People staying in their cars and recreational vehicles in the parking lots of Mission Bay Park may be facing eviction.
The San Diego Parks and Recreation department is about to submit to the Coastal Commission a plan to gate parking lot entrances overnight.
The Parks and Rec proposal would include the installation of nighttime gates and signage at all Mission Bay parking lots.
Proponents of the idea say it would reduce crime and gang activity there.
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Those who have been living out of their cars over the pandemic say these parking spaces are a lifeline.
Cynthia Green has the night off. Listening to music at sunset on De Anza Cove is a favorite pastime, but she does it in her car, which is also where she lives.
“Even with a full-time job you can’t afford the rent," Green said.
Green is not alone. Lee and his wife Marybelle lost their jobs a year ago because of the pandemic, then they lost their home. They used their life savings to buy an RV to live in.
"We also have people here with kids in their car because the rent just skyrockets. This is the only place they have right now, is the beach. You got the free bathrooms, got the free showers. That’s all we can afford right now,” Green said.
This parking lot community has been sharing space with parents, their kids and other regular visitors for more than a year.
“I feel super safe. I come at all times of the morning and night. I have never felt threatened,” visitor Eszter Heins said.
“If this is their safe space I definitely wouldn’t want to gatekeep that from them,” visitor Emma Gee said.
The Parks and Rec proposal, found on the city’s website, says gating entrances overnight addresses community concerns about gang activity, parties and illegal camping
“People and the police were easy on the people sleeping in their cars, RV’s and stuff like that," parking lot resident Jacob Cherry said. "Now they’re connecting them to the people on Pacific Beach who are committing crimes."
Cherry, who lost his business and home due to his wife’s death and the pandemic has turned into an advocate for fellow parking lot dwellers.
He’s created a social media page and is starting a petition.
“These parks are for the entire city and county of San Diego. They are not just for the people who live in Mission Beach and complain on Nextdoor.com,” Cherry said.
The gates would cost taxpayers $6,000 dollars each.
The proposed closure hours are between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., or midnight to 6 a.m.
The Parks and Recreation Board, Mission Bay Park Committee and Pacific Beach Town Council support the move.
All overnight gate closures and parking restrictions in a coastal zone must first be approved by the Coastal Commission.