A local advertising student has found yet another way to transform paid parking spaces: by placing beds in them to raise awareness about youth homelessness.
29-year-old Bennet Austin generated a significant amount of attention earlier this week when he parked a twin-sized bed in front of the Goodwill Store on Haight Street as part of a fundraising stunt to benefit the nearby Homeless Youth Alliance, which provides resources like showers, doctor's visits and counseling for homeless young people. His donation jar garnered $600 in just one day for the nonprofit, which hopes to build youth housing above its offices in the coming years.
"I was thinking about ways to circumvent the sit/lie law," Austin told SF Weekly of the project. San Francisco's controversial Sit/Lie ordinance prohibits residents from sitting or lying down on city sidewalks between 7am and 11pm. "I think instead of putting laws in place to push a problem away we should put more effort into changing things and coming up with a solution," Austin said.
Each day this week, Austin has trekked the bed to the same parking space and set up shop for eight hours, feeding the meter $2 each time it runs out. Although Police Captain Denis O'Leary explained to SF Weekly that Austin's actions are technically illegal, so far, law enforcement has left him alone.
"The cops have been really nice about it. I haven't had a single issue," Austin told ABC News.
And local homeless youths have voiced their appreciation. "It was really comfy," 21-year-old Cricket Anthony, who ABC News reported has been on the road for five years, said.
SFist stumbled upon Austin's promotional video and proclaimed that he's "probably got a nice career in advertising ahead of him." We couldn't agree more.