The Fight for Lot 25

Kamal Taj: Making your way over to Stonestown Galleria from San Francisco State, you may find your view blocked by a sunbleached wall stretching down Winston Drive. Take a second look. Walls don’t usually have windows; those are RV’s. The city has recently looked at Lot 25 as a potential site for the temporarily unhoused living along Winston Drive in RVs. The site would need to be provided with utilities such as water, electricity and sewage hookups. I spoke with SF State students, San Francisco government and Winston Drive residents to try and get a better read on how the community feels about the potential site and its effect on the community. This is Kamal Taj, and you’re listening to the Bleed. 

Kamal: I began by speaking with Morgan James, a senior at San Francisco State University.

Morgan James: Okay, so I, I live in Oakland, and we get — there are so many areas where there’s just a ton of RVs, or just a ton of abandoned cars that people sometimes live in. And, you know, they’ve been ticketed, but it’s like, again, where are they gonna go? If there’s a safe spot for them to park and to not be bothered or harassed, I’m on board, because you know, people gotta live. And I understand it might not look appealing, but, you know, we’re all in this together.

Kamal: I also spoke with Jennifer Fieber, a legislative aide in Supervisor Melgar ‘s office.

Jennifer Fieber: A lot of those people on Winston, we meet with them once in a while, it’s actually, like, the most stable housing they’ve ever had. Before they were in apartments, being evicted or, you know, with families. So it’s really important that, I mean, for obvious reasons that they get to keep their cars, you know. A lot of them don’t think of themselves as being homeless. You know, it’s their, it’s their home, it’s their children’s home, it’s the way they get around. It’s like the largest asset they have, you know, keeping them from homelessness. So it’s not as simple as, you know, the neighbors are all like, “Let’s start ticketing them.” Well, that’s not a humanitarian response. It’s largely people from Mexico and Central America. Lots of families, lots of children that go to school, they walk to the public schools. A they’re all working in the service industry. So it is not the sort of stereotypes that we think about for the homeless.

Kamal: I spoke with residents of Winston drive to hear from them directly.

Kyle Azevedo: I’ve lived here for over two years now, since like, April 2020. I came from Rio De Janeiro. I used to live in Foster City before that for six months. And I lived in a house sharing, I used to share a house with five more people, three-bedroom house. With COVID I ended up coming here. Well, nobody wants to live in the street like this is not a choice. This is kind of something that we have to do. We live in RVs, because we can’t afford rent and the only place that we can afford to park RVs the street. The immediate need now is a space to park where we can stay off the streets.

Edith Alcaraz: I have a son, my son is 15 and going to high school. It’d be very convenient for us, because we’re still homeless. Every Monday we’re here because we need to be here. Who wants to move every month, every Monday? You know who wants to do all this? No, we don’t want to, I don’t want to. I had my job and I had all that back in the days before the pandemic, but as you know, a lot of us because of the pandemic lost our jobs and everything. So, what we have is what you see.

Kamal: Only time will tell if the plans for Lot 25 will be approved. Until then, I’m Kamal Taj and you’ve been listening to The Bleed, a podcast for Xpress Magazine. The song featured in this podcast was “Welcome Chris,” by Andrea Guerra.