Site of a proposed triage center for homeless people living in cars in San Francisco. The site would be temporarily located on a parking lot at 2340 San Jose Ave.

San Francisco supervisors have unanimously passed an ordinance to approve plans for a vehicle triage center, allowing for unhoused people to stay overnight in their vehicles.

The ordinance, put forth by Supervisor Ahsha Safai, would provide long-term parking space for up to 33 vehicles at 2340 San Jose Ave., the future site of Balboa Upper Yards, a 138-unit affordable housing development.

Construction on the apartments, however, won’t start until October 2020, so the space would only serve as a temporary spot for the vehicle triage center.

The space will also offer amenities like restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, a kitchen and eating areas. Residents would be allowed to stay for up to 90 days, and after that their stay could be extended at the director’s discretion.

In addition, the center would also be equipped with security and office space to provide onsite services for those living in their vehicles.

The center could be open by November, Safai said. He said after several community meetings with residents in the area, he was glad they were open to setting up the triage center.

“I’d say the majority were in favor of giving this a try because they knew that there were individuals that were currently living in their vehicles in the neighborhood already and they wanted to give them an opportunity,” he said.

“There were concerns initially about safety. They (the residents) thought maybe we were going to be getting the more hardcore homeless: drug addiction, mental health issues,” he said. “This is a very different population of people, and as such it requires a different level of service.”

In a separate matter, both supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney introduced legislation to stop the closure of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital’s Adult Residential Facility, following the public health department’s decision to remove 41 of the facility’s 55 long-term beds. The facility provides long-term care for people suffering from mental illness.

The legislation would require the health department to operate and fill all 55 beds at the facility, immediately begin working with the city’s human resources department to hire a full staff, and identify potential residents for the beds.

“Long-term beds for the mentally ill are what San Francisco needs right now,” Ronen said. “The people we see on the streets abandoned and struggling with mental illness completely on their own, are who these beds are meant for. We can’t afford for a single bed to go unused. If we don’t reverse DPH’s decision, more people with mental illness will be left to wander the streets of San Francisco.”