San Luis Obispo residents will get their first look in May at draft rules that could eventually allow more homeless people to park and sleep in their vehicles in specific locations.
The draft ordinance — expected to go to the City Council in August — would guide a future expansion of San Luis Obispo’s safe parking pilot program. The program currently provides five parking spaces at the Prado Day Center for homeless people living in their vehicles.
Though the draft rules have not yet been released to the public, about 20 people who attended a workshop Monday evening received a short overview of the ordinance and how it will address locations, operations and requirements for potential programs.
Such programs would not be run by the city, said Tyler Corey, the city’s housing programs manager. Instead, future facilities would be operated by social services providers who have experience working with the homeless population.
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Future program participants would have to pass a background check, maintain vehicle registration, insurance and a valid driver’s license, and participate in case management. Preference would be given to those with ties to the county, including individuals who have lived in the area six months or longer.
Organizations or businesses wanting to host a safe-parking site — such as local churches — may have to maintain a 50-foot buffer between their program and any residential property lines. They would also have to ensure appropriate lighting.
Some of the new rules are similar to requirements already in place at the Prado Day Center. For example, participants must remain drug and alcohol free, the grounds are monitored by video surveillance, and a restroom is available for those staying there.
In response to a question, Corey said that the draft ordinance will not specifically require cameras to be installed to monitor a parking lot but instead will stipulate there be some sort of “monitoring and oversight.”
“We received a lot of comments about not overburdening the ordinance with details that apply to every site, but let the provider determine how the site will work for them,” he said.
City officials drew in part upon feedback received at five meetings and workshops, as well as results from a survey, to draft the rules. The ordinance should be heard by the city’s Human Relations Commission on June 5, and it will go before the county Planning Commission on June 26 and the City Council on Aug. 20.
The pilot parking program at Prado Day Center is the first of its kind in San Luis Obispo, but such programs have long been used in other communities, such as Santa Barbara, to reduce the number of people sleeping in their cars on city streets. The Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County operates the program.
Since it started in June, 17 people in 11 vehicles have used the program, CAPSLO said. The five spots are currently filled with six people.
So far, two people have been housed, and another two are scheduled to meet with a landlord about housing. Two people are on the waiting list, including a client in the South County.
According to the city, there are approximately 1,592 homeless people, including children and adults, in San Luis Obispo. Of those, about 20 percent have been identified as people with a desire to actively participate in programs that can transition them out of homelessness.