Port officials and local residents have had enough.
Millennials and Gen Z who live full-time out of vans, better known as vanlifers, are reportedly being expelled from the Port of San Diego in California because they're now considered bothersome to local residents who live in houses as well as port officials.
According to The San Diego Union-Tribute, the Port of San Diego has become a very popular place for vanlifers for a number of reasons, such as the excellent weather, 24-hour free parking spots, and little to no crime. Vanlife has become very popular over the past few years, especially when the global pandemic struck which led to remote working. Another reason is that real estate prices went sky-high, forcing many younger people out of the housing market. For significantly less money, they could purchase a Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, or any older van brand and then convert it into a home on wheels they could take anywhere. Vans are so popular that even Tesla is entering the segment. Given everything the Port of San Diego has to offer, it's no wonder it drew such a large crowd.
That's all about to change.
Local residents have, quite understandably, complained to port officials over things that should not be happening like human waste left behind in parking lots, exhaust from all of those idling vans, and the smell of marijuana smoke. "My guys, they periodically are trimming shrubs and they got fecal matter splattered [on them] because it was embedded in the shrub," one official said.
The Port is also footing the bill to clean up that hazardous waste and it's also sending out maintenance teams and landscapers to maintain a clean area. All of this adds up and could very easily lead to higher local taxes. Earlier this month, the Port passed new parking rules, which go into effect on May 12, that residents will love and vanlifers definitely won't.
The Port's commissioners now have new definitions of what is a large vehicle. This now includes anything that's longer than 20 feet and higher than 7.5 feet, and wider than seven feet. The 24-hour free parking is also now gone, and vans must now park in designated areas.
One of the Port directors counted at least 53 vans parked a couple of weeks ago in areas that will soon be deemed off-limits. Clearing out these vans and their owners/residents is not without controversy. Some residents are genuinely sympathetic to vanlifers because they're aware some of them are truly homeless because of dire economic conditions.
One resident who says their parents live in a car said that "After hearing members of the community speak and hearing the proposed recommendations regarding oversize vehicle parking within the port, it's clear to me that this is less about a general parking problem and more about a homeless-people-living-in-their-vehicle problem."
It's very difficult, if not impossible, to legally determine who is really homeless or is simply living an alternative lifestyle by choice. The Port commission says it took this argument and others into account but, ultimately, the parking situation became out of control and something had to be done.
Join The Discussion