to pick it up, but I couldn’t get over the question. What would I say to the man who had been sleeping on that couch if he confronted me? Sleep on the ground? Sleep on some other piece of ground not in ‘my park’? I don’t have a solution to homelessness but right now I’d really like to focus on fixing something in my world.  If I want them to stop shitting in my park, where should I tell them to go?

Continue reading “Being kind or losing my mind?”