The City of San Luis Obispo is closing the current safe parking site at Railroad Square and transitioning to a new rotating safe parking program.
The parking site is used by the unhoused community to safely park overnight.
The Railroad Square site currently being used is set to close on August 27.
Meanwhile, Palm Street in SLO was identified as an interim site for the program while host sites are confirmed for the rotating model, but many in the area are not happy about it.
“Outrage in a word,” said SLO resident, Lynn Hamilton. “I didn’t even get a postcard. We received no postcard at our house. We’ve received a number of notifications and throughout the years for other issues — we didn’t receive notification.”
“I was the only one that received a postcard,” added Mark Adams, another SLO resident. “I took a picture of it and I sent it off to my neighbors and that started the process.”
Neighbors quickly jumped into action and objected to the city’s proposal.
“This interim parking program was going to potentially take place on Palm Street by the vets’ hall and that a decision would be made no earlier than August 14,” explained Hamilton. “So one week’s notice and there would be no public hearing, there would be no environmental review. It was completely a director’s action so the city was just going to decide and not ask for any input.”
Concerns from residents included additional traffic, noise in the neighborhood, and how dumpsters and portable restrooms placed on the street would be monitored.
“It’s a very different change in use for our neighborhood and it seems that there are places that don’t have a residential impact that are closer to services, that would be better for the city to explore,” added Hamilton.
“It’s probably not the right spot. We’d like them to reconsider that and hear our voices before you make these huge decisions,” said Adams.
The city says the goal is to have each rotating site available and open for one month of the year and while the Palm Street site can be operated for up to four months as an interim location, that won’t be happening.
“The city has decided not to move forward with the temporary closure of the street next to the vet’s hall,” said Nathan Rubinoff, Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO) SLO city outreach supervisor. “It looks like we’re going to be having a gap in services for the city parking program through September.”
Local residents Hamilton and Adams say they are not against the program but feel other locations in the city are better suited for it.
“It’s created a lot of anxiety at the safe parking site,” explained Rubinoff. “We just announced yesterday that we weren’t going to have a continuation with participants. Unfortunately, this really is the only widely available safe parking program that I know of in the county.”
Rubinoff adds CAPSLO and the City of SLO have been in contact with about five faith-based organizations to be part of the rotating safe parking program.
“I think we could have done a better job — as CAPSLO — participating in educating the neighborhood,” said Rubinoff. “I think there was a lot of confusion over the structure of our overnight safe parking program. This program was very deliberately structured to be only 12 hours in a location. Everyone comes, and they have operational vehicles. These folks work, they have jobs. They’re Cal Poly students, they’re community members.”
CAPSLO staff tells me they are currently working with program participants to come up with other plans like expanding the parking at Prado.
In a statement to KSBY, the City of SLO said they invite all community members interested in learning more about how they can be part of the solution to attend the upcoming public hearing held by the city’s planning commission.
The public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 6, at 6 p.m.
City officials also added the following information:
“Palm Street was selected because it is a public space that meets the necessary conditions to host a secure, well-managed overnight parking program on a rotating basis. The overnight program is proposed to operate during the hours of 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., with a requirement for participants to check in and check out, and the site will be restored to normal each morning after the operation of the program. It’s important for the community to know that other sites will be considered on a rotating basis as well.
We understand the community’s concern and want to assure everyone that safety, security, and wellness is our top priority with this program. All participants of the program are required to be enrolled in case management to work towards permanent or supportive housing. Each participant will require a background check to verify there is no active criminal history.
City of San Luis Obispo
https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/local-residents-express-concerns-over-palm-street-interim-safe-parking-site Local residents express concerns over Palm Street interim safe parking site