Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the parking spaces that were replaced by Morro Bay's new parklet. The parklet replaced two vehicle spaces, but added parking for motorcycles and bicycles.
Another attempt to expand services to South County’s homeless population has failed, though this time, it’s not on account of objections from neighbors.
The project proposed by Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) fell through because the property where a day-use center was to be located — a commercial building on Farroll Road in Grover Beach — will be sold.
ARK was proposed offering limited services. No meals would be provided. No showers. No counseling. The day center would have been a place where clients could watch TV, read and get information about social services. Capacity would have been limited to 20 people at a time, and the city proposed requiring operators to strictly monitor activities and to make quarterly reports to the Planning Commission.
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City staff had recommended issuing a permit for the project, though the application to provide even those limited services — which are essentially what any public library provides (minus the TV) — gave rise to concerns from neighboring businesses about parking, traffic and loitering.
On the one hand, we’ve a mind to heave a few brickbats over the frustrating difficulty of establishing a permanent homeless services facility in South County.
On the other, we’re not convinced that ARK’s particular model, which offers limited services to a very small population, is the best way to go. We offer bouquets to ARK for its efforts, but we believe it would make more sense for the various organizations and individuals working on homeless issues in South County to unite behind a single, strong proposal for a more comprehensive facility.
We’re impressed, SLO residents
Any time 400 people show up for a public meeting that’s impressive. It’s even more remarkable when you consider that on this occasion, no one was protesting a large subdivision or a massive water project or a new rail spur or any other issue that tends to galvanize folks from near and far.
No, this was a gathering of San Luis Obispo residents concerned about how the city will spend taxpayer dollars over the next two years. So many people wanted to speak at Tuesday’s community forum that proponents of the various causes were asked to limit the number of speakers they sent to the microphone. Even so, 59 people spoke, advocating everything from affordable housing to pickleball courts. When the public testimony ended, all attendees “voted” for their top priorities by placing dots on a grid. We knew SLO residents cared about their community, but we’re still in awe that so many would take the time to attend the goal-setting forum. We proffer polka-dotted bouquets to all who took part.
Where the street isn’t for cars
We toss mini-bouquets to the city of Morro Bay for introducing the “parklet” to San Luis Obispo County.
The concept, popular in several big cities, is simple: Add amenities such as café tables, chairs and planters to downtown spaces to create small islands of ambience. Morro Bay is giving the concept a trial run — it installed one in front of the Top Dog Coffee Bar — and the city of Pismo Beach has approved spending $30,000 on one.
Full disclosure: The installations aren’t without criticism. Morro Bay’s parklet replaced a couple of parking stalls, fueling some complaints from business owners.
Yes, downtown parking is a precious commodity, but creating fun urban spaces where people can relax, sip coffee and visit with friends could encourage more people to check out the downtown and — who knows? — boost sales for local businesses. Parklets also are a low-cost way for cities to increase recreational opportunities in their downtowns.
Morro Bay has launched a worthwhile experiment; we’ll keep you posted on the results.