Evicted by SFMTA: When living in your car is illegal

Melodie. Photo by Adam Wold.

When your car is your home, SFMTA becomes your landlord. 

The following is a public comment statement by Melodie, a woman who lives in her vehicle, in regards to SFMTA’s Engineering hearing on Friday, August 4, 2017 regarding the establishment of new tow-away zones: Specifically, on the east side Jerrold Avenue between Barneveld and Bayshore and on the west side of Barneveld Avenue between McKinnon and Jerrold Avenues. The former would be no stopping anytime, while the latter would establish the tow-away zone between 10pm and 2am. While these may seem inconsequential to many, the hearing comes at a time as more and more families and individuals are forced to live in their cars—and there are less and less locations available in the city for people to park without being harassed by city officials. This industrial area is one of the last remaining areas in the city where people have been able to park their vehicles in peace. When there is no where else to go, courageous people like Melodie fight everyday to keep from being evicted from their homes—which often times may be a vehicle.

Sleep is a primary resource needed to make good decisions.

Police and Meter Maids continue to strip us of our right to rest.

Strip us of our resources to recover from our circumstances.

“Interrogators in every country

know that total sleep deprivation

is a form of torture” [Pat Hartman, House the Homeless]

If the No Sleeping in Vehicle Law were applied equally,

then every infant, toddler, child

asleep in their car seat

would be subject to fines and arrest.

My mere existence is breaking the law.

This law, these signs are telling me

I don’t have the right to exist.

Since these no-parking signs have been posted,

I am thrust into parking where I am not safe.

Nor is my vehicle safe.

garbage dumping,all around my vehicle

= loss of time energy cleaning up after them,

-broken into: stole battery, alternator, tools, over $1000 worth of

materials/ supplies to keep vehicle in working order]

I am treated by THE meter maid like a criminal,

spoken to as if I am vermin.

criminalized for the very crimes

being perpetrated against me.

SFMTA allows its meter maids

to terrorize me

while insinuating it’s for my own good,

Allowing this mindset

without education nor correction

is appalling.

Tho it is my responsibility,

I am not the CAUSE of homelessness.


Again I ask SFMTA Board of Directors

for a safe place to park.

Without your help/ support,

I cannot overcome my circumstances.

Thus I am a scapegoat of societal hypocrisy

which demands I overcome my circumstances

while striping [sic] me of

every single resource required to do so.

Thank you so much for your time


Bay View Community Meeting, Citizen, 2009

CCSF Evans Campus Student, 2009

N.E.R.T. Volunteer, 2011

S.C.R.A.P. Volunteer, 2011

San Francisco Folk Music Club, 1982

San Francisco Resident, 1978  


All photos by Adam Wold.